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Write a Message in a Bottle

Students will write a letter to people living 100 years from now. They will relate both important news and everyday experiences so the people of 2116 understand what life was like in the year 2016.

PROCESS:

  1. Have each student take out a piece of paper. Tell students to imagine that they could travel back to the year 1916 and talk to someone their age. Instruct them to make a list of things they'd like to learn about that person's life. Encourage them to consider topics such as news, current events and even how people complete mundane tasks on an everyday basis.
  2. Invite students to share their ideas with the class. Create a master list of the most frequent items or topics mentioned.
  3. Point out that these are quite likely the same things people living 100 years in the future would like to know about how they live in the year 2016.
  4. Instruct students to select their favorite topics from the master list. Then have them write a letter to someone their age living 100 years from now. Encourage them to include plenty of details and examples so the person receiving their letter understands what it's like to live in the year 2016. Recommend that they review articles on the Teen Tribune website for ideas about current news events. 

ASSESSMENT: 

Invite students to read their letters aloud to the class. After all letters have been read, challenge students to identify the overall impression the letters would make on someone reading them 100 years from now. What would they think about life in 2016?

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:   

Grades 3-4:
Divide the class into small groups. Have each group write a letter. Instruct them to include at least one news item, one current event and one explanation of how they complete an everyday task. Tell them to include details and examples that match the overall impression they'd like to make on the person reading their letter.

Grades 5-6:
Divide the class into pairs. Have partners work together to write a letter. Instruct them to include at least three news items, three current events and three explanations of how they complete everyday tasks. Tell them to include details and examples that match the overall impression they'd like to make on the person reading their letter.

Grades 7-8:
Divide the class into pairs. Have partners work together to identify the lasting impression they'd like to make on the person reading their letter. For example, do they consider 2016 to be an optimistic year? Or do they have a more pessimistic view of the world based on current events? Once partners agree on a focus, instruct them to write a letter. Challenge them to include several news items, current events and explanations of how they complete everyday tasks. Each example should support the overall impression they'd like to make on the person reading their letter.

Grades 9-10:
Instruct each student to select one adjective that they think summarizes the overall mood of 2016. Then have students write a letter to someone their age living in the year 2116. Encourage them to identify and describe important news items and current events that have occurred this year. Tell them to also describe mundane tasks they do every day. Challenge students to craft their letters in a way that all examples support the overall mood they identified before writing their letters.