Writing Business Letters Grade Nine

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1 Ohio Standards Connection Writing Applications Benchmark C Produce letters (e.g. business, letters to the editor, job applications) that follow the conventional style appropriate to the text and include appropriate details and exclude extraneous details and inconsistencies. Indicator 3 Write business letters, letters to the editor and job applications that: a. address audience needs, stated purpose and context in a clear and efficient manner; b. follow the conventional style appropriate to the text using proper technical terms; c. include appropriate facts and details; d. exclude extraneous details and inconsistencies; and e. provide a sense of closure to the writing. Lesson Summary: Students use their previous knowledge of purpose and audience to create meaningful, real-world business letters that promote goodwill. Letters will be published. Estimated Duration: Approximately six hours. Commentary: Students learn better when they connect their new learning to previous experiences; therefore, relating this lesson to previous writing activities helps students realize the need to consider purpose and audience for every piece of published writing. This lesson can be used as a part of a workshop approach or as a part of whole-class instruction. Students were significantly impacted by the lesson although they have done revisions before; this was a longer and more involved process. The attachments helped them view the paper from an evaluative perspective. Excellent, specific rubric and definition of business letter elements. Pre-Assessment: Observe students understanding of the writing process; Assess prior documents; Observe students understanding of purpose and audience; Use the terms from Elements of a Business Letter, Attachment C to lead a discussion on the class understanding of the elements of a business letter. Scoring Guidelines: Use observational assessment data, as well as ongoing assessment data, to determine students active involvement in the writing process. Use class discussion of the terms in Elements of a Business Letter, Attachment C to determine if the concepts need to be introduced, reviewed or reinforced. Post-Assessment: Use the Generic Four-Point Analytic Scale (Attachment A) to assess the quality of the deadline draft (the student s letter). Scoring Guidelines: See the Generic Four-Point Analytic Scale, Attachment A. 1

2 Instructional Procedures: Day One 1. Use the think-pair-share activity to get students thinking about goodwill. Display the questions in Establishing Goodwill (Attachment B) on the overhead and allow students to respond to the questions individually for five minutes (Think). 2. Pair students for three minutes to exchange their responses and ensure every student has an answer to share with the entire class (Pair). 3. Have students share their answers as you conduct a full class discussion about goodwill (Share). Make sure all of the questions have been answered completely and that all students have a working understanding of the concept of goodwill (the creation of a friendly, positive tone). Record responses on chart paper, so the entire class has a posted list of the characteristics of goodwill. 4. Use the concept of goodwill to introduce the business letter writing lesson, emphasizing that all successful business letters not only practice the principles of good communication but seek the goodwill of their readers. 5. Provide each student with a copy of Elements of a Business Letter, Attachment C. Use an overhead and transparency of the attachment in order to identify the elements of a business letter. Instructional Tip: By providing the students with a copy of your overhead, Attachment C, you are able to model note-taking procedures students may use to ensure they understand the parts of a letter. You may also provide concrete examples of the different elements of a business letter as you write specific examples on the overhead. Homework: Distribute Graphic Organizer, Attachment D. Have students complete only the first, Example column, before the next class. The people and businesses that make the products listed may be the audience of the business letter. Ask students to think of a peer who did a nice thing for them. Have them write the name of the individual in the first block. Instruct the students to complete the rest of the first column this way. Day Two 6. Distribute a copy of the Sample Letter, Attachment E, and ask students to individually identify the elements of the letter and have them identify the parts of the letter that establish goodwill. 7. Have students check their own work as you lead the class in a review of yesterday s lesson, using an overhead transparency of the Sample Letter, Attachment E to identify the elements of a business letter and characteristics of goodwill. 8. Review the broad categories (purposes) for writing: informing, explaining, persuading, exploring and entertaining. 9. Explain that business letters may have some of the same purposes. Use the top half of an overhead transparency of Three General Types of Business Letters, Attachment F to identify three broad categories for business writing. 10. Divide the class into groups of three. Have each person in the group take one of the three categories (positive, negative, persuasive) and generate a list of specific examples for each 2

3 category. Students may use some of their ideas from last night s homework for inspiration. Have each group record its list on a blank transparency to share with the class. 11. After groups work individually, have each group present its examples to the class. 12. Use the second part of Three General Types of Business Letters, Attachment F to discuss organization strategies for each type of letter. Use the specific examples from the lists students generated in step 10. Homework: Have students complete the rest of their Graphic Organizer, Attachment D, by identifying different types of letters they might write with regard to the specific products and/or services they listed. Day Three 13. Distribute copies of Establishing Goodwill Through Positive Tone, Attachment G and have students individually rephrase the sentences in order to generate more goodwill (create a more positive tone). 14. Divide students into groups of four to share their responses. If necessary, as an entire class complete a sentence or two that seems especially difficult. 15. Have students choose one of the products or services from their Graphic Organizer, Attachment D, to write and mail a real letter. 16. Distribute and read with your students Attachment A, Generic Four-Point Analytic Scale and Attachment H, Getting Started on Letters, Attachment H. Remind students to use the Elements of a Business Letter, Attachment C, and the Sample Letter, Attachment E, to assist them in their writing. 17. Help students determine the correct mailing address for their letter (using phone books, Internet or product packaging). 18. Follow your established patterns/protocols for working through the writing process. As needed, pass out the Generic Revision Checklist for Business Letters, Attachment I, and send students to the computer (or writing center) to type their deadline draft. Day Four 19. Provide individual instruction and assistance, as needed, as students continue to work on their letters. Use self- and peer-evaluation strategies that have been effective in the past. 20. Supply students with samples of correctly addressed letters in order to model the correct format. 21. Remind students to turn in the following pieces of evidence of their writing process: Two deadline drafts (one to assess and one to mail), All working drafts, One self-evaluation, and One peer-evaluation. Instructional Tip: Have envelopes available in class so students can address the envelope and mail the letter. 3

4 Differentiated Instructional Support: Instruction is differentiated according to learner needs to help all learners either meet the intent of the specified indicator(s) or, if the indicator is already met, to advance beyond the specified indicator(s). Allow extra time for drafting for students who need it. Provide a hard copy of notes taken in class, as necessary. Encourage students who need more of a challenge to write the persuasive letter and then emphasize the subtleties of persuasion. Interdisciplinary Connections: If students are currently working on a research project in another class, compose a letter of inquiry to ask for some of the information you need. Begin thinking about this assignment by making a list of things you want to know. Social Studies Skills and Methods Standard Benchmark: B. Use data and evidence to support or refute a thesis. Indicator: 4. Develop and present a research project including. collection of data. Materials and Resources: The inclusion of a specific resource in any lesson formulated by the Ohio Department of Education should not be interpreted as an endorsement of that particular resource, or any of its contents, by the Ohio Department of Education. The Ohio Department of Education does not endorse any particular resource. The Web addresses listed are for a given site s main page, therefore, it may be necessary to search within that site to find the specific information required for a given lesson. Please note that information published on the Internet changes over time, therefore the links provided may no longer contain the specific information related to a given lesson. Teachers are advised to preview all sites before using them with students. For the teacher: overhead projector, photocopies of all attachments, overhead transparencies of the handouts, overhead markers, blank transparencies, model envelopes For the students: internet access, yellow pages, white pages, handouts, blank transparencies, envelopes Vocabulary: audience block style buffer deadline draft goodwill motivate purpose working draft Technology Connections: Use the overhead for instructing the whole group, modeling and reporting out. Use word processors for working drafts and deadline drafts and addressing envelopes. 4

5 Use the Internet to research contact names and addresses. Research Connections: Arter, Judith and Jay McTighe. Scoring Rubrics in the Classroom: Using Performance Criteria for Assessing and Improving Student Performance. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press, An analytical trait rubric divides a product or performance into essential traits or dimensions so they can be judged separately one analyzes a product or performance for essential traits. A separate score is provided for each trait. Analytical rubrics manage to: Judge complex performances involving several significant dimensions; Break performances into traits in order to more readily grasp the components of quality and Provide more specific feedback to students, parents and teachers. Lyman, F. (1981). "The responsive classroom discussion." In Anderson, A. S. (Ed.), Mainstreaming Digest, College Park, Md.: University of Maryland College of Education. Think-Pair-Share is one of the most common cooperative learning structures. It is extremely versatile because it can be used for higher-level thinking as well as basic review and recall. It is important to follow the steps exactly to avoid "group work" pitfalls. In this structure, the teacher will ask students to think about a topic, have them pair with a partner to discuss it, and finally have them share their ideas with a group. General Tip: Providing models, as well as making the purpose of the writing real to the students, is the best way to ensure quality results. The writing must be purposeful and meaningful or else it s just another assignment. Attachments: Attachment A, Generic Four-Point Analytic Scale Attachment B, Establishing Goodwill Attachment C, Elements of a Business Letter Attachment D, Graphic Organizer Attachment E, Sample Letter Attachment F, Three General Types of Business Letters Attachment G, Establishing Goodwill Through Positive Tone Attachment H, Getting Started on Letters Attachment I, Generic Revision Checklist for Business Letters 5

6 Attachment A Generic Four-Point Analytic Scale Circle the numbers that most clearly indicate how well the paper meets the stated criteria. Total the circled numbers. 1= The paper does not achieve the standard. 2= The paper indicates some effort to meet the standard but with little success. 3= The paper indicates serious effort to meet the standard and is fairly successful. 4= The paper clearly meets or exceeds the standard. Writer Title Content The writing is likely to interest the intended audience The writing has a clear purpose and achieves it The writing is unified and coherent The subject has been explored and developed completely The writing contains no unrelated or distracting details Organization The writing has a clear structure Ideas and details are arranged in an effective order Connections between and among ideas are clear Style Language suits the topic, audience and purpose Sentences are graceful and not awkward Wordiness, clichés and jargon are eliminated The writer s meaning is clear throughout Grammar, Usage, Spelling and Mechanics The paper is free of problems in grammar and usage The paper is free of problems in spelling and mechanics The paper follows block format exactly Total points /60 6

7 Questions to answer: 1. What is goodwill? Writing Business Letters Grade Nine Attachment B Establishing Goodwill 2. How can you create goodwill? 3. What are the principles of good communication? 7

8 Attachment C Elements of a Business Letter Heading Use the complete address (no abbreviations) of the sender as a return address. Dateline Date the letter (day, month and year), with no commas and no space between the heading and the dateline. Inside Address Use the correct name, title and address of the person to whom you are writing; this name should match the name used in the greeting. Greeting Use Dear, a courtesy title like Mr., Mrs. or Dr., and a colon. Body Keep your letter between 2-6 paragraphs on average. Single space within the body paragraphs and double space between paragraphs. Block-form lines all text on the left margin and does not require indentations of paragraphs. Closing Use a friendly but professional ending like Sincerely or Yours truly. Follow your closing with a comma. Spacing Leave three lines between the closing and your typed name in order to create a space in which to sign your name. Typed Name Type your name on the fourth line after your closing. 8

9 Attachment D Graphic Organizer Example Positive Negative Persuasive Person who did a kind thing for you Person who did a kind thing for you Person who did a kind thing for you Product you use Product you use Product you use Service you receive Service you receive Establishment you frequent Establishment you frequent 9

10 Attachment E Sample Letter Your address City, State Zip Month Day Year Dear Parents: We enjoy having your child on our soccer team. Please pick up your child from soccer practice by 5:30 p.m. Our coaches have other commitments some to their families, some to other teams and they might be late if you are not on time. Thank you for your cooperation. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at. Sincerely, Typed Names of Signatures, Officers of Local Youth Soccer League 10

11 Attachment F Three General Types of Business Letters Positive Messages Negative Messages Persuasive Messages Positive Messages State good news first. Provide needed details. Close on a friendly note. Negative Messages Use a buffer first. Explain the reason for the negative news. State the negative news. Close in a friendly manner. o Offer a constructive suggestion o Look to the future o Suggest something, if possible o Ask for something (complaint letters) Persuasive Messages Capture your reader s attention. Sell your product or service. Motivate your reader to action. 11

12 Attachment G Establishing Goodwill through Positive Tone Rephrase or rearrange the following sentences in order to create a more positive tone and, therefore, generate more goodwill. 1. If you attend the inaugural meeting, I ll buy you dinner on Friday. 2. You were told to be at work by 9:00! 3. You claim to have had car trouble on the way home? 4. We cannot allow you to make failing grades. 5. You have had more than enough time to pay the amount you owe. 6. If you cannot attend rehearsals on time, then you cannot be in the show. 7. Our T-shirts will not shrink. 8. You will not encounter any problems with our supplemental materials. 12

13 Attachment H Getting Started on Letters Follow these steps when getting started with your letters: 1. Determine the type of letter you will be writing positive, negative or persuasive. 2. Determine what information (details, examples, facts, figures, experiences) you need. What questions should your letter answer? 3. Take notes on the details you have gathered. Gather facts regarding the background, problems and/or difficulties of your experience. Determine to whom you will be writing and the correct address. 4. Double-check the accuracy of your information. 5. Follow the organizational plan for each type of letter. 6. Organize your notes following the appropriate organizational plan. 13

14 Attachment I Generic Revision Checklist for Business Letters Does my letter contain the correct letter parts? Yes No Do I consistently follow block format? Yes No Is my tone positive, even in a bad news letter? Yes No Does my letter promote goodwill? Yes No Is my information accurate, clear and concise? Yes No Am I ready for editing and peer review? Yes No 14

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