Beauty Pre-Draft Activity: Essay Cover Letter

Lesson Plan – Essay cover letter

Lesson objective(s): The lesson objective is to ensure that students re-read and reflect on their own writing before handing it in.

Total estimated time: 20-30 minutes

Additional outcome(s): Though this activity only explicitly asks students to answer a few specific questions, hopefully it will help draw their attention to other aspects of writing implicitly (organization, language, structure of paragraphs, etc.).

Course work or assignment underway: any completed essay draft; it can become a helpful routine to do before every first (as peer critique) and final draft (as self-critique)

Work and/or reading completed before class: The draft should be typed and ready to turn in (or ready for peer review)

Sequence of classroom activities: In class, before turning in the essay have students answer the following questions and attach them to the essay.

  • What do you see as your main idea or point?
  • What idea or point do you feel you’ve made most successfully? least successfully?
  • What’s the number one question about your paper that you’d like me to answer for you?
  • While writing this paper did you encounter any obstacles or difficulties that you often deal with when writing?

In addition, students can use this activity to peer critique one another’s first drafts. Students exchange papers and answer the questions above about their own writing and the questions below about the other student’s writing.

  • In your own words, what is this paper about? What is its idea? Do not assume that the writer knows what his or her own essay is about! You might even doubt the stated thesis (if there is one) and find the “real” meaning of the writing elsewhere.
  • What are this draft’s strengths?
  • Use Gordon Harvey’s “Elements of an Academic Essay” and identify two elements that you think the writer should focus on when s/he revises and suggest how s/he might begin these revisions. Try to point out specific sentences and paragraphs when possible.

Reflection on the lesson’s success or alternative approaches: By coming up with a variation on the questions, instructors can use this activity specifically for revisions or during the writing process to encourage students to make substantial changes from draft to draft and while they are writing.

(This activity was adapted from Kerry Walk’s book Teaching with Writing. Look there for more help!)

Download: Beauty Pre-Draft-Cover Letter (PDF)

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