Letter Writing Unit

By Betsy Norris

This letter writing unit challenges students to write friendly and business letters. This unit is fun and students learn much about writing. This unit strengthens their technology skills, exercises their creativity, lets them practice research skills, acquaints them with proper letter writing techniques, and gives students opportunity to visit resource sites to discover information about authors and their town as they learn about writing letters. Finally students will demonstrate their new knowledge by typing and sharing a chosen letter. One letter will also be prepared and mailed. When students finish this project, they will be a better writer and a better communicator. All of these skills presented in this unit will be highly valuable to students all of your life.

Writing Letters is a two week communication skills project. This project has been designed for a sixth grade English class, but it can be adapted and used as a project in any upper elementary, middle school, or high school class. The flexibility of this project should allow teachers to focus on certain issues. This can shorten or lengthen the scope and sequence of the lesson(s).

This is a fun and motivating process to teach and review letter writing with your students. This project invites you and your students to enjoy letter writing in various ways. Students are offered an opportunity to understand how letter styles vary. Together, teacher and students, will work together to arm themselves with a letter writing talent improving and strengthening thinking and communication skills.

Upon completion, this Unit will enable students to:

Curriculum Standards

In addition to describing learning outcomes within English class, this project promotes inference-making, critical thinking, creative production, creative problem-solving, observation and categorization, comparison, and it teaches independent thinking. Sixth to eighth grade reading and writing standards can be drawn from the Tennessee Curriculum Framework. 

The goal of this WebQuest was to provide a project by which students would develop skills necessary to produce excellent written language.

Writing is a life-long interactive process that is used to communicate with a variety of audiences and for a variety of purposes, adapting language conventions appropriately according to context. Writing is an act of discovery, a means of personal growth, and a tool for clarifying knowledge. To accomplish writing tasks more effectively, students need exposure to a variety of strategies, such as those included in the stages of the writing process in order to approach writing systematically. To improve writing, one needs an understanding of the concept of writing letters. 

Resources Needed

What is needed to implement this lesson? You will need to read this entire project very carefully and gather all the resources for your classroom. Become comfortable and familiar with the teaching materials before you initiate this project.

Elements for success:

  1. Student centered teaching environment 
  2. Adequate time spent teaching students about letter writing
  3. Additional materials for students to support the project 
  4. Student choice and accountability 
  5. Access to the library media center 
  6. Adequate planning time with the school librarian 
  7. Time for students to complete tasks 
  8. Computer access for students and teachers 
  9. Student, teacher, parent, administration, and librarian communication

Entry Level Skills and Knowledge

  What research and multimedia design skills do you and your students bring to this project? A basic understanding of Internet research, and reasonable facility with multimedias tools are needed. 

With this project you can teach students to:

  1. Search the Internet for needed information
  2. Compare and contrast ideas
  3. Read carefully for detail
  4. Articulate how letter writing will be beneficial, meaningful, and useful throughout life as students talk and write throughout their lives.
Other Prerequisite Learning:
paragraph writing experience, writing simple sentences, knowledge of web page navigation, and some basic research knowledge


Implementation Overview

  This quest challenges students to investigate letter writing.  It allows for strengthening technology skills, exercising creativity, practicing research skills. Students will practice letter writing and produce a friendly and business letter that demonstrates their understanding of the concepts.

Students will demonstrate their grasp of the concepts by writing a letter. You will need to:

  • Devise a learning standard.

  • What do you expect your students to know and be able to do at the end of the project? Create an assessment rubrics for letters. 
  • Decide on the learning product.

  • This would be specific letters. This teacher will insist that students collect all letters and then choose specific ones to perfect for grades.

Suggestions for Implementation

  You can spend a week, a month, or work on this unit throughout the year. Use this project to inspire your students to practice, to encourage independent work, and to instill an apprectiation for communication skills in the student. This unit could be designed to accompany a thematic unit on their town, poetry, or just as an end of the year review. We suggest that you begin by showing examples to your students. Visit other letter lesson plans and ideas in order to adapt this unit to your classroom. 

  Implementation (Procedure and Activities)
Building Background Knowledge and Skills
  1. Anticipatory Set - Develop basic knowledge of letter writing skills.This could involve writing dictated sentences, creating envelopes, addressing postcards, and/or discussions of what happens when one doesn't address things correctly. 
  2. Teach students how to use the resources. 
  3. Time spent reading through this Teaching Page will be time well spent.
  4. Review with the students and make sure that they have the prerequite skills needed for this unit. If you need to teach basic sentence construction, using a word processor, writing skills, or using the Internet for research, you must do that first. 
  5. Procedure for unit: Day 1-10: Day 1, introduce friendly letters (their parts and reasons) Demostrate and model for students. Students will write a friendly letter while following a set pattern dictated from the teacher. 
  6. Day 2- Students will branch out to write their own friendly letters. Students will learn about addressing envelopes for their letters.
  7. Day 3 -The teacher will use the links for stories, etc. to motivate some thinking skills in writing friendly letters.
  8. Day 4 Students' writing will culminate in an actual friendly letter to mail.
  9. Day 5- Students will compare and contrast email to traditional mail in sending messages. Students will use the Internet for this contrast. 
  10. Day 6- Students will be introduced to business letters. They will compare and contrast the business letter to the friendly letter. They will practice writing one in this format as the teacher models.
  11. Day 7 - Students will use addresses and ideas from the Internet links to practice the skills involved in business letter writing.
  12. Day 8- Students will write an actual business letter that will be mailed.
  13. Day 9 - Students will use the computers to type their business letters. Envelopes will be addressed.
  14. Day 10 - Students will have the final evaluation and test over letter writing. Each letter will be graded using the appropriate rubric before it is mailed. 
  Evaluation and Assessment
  What will students learn as a result of this unit of study? Here are some assessment questions:
Can students name the parts of the friendly and business letter?
How will new opportunities of the 21st century allow students to use what they have learned from this unit? 
What makes your project an effective example of demonstrating what was learned from this unit?
You and your students will also use and discuss the assessment rubrics for your class project. 

Visit the Rubrics that will be used for evaluation.

Please visit the Student Gallery for original student letters.

Business letters Main Letter Writing Unit Page Friendly Letters  
Updated 1-15-00

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