Read Write Think Cover Letters

The Letter Generator tool is designed to help students learn to identify all the essential parts of a business or friendly letter, and then generate letters by typing information into letter templates. A sample letter is included, and students can learn about the parts of a letter by reading descriptions of each part.

Once students have become familiar with letter formats, they are prompted to write their own letter. Students follow the steps and fill in specific fields in the template (for example, heading, salutation, closing, signature, and so on). They may even add a decorative border and postscript to the friendly letter. The finished letter can be saved, e-mailed, or printed.

This useful tool provides step-by-step instructions for familiarizing users with the necessary elements of written correspondence, and can serve as an excellent practice method for composing and proofreading both formal and informal letters.

For ideas of how to use this tool outside the classroom, see Letter Generator in the Parent & Afterschool Resources section.

Grade   K  |  Lesson Plan  |  Recurring Lesson

What's in a Name? Teaching Concepts of Letter and Word

In this recurring activity, the process of choosing a helper for the day becomes a literacy activity, with the helper's name as a starting place for reading and writing.


Grades   K – 2  |  Lesson Plan  |  Recurring Lesson

Have Journal...Will Travel: Promoting Family Involvement in Literacy

Students build positive memories of literacy activities when they take turns taking home a book bag stuffed with items to encourage literacy interactions with their families.


Grades   K – 2  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Launching Family Message Journals

This lesson introduces Family Message Journals—a teacher-tested tool for encouraging family involvement and supporting writing to reflect and to learn.


Grades   K – 2  |  Lesson Plan  |  Recurring Lesson

Living the Dream: 100 Acts of Kindness

This lesson provides the "action piece" for any study of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In this project, students participate in Dr. King's dream by doing 100 acts of kindness.


Grades   K – 2  |  Lesson Plan  |  Recurring Lesson

Note Writing in the Primary Classroom

This lesson provides a wealth of ideas for using notes in the classroom to promote authentic writing among children.


Grades   K – 2  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Mail Time! An Integrated Postcard and Geography Study

Children write and receive postcards from friends and family, and then chart where all those postcards come from on a classroom map.


Grades   K – 2  |  Lesson Plan  |  Recurring Lesson

Involving Students and Families in Ongoing Reflection and Assessment

Students begin by writing a sentence or two each week and progress to daily reflections and records of their school activity. Families respond to these student reflections, which become the basis for discussion among family, teacher, and students.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Unit

The Passion of Punctuation

Using published writers' texts and students' own writing, this unit explores emotions that are associated with the artful and deliberate use of commas, semicolons, colons, and exclamation points (end-stop marks of punctuation).


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Greetings from the Biomes of the World

To share their research on biomes, students use iPads to create postcards from all over the world.


Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Vocabulary Solutions: A Mixture of Science, Conversation, and Writing

In this lesson, students conduct a science experiment and later discuss the events of the lab during shared writing. Students explain the procedure in their own words and then revise to include content specific vocabulary. Finally, students reflect on new words added to their writing using the Trading Card Creator interactive.


Grades   K – 8  |  Student Interactive  |  Writing & Publishing Prose

Postcard Creator

The Postcard Creator helps students learn to identify all the typical parts of a postcard, and then generate their own postcard messages by typing information into letter templates. After printing their texts, students can illustrate the front of their postcards in a variety of ways, including drawing, collage, and stickers.


Grades   1 – 6  |  Calendar Activity  |  January 17

Today is Benjamin Franklin's birthday.

Students discuss Benjamin Franklin's contributions to postal history, investigate the roles of the Postmaster General, and write letters to their classmates using the Letter Generator.


Grades   1 – 12  |  Calendar Activity  |  July 7

Write letters that make things happen!

In a small group or as individuals, students write letters related to a unit of study or particular topic they have studied.


Grades   3 – 12  |  Calendar Activity  |  January 24

Gold was discovered in California in 1848.

Students read letters from the Gold Rush and follow up by writing an imaginary letter to a family member about their experience using the Letter Generator.


Grades   K – 8  |  Calendar Activity  |  September 8

Jon Scieszka was born in 1954.

Students review Scieszka's tips for encouraging young people to read and then create their own, sharing ideas with adults in their community through a letter.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Calendar Activity  |  December 10

Poet Emily Dickinson was born in 1830.

Students discuss Dickinson's poem "This Is My Letter To The World" and use it to focus on how audience affects voice.


Grades   K – 12  |  Strategy Guide

Shared Writing

This strategy guide explains how to use shared writing to teach students effective strategies that will improve their own independent writing ability.


Grades   6 – 8  |  Activity & Project

Write Letters to Friends and Family

Invite young adults to write letters to classmates, postcards from travels, and e-mails to family and friends.


Grades   3 – 5  |  Activity & Project

Can You Convince Me?

Children learn how to make a convincing argument—an important skill in school and in life.


Grades   3 – 8  |  Game & Tool

Letter Generator

The Letter Generator shows children the key parts of a letter and lets them practice writing either a friendly or business letter.


Student Objectives

Lesson 1: What is a Resume?

Lesson 2: Developing Content for Your Resume

Lesson 3: Defining Audience and Purpose

Lesson 4: Using Resume Builder

Lesson 5: Peer Review

Lesson 6: What is a Cover Letter?

Lesson 7: Developing Your Cover Letter

Lesson 8: Finishing Your Cover Letter


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Understand the function, form, and effectiveness of a resume by examining and discussing sample resumes with their classmates

  • Demonstrate the importance of rhetorical situations by selling themselves to a defined audience

  • Develop a working resume by using the Resume Generator

  • Recognize how a cover letter works in conjunction with a resume by drafting them for a similar purpose

  • Write a cover letter by using the Letter Generator

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Lesson 1: What is a Resume?

  1. Introduce students to resumes as a genre of writing: professional writing. Discuss how this is different from academic genres in that it serves a different purpose and is intended for a different audience. In short, it is a type of writing by an author who is trying to get something. As a result, it is an extremely persuasive style of writing. Share examples of when a person would need a resume, such as applying for a job, a scholarship, or an award, or when creating a portfolio of one’s work.

  2. Prepare students to understand the purpose of a resume, including its Function, Form, and (e)Ffectiveness (the 3 Fs). Take an informal poll of the class, asking who has heard of a resume before this class, who has seen one, and who has one of their own. Based on the results, you may ask students to share their experiences to add to the conversation.

  3. Distribute the printout The 3 Fs of Resume Writing. Discuss each part, and have students take notes.

    1. Function: The function of a resume is to inform the audience about you in order to accomplish something. What you’re trying to accomplish depends on what you’re trying to do. This might include getting a job, getting into college, winning a scholarship, or being selected for an internship. There are many reasons to show people your resume.

    2. Form: Resumes need to look a certain way. This is considered their form. People who read resumes expect them to include specific information, such as your name, address, contact information, education, past jobs, volunteer experience, and special skills. If a resume does not look like a traditional resume, the reader may be confused and think the writer is not educated about writing proper resumes.

    3. (e)Ffectiveness: For a resume to be effective, it must demonstrate your knowledge of both function and form. An effective resume

      - Has a clear purpose that shows why you are writing it

      - Is visually appropriate and appealing, or easy to read

      - Includes all the necessary information about the writer

      - Is grammatically correct with no errors in punctuation or spelling
  4. Share copies of the resume printout. You might begin discussing these by putting students into small groups first to review. Tell them to identify what they see as the 3 Fs: Function, Form, and (e)Ffectiveness.

  5. Return together as a class, and discuss each F and how students determined what it was.

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Lesson 2: Developing Content for Your Resume

  1. Review the The 3 Fs of Resume Writing from the previous lesson.

  2. Discuss the two types of resume: chronological and functional. Ask students which style they think is best for them.

  3. Show the sample resumes from the previous lesson. Ask students to identify which one is chronological and which one is functional.

  4. Share online resume reference sites such as College Admissions High School Resume and High School Students Need a Resume Too with the class to present additional ways of thinking about the construction of resumes. (If you are not in a computer lab or a room with Internet access, tell students to view these sites later on their own.)

  5. Have students brainstorm content for their resumes using the printout My Resume Ideas: Getting Started as a guide.

  6. Begin completing the parts of the printout. Move around the room answering questions as students work.

  7. Ask students to complete the printout on their own before the next lesson.

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Lesson 3: Defining Audience and Purpose

  1. Have students take out their completed My Resume Ideas: Getting Started
    printout. Put them into small groups to share their work with others.

  2. Bring the class back together and ask students questions about their process.

    • What was easy about filling this out? What was difficult?
    • What sections contained the most and least information? Why?

    Ask for volunteers to share what they included in each section with the class.

  3. Begin a discussion about the importance of audience and purpose when creating a resume, as these are fundamental items to consider when putting all of their information together. Points to note include the following:

    • The audience refers to anyone who will review the resume, so we must consider all audiences, both primary and secondary.
    • The purpose refers to why the audience is looking at the resume and what they will be looking for, so we must ask ourselves what they want to read.
    Connect audience and purpose to the 3Fs as discussed in the previous class. Ask students to comment on how these are related and why they are important. Give them the Visualizing Your Resume: Graphic Organizer
    printout to fill out and bring to the next class. They can do this individually or in small groups.

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Lesson 4: Using Resume Builder

  1. Take students to a computer lab with access to the Internet and Resume Generator to complete this lesson. Have them log into the Resume Builder site. As they do so, remind them about the time limit for creating their draft in class. They should structure their time accordingly.

  2. Using their notes from the My Resume Ideas: Getting Started printout, ask students to go through the process of entering their information. Show students the features of the tool, from the additional information about resumes on the first page to the audio feature accompanying the site that enables them to hear the information aloud.

  3. When they have completed their resumes, have students save them and also print a copy to bring to the next class.

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Lesson 5: Peer Review

  1. Ask students to take out the printed copies of their resumes. Discuss how resumes today can be printed and submitted to the audience, as they have prepared, but they can also be submitted electronically. In that case, the resume writer needs to understand how to save a resume as a .pdf or how to create a resume with very little formatting, with only the basic information listed and no fancy spacing or bullets used. Connect this to their use of Resume Generator, and discuss how this would be similar to or different from what they just did.

  2. Put students into small groups to peer review their resumes. Encourage students to review their peers’ resumes for the 3Fs: Function, Form, and (e)Ffectiveness.

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Lesson 6: What is a Cover Letter?

  1. Have students take out the resumes they created using Resume Generator during Lesson 4. Discuss the following questions:

    1. What did you like about using Resume Builder to create your resume?

    2. What did you find particularly easy or difficult about the process?

    3. What do you like or dislike about your completed resume? d. What would you like to change about it?

  2. Introduce cover letters. Discuss them in terms of the 3 Fs.

    1. Function: Cover letters accompany resumes to introduce the reader of the resume to the writer. They personalize the resume, allowing the writer to provide more detail about him- or herself and any relevant experience. Many people think of cover letters as a way for the writer’s true voice to come through.

    2. Form: Like resumes, cover letters also have a typical form: that of a business letter. The writer has to know the correct placement of the heading, date, salutation, body paragraphs, closing, and signature. Readers expect a cover letter to have certain features. If they aren’t included, the reader may think the writer is not knowledgeable and, therefore, not ready for whatever he or she is trying to accomplish by submitting the cover letter and resume.

    3. (e)Ffectiveness: An effective cover letter combines both function and form. It personalizes the writer and provides additional information about him or her and any relevant experience in a standard form. A good cover letter

      • Has a clear purpose that shows why you are writing it

      • Is visually appropriate and appealing, or easy to read

      • Includes additional relevant information about the writer

      • Is grammatically correct with no errors in punctuation or spelling

  3. Share an online reference about cover letters, such as Sample Cover Letter for High School Students, to support the present discussion, and raise or discuss any questions as a result of it. (If you are not in a computer lab or a room with Internet access, tell students to view this site later on their own.)

  4. Show the sample cover letters written by high school students in the Sample High School Resumes and Cover Letters printout. Discuss these with the students in relation to the 3 Fs: What is the function of the cover letter (its purpose), what is unique about its form (design), and how effective do students think this cover letter will be?

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Lesson 7: Developing Your Cover Letter

  1. Explain to students that they are going to create a rough outline of a cover letter that could accompany their resume. Provide the Visualizing Your Cover Letter: Graphic Organizer printout to fill out. They may do this individually or in small groups. Move around the room responding to students’ work and offering suggestions.

  2. Once students have a good start on this, provide the more detailed Steps to Creating a Cover Letter printout. Students should use this to create a draft of their cover letters, due at the next class. Remind students that their time in the lab during the next session will be limited, so they need to have a full draft completed.

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Lesson 8: Finishing Your Cover Letter

  1. Once again, have students meet in the computer lab to type their cover letters using the Steps to Creating a Cover Letter printout and Letter Generator. You may want to remind them about their time constraints and the need to organize their time.

  2. Using Letter Generator, have students transform their drafts into finished cover letters.

  3. Make sure students save their work and also print a copy.

  4. At the end of class, ask students to submit their resumes and cover letters to you for a grade. Use the Resume / Cover Letter Rubric to assist you in assigning a grade.

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  1. Have students submit first and second drafts of the resume and cover letter to you for comments or an early grade, additional revision, and a new/final grade.

  2. Do more detailed work with cover letters, including researching jobs and researching examples of cover letters for specific jobs. Then have students write cover letters tailored to these jobs.

  3. Include a discussion of writing essays and personal statements for college applications.

  4. Connect discussions of resume and cover letter writing to students’ college aspirations, including their ideas for majors, careers, courses, and activities to become involved in. You may consider reviewing online resources, including ACT.

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  • Review students’ printouts for The 3 Fs of Resume Writing, My Resume Ideas: Getting Started, Visualizing Your Resume: Graphic Organizer, Visualizing Your Cover Letter: Graphic Organizer, and Steps to Creating a Cover Letter after each lesson in which they are used or collected. Make sure students are correctly identifying the parts and including information as needed. If a pattern of errors or misunderstandings occurs, review them with students at the beginning of the next lesson.

  • Collect typed drafts of students’ resumes and cover letters as created using the Resume Generator and Letter Generator. Review and grade them using the Resume/Cover Letter Rubric. Address the grade and comments when returning the resumes and cover letters to students, especially if students are allowed to revise for a new grade.

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