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Teacher Resources by Grade
|1st - 2nd||3rd - 4th|
|5th - 6th||7th - 8th|
|9th - 10th||11th - 12th|
E-pals Around the World
|Grades||6 – 8|
|Lesson Plan Type||Standard Lesson|
|Estimated Time||Three 45-minute sessions|
- Be able to identify the parts and format of a friendly letter
- Write a friendly letter using the appropriate format and proper spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar
- Be able to identify the parts of an e-mail message
- Write and send an e-mail message
- Communicate with an e-pal according to a specified timeline
Distribute the friendly letter that you prepared for your students about the e-pal project and display the transparency on an overhead projector. Label the parts of the letter and have students do the same on their copy. Make sure that you identify the heading, salutation, body, closing, signature, and postscript.
Brainstorm what kind of information should be included in the students' first letter to their e-pals. Make a list of this information on the board for future reference. Suggested topics include information about school, family, sports, hobbies, etc.
Have students write a rough draft of a letter to their e-pal using the sample letter or your letter as a model. They can select a topic from the list generated during the brainstorming session or choose a topic of their own.
Pair and share
When a rough draft is complete, pair students with a peer in the class for help with proofing, editing, and revising. During this activity, students should be looking at one letter at a time and checking to make sure that the format of the letter is correct. They should also be looking for spelling errors and proper sentence structure, punctuation, and grammar.
Have students use the interactive Letter Generator to write a final copy of their letter. Remind students to print their letter and the instructions for addressing an envelope when they are finished. [Photocopy the students' letters prior to mailing them for assessment purposes.]
Show students how to address an envelope appropriately, explaining the purpose and format of the return address and reviewing some of the standard postal abbreviations (e.g., P.O., state abbreviations, Ave). Also, demonstrate how to properly fold a letter and insert it into the envelope. Post the corresponding school's address on the board or another convenient location for students to use when addressing their envelopes.
Invite students to address their own envelopes and prepare their letter for mailing. Collect letters to be mailed when students are finished.
Display an overhead of a blank e-mail message. Point out and explain each part of the message and model how each section is completed. Make sure to cover each section, including From, To, CC, BCC, Subject, and Body. Depending on the level of your students, you can also introduce attachments, priority settings, and text options (e.g., bold, italics, size, color). Explain how to use the Spellchecker and Send button. Remind students that they should use complete sentences and proper punctuation and grammar when writing an e-mail. Chat room abbreviations, codes, and symbols are not appropriate for the e-mail communications between students and their e-pals.
Pair and share
Pair students and have each student write an e-mail message to his or her partner for practice. Students should put the name of their partner in the subject line. This helps with distributing e-mail messages once they are sent and received. Messages should be sent to a central e-mail address (i.e., the teacher's address at school or an address that has been set up specifically for this lesson). Have students share their e-mail messages with their partner. Each pair should check that the e-mail message is completed correctly and has proper punctuation, spelling, and grammar.
Have students open a new e-mail message form and type a message to introduce themselves to their e-pal. Review what information should be included from the previous brainstorming activity. Once students have completed their message, have them print a copy and share it with you before sending. Printed copies of the e-mail can also be used for assessment purposes or you can have students "CC" a copy to your e-mail address. [Note: As e-mails and responses are received, print and distribute them to students.] Encourage students to reply to the messages that they receive within one week.
This lesson can easily be extended into other curricular areas by focusing on the content of the e-mail exchanges and prompting discussions on various topics. Some suggested topics include:
- Social Studies: geography, cultural differences
- Science: climate, environmental issues, native vegetation and animals
- Math: metric versus imperial measurement system, pricing of goods and services
- Assess the student's friendly letters to make sure that they are written in the correct format. Also check to see if the student followed the specified timeline for sending letters.
- Access the student's e-mail messages to make sure that they are completed and sent properly. Also check to see if the student followed the specified timeline for writing and responding to messages from his or her e-pal.
- Check ongoing communications between each pair of e-pals
- Have students reflect on this lesson by using the interactive Letter Generator to write a letter to their parents telling them about their e-pal experience and the things they have learned from participating in this project.