Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.
Remember how lovely it was to get a beautifully handwritten note from a friend? Some people say that letter writing is a lost art but I’m here to say it’s alive and well—at least in the 1st grade!
For the past few weeks my 1st grade students have been learning about letter writing. In order to make our letters more meaningful, we decided to write to the older brother of a student in our class.
This older brother is a young Marine, away from home, and really missed by his youngest brother.
During pre-writing discussions the students wanted to know if they could ask questions in their letters. They wondered if it would be okay to include pictures they drew? Could they tell him about their own lives?
We brainstormed some vocabulary, so they would have a reference list. Then my students began their letters. For a week they wrote, edited, drew pictures, and wrote some more. At the end of the week we had final copies, and they were fantastic!
Some questions asked in the letters were insightful: “Why did you want to be a soldier?” “How do you defend against bad guys?” “Why did you pick this job?”
Some questions were more basic: “What do you eat?” “Where do you sleep?” “What do you wear?”
All students realized the importance of a Marine’s job, which they expressed in their writing: “Thank you for your service.” “Thank you for keeping our country safe.” “Thank you for protecting us.”
Some students made a personal connection: “Your little brother is my friend. We play at recess.” “He loves and misses you.” “Will you come and visit us when you get home?”
The students’ thoughts were touching, sweet, and poignant, especially the one from the Marine’s little brother: “I miss you a lot! When will you come back? I pray for you…only on the days that I am not late for bed.”
Any wonder why I love this job?!