When teaching middle school students, it is important to present real-world applications of the skills being taught. Writing business letters allows students to practice their writing and computer skills in a way that students are likely to encounter in life. Students gain experience conducting business online through email and also through handwritten letters.
Letter of Complaint
Present a beat up, ripped box to the class and open it up to reveal a broken item. Create a scenario for students about the item arriving broken after shipping and have them write a letter to complain about the condition of the product when it arrived. Provide students with a list of words that convey a negative tone, such as agitated, frustrated or displeased, to help them convey the proper tone in their letters. Explain that, while they may be angry, it is important to focus on explaining the problem with the product and asking for it to be corrected rather than filling the letter with inappropriate language and threats.
Have students choose an issue that is important to them in the school, community or the world. Instruct students to write a letter to someone in a position of power, such as the school principal, mayor or president to express an opinion on the issue and urge that person to take action.
Create a Letterhead
Many companies have their own letterhead. Have students create a company. Using a graphic design or publishing program, ask students to construct a letterhead for that company. The letterhead should include the company's name, contact information and colors and images that represent the company. Students can use the letterhead to write sample company business letters.
Address an Envelope
With the popularity of email, many students no longer send traditional lettters. Have students practice properly addressing an envelope. To help students tell whether or not they have addressed the envelope correctly, address it to the student's home address or the school address and mail it. If the letter arrives through the mail, it was addressed correctly.
Fix the Letter
Once students have written business letters, choose letters with common errors and copy them. Remove student names before copying to prevent student embarassment. Provide students with copies of the letters and ask them to edit for spelling and grammatical errors, as well as errors in word choice and letter format.
Stacy Zeiger began writing in 2000 for "Suburban News Publication" in Ohio and has expanded to teaching writing as an eighth grade English teacher. Zeiger completed creative writing course work at Miami University and holds a B.A. in English and a M.Ed. in secondary education from Ohio State.