From: Lisette W 

Advice Columnist
This activity can be adapted to any lesson, to meet many objectives.

1. A fictional letter asking for advice is written.

2. Students respond to the letter, giving a thoughtful response and
well-reasoned advice.
(note: as preparation, you might share some actual advice columns with
the students, as well as talking about how to write a well structured
and logical letter.)

Variation A:  As an "INTO" activity for a novel.  The teacher prepares
several letters ahead of time, as if written by the characters in the
novel to be read.  Teacher may or may not tell students the letters are
from fictional characters, depending on the intended outcome.  After
distributing the letters to the students, they read them and then
respond, as an advice columnist.  Students return to next class ready to
share both the letter asking for advice (as there might be some
variation among students) and their advice in response.  Discussion to
follow each (do you agree with the advice?)  which can be done as a
class or in groups.

Variation B:  As a "THROUGH" activity for a novel (or story)... Midway
through reading, after students are well-acquainted with the characters,
and know the main conflict of the plot, students choose one character to
role play and write a letter seeking advice.  Then the letters are
distributed and advice given, finishing the lesson as in variation A.
Warm ups to this activity would include keeping a character focused
reading log, characterization study, and role playing practice.

Variation C:  As a way to keep in touch with contemporary issues (which
may or may not mirror themes in a novel you're reading), and a "beyond"
exercise...Students are to follow issues/events in the
newspaper/tv/magazines for a designated period of time.  With the
information found in the news recorded in an fact log, students design
advice request based on their knowledge of the event.  As with the
previous two variations, letters are exchanged and responded to.
(example: Dear Abby, I'm the leader of a large nation that has gone
through a lot of political and economic changes, especially in the past
decade.  After everything I tried to do to help, they don't want me
anymore...[etc etc] What should I do?)

Variation D: "Into" activity--To introduce students to an issue or
concept that will be discussed in class.  Teacher prepares advice
request letters ahead of time, based on the dilemma in the concept or
issues students are going to be studying (either in the novels, or as a
writing project, etc).  If possible, can find real advice column letters
that deal with the same issue, too.  Again, students are presented with
the letters and asked to respond.

There can be variations in how the letters are shared, too.  The letters
can be posted on the wall, and students asked to respond to
three...posting those responses underneath.  They can be presented
annonymously in read around groups (using ID# instead of student
names).  Group counsels can be formed, and ideas brainstormed on how to
best help the advice seeker.  And so on.


Expected outcomes: improved critical thinking skills, know the friendly
letter format, ability to communicate well in groups, collaboration and
problem solving skills, in depth familarity with characterization,
understand some structure of advice/how to essay and ready to practice
writing one, and more...

:)

Lisette