As a teacher, one of your most important goals is likely to help your students find their own voices and express their opinions. In the United States, that kind of expression is an essential part of civic engagement. Every voice matters, whether that voice is heard through a vote, a protest, or a petition.
One of the oldest forms of making your voice heard is through sending letters to government officials and representatives. The Founders sent each other stacks of letters, arguing over the best form of representation and the wording of U.S. foundational documents. Susan B. Anthony sent a petition to Congress arguing for women’s suffrage. During the Civil War, a black woman wrote to President Lincoln about her son’s military service and the need for emancipation. A group of scientists wrote to President Truman in an attempt to persuade him not to use the atomic bomb they had developed during the Manhattan Project. Jackie Robinson wrote a letter to President Kennedy, supporting the civil rights movement and advocating for faster progress toward equality for African Americans. A woman who fought cancer sent a letter to President Obama urging him to work on health care reform.
We’re providing resources to help your students and anyone else in your school community write persuasive letters about the issues that matter most to them. These letters will help the president understand the thoughts, concerns, and hopes of people from around the country, especially the important voices of the next generation of voters that he may not have heard yet.
Use these graphic organizers to have your students plan their letters. Then you can have them write and revise their letters, including effective transitions, additional supporting evidence, and persuasive calls to action, on separate sheets of paper or documents.
Teachers can print out and mail letters to the following address to reach the president:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Additional information can be found at the White House contact page.