Teaching middle school students proper email etiquette will prepare them for long-term personal, academic, and professional success.
We’ve all been there.
i tried doing my hw and i’m really confused and i really need some HELP!!!!!
*insert facepalm emoji*
On one hand, kudos to this student for taking the initiative and asking for help. But on the other hand, we must address the elephant(s) in the room.
Grammar, spelling, punctuation, tone, voice, audience, and overall style need major work here. Can you relate?
Gone are the days of handwritten letters with a formal tone and structure. Our students live in a world of instant communication. They use shortened sentences with acronyms and abbreviated words for quick messaging.
And while that type of writing is acceptable for casual texting conversations and social media messages with friends, this is not how students should communicate with teachers and other professionals. We are doing them a disservice if we don’t take the time to teach them about proper email etiquette.
What is email etiquette?
Etiquette is a set of rules that are generally accepted by society. They are the behaviors to which people are expected to adhere. Of course, these rules shift and change throughout the years, but generally, there is an expectation and rule of thumb for almost everything in life.
This is also true for email writing.
A particular set of rules should be followed when communicating in school and work environments. So teaching our students proper email etiquette will provide them with valuable life skills and set them up for long-term success during their school years and after.
Why should I teach lessons on email etiquette?
Email writing falls in the category of life skill writing because it helps people succeed in their personal and professional lives.
Writing a well-crafted email can help a person stand out from others and make a positive impression, leading to better communication, opportunities, and relationships.
Here are some reasons why learning email etiquette is essential:
- It helps promote a positive image and establish a person’s credibility.
- It allows people to communicate more efficiently and effectively.
- It reduces the chances of misinterpretation and confusion.
Let’s also add in here that it will keep you from wanting to pull your hair out when you get emails from students!
What do students need to know about email etiquette?
First and foremost, students need to understand that their emails are a reflection of themselves and that putting their best foot forward will yield the best results.
Before they begin typing, students should clarify their purpose and desired outcome. Do they need help? An explanation? Simply to convey information?
Once this is established, they can determine the appropriate tone, voice, and style for the email, considering whether it should be formal or casual.
Positive language and a formal tone are especially important when contacting teachers or other professionals. Additionally, students should include enough detail in their message to ensure that the receiver can understand it and respond appropriately.
When planning out my unit on email etiquette, here are the concepts and skills I include:
- Terms related to email writing, such as tone, style, recipient, subject line, etc…
- The importance of having an appropriate tone and style
- How to choose the appropriate tone and style based on the recipient(s)
- The differences between texting and emailing
- The parts of an email and where to place information
- Including enough details to get their point across and their needs met
- How to revise for clarity and edit for accuracy
Many of these concepts and skills apply to other types of writing and help students improve their overall independent writing.
What if I don’t have time to create these lessons?
I have a ready-to-go resource that includes everything you need to teach and assess this topic.
With my Email Etiquette Lesson and Assignment on Google Slide for grades 6-8, students will work interactively to highlight text, drag and drop text boxes, and type responses in text boxes right on the slides.
The resource consists of two slideshows. In the first slideshow, students:
- learn about the difference between texting and email writing
- identify the parts of an email
- learn the importance of having a positive tone and a formal style
- sort statements that should and should not be in an email
- analyze email examples and explain how to improve them
- revise ineffective emails
In the second slideshow, students put their knowledge to the test as they draft an email to their teacher based on a given scenario. For ease of scoring, an editable rubric is also included.
To elevate your students’ email writing skills, teach them proper etiquette. As a result, you will start to see emails with a clearer message, an appropriate tone, and a more formal style.
If you want more ideas for engaging writing assignments, read Teaching Poetry Writing in 3 Easy Steps.
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