Author:
Rachael Haverstick, Jessica Huber
Subject:
English Language Arts
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Level:
Middle School
Tags:
Career Education and Work, Career Readiness, College and Career Readiness, Job and Career Readiness, Writing, career-education-and-work, career-readiness, college-and-career-readiness, job-and-career-readiness, writing
License:
Creative Commons Attribution
Language:
English

Education Standards (3)

Basics of Writing a Cover Letter

Basics of Writing a Cover Letter

Overview

Middle and High School educators across Lebanon County, Pennsylvania developed lesson plans to integrate the Pennsylvania Career Education and Work Standards with the content they teach. This work was made possible through a partnership between the South Central PA Workforce Investment Board (SCPa Works) and Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 (IU13) and was funded by a Teacher in the Workplace Grant Award from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. This lesson plan was developed by one of the talented educators who participated in this project during the 2019-2020 school year.

Title of Lesson: Basics of Writing a Cover Letter

Course Name: 7th grade ELA

Grade Level: 7th grade

Author’s Name: Jessica Huber

Author’s School District: Palmyra Area Middle School

 

PA Academic Standards for English Language Arts

CC.1.4.7 Writing

CC.1.4.7.E - Write with an awareness of the stylistic aspects of composition.

  • Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
  • Use sentences of varying lengths and complexities
  • Develop and maintain a consistent voice.
  • Establish and maintain a formal style.

CC.1.4.7.T - With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.

PA Academic Standards for Career Education and Work

13.2.8 Career Acquisition

13.2.8.C - Prepare a draft of career acquisition documents, such as, but not limited to:

  • Job application
  • Letter of appreciation after an interview
  • Letter of introduction
  • Request for letter of recommendation
  • Resume
Learning Objectives
In bulleted format, list your student learning objectives for this lesson.  
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the basic format of an application cover letter
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the purpose of a cover letter
Conceptual Background
While 7th grade students are not necessarily old enough to begin applying for part-time jobs, most will be before they leave middle school.In a world where text-speech runs rampid, it is important for students to learn how to write a formal letter. Students also need to learn how to present themselves in a positive light for a job, without the use of instagram, snapchat, or TikTok. This lesson will help students to establish the basic formatting for a formal letter as well as the purpose of the letter and each section it contains.It is important for students to understand that the purpose of a piece of writing can dictate the style of writing.
Instructional Procedure
PacingInstructional Procedure
Day 1 - 10 minutesTeacher poses the following question:What part time job would you like to have once you turn 15/16/18?Students respond verbally
Day 1 - 5 minutesDiscussion:How do you go about getting that job that you said?Students responses varyFollow up question: who has heard of a cover letter/what is a cover letter?What is the purpose of a cover letter?Answer: To present yourself in a positive light in order to gain a desired job/ position.
Day 1 - 15 minutesThink back to that job you want. What are 3 (2-4) characteristics or skills that someone would need in order to be successful in that position?As a class, brainstorm experiences that middle school students may have that could develop/show these traits as examplesExamples:
  • Captain of a sports team
  • Member of a school club
  • Honor roll or honors classes
  • Babysitting
  • Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts
  • Missions/service trips or experiences
  • Community service
Day 1 - 5 minutesSo how do we do this/where do we start??Show PowToon Video on how to write a cover letterHave students summarize with a partner what they learned from the videoHave students share out what they learned from the video
Day 1 - 10 minutesOpen a new google docLet’s begin with formatting:Write the following at the top of the page in the left corner:
  • Your name
  • Your address
Hit return so there is a space before the next line
  • The date you are sending the letter
Hit return so there is a space before the next line
  • The name of the person you are sending the letter to (if known)
  • The company
  • The address
Day 1 - 5 minutesSalutation:After you’ve written the address you are sending the letter to, hit return so there is a space before the next lineThen type the “salutation” or opening.It can begin with “Dear” or “To” followed by the person’s name.If you don’t know the person’s name, you can write “Sir or Madam” or the department/job title you are sending the letter to “Director of HR at the Hershey Company”After the name what do you put?Answer: a colonWhy don’t we use a comma?Answer: because this is a formal letter, not a friendly letter
Day 2 - 15 minutesIdentifying characteristics and examplesNow that we have the salutation completed, let’s decide what qualities/characteristics you want to emphasize about yourself.Think back to those characteristics that you felt are necessary for your desired position. Pick the two or three that you feel that you inhabit.Type those in a list below your salutation on your letter. You will delete these later, but they will help keep you focused as you write your letter.Hit return twice to start a new paragraph.This is the introduction paragraph. In this paragraph you need to state:
  • The position you are applying for
  • Why you are interested in the position
  • OPTIONAL: you can “preview” your strengths that you will write about in the upcoming paragraphs
Provide students with the example introduction paragraph if they are struggling. Give the students 5 minutes to complete the introduction paragraph.
Day 2 - 15 minutesHit return twice to start a new paragraph.This is the first paragraph where you will highlight your strengths or characteristics that you can bring to the position.Start this paragraph with a transition. Examples include but are not limited to:
  • One strength I can bring to this position is _______
  • I have many qualities that would make me an ideal candidate for this position including ________
  • The first reason I feel that I would be a good candidate is because ______
After this first transition sentence is created, you must show “evidence” of this characteristic in your life. This is where you talk about your life experiences that showcase that characteristic. The next paragraph will be almost identical to this one in structure, but the characteristic and examples will change.Give students 10 minutes to work on both of these paragraphs.Provide students with example paragraphs if they are struggling.
Day 2 - 10 minutesAfter these two paragraphs are completed, there is one more that needs to be written.Hit return twice to start a new paragraph.This paragraph would include any additional skills or relevant information that would help you in this position. This could include: good grades, honor roll, other languages, work ethic, technology skills, etc.End the paragraph with a statement about how these skills make you a great candidate for the position.Give the students 5 minutes to write this paragraph.Provide students with the example should they need it.
Day 2 - 5 minutesHit return twice to start a new paragraph (but it won’t be a whole paragraph).Write a 1-2 sentence statement thanking them for their time and encouraging them to reach out.For example:
  • Thank you for taking the time to look over my application. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Day 2 - 5 minutesClosingHit return twice and time an appropriate closing. Examples include (but are not limited to):
  • Sincerely
  • Yours truly
  • Yours respectfully
  • Respectfully
  • Cordially
  • Appreciatively
Make sure to put a comma after the closingIf you are mailing the letter or delivering it in person:Hit return a few times and type your name. When you print it out, be sure to sign your name in that space.If emailing the letter or submitting digitally, hit return twice and type your name.
Day 2 - follow up/homeworkFinish whatever paragraphs have not been completed and bring it back for submission tomorrow.
Formative Assessment
Students will submit a FIRST DRAFT of a cover letter for a hypothetical position they would like to have.
Materials Needed
PowToon VideoIntro paragraph exampleCharacteristic paragraphs exampleAdditional skills paragraph example
References