Begin the lesson with this little slide show that gives examples of regular language then shows the kids the "email" language. As I read through it, I felt it was more of a "texting" language, so point this out to the kids beforehand so they KNOW you know. Regardless, this is a lesson they'll enjoy for it's obviously unique focus.
Give each student a copy of the Email/Text vs Letter worksheet about the snow day. They will easily identify which is which. They are then to write their own letter and email/text version of that letter. Expect this activity to be lively as they've been given permission to write in a way that is typically discouraged.
I think this is a good lesson to teach the kids on a few levels. First of all, it's a good way to be a bit more current with their world. One would argue that it's still behind the times because studies say email will be obsolete soon, but it's closer to their "language." Second, they definitely give thought to converting a regular letter to text and vice versa. They are thinking about syntax and ideas, whether they realize it or not. Finally, they are writing with purpose and showing the way to best connect with their audience.
I have done comparisons of email writing and letter writing in the past, but nothing I created for my students has come close to how cool this activity by Carmen Luisa Perez Amaro is. I considered adapting it, but realized that I didn't want to change a thing. Here is a link to her website. It is worth checking out for this activity and many other useful ones.
The skills the kids are practicing with this lesson relate to writing for audience and purpose. They must organize their thoughts to determine how they plan to communicate their ideas with each method once they are practicing their own writing. These descriptions will be categorized and easily identified as to whom they would be received by the best.
The gist of this lesson is that the kids will read an example of an informal email (presented in email format) and an example of an informal letter. Differences between the two are explained and the kids then read a list of descriptions and must identify which is email and which is letter. The students then place phrases into categories of email and letter. In class discussion, ask who should each type of correspondence go to?
An answer key is included in the last two pages. This is a lesson I know my kids are going to enjoy!
Reviewing the differences between Email and Letters should be a breeze after the previous activity. Indeed, the class will be aware of even the most subtle of ideas now. They will complete the Email vs Letter worksheet to detail the contrasting information between the two. The enjoy the opportunity to show me their "superior knowledge" of texting, and letting me know that some of the ideas they found in the library book were already outdated.
After they fill in the categorized worksheet, we discuss the reasons they answered as they did. They think of clever responses. In the student example displayed in resources, it's clear that there are multiple ways to fill in these differences. I enjoyed seeing what the kids came up with because some didn't even occur to me. This makes for a fun discussion at the end of the lesson.