Informal letter writing is a skill that any person needs to have. Even in this day and age of computers, letter writing
skills are still important to hone and maintain. This lesson plan is designed for a language arts classroom and
specifically geared toward ESL students, although it may also be used in mainstream language arts classes. It is
complete with extensive instructional strategies and objectives that you can draw upon to create the remainder of a
letter writing unit.
The lesson is as follows:
I. Grade/age/content: 7-9/English
II. Subject: Writing
III. Content Objective:
a. Students will be able to identify the difference between an informal and formal letter.
b. Students will be able to use the following vocabulary used in informal letter writing: date, address, greeting, body, closing, and signature.
c. Students will be able to label a letter using the correct terminology
d. Students will be able to create an informal letter.
IV. Language Objectives:
a. Students will use brainstorming on a Venn diagram to compare and contrast examples of a formal and an informal letter.
b. Students will look at a model letter and brainstorm elements of an informal letter and add them to a word wall.
c. Students will use letter writing vocabulary to label parts of a letter.
d. Students will write a letter to a friend or family member and tell him/her what they have been doing lately.
V. Instructional Features:
a. Activities and Procedures:
i. Teacher shows examples of two letters, one informal, and one formal on an overhead and gives copies to students. Teacher reads out loud while students read with her.
ii. Teacher hands out Venn Diagram. In heterogeneous pairs, students compare and contrast letters, writing their information on their Venn Diagram.
iii. Class discussion and add to Venn Diagram on an overhead of differences and similarities between two kinds of letters.
iv. Teacher explains that today they will focus on writing an informal letter and asks students situations in which they would write an informal letter and places them on the board.
v. Teacher then puts a sample letter on the board, labled with the different parts. Teacher explains each part and uses actions to help students remember. Each section also has a picture to help students understand.
vi. Teacher places students in heterogeneous groups with an example of a letter with labels for the different parts of the letter. Each student has a copy. Students are to label each part and write a short description of what is contained in each part. Groups then share as the teacher adds their information to an overhead for the class to see. Each group adds a piece of information until the diagram is full.
vii. Students are to write an informal letter, alone, to a friend or family member that is far away, telling them what they’ve been doing lately. It can contain information about family, new friends, school, neat things they’ve seen, etc. The letter should also be labeled with the correct terms that they’ve practiced in class. These will be turned in and may be for homework, depending on class time.
b. Adaptations for ELL’s:
i. Stages 1 and 2: Teacher provides native language translations of letters used in front of class. Students may use pictures and single word phrases on Venn diagram and letter label. Teacher also uses physical actions and pictures to help describe the parts of a letter and the reasons for sending. Vocabulary is also added to word wall for future use. Students may do their letter to a friend in their native language, but must label in English.
ii. Stage 3: Teacher provides native language translations of letters used in front of class. Students may use short sentences and phrases and pictures on Venn diagram and letter label activity, according to ability. Students may use their native language to write the letter and label in English.
iii. Stages 4 and 5: Students will use short phrases in Venn diagram and complete sentences on letter label activity, according to ability. Students may use native language to write letter, but must label in English.
i. The first activity is in heterogeneous pairs so that students can help each other with understanding. They may discuss the different letters in their native language, as we’re focusing on meaning. The pairing is also used so that students will have the opportunity to formulate answers and information together before sharing information with the class.
ii. The second activity is in heterogenous groups, again, so that students may help each other with vocabulary and understanding, but students are to also fill out their own letter so that they help cement the aspects of the letter and how they are used.
iii. The last assignment is done alone so that the teacher can see how they understand the aspects of a letter and can evaluate if they can do it on their own.
d. Instructional Strategies:
i. Cognitive Strategies:
1. Grouping: Students must brainstorm and group information about letter writing in order to organize the parts of letters using charts and Venn diagrams. This helps them understand the new information and use it as a resource in later activities.
2. Using Prior Knowledge: Using what students already know about letters, the teacher helps them move forward and learn more specifics about the parts of letters and what purposes they can serve.
ii. Social/Affective Strategies:
1. Cooperation: Students work in groups to help complete a task. This allows them to pool their knowledge and learn cooperative skills. It also makes learning more communicative as they practice their language skills.
iii. Other Strategies:
1. Body language: Teacher uses body language to help students understand the differences between informal and formal. This helps student understanding and also helps as a memory device.
2. Visuals: Teacher uses both visual and verbal language to help students understand information. This is done to stimulate verbal and written language skills and to helps those with different learning styles.
3. Modeling: Teacher models each activity, which helps all students know what to do and how to do it.