June 25, 1997
Kenneth wrote to Mr. Bob today and as the day unfolded so did a unique bond between a young boy in Maryland and his on-line mentor in the United Kingdom.
Good Morning Mr. Bob,
Sorry I didn't have time to write to you yesterday, but we had a substitute. I played cards with my brother yesterday. I played with my friend. How are you feeling today? It is really hot here today!! It is already 80 degrees. I played in the dirt with my cars. I am feeling good today. When I get home today I am going to play with my brother.
Don't worry about not writing yesterday, I understand. How is your sunburn today? I'm glad to hear you are feeling good today, I'm fine thanks. It's not so hot here today, in fact it's raining quite hard now. The temperature is probably about 58 degrees F. Is your brother older than you? or younger? Are you getting on well at summer school? I hope so. I'd like to see you get through the grade. You will let me know how you are doing, will you?
I took Kenneth's letter to his classroom soon after it arrived and found his teacher leaning over his desk helping him with "contractions." I could see a frustrated and confused little boy. Contractions had got the best of him. As I handed him the letter below from Mr. Bob... guess what we saw! Yes... contractions! I asked Kenneth to show me the contractions in Mr. Bob's message and he smiled as he did. We even found the two words for one of Mr. Bob's contractions on Kenneth's worksheet. His teacher was pleased (and I was, too). I walked back to my computer lab and sent a quick note to Mr. Bob telling him about the scene I had just left. Here is Bob's next letter to Kenneth.
Hello again Kenneth,
So you're doing contractions today. Wow that's heavy stuff eh? Can I help you? Maybe if I put some contractions in my letter, and you can work them out. No pressures. You and me. I've used some already, can you find them? I hope that it is not too hard. I am sure that you are clever enough to find them. They're very useful because they save me some typing. I'm sure that you use them all the time without thinking. It's just that we grown ups make it sound hard. I have no doubt, that once you catch on, you'll cope. Have a good read of this letter, in your own time, and hunt around for them. They are not so hard to find. It is also difficult when you're under pressure. Try later tonight. Take a pencil, and underline them, and look for the two words which make them. Once you get the hang of it you will think, wow! that's easy. If you can't find them all it doesn't matter between buddies does it? Can you give it a try? I think I have put lots and lots here for you to find, and remember it does not matter between us, if you cannot find them, but you will feel great if you do. No time limit, do them when you can, and let me know. That is if I have done it right. I will get told off if I haven't. Hope I have not missed anything out, eh?
I gave Kenneth the printed sheet with Mr. Bob's newest message and we read it together. We had some minutes before the buses arrived to circle the contractions and look for the two words somewhere else in the letter that matched the contractions Mr. Bob had made. Here is a picture of Kenneth's work. He didn't mind doing the task for his buddy across the seas in far away County Durham.