Generating Ideas for a Business Letter

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Students will be able to to generate ideas for a business letter by writing, discussing, and citing evidence for ideas.

Big Idea

What are they doing now? Students write business letters from Mrs. Jones or Roger's point of view.

Quickwrite: What Are They Doing Now?

5 minutes

I gave each student a copy of the RAFT letter and we read through the directions.  For this assignment, students magically  became either Roger and Mrs. Jones.  It's 5, 10, or 15 years in the future and they are writing a letter to let the other know how their life is going.  They can be creative as they like, however, their creativity must be rooted in text-based evidence.

  • Last year, one student wrote that Mrs. Jones was inspired by Roger's actions and turned to a life of crime.  That is not rooted in the text, so that response is not acceptable.
  • Last year, one student wrote that Roger took went to college and opened his own shoe shop.  That is rooted in the text because Roger does change.  You could find evidence in the text that could support Roger's choices.

The directions mention the block business letter format, but I told students not to worry about that today.  We would be discussing the format of a business letter tomorrow.  Today we were just worried about ideas and brainstorming, and the first step of that brainstorming was to do a quickwrite and get their initial ideas down on paper.

Brainstorming Ideas through RAFT

15 minutes

RAFTThe brainstorming is divided into four categories according to the RAFT strategy.  Sara, a teacher across the hall who teaches gifted ed, introduced me to the RAFT strategy. The RAFT strategy requires students to consider four important parts of a writing task. Watch this video for thoughts about the RAFT strategy.


  • Role
    • What is the role of the writer?  Who is writing?
    • For this letter, the role is either Roger or Mrs. Jones.
  • Audience
    •  To whom is the letter being written?
    • The letter will be written to either Roger or Mrs. Jones
  • Format
    • What should the letter look like?
    • The letter should follow the standard block letter format, which will be covered the next day.
  • Topic
    • What is the letter about?  What will be included in the introduction, body, and conclusion? 
    • Students create a web, outline, or some other brainstorming technique to generate ideas.  I reminded students that their ideas must be based on evidence in the text.

 I then gave students the remainder of class to come up with ideas for their letter.  I walked around the room, allowing students an opportunity to bounce ideas off me, check for the accuracy of their ideas in the text, etc.

Writing Workshop: Drafting

20 minutes

I gave students the last twenty minutes or so of class to work on their rough drafts.  This gave me an opportunity to discuss with students, one on one, if their ideas were based on text evidence.  In some cases, I was able to explain why a certain idea wasn't text-based.  In other cases, students were able to convince me that their idea was actually based on textual evidence.

I reminded students that their final drafts would be due on Friday.  They would need to turn in the brainstorming sheet, rough draft, and final draft.  Their final draft could be turned in on Edmodo, but it could also be turned in on paper.