While this was going on, Arbour Lake was also participating in We Are Silent, in which students and staff refrained from speaking in order to honour individuals around the world who lack the freedom to speak for themselves. The idea of learning business letter format without speaking was initially daunting, but we decided to see if the new Google Apps for Education suite could address some of those challenges. We created business letter exemplars in Google Docs and then used the comment tool to pose guiding questions for students to consider and “discuss” electronically. Students then wrote their own letters to the Prime Minister following the provided example, and sought feedback from their classmates by digitally sharing their work with trusted peers.
By the end of a single lesson students had raised money for, and awareness of, people without the right to free speech, participated actively in their nation’s democratic process and learned how to write a business letter. Not bad for one morning, hey?