Top of My List: Empower Writers + a Second Grader's Letter to Donald Trump

Blog post about empowering student writers by Janiel Wagstaff
Top of my list of writing objectives: empowering writers.  How do we do that?  Make student-learning relevant, honor students' ideas and thinking beyond how things look on the page, and share their writing outside the classroom walls as much as possible.  

Case in point: read the letter below to Donald Trump written by second grader, Claire, who wants him to declare unicorns are real.  In her matter-of-fact way, she expects her writing will be sent and received by the President.  She clearly expects response.  What makes this little writer so confident?

First of all, from kindergarten, Claire has written.  Her pictures and words on the page were received as joyful stories, captivating poems, important information or opinions.  Yes, her teacher also taught the skills she and her classmates needed to grow as writers.  But, first and foremost, her writing was received with the same passion with which it was written.

Claire was in her own mother's classroom for first grade. The writing emphasis continued, and so did the excitement around the writing, the import, the declaration that those first graders had important stories to tell and information and opinions to share.  Yes, the teacher also taught skills and strategies to improve the abilities of her writers as they grew.  In fact, a lot of the teaching she did came from the use of her own students' writing as mentor texts for explicit instruction (read more posts on this topic here: 
and here ). 

Now, Claire is in second grade.  And, she's writing to Donald Trump.  Best of all, her current teacher didn't ask her to do this writing; she did it in her free time after finishing another class writing assignment.  She did her own research using her iPad.  Now, she is ready to hear from the President.  More importantly, this writer continues to develop confidence as the instruction in her classroom and the response from home is positive, enthusiastic, and encouraging.  

I'll let you know if Donald Trump responds.  In the meantime, if you'd like to leave any comments for Claire, feel free.  She'd love to read what you think about her research and appeal.

Here's to all of her teachers, her family, and to all teachers who spend time contemplating response, designing relevant instruction, and, in any and all ways, EMPOWERING WRITERS!
Blog post about empowering student writers by Janiel Wagstaff

Blog post about empowering student writers by Janiel Wagstaff

Blog picture fonts by Artsy Fonts


  1. I just love this! Claire as a young writer has certainly developed her voice and opinion. She makes a strong argument to why unicorns should be declared real. I am interested to see what else Claire will write in the future. Empowering writers is one of the most important things to do to develop writers. I taught 2nd grade for 10 years and find it so fascinating to see what their passions and interests are. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Thanks for your kind comments and for reading, Christine! I published more of Claire's writing in one of my books. It's absolutely the BEST when kids love to write and generate writing on their own, then you know they're hooked! #happywriting!

  2. Dear Claire,
    What an excellent letter! You certainly did your research and presented your facts and arguments very clearly and in such a thoughtful, precise manner. No matter what President Trump's decision turns out to be, I am sure that he will be most impressed with your presentation of your case to declare unicorns real. Best of luck, and I hope that you will let us know your progress on this very wonderful movement to have unicorns recognized as being real.
    Mrs. E.
    PS Should President Trump's answer turn out to be a 'no', please don't give up. Maybe you can think of other important people to write to who could help you, maybe you could even start an online petition... I would sign it!

    1. Jody,
      Thanks so much for your letter to Claire. I will copy it and give it to her tomorrow. She will be absolutely beaming to have received some thoughtful response. Don't be surprised if she writes back to you!
      #happywriting! -Janiel


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