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Students Write a Hot Letter to President Putin

A few weeks ago, I read a letter from a 7-year-old girl in the German newspaper “Die Rheinpfalz”, who wrote to President Putin, urging him to stop the war. I was reminded about the practice of former President Abraham Lincoln, who used to write “hot” letters if he was upset about something. He would write the letter, and then put it in his drawer, and never send it. With this concept, he was able to express his feelings and concerns.

Both paradigms gave me the inspiration to create an impromptu writing assignment in my English 4 class. We discussed which facts we knew about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. I was astonished how well informed most students were, and how much they had been thinking about this global, humanitarian crisis.

As the students began their assignment, I explained the importance of remaining polite in their discourse, no matter how much anger or misgivings they might feel towards the person to whom they were addressing the letter.

After this introductory phase, the students were eager to get started and embraced the idea to put on paper things that had been weighing on their minds for quite a while.

The sentiments expressed were:

  • Stop killing innocent people
  • End this war
  • You are isolating yourself against the rest of the world
  • This will not end well
  • You are irresponsible
  • You are hurting your own economy and your own people
  • How would you feel if this were done to you

We arranged the letters on posters and displayed them in the back of the classroom. My students agreed that this assignment made them think, express their thoughts clearly, and finally they could “publish” them. This was an effort well worth it.

Gabriele Monnett

English Teacher

Elementary School

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