7 Best Lesson Plans for Teaching Email in Middle School
As middle school teachers are looking for ideas to teach digital literacy in their classrooms, many are using the IC3 Global Standard 5 (GS5) as a starting point.
A lot of the topics on the IC3 GS5 are pretty straightforward, such as word processing and using spreadsheets.
However, it also includes requirements for students to understand and effectively use email clients.
These requirements are broken into five main areas related to email:
- Email management
Unfortunately, there aren’t many resources out there that present this information in an age-appropriate context for middle schoolers.
To help you meet the IC3 GS5 requirements for teaching email, we’ve put together 7 email lesson ideas.
Let’s start with how you can introduce email applications!
1. Introducing Email Applications
Lesson Type: Classroom Discussion & Small Group Activity
IC3 Requirements Covered: Applications
The best way to start your email unit is by giving your students an overview of what email is and why it’s used.
This may seem basic, but some of your students may not know as much about email applications as you think!
Discussion: Why Email Is Important
You can start the class with a teacher-led discussion to get your students thinking. First, ask students to raise their hand if they have an email account.
Then call on a handful of students and ask them why they have an email account.
Answers could range from “my mom told me to make it” to “my grandpa won’t text, but he likes to email.”
Once you’ve gotten a variety of answers, pose this question to the class: “What do all of your answers have in common?” Encourage answers until someone mentions “communication.”
Next, ask your students why someone would send an email instead of calling, texting, or sending a social message. If no one seems to have an answer, here are a few examples you can share:
- Sending someone a class essay to look over
- Sending a group notification to the members of a club
- Sorting and tracking communication, which is important for professional uses
Now that you’ve given an overview of why email is important, it’s time to transition to what goes into email!
Small Group Activity: What Email Looks Like
Have your students break into small groups and ask them to brainstorm a list of email applications for five minutes.
Once time is up, ask each group to read their list aloud. Write their answers on the board.
Then, you can explain that even though there are many different options out there, all email applications have common capabilities. These include functions like:
- New email
It’s a great idea to show an example of an email application and highlight each command. You can even show how the commands look across multiple applications!
You could do this by either passing out handouts or showing them on a screen at the front of the class.
Either way, giving your students the visual to go along with your explanations is crucial to their understanding of the commands and for their success in later lessons.
Once your students have the basics of email down, move onto the next lesson!
2. Creating & Sending an Email
Lesson Type: Lecture, Class Activity, & Hands-On Practice
IC3 Requirements Covered: Etiquette
In this lesson, you’ll get into the details of creating and sending a great email.
Lecture: Email Structure & Etiquette
Start out by discussing the standard structure of an email, which is made up of the salutation, body, and signature. It’s also important to talk about the subject line — something that’s unique to emails compared to other forms of communication.
Along with basic email structure, it’s crucial to spend time discussing email etiquette, including key points like:
- Establishing a polite tone
- Not typing in all uppercase letters
- Refraining from unusual abbreviations
In addition to etiquette, now is a great time to talk about the differences of a formal and informal email.
Class Activity: Formal vs. Informal Emails
To get your students thinking, include an activity in which they need to decide if an email is formal or informal. This takes some prep up front, but it’s a great way to mix up your lesson.
Write five examples of both formal and informal email and distribute them to some of your students. Pick students to read each email aloud, and then ask the class if they think it is formal or informal and why they believe so.
Depending how the activity goes, you may want to review the differences or move on with the lesson — you know what will work best for your class!
Now that you’ve gone over email structure and formality, it’s time to give your students hands-on practice.
Hands-On Practice: Creating & Sending Emails
To give your students hands-on practice creating and sending emails, you have two options.
If your students have school email accounts have them log in and use their school accounts to practice.
You may be tempted to have students use their own personal email accounts, but you could run into privacy issues, so it’s best to not go that route if you can avoid it.
Otherwise, you’ll need to find a way to let students practice using a digital system with simulated email software.
Either way, it’s important that students get hands-on practice to help reinforce what you’ve taught in the lesson!
3. Receiving, Replying, & Forwarding Email
Lesson Type: Classroom Discussion & Individual Activity
IC3 Requirements Covered: Etiquette, Email Management
Now that your students know how to create and send emails, it’s time to teach them learn what to do when receiving and responding to emails.
Classroom Discussion: Receiving & Responding to Email
This lesson will focus on three actions:
- Reply to an email
- Reply to all
- Forward a message
Give your students an overview of what each of these actions means and when they should be used. It’s a good idea to include example scenarios for each option to help students understand better.
You can start by emphasizing the difference between replying to one contact and replying to all contacts on an email thread. Then it’s time for your activity.
Activity: Email Scenarios
Before class, you’ll need to come up with a list of scenarios that end with someone deciding to reply, reply all, or forward the message.
Some scenarios you could use include:
- You receive a group email from your teacher and have a question to ask her
- You got an email with a coupon code and want to share it with a friend
- Your best friend sent you and your other friend a funny video and you have a perfectly hilarious response
Include a variety of scenarios that are relevant to your students. Having good context can make or break their comprehension!
Once you’ve got your list ready, print enough copies for each student to have one. In class, pass them out and instruct students to list what the best action would be for each scenario.
Collect their work at the end of class to either grade or review for completion.
4. Working with Email Attachments
Lesson Type: Classroom Discussion & Hands-On Practice
IC3 Requirements Covered: Attachments
With such a focus on sending and replying email, it’s easy to overlook email attachments.
But if you want to line up with the IC3 GS5 this is a crucial piece to include in your email lessons!
Classroom Discussion: When to Use Email Attachments
Start by giving an overview of what an attachment is, including what types of files someone might attach to an email.
To get a discussion going, ask your students to share examples of when they might send an attachment in an email.
If no one has anything to add, share some examples such as:
- Sending a flyer for your school fundraiser to relatives
- Sending your finished paper to a teacher
Depending on how in-depth you want to get, you could also discuss common restrictions to email attachments, such as file size or file type.
After you’ve reviewed attachments, demonstrate how to add an attachment to an email by sharing your screen at the front of class.
Hands-On Practice: Using Email Attachments
At this point, it’s also a good idea to show what an attachment looks like in an email you’ve received.
Similar to lesson two, it’s a great idea to have your students practice sending and receiving emails with attachments.
Use the same option you chose before to give your students a chance to do some hands-on work!
5. Creating Contacts & Contact Lists
Lesson Type: Individual Activity & Lecture
IC3 Requirements Covered: Contacts
Now that you’ve covered sending and replying to emails, it’s time to talk about contacts! This is essential since setting up contacts can save time and headaches for any email user.
This lesson starts with an individual activity to get your students thinking about organizing their contacts into groups or lists.
For the activity, give your students five minutes to list out 20 people they have emailed or might email in the future. They don’t need to include anything other than the person’s name.
After five minutes have passed, instruct the students to take two more minutes to put these people into different groups based on why they might email them. Explain that if it makes sense, someone can be in more than one group.
Some examples could be “friends,” “teammates,” or “family.”
Once everyone has finished up, ask a few students to share the groups they came up with. Then, shift into explaining that creating contacts and lists in your email account helps you save time.
By creating contacts, you don’t need to remember each person’s email every time you want to send them something.
In addition, by grouping your contacts into lists you can quickly email multiple people rather than adding them each individually!
This concept of saving time and staying organized ties perfectly into the next email lesson — organizing your inbox.
6. Organizing Your Email Inbox
Lesson Type: Lecture with Demonstration
IC3 Requirements Covered: Email Management
While your students might not receive much email today, they’ll need to know how to keep their inboxes organized for the future!
For this lesson, explain different ways to keep things organized by demonstrating different options on your screen at the front of class.
As part of this, you can discuss four easy ways to keep emails organized:
- Using folders and labels
- Starring important emails
- Archiving emails
- Deleting emails
For each action, give examples of why someone may use them and demonstrate how to do so. Some ideas to include are:
- Creating a folder for emails related to your community service project
- Starring an email you need to reference for class next week
- Deleting an old birthday invitation you won’t need to look at again
As with your other lessons, give your scenarios an age-appropriate context that will click with your middle school students!
7. Spotting Spam & Junk Mail
Lesson Type: Lecture with Demonstration
IC3 Requirements Covered: Email Management
To finish out your email unit, dedicate a lesson to spam and junk mail.
Younger students may not be aware of how easily you can get tricked by a sneaky scam, so it’s crucial to tie this part of Internet safety into your email lessons.
Start your lesson by explaining what a spam email is and why it’s important to identify spam when it hits your inbox.
While some of these emails don’t have a directly malicious intent, others could include a dangerous link.
Some ways to quickly recognize one of these emails is:
- You don’t recognize the name of the sender
- It references an account that you do not have
- You don’t recognize the URL in the email
A great rule of thumb for younger students is to ask an adult to come look at an email before they click.
You can also remind them to not forward a suspicious email to anyone else — the adult should look at it in person!
Once you’ve hit on the importance of keeping an eye out for junk and scams, show your students how to mark a suspicious email as spam in popular email clients like Gmail and Outlook.
This will help filter those types of email from getting to them in the future, making it easier to keep their inbox clean!
Teach Email Skills to Your Students Today!
Now that you’ve got seven stellar lesson ideas for teaching your students about email, what’s next?
You could use these ideas to create your own detailed lesson plans, activities, and resources. Or you could use a curriculum system that’s got everything you need to meet the email requirements of the IC3 GS5!
Business&ITCenter21 is a digital curriculum designed to help middle school teachers teach digital literacy skills and prepare their students for IC3 certification.
It includes a full module on Email & Electronic Calendars to help you teach these skills and prepare students for the IC3 certification.
The module is made up of over 11 hours-worth of digital lessons, classroom activities, ready-to-use lesson plans, and more.
Along with the student and teacher resources, Business&ITCenter21 includes automatically graded assessments to help you save time when measuring student progress.
Want to learn more? Check out the full details in our catalog!