Unlocking Student Voice: Letters to the Newsela Editor

Unlocking Student Voice: Letters to the Newsela Editor

Throughout March, Newsela students were hard at work reading and writing about topics that matter to them most. In celebration of student voice, teachers sent us their students’ letters to the editor after using the  Students Making Their Voices Heard Text Set as inspiration. Now, we’re excited to publish some of their best work with responses from our managing editor, Steph Vatz:


Dear Newsela,

Please help! Animals around the globe from otters to rhinos are dying from poachers. I want to stop poaching. Do you want your children’s kids to grow up without animals to observe and appreciate? Do you want the environment to not have animals? This isn't only about us!

Don't you feel badly for the sharks being killed for their fins to make soup? Also, lions are being killed for fun. According to Newsela, without help, the reticulated giraffe could soon be gone.

In just a decade, more than 7,245 African rhinos have been lost to poaching. Do you think rhinos deserve to have their mothers killed and then get dehorned and abandoned? Will a recent decline in South African poaching mark a new dawn for rhinos?

How many animals are killed for human use every year? The numbers are in the billions, and these are just the ones we know about. A Landmark Analysis found that 100,000 elephants were killed by poachers in just three years. Also, Central Africa has lost 64 percent of its elephants in a decade. In addition, we could have lost the cheetah last year in 2017.

If you agree that we need to stop poaching, please help and please write an article about it!

Sincerely,

Animal Advocate


Hi Animal Advocate,

Thanks for writing to Newsela. You make a great point! Us humans are stewards of this Earth and animals deserve our protection. I really like the way you used numerical evidence to make your argument. You persuaded me with concrete, specific examples of ways animals are currently being mistreated by humans.

We have already run a few articles on poaching — it’s definitely a more complicated issue that I previously thought it was! You can read about poaching here.

Best,

Stephanie Vatz
Managing Editor
Newsela


Dear Newsela Editor,

Have you ever been hurt by words? It doesn’t feel good. Athletes are getting hurt by unkind comments on social media, and countless people are getting bullied (online and at schools). How do we stop bullying? Read on to find out. We must stop bullying!

My first reason is that athletes are getting hurt by unkind comments on social media. For example, Gabby Douglas started to cry because of online bullying. That almost made me cry. Another example is a basketball player was bullied for being Chinese American and he said it hurt him badly. Finally, people also called him hurtful names and it made him play bad in a important game and I know that I would play badly if that happened to me because I am a athlete. That leads me into my second reason.

My second reason is that too many people are getting bullied. Experts say that 7 out of 10 young adults have been bullied online. In addition, imagine if 7 out of 10 athletes are getting bullied and it is affecting them? We don’t want that to happen. Finally, so many people are getting bullied and that is leading into bigger problems. That wrapped up this reason and leads me into my final reason.

How do we stop bullying? We stop bullying by standing up for yourself and your friends like Gabby Douglas said, “If you just say ‘hey that’s not right.’ they will back off.” Another solution is to encourage everyone to get an app that doesn't let you send mean messages on video games, texting, and social media. My final solution is, if someone is bullying you, you go to someone you trust and they can help stop that.

In conclusion, bullying is a big problem and it needs to stop! Joseph said “It makes me feel scared and uncomfortable.” Use these solutions and help stop bullying because it can lead to bigger problems and it doesn’t feel good. Help us, we can’t do it alone.

Sincerely,

Empathetic Athlete
 

Hi Empathetic Athlete,

Thanks for your thoughtful letter. As a matter of fact, I have been hurt by words and by bullying. I’ve also been a bully myself and have failed to be kind to people around me. I agree with you wholeheartedly that bullying is a huge problem.

In your letter, you mentioned two solutions. One was an app — I really like that idea and think you should pursue it! Have you thought about learning to code it yourself? There are a lot of programs online that would teach you for free. You could ask your teacher or parent to help you find one that’s right for you.

Another idea you had was to stop bullying by reporting it - this is SO important, which is why we have a long list of articles on Newsela that tell you what to do if you are being bullied or see someone else who is being bullied. You can find some of those articles here.

Bullying is a hard problem to solve, but I think if we work together, we could make the world a kinder place.

Sincerely,

Stephanie Vatz
Managing Editor
Newsela


Dear Newsela,

Do you think guns are a problem in country? If you do, you should read this letter.We need better gun control because too many people are carrying guns around and the government isn’t do enough about it. Reason one, we need better gun control because, guns can hurt a lot of people. For example, there are 30,000 gun shootings a year, and 20,000 of those are people killing themselves. Some people say guns are good for self defense, but sometimes they can get into the wrong hands. They can also hurt a lot of animals. Reason two, there are too many school shootings. For example, some schools are getting shooting threats. The last school shooting was in California. There are about seven school shooting threats a year in the us. Reason three, suicide is a big problem. For example, when people get bullied they might use a gun on themselves. A way that we can fix this is by doing a background test before we let someone buy a gun. Also, make gun available only through the government. We need to feel safe in our own country. We need to stand up and stop this madness.

Sincerely,

Sick of Gun Violence

Hi Sick of Gun Violence,

Thank you for taking the time to write this. You are absolutely right that gun violence — especially gun violence at school — needs to stop. All students should feel completely safe when they are in school and learning.

To your points, I would say that your voice on this matters. Please keep using it. To make your voice even stronger, you can equip yourself with information about gun laws and learn more about different points of view on this topic.

There are many young activists just like you who are upset about gun violence. You can read about one of them, a fifth-grader named Naomi Wadler, here.

Thanks again for writing in and don’t give up!

Stephanie Vatz
Managing Editor
Newsela

Want to see your students’ work on the Newsela blog? There’s still time to submit student using this form. These savvy responses from a third-grade class in Oregon are a great source of inspiration for you and your students. (Student names have been and will be, of course, omitted to protect their privacy when they appear on our blog.)

Celebrate Neurodiversity With Newsela

Celebrate Neurodiversity With Newsela