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Blogging On History, Science, and Education

Letters From An Oregon School

Getting letters from readers is always a treat. They used to come in handwritten classroom batches, now mostly I get individual emails. I’m not sure what that says about today’s teaching, but there seems to be less time for a writing-to-the-author exercise. So, yesterday, when I got a manila envelope filled with letters from Christopher Naze’s fifth grade in Portland, Oregon, I read them all with delight.
Here’s one of them:

Dear Joy Hakim,
I give you credit for giving me a year full of FUN history! Every time I read your writing, my head has to grow for new (exciting) facts. I really like the reading this week about the Battle of Yorktown.
I think it really tells you how the French were AWESOME at helping us.
I really have enjoyed a pattern that you keep with. That pattern is you making history an action movie instead of boring facts.
What do you think would have happened if we lost at Yorktown?
Sincerely, Grace

Here’s another:

Dear Joy,
Thanks for all your effort and detail you put into the History reading. You’re an insane writer and you probably (I’m just guessing) study a lot. Well please keep up the good work. Because if we don’t know history we wouldn’t know anything.
Something I will change is to try to check more of my work and get other people’s opinions. Also try to keep up with the class.

I wish there were room to quote all the letters. Naze is just one of the great public school teachers who I see as national treasures. At a time when we should be celebrating their work, teacher bashing seems to be the rage. It’s hard for me to understand. Yes, there are a few misspellings in the letters and a few grammatical lapses, but not many. It’s encouraging to know that there are still classroom teachers who have their students writing and thinking perceptively. And, yes Jack, I often am insane.

Here are a few more words that made me smile and feel that what I do (write narrative) is worthwhile:

Dear Ms Hakim,

I’ve noticed in your writing I can almost hear your voice reading in my head, which means you have a good voice. I’ve always had a good voice, I think I just sometimes have too much voice. . .I thank you so much for writing that history, it was Phenomenal. You know it feels like I’ve been taught a lot just from some books!
Sincerely your reader, Ben

And from Bella, who is thinking like a historian, but has a question I can't answer:

Do you know why war first happened, and by who[m]?
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