Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Putting It On Paper

Sharla Shults
Bay District Schools

Description

What are the essential parts of a business letter? Using Internet search methods students locate and print samples of two different business letter formats. Students write rough drafts of business letters inquiring when, where, and how math is used.

Objectives

The student refines vocabulary for interpersonal, academic, and workplace situations, including figurative, idiomatic, and technical meanings.

The student drafts and revises writing that: is focused, purposeful, and reflects insight into the writing situation; has an organizational pattern that provides for a logical progression of ideas; has effective use of transitional devices that contribute to a sense of completeness; has support that is substantial, specific, relevant, and concrete; demonstrates a commitment to and involvement with the subject; uses creative writing strategies as appropriate to the purpose of the paper; demonstrates a mature command of language with precision of expression; has varied sentence structure; and has few, if any, convention errors in mechanics, usage, punctuation, and spelling.

The student produces final documents that have been edited for: correct spelling; correct punctuation, including commas, colons, and common use of semicolons; correct capitalization; correct sentence formation; correct instances of possessives, subject/verb agreement, instances of noun/pronoun agreement, and the intentional use of fragments for effect; and correct formatting that appeals to readers, including appropriate use of a variety of graphics, tables, charts, and illustrations in both standard and innovative forms.

Materials

-Overhead projector
-Overhead marking pens
-Copies of documents found in the associated file (See Teacher Preparation for list.)
-Folders – one per student (distributed and labeled on Day 1)
-Red marking pens – one per student
-Copies of Student Peer Editing Rubric – one per student (See Associated File of the Lesson Plan ‘What Interests You?’)
-Printed copies of the list of occupations from Web site (See Teacher Preparation Note under Step #8)
-Reteaching or practice worksheets as needed to reinforce basic skills

Preparations

1. Schedule computers, if necessary.

2. Download, print, and reproduce as transparencies: Bad Boy Business Letter, Correct Usage and Appearance, Corrected Bad Boy Business Letter and Corrections (see Associated File).

3. Set up overhead with transparency of Bad Boy Business Letter on display as students enter the classroom. Have overhead pens at the station ready for students to use.

4. Download and duplicate copies, one per student, of the following documents found in the Associated File:
a) Student Daily Log Sheet Day 3
b) The Eight Essential Parts to a Business Letter
c) Requirements for the Body of the Business Letter

5. Download and print one copy of the Teacher Checklist for Internet Exploration.

6. Have folders ready to distribute to each student.

7. Secure enough red marking pens – one per student.

8. Download a copy of the Student Peer Editing Rubric (see Associated File of Day 2) and duplicate one per student.

Procedures

Day 3 of the unit [The Math Connection]
Since this unit requires students to mail letters, inform them that two stamps are required: One for the letter and the other for a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope.

1. Select a student to help in the distribution of the folders. Return Student Daily Log Day 2 – Paragraphs Final for inclusion in the folders.* Instruct students to look over the paragraphs very carefully and make mental notes of the places and types of errors that occurred in the writing. Reemphasize the expectations as defined by the criteria in the Student Peer Editing Rubric that is included in the documents in the folders.

* If this became a homework assignment the day before because of class time, collect papers for formative assessment.

2. Distribute the Student Daily Log Day 3 (see Associated File) to each student. Tell students to record the common errors on the daily log sheet.

3. After the distribution of folders and papers, ask students if it really makes any difference how we communicate our thoughts in a letter? Discuss the way we speak vs. the way we write.

4. Display the Correct Usage & Appearance Transparency of a proper business letter on the overhead projector. (See Associated File.) Go over thoroughly with students, and then display the Bad Boy Business Letter Transparency (see Associated File.)

5. Ask students to come to the overhead one at a time, find an error, and explain to the class what the error is and why it is wrong. Inform students to look for basic Language Arts conventions and possible errors within proper business letter format. There are a total of 25 conventions for editing in the letter. Be sure to identify and discuss any remaining errors that students did not discover. Remind students to record the common errors on their daily log sheets (Student Daily Log Day 3).

6. Optional: Once all corrections have been made, display the Corrected Bad Boy Business Letter Transparency that is found in the associated file. Then use the Corrections Transparency to go over the specifics with students as to the different types of corrections that were made.

7. Tell students today is the first day in preparation for a venture outside the classroom. Students demonstrate good writing skills through the development of business letters. Students are actually going to mail the letters complete with signature!

8. Refer to the prior day’s assignment and ask students for feedback on possible contacts. Remind students that the names of the contact persons are due on the following day (Day 4 of Unit). Ask students: What good is a letter without someone to mail it to? Remind students that managing information in a timely manner is an integral part of Florida’s Goal 3 Standards for employability skills. Ask any students who did not choose an occupation on Day 2 to come forward and sign up for one before the end of the class period.

NOTE: Guide students having difficulty selecting an occupation to the career information site referred to on Day 1: http://www.umanitoba.ca/counselling/careers.html Exploring Occupations: Getting You Started on Your Career Path. Distribute a printed copy of the list of occupations to explore or instruct students to visit the Website on the computer.

9. Distribute the handout Eight Essential Parts to a Business Letter to each student (see Associated File). (Goal 3 Standard 1) Discuss thoroughly the requirements for a proper business letter. Explain to students that this is just a sample of one business letter format.

10. Instruct students to report to computers assigned on Day 2. Today’s first task involves the students using efficient search methods to locate information about business letter formats and print samples of two different forms. Students are aware of search engines and functions at this point, so allow searches to be independent with little or no assistance. Remind students of the importance of choosing good key words. Continue to formatively assess students using the Teacher Checklist for Internet Exploration (see Associated File) giving feedback to students who are experiencing difficulty. A multitude of good sites exists for this topic. Instruct students to place the printed copies of the sample forms in the folder.

NOTE: An excellent Website available for samples of different forms of business letters is
http://www.wisc.edu/writing/Handbook/BusinessLetter.html: Writer’s Handbook, Business Letter Format. See additional Websites in Weblinks section below!(Hint: Tell students to go to www.google.com, type in ‘business letter format’, and enter search and this is the first choice.)

11. So, where is the math connection? Discuss with students in more detail the requirements for the body of the letter. At least three paragraphs are required including, but not limited to the following:
a) 1st paragraph: Identify who you are, school, grade level, and brief reason for contact. Explain the purpose of the project.
b) 2nd paragraph: Address what the project is about in more detail. Instruct students to refer to the following math questions as a guide.
1) How much mathematics did you have to take to become a(n) ______?
2) Which mathematics course(s) (general math, algebra, geometry, statistics, trigonometry, calculus, etc.) are most helpful in your occupation?
3) Ignoring requirements for school, how much mathematics do you actually need in your job?
4) Do you have any recommendations for mathematics courses that I should take in high school to become a(n) ____?
c) 3rd paragraph: Include reference to the inclusion of a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelop) and thanks for reading the letter. Also include you are anxiously awaiting a reply to reemphasize the importance of the reply letter relative to the project.

12. Distribute copies of the Requirements for the Body of the Business Letter (see Associated File) for students to place in the folders for future reference. Again, reemphasize the expectations as defined by the criteria in the Student Peer Editing Rubric that is included in the documents in the folders.

13. Let the writing begin! For the second task of the day students produce hand-written rough drafts of the business letters.

14. Formatively assess students through observation during the writing process lending assistance as needed. Use the Requirements for the Body of the Business Letter (see Associated File) to offer specific guidance to students. Continue to assist students with proper sentence structure and editing.

15. As students complete the letters, form partners and peer edit each other’s writing using the Student Peer Editing Rubric. (See Associated File of Day 2.) Reminder: Students mail a final letter complete with SIGNATURE! If you are going to write, write right!

16. Instruct students to place all informational documents in the folder. Collect folders to be distributed to students the next day. Today’s added documents include Student Daily Log Day 3 – Notes on Bad Boy Business Letter (unless students are writing in journals), handout Eight Essential Parts to a Business Letter, sample letters printed from the Internet, handout of Requirements for the Body of the Business Letter, hand-written edited rough draft of business letter, and Student Peer Editing Rubric.

17. As time permits, continue to work with students who scored low in basic arithmetic skills on the diagnostic test. Low scorers receive practice worksheets for homework on specific skills targeted. Include additional instruction as examples and an ample supply of practice problems addressing the inadequate skill demonstrated. Allow students to visit various tutorial Websites for online explanations and practice. (See Weblinks below.)

18. Inform students of timelines. Day 3 of Unit – Choose occupation last day; Day 4 of Unit – Name of contact person due; Day 5 of Unit – 45 minutes for Summative Assessment 1, final letter ready for mailing. NO ERRORS; NO EXCEPTIONS!

Assessments

Students use search methods to locate and print copies of the two sample letters demonstrating different business letter formats to include in the folders. Use teacher observation during students’ Internet search to determine if students used efficient search methods to locate information). Record this information on the Teacher Checklist for Internet Exploration (see Associated File) as formative assessment giving feedback to students who are experiencing difficulty. Also, give positive feedback to those students who are doing well.

Students produce hand-written rough drafts of the business letters following the guidelines illustrated in the Eight Essential Parts of a Business Letter. Students formatively assess each other’s letters using the Student Peer Editing Rubric to edit and check for writing that is focused, purposeful, and reflects insight into the writing situationVocabulary is embedded throughout the unit plan allowing students to refine vocabulary for interpersonal, academic and workplace situations.

Extensions

This is Lesson 3 of 10 in the unit The Math Connection addressing [When Are We Ever Going to USE This MATH?]

The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: http://www.beaconlearningcenter.com/search/details.asp?item=2947. Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, [Associated Files.] This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).

As an extension, make transparencies of rubrics and paragraphs to share with students to show good examples of peer editing or share transparencies of good peer editing from Day 2.

Web Links

Examples of Business Letter Format
Business Letters

English Tutoring and Writing Center: Business Letter Formats
English Works!

Business Letter Styles
English Plus

Friendly Letter Format and Business Letter Format
Letter Forms

What You Need to Know About: Mathematics
Mathematics Tutorials

Basic Aspects of Fractions and Operations
Math Tutorials: Fractions

Basic Aspects of Decimals and Operations
Math Tutorials: Decimals

Interactive Math Lessons and More!
Understanding Percents

From Definition to Practice to Quiz
Math.com: Fractions

From Understanding Place Value to Operations
Math.com: Decimals

From Definition to Illustration
Math.com: Percents

Practice in Converting Between Scientific Notation and Normal Numbers
Scientific Notation

Examples, Explanation and Scientific Notation Generator
Scientific Notation

When Are We Ever Going to USE This Math?
The Math Connection

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