I haven’t thought much about pen pals since elementary school when there was a sense of mystery and excitement associated with receiving a letter from a faraway friend. Using pen pals in AP Literature has captured a bit of that fun and whimsy, all in the context of literary analysis.
Here’s how it happened: As I was planning lessons for our first novel (Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie), I knew that I wanted students to write informal responses while reading–to develop ideas, share insights, and ask questions. I also knew that I did not want to add to my always-overwhelming stack of papers to grade. Emboldened by Kelly Gallagher’s assertion that “students should be writing way more than a teacher can grade,” I decided that this work would not be handed in. And yet, my students needed to have an audience for this piece. That’s when I remembered pen pals. … KEEP READING