December 22, 2011

Dear Future Me

Have you ever written a letter to yourself in the future? The website FutureMe.org makes it easy to send yourself an email that will be delivered on a future date. What a great concept! I tried it out, and it actually worked as promised. One day I received a strange email addressed, "Dear Future Laura," and it was like being pulled into a time warp! Okay, that might be over-dramatizing things, but it was still pretty amazing to get an email from my past self. Sort of boggles the mind!

Before I tell you more, let me warn you that this website is not really appropriate for elementary students. There's a public part of the site that has uncensored "future me" letters for people to read, and you never know what you'll find there. There are sample letters on the right side of the letter-writing area that seem to be okay, but students should definitely be supervised while using the site. I probably wouldn't let elementary students use FutureMe.org themselves, but they could possibly write their letters in Word and you could have an adult enter them into the system later.

That being said, even if you don't use the website itself, you can still make use of the concept of writing a letter to yourself in the future. If I were using this with students, I would create a parent letter that explains the project and outlines options for participation. One option would be to allow their child to use the website in a supervised setting and have the letter delivered to either the parent's email or to the student's email address if they have one. Another option would be to have the teacher send home a copy of the letter in a sealed envelope for them to hand to their child on a specific date.

So how might you use this "future me" letter idea in your classroom? How about having them write a letter the first week in January and schedule it to be delivered on the last day of school? Or they might write a letter to themselves and arrange for it to be delivered on January 1st of the following year.

What would you suggest that students write about in this letter? I created a graphic organizer and a packet of materials for you to use with your students, but I'm sure you can think of many other ideas, too.  Perhaps they could include a list of their goals for the coming months or year? How about a description of the student's life at the time the letter is written including current events, things that interest them, what's going on in their lives now, etc. Perhaps they could include a favorite motivational quote or some encouraging words. What else comes to mind? You can download the freebie shown here from my TeachersPayTeachers.com store. If you like it, please take a moment to follow me on TpT and to rate this item.

I'd love to hear your ideas for having your students write "future me" letters. Please share your ideas here as a comment on this blog so that others can read your suggestions. Sometimes an idea shared by one person will spark a new thought in someone else. I look forward to your suggestions!

15 comments:

  1. Oh, I love this idea. I have done time capsules before and this idea would work for that. How about if they wrote to their future self and had the letter delivered when they get to the next grade. You could get a lower grade teacher to have them write to their future self and you give it to them when they are in your room. You might even be able to work in an editing lesson because they would be better writers now. They could have an editing conference with themselves.

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  2. Thanks Selina! I like the idea of working this out between teachers at different grades.

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  3. What topics would they write? Are they making predictions? Maybe the easiest would be to imagine their summer vacation and see if it comes true. I would hate for them to make academic predictions that don't come true.

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  4. I think this activity would have to be guided carefully. It's not about predicting the future because that might be frustrating to read later. But if they wrote about goals they wanted to accomplish, then later when they read the letter they might think about whether they had accomplished them. Or maybe they could write some encouraging words to themselves in the future like, "Always believe in yourself." I think it would depend on the age level, too. Young kids might just write about what they like now because it will be fun to read later.

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  5. Hi Laura,
    We use this idea in 3rd grade and then when the students graduate in 8th grade they are read the letters they wrote. They write about what they like about school and about who they are as a person. Then, when they are in 8th grade, at a final assembly, the letters are read to them and they are asked to guess who wrote the letter. It's great to see how much they have changed in those 5 years.

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  6. Thanks for sharing what your school is doing! You must keep the same kids in your system. Our school system is very transient. I'm not sure how many 3rd graders would still be with us in 8th grade!

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  7. One idea I got when reading this is having them write a letter to themselves at the begining of the year and they get the letter at the end of the year. Have them write goals they want to accomplish through out the year and at the end of the year they can see if they accompilshed what they wanted to.

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  8. Jen, sounds like a great plan! I'll include it as a suggestion when I compile everything.

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  9. To introduce the concept, I think maybe a midway opening would be better than a year or longer. I believe it may be more useful if students began a small journey to reviewing what the future me would be before a long term one. I think I will plan a month look first then a longer look.

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  10. Brenda, great idea! So start with a short letter to yourself to be given at the end of a month or something so they understand the concept. Then write a longer one later.

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  11. In 2000, at the start of the new millenium, each of our 3 boys wrote '10 year letters' . I sealed them and was SO excited to open them in 2010. Truthfully, I was disappointed --they didn't have the excitement that I thought they would have. Lessons learned?--set out clear expectations (graphic organizer) , don't base the letter only on predictions, add some aspect of humor if possible.
    We did enjoy reading about their 'favorites' though. It's fun to see what the hot items were and how their tastes changed.
    I really like the idea of the New Year Tradition of reading a future me letter. Including a motto or encouraging words to themselves is a wonderful idea. I am going to ask the younger grade teachers if they will make time this January! Thanks!

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  12. Hi Laura:
    I use this with my 8th grade students. At the end of their 8th grade year, they must type a future-me letter beginning with their last year at St. Mary's and any special memories. Then they describe their wishes and accomplishments they would like to achieve in high school and close with where they hope to have attended college along with what they may major in. It is a 5 year letter that I mail back to them at the end of their first year of college. It's been a lot of fun going back and reading their letters, making comments, and then sending them back. I think they enjoy getting them back and seeing if they did some of their short-term bucket list.

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  13. I am going to use this to help the students evaluate their goals from first semester and set short term academic goals for second semester. (Including NWEA goals, which they will take beginning January 9.) In addition, I will have them set reading goals. Thanks for the idea, Laura!

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  14. I wanted to let everyone know that I've created a lesson packet on this topic called Letters to the Future and you can download it for free from my writing page at http://www.lauracandler.com/filecabinet/literacy/writing.php Thanks for everyone's comments!

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