Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why a Formal Submission Letter Matters in the Writing Process

When my students hand in a project or paper to me, they compose a submission letter. In the style of a formal cover letter, they learn an important professional format.

This letter, while it may vary by content, has a pretty general structure: Introduction, Reflect on Process, Reflect on Product, Conclusion/What I should know. Examples from non-fiction unit, and an essay.

I ask students to write me a letter even if they are not prepared to hand in their work that day. Their words provide a glimpse into where their work broke down, and a measure of accountability to a due date, even if they're not meeting it.

If students are late, I can use their letter as a 'to-do' list for touching base each day, jotting notes to myself about what progress they're making to complete the work. (See example below)

Students who are prepared are justifiably proud of
themselves and are given the opportunity
to highlight strengths that they found in this work. 

Students who will be late are given the space to explain what
 that have completed, and what they need to finish.
It gives some positives to emphasize, even if they don't have their final paper.   
For students who don't hand their work in the next day, I make notes on what they do during class (go to the library, type, etc) and then also note when they submit the paper. The letter basically becomes a log of how I've checked in with the student and is stapled to the top of their submission. 

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