Thursday, February 20, 2020

Middle School (6-8) Time Capsule Project Recommendations

Once you have studied the history and achievements of active School Time Capsule Projects and decided to start one for your school, the goals to be achieved are the following:

1) Introduce it to your students and prepare for the first writing lesson.  Remember, each set of letters require two class periods, one to write letters to each parent and relative the student wants letters back from and the second after having received these letters to put them into one self-addressed envelope.  Then the student writes a letter to themselves reflecting on letters received and planning and updating their plans for their own future.  (At home students could write letters to as many relatives as they want, anywhere in the world, using any language necessary.  They mail them.)  They write separate letters to each individual as everyone has a different family history with a different set of stories to write about.

2) Introduce this project to parents every chance you get. Let them know that the goal is to help students know their roots and develop their plans for the future, a process that never ends.  These will be documents that will help their child start a better awareness of how to plan for the future.

3) From the very start begin to recruit School Time Capsule Project Postmasters. They will be volunteers who help this project year to year in each classroom.  They sort letters from the previous year so that they can be handed out to the students each year before the next round of letter writing.  It is recommended they be allowed to hand out the letters as a form of reinforcement.  If they do not enjoy seeing the positive responses of the students in getting their year old letters back, they may not be the right folks for the job.

If all goes well your middle school will be receiving students who have already been introduced to the Time Capsule Project and who have been writing and receiving letters about their families dreams for them, and reading stories from their family history, for many years. Hopefully they will have letters waiting for them at your school that they wrote in the 5th grade.  But you will always have students just starting.  We begin there.

Pass out the letters for any of your students received from their previous grade. Explain to all what those letters are and pass out directions like this to read with the class for this assignment.

Directions for 6th  through 8th grade students for the first Time Capsule Project writing lesson:
What are your dreams for me?
Directions for the Time Capsule Project Middle School Letters 2-20-20

Write a letter to each of the most important adults in your life. Write to your parents, grandparents, guardians or other relatives. You may even write to school staff you may be close to.  Write to adults from whom you would like a letter describing their dreams for you.   

You may write your letter in any language and you may write additional letters at home with your parents help as needed. 

You will write such letters each year.  You change a lot in one year.  You will write letters to the adults observing your changes.  They will describe how their dreams for you have changed as you change.

Ask them to each also write one story from your family’s history. It can be a story about themselves or any relative.  It should be a story they consider valuable. It should be a story they want you to pass on to your children someday.   

When your parents and/or relatives finish their letter, read it at home with them as soon as possible. Ask them questions you may have. The goal is for you to understand the letter. 

Bring all the letters you have received to your Language Arts Class. Do this on the day planned to write a letter to yourself. On that day your teacher will give you an envelope. It will hold all the letters you have received. Place your name and address on this envelope. The return address is the date, your teachers name, grade, school, and school address. You will then write a letter to yourself about your own plans for the future.

Place the letter you write into this self-addressed envelope with all your letters. Seal it. That envelope will be placed into the School Time-Capsule by the Postmaster.  This should happen each year until you graduate. 

Every year you will receive back the envelope with your letters before you write the next set of letters. The only differences will be in the 8th and 12th grade. Those years you will write letters planning your life 10-years into the future.  Those same years the relatives writing to you will also describe their dreams for you 10-years into the future. These 10-year letters will remain inside the School Time Capsule for 10 years.

In 10 years your class will have a 10-year reunion. At that reunion you will receive these envelopes back. School staff will invite you to speak with the then current students in your former middle school.  You will give your recommendations for success to them. You will describe life after middle school and the work you do.

The existence of these letters from parents and students themselves will be in the background as school work continues.  As goal issues come up during class it can be mentioned as something that will be updated next year.

This letter writing is recommended for the start of the school year but it can be done at any time the teacher in a grade find it convenient.  If possible, for the entire school to do the letter writing at the same time may be easiest.

Each year, before the letter writing starts the Time Capsule Postmaster Volunteers will need to have a day to sort the letters into the classes students are currently attending.   It is recommended that each year the class roster with home addresses be placed into the class container and into the vault to help in knowing the students.

Each year some students may have moved out of the school area.  It is recommended that if the school they are moving to is also a school with a Time Capsule Project, that the letter be sent to that school to help welcome them and continue the letter writing there.  If it is not a Time Capsule Project school, then send the letter to the new home address. 

The 8th grade letters remain in the vault, with a listing of all students and a check made on that listing for everyone with an envelope in the vault.

Questions are welcomed!  Bill Betzen,

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