I’ve got mail! That’s what my students exclaim when they receive a postcard from my classroom. It’s a delight to hear students discussing the mail they received and to hear other students committing to going to their P.O. Box immediately after school. Are they engaged? You bet!
So how do I use postcards to using postcards in your classroom?
- Meet the United States Post Office (USPO) requirements: Rectangular; Minimum of 3-1/2 inches high x 5 inches long x 0.007 inch thick; Maximum of 4-1/4 inches high x6 inches long x 016 inches thick.
- Postcard Resources:
- Print your own – Use cardstock and print four postcards per sheet. Create using the landscape orientation on a word-processing program. May also write personal message on front and return address on back. Add a graphic design or picture of our choosing to spice them up. And don’t forget to tap your artistic students to create a postcard for you to use! Great way to engage students as part of the process.
- Buy them – Office supply stores have boxes of printer ready sheets of postcards. The USPO has pre-stamped postcards for sale. Vista Print vistaprint.com will print whatever you want for an inexpensive price. Or search the Internet for souvenir postcards and order the ones you really like.
How can you use them? Below are just some of the ways I incorporate postcards into my classroom.
- Before School Starts – Send a welcome postcard to each student in your classes. Options include welcoming message with a little information about you. Information about what you did during the summer and a request to be prepared to share his/her summer experiences on the first day. Or a note about key supplies or other information needed for the start of school. Be creative and use humor!
- Postcard to Character – Write a postcard to a character in literature or subject with either a reaction to their choices or in response to their inventions. May also be a question the student would like answered. If a question postcard, I often ask another student to write a postcard back with an answer. Set up a mailbox in the classroom and have mail day to distribute the cards. One of the best postcards I’ve ever read was to the mathematician who created algebra! The student eventually admitted that he needed to study more rather than blaming Muhammad Al Khwarizmi.
- Question for the Unit – similar to Know, Want to Know, Learn (KWL) teaching strategy, but students write a question about the Essential Question for a unit. Postcards are kept until the end of the unit and then students receive postcard back and write the answer to their question. Good strategy to see if all ideas were clearly taught in the unit and to check student understanding.
- Exit Ticket – Great way to check for understanding after a lesson. Index cards work well for this and help the teacher know what the students absorbed as opposed to what you think you taught! Yes, sometimes mine don’t match up. Time to reteach!
- One Thing I Learned – Again, great way to capture what students are learning in class. Sometimes I send these home to parents/guardians to share what our class is focusing on learning. This also boosts the class’s public relations (PR) with the community. If asking students to address the postcard, be prepared! Many students have never addressed an envelope and/or postcard and will need instruction. Others may not know their mailing address. Patience is the key!
- Brag Moment – Another great way for students to let their parents/guardians hear in the student’s own words about something they are proud of accomplishing. I often hand the student the postcard and prompt them about what they could write about. Always keep an eye out for brag moments both inside and outside the classroom
- Invite to Conferences – My students write their own invitation to their parents inviting them to attend our Student Led Conferences. This postcard includes the day, date, time, location, and purpose of the conference. Since starting this, our attendance rate has grown! May also be used as a way to thank parents/guardians for attending the conference
- Lesson I Learned – Students have “Aha” moments all the time. It’s fun to have them write a postcard about a life lesson they’ve learned and then to send it to them when the school year’s over. What a great way to remind them how they grew over our year together.
When planning your strategies for connecting with your students and how to help them capture the ideas and questions surrounding your classroom’s content, don’t forget to send them a postcard from the teaching edge! And please, send me an electronic postcard with other ideas. As one of my students said, “I’m a sponge, and I’m here to absorb!”