1. Before the lesson begins, make sure to have prepared an
overhead transparency (either printed or written out by hand)
which demonstrates the format (block or indented) you wish
students to use in their formal letter writing. Have this set
aside for later in the lesson.
Begin class by asking the students if they have ever
written a formal letter. If any
students respond affirmatively, ask
them to describe who they wrote the letter to and for what
the class why it might be useful to know how to write
a formal or “business” letter.
and get the students to name some realistic circumstances
they may have to write a formal letter in the future
(for example, canceling a bank account or credit card,
for a job,
requesting information about a special program, complaining
about poor service, etc.)
the class to think about what language register should
be used in a formal letter
register). What does this mean? Students should be
able to explain (among other things) that this means
must be adjusted to suit a formal audience (no slang)
and sentences should be complete.
Explain to the class that today they are going to learn
the appropriate block format for writing a formal letter.
Switch on the overhead and have students copy down the
letter writing format (which they will use as a template
write their own letters). Explain each section of the format
as students are copying, and when finished, have them keep
this paper in their notes.
Hand out the article “The
Hidden Cost of Fossil Fuels”.
Explain to the class that they will be writing a letter
to their local congressman or woman on the environmental
affects of fossil fuel emissions. In order to have an
informed opinion about the subject, students will need
some background reading. Give the class 5-10 minutes
and annotate a relevant
Distribute the handout “Tips
for Writing a Formal Letter.” Read these tips
with the class one by one, discussing the importance
point. Give students the rest of the
period to begin writing a rough draft of their letter.
The purpose of the letter may be persuasive or informational.
1. Begin class by asking students to take out the
letters which they began rough-drafting the day before.
format which students are to follow, and remind the
class to check their letters to see if they have
format. Give the class several minutes to make any
Review the handout “Tips
for Writing a Formal Letter”.
Give the class another 5-10 minutes to make necessary
adjustments and to revise their letters. While
they are doing so, float
around the room to help any student who may be
Divide the class into pairs so that students may peer
edit each others’ letters.
Students should use the “Tips” handout
as a guide to critiquing their partner’s
letter. Encourage students to offer two positive
comments and two constructive
criticisms to their partners. Allow about 10-15
minutes for peer editing.
Allow students to revise their letters after
peer editing and turn them in either at the end of the hour
or the following day.
finish their letter writing for homework if necessary. Another
supplementary assignment might be writing a letter to a famous
musician to invite them to perform at the school. Students
must give reasons why the artist might choose to perform at
this school as opposed to others.