Providing the perfect cover

18th November 2005 at 00:00
You are lying in bed, throat burning, body shivering, and you must set some meaningful work for your pupils. Here is a task I have devised which works with Years 7, 8 or 9. Pupils have to write a personal letter to their English teacher to cheer them up, as they are not well. Their letters must provide laughter and help a speedy recovery.

The lesson could begin with the cover teacher discussing experiences of writing and receiving personal letters. Specific instructions could include: letters must be planned; pupils need to work out what to have in each paragraph, and the first and last paragraphs should be about their teachers otherwise the pupils could come across as being self-centred.

Most personal letters are six or seven paragraphs long and are chatty in tone.

Letters may include puzzles such as crosswords, word searches or anagrams; gossip; jokes; poems; comic strips; reviews of recent films, books, DVDs or TV programmes; lyrics; an account of the pupil's day so far, or illustrations.

Pupils need to write a rough version before making changes. They should be reminded that the sender's voice should be heard in a personal letter and how such a letter should be set out, and that it needs to be written on plain paper (the cover teacher will need paper clips and bold-lined paper to put under the plain paper as a guide).

Letters should be put in an envelope and sent to the teacher who, hopefully, will be able to comment on them in person during the next lesson or, if they are still unwell, write a letter to the class.

Patrick Higgins

Teacher of English, Trinity Catholic School, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now