High School Scholarship Cover Letter Template


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Lesson Plan

Resumes and Cover Letters for High School Students


Grades9 – 12
Lesson Plan TypeUnit
Estimated TimeEight 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author





Today's high school students must market their experiences, skills, achievements, and accolades to set them apart from others when applying to college or for a job. This lesson takes students through the steps of creating an effective resume and cover letter using ReadWriteThink's Resume Generator and Letter Generator.

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Irvin, J.L., Meltzer, J., Mickler, J.M., Phillips, M., & Dean, N. (2009). Meeting the challenge of adolescent literacy: Practical ideas for literacy leaders.

  • Reading and writing for authentic reasons is more motivating than reading or writing just because it is assigned.

  • By creating resumes and cover letters, high school students can develop their writing skills while creating documents that are useful to them.

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Resources & Preparation


  • LCD Projector

  • Computers with Internet access

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Grades   9 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Resume Generator

This tool guides students through the creation of a resume that can be saved and edited. Written and audio tips provide extra support.


Grades   K – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Writing & Publishing Prose

Letter Generator

The Letter Generator is a useful tool for students to learn the parts of a business or friendly letter and then compose and print letters for both styles of correspondence.


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  1. Prepare copies of the Sample High School Resumes and Cover Letters printout so that students may review it.

  2. Reserve space in a classroom that has access to the Internet, specifically ReadWriteThink’s Resume Generator and Letter Generator.

  3. Prepare copies of the following printouts: The 3 Fs of Resume Writing, My Resume Ideas: Getting Started, Steps to Creating a Cover Letter, Sample High School Resumes and Cover Letters, Visualizing Your Resume: Graphic Organizer, and Visualizing Your Cover Letter: Graphic Organizer.

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Instructional Plan


Students will

  • Understand the function, form, and effectiveness of a resume by examining and discussing sample resumes with their classmates

  • Demonstrate the importance of rhetorical situations by selling themselves to a defined audience

  • Develop a working resume by using the Resume Generator

  • Recognize how a cover letter works in conjunction with a resume by drafting them for a similar purpose

  • Write a cover letter by using the Letter Generator

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Lesson 1: What is a Resume?

  1. Introduce students to resumes as a genre of writing: professional writing. Discuss how this is different from academic genres in that it serves a different purpose and is intended for a different audience. In short, it is a type of writing by an author who is trying to get something. As a result, it is an extremely persuasive style of writing. Share examples of when a person would need a resume, such as applying for a job, a scholarship, or an award, or when creating a portfolio of one’s work.

  2. Prepare students to understand the purpose of a resume, including its Function, Form, and (e)Ffectiveness (the 3 Fs). Take an informal poll of the class, asking who has heard of a resume before this class, who has seen one, and who has one of their own. Based on the results, you may ask students to share their experiences to add to the conversation.

  3. Distribute the printout The 3 Fs of Resume Writing. Discuss each part, and have students take notes.

    1. Function: The function of a resume is to inform the audience about you in order to accomplish something. What you’re trying to accomplish depends on what you’re trying to do. This might include getting a job, getting into college, winning a scholarship, or being selected for an internship. There are many reasons to show people your resume.

    2. Form: Resumes need to look a certain way. This is considered their form. People who read resumes expect them to include specific information, such as your name, address, contact information, education, past jobs, volunteer experience, and special skills. If a resume does not look like a traditional resume, the reader may be confused and think the writer is not educated about writing proper resumes.

    3. (e)Ffectiveness: For a resume to be effective, it must demonstrate your knowledge of both function and form. An effective resume

      - Has a clear purpose that shows why you are writing it

      - Is visually appropriate and appealing, or easy to read

      - Includes all the necessary information about the writer

      - Is grammatically correct with no errors in punctuation or spelling
  4. Share copies of the resume printout. You might begin discussing these by putting students into small groups first to review. Tell them to identify what they see as the 3 Fs: Function, Form, and (e)Ffectiveness.

  5. Return together as a class, and discuss each F and how students determined what it was.

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Lesson 2: Developing Content for Your Resume

  1. Review the The 3 Fs of Resume Writing from the previous lesson.

  2. Discuss the two types of resume: chronological and functional. Ask students which style they think is best for them.

  3. Show the sample resumes from the previous lesson. Ask students to identify which one is chronological and which one is functional.

  4. Share online resume reference sites such as College Admissions High School Resume and High School Students Need a Resume Too with the class to present additional ways of thinking about the construction of resumes. (If you are not in a computer lab or a room with Internet access, tell students to view these sites later on their own.)

  5. Have students brainstorm content for their resumes using the printout My Resume Ideas: Getting Started as a guide.

  6. Begin completing the parts of the printout. Move around the room answering questions as students work.

  7. Ask students to complete the printout on their own before the next lesson.

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Lesson 3: Defining Audience and Purpose

  1. Have students take out their completed My Resume Ideas: Getting Started
    printout. Put them into small groups to share their work with others.

  2. Bring the class back together and ask students questions about their process.

    • What was easy about filling this out? What was difficult?
    • What sections contained the most and least information? Why?

    Ask for volunteers to share what they included in each section with the class.

  3. Begin a discussion about the importance of audience and purpose when creating a resume, as these are fundamental items to consider when putting all of their information together. Points to note include the following:

    • The audience refers to anyone who will review the resume, so we must consider all audiences, both primary and secondary.
    • The purpose refers to why the audience is looking at the resume and what they will be looking for, so we must ask ourselves what they want to read.
    Connect audience and purpose to the 3Fs as discussed in the previous class. Ask students to comment on how these are related and why they are important. Give them the Visualizing Your Resume: Graphic Organizer
    printout to fill out and bring to the next class. They can do this individually or in small groups.

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Lesson 4: Using Resume Builder

  1. Take students to a computer lab with access to the Internet and Resume Generator to complete this lesson. Have them log into the Resume Builder site. As they do so, remind them about the time limit for creating their draft in class. They should structure their time accordingly.

  2. Using their notes from the My Resume Ideas: Getting Started printout, ask students to go through the process of entering their information. Show students the features of the tool, from the additional information about resumes on the first page to the audio feature accompanying the site that enables them to hear the information aloud.

  3. When they have completed their resumes, have students save them and also print a copy to bring to the next class.

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Lesson 5: Peer Review

  1. Ask students to take out the printed copies of their resumes. Discuss how resumes today can be printed and submitted to the audience, as they have prepared, but they can also be submitted electronically. In that case, the resume writer needs to understand how to save a resume as a .pdf or how to create a resume with very little formatting, with only the basic information listed and no fancy spacing or bullets used. Connect this to their use of Resume Generator, and discuss how this would be similar to or different from what they just did.

  2. Put students into small groups to peer review their resumes. Encourage students to review their peers’ resumes for the 3Fs: Function, Form, and (e)Ffectiveness.

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Lesson 6: What is a Cover Letter?

  1. Have students take out the resumes they created using Resume Generator during Lesson 4. Discuss the following questions:

    1. What did you like about using Resume Builder to create your resume?

    2. What did you find particularly easy or difficult about the process?

    3. What do you like or dislike about your completed resume? d. What would you like to change about it?

  2. Introduce cover letters. Discuss them in terms of the 3 Fs.

    1. Function: Cover letters accompany resumes to introduce the reader of the resume to the writer. They personalize the resume, allowing the writer to provide more detail about him- or herself and any relevant experience. Many people think of cover letters as a way for the writer’s true voice to come through.

    2. Form: Like resumes, cover letters also have a typical form: that of a business letter. The writer has to know the correct placement of the heading, date, salutation, body paragraphs, closing, and signature. Readers expect a cover letter to have certain features. If they aren’t included, the reader may think the writer is not knowledgeable and, therefore, not ready for whatever he or she is trying to accomplish by submitting the cover letter and resume.

    3. (e)Ffectiveness: An effective cover letter combines both function and form. It personalizes the writer and provides additional information about him or her and any relevant experience in a standard form. A good cover letter

      • Has a clear purpose that shows why you are writing it

      • Is visually appropriate and appealing, or easy to read

      • Includes additional relevant information about the writer

      • Is grammatically correct with no errors in punctuation or spelling

  3. Share an online reference about cover letters, such as Sample Cover Letter for High School Students, to support the present discussion, and raise or discuss any questions as a result of it. (If you are not in a computer lab or a room with Internet access, tell students to view this site later on their own.)

  4. Show the sample cover letters written by high school students in the Sample High School Resumes and Cover Letters printout. Discuss these with the students in relation to the 3 Fs: What is the function of the cover letter (its purpose), what is unique about its form (design), and how effective do students think this cover letter will be?

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Lesson 7: Developing Your Cover Letter

  1. Explain to students that they are going to create a rough outline of a cover letter that could accompany their resume. Provide the Visualizing Your Cover Letter: Graphic Organizer printout to fill out. They may do this individually or in small groups. Move around the room responding to students’ work and offering suggestions.

  2. Once students have a good start on this, provide the more detailed Steps to Creating a Cover Letter printout. Students should use this to create a draft of their cover letters, due at the next class. Remind students that their time in the lab during the next session will be limited, so they need to have a full draft completed.

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Lesson 8: Finishing Your Cover Letter

  1. Once again, have students meet in the computer lab to type their cover letters using the Steps to Creating a Cover Letter printout and Letter Generator. You may want to remind them about their time constraints and the need to organize their time.

  2. Using Letter Generator, have students transform their drafts into finished cover letters.

  3. Make sure students save their work and also print a copy.

  4. At the end of class, ask students to submit their resumes and cover letters to you for a grade. Use the Resume / Cover Letter Rubric to assist you in assigning a grade.

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  1. Have students submit first and second drafts of the resume and cover letter to you for comments or an early grade, additional revision, and a new/final grade.

  2. Do more detailed work with cover letters, including researching jobs and researching examples of cover letters for specific jobs. Then have students write cover letters tailored to these jobs.

  3. Include a discussion of writing essays and personal statements for college applications.

  4. Connect discussions of resume and cover letter writing to students’ college aspirations, including their ideas for majors, careers, courses, and activities to become involved in. You may consider reviewing online resources, including ACT.

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  • Review students’ printouts for The 3 Fs of Resume Writing, My Resume Ideas: Getting Started, Visualizing Your Resume: Graphic Organizer, Visualizing Your Cover Letter: Graphic Organizer, and Steps to Creating a Cover Letter after each lesson in which they are used or collected. Make sure students are correctly identifying the parts and including information as needed. If a pattern of errors or misunderstandings occurs, review them with students at the beginning of the next lesson.

  • Collect typed drafts of students’ resumes and cover letters as created using the Resume Generator and Letter Generator. Review and grade them using the Resume/Cover Letter Rubric. Address the grade and comments when returning the resumes and cover letters to students, especially if students are allowed to revise for a new grade.

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Related Resources


Tracey Vacek

March 18, 2017

This will be my first try at teaching resume writing. This is so easy to follow I feel so much more prepared.

Thank you!


F. Andrew

February 07, 2016

I love your resume generator, but I would love it even more if it had a section for references at the end. Most of my students would like to include a references section. Perhaps I am missing something, but this would take the generator from good to great!


Thank you for sharing this, I am day 3 into resumes and I am losing the students. I found your plans to be stimulating, now I will adjust my structure and be able to improve my presentation. Thank you again for generously sharing your insight and knowledge.


Kaelyn D

September 05, 2015

I found your lesson plan when searching for resources for my Professional Writing Unit. This is excellent! Thank you so much for sharing- my teaching is better for it.


Thank you. After teaching middle school for several years, I moved to high school and needed resources to cover this unit. This was amazingly easy and clear.


Betty Love

February 13, 2015

Your lesson plan is awesome. Thank you for sharing it with us.


Jennifer H

October 09, 2014

This worked extremely well in my senior English classes. Although there was an issue with students emailing me their resumes from the Resume Generator. The Adobe files loaded for five out of my six classes. I loved the analysis of the sample resumes and cover letters. But, if I could make a suggestion, there should be more of a difference between Jane and John's resume and cover letter.

This is an important unit to teach, especially to seniors, and I am incredibly thankful to have found this on the website. The resources were great and the information is beneficial.

Thank you so much!

Jenn :)


Thank you so much for putting this together! I teach a lower-level English class for seniors, and they struggled with my more complex unit last year. This unit really breaks things down in a way that will be easier for them. Great resource, and thanks again!


Jeff Langer

February 26, 2014

I am a college senior majoring in business education and stumbled across this website and your lesson plan. Just wanted to say THANK YOU for taking your time to create this lesson plan and share it! I will definitely be bookmarking this site and look forward to reviewing more of your lesson plans!


Dear Marcea:

I just wanted to tell you that you have saved my day!!

I am an ESOL teacher in the UK working on a post-grad qualification. I have an observed teaching lesson next week and I was panicking because I was suffering from "writer's block" until I saw your lesson plan. Now I have something solid to go by and this will, hopefully, help me save the day. (Keeping my fingers crossed here!)

I haven't enough words to say THANK YOU from across the Atlantic.

Take care,

Morgan :)



Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State, Zip Code
Your Email Address
Your Phone


Employer Name
Employer Title
Employer Address
Employer City, State, Zip Code

Dear [Salutation],

The Successful Student Academic Scholarship matches my experiences, achievements, and goals as an undergraduate student at Princeton University. The requirements state students must have a 4.0 GPA with over 150 hours of community service credits. At this time, I have a 4.5 GPA as a member of the University Scholars Program and 167 hours of community service credits.

I am enrolled in the Pre-Medical program for University Scholars at Princeton University. My achievements as a University Scholar are not the only factors which make me a qualified candidate of the Student Academic Scholarship. I am an active student leader trained and experienced through the Student Leadership Club at my University. At this time, I am a Board Adviser and Representative for the Student Leaders on campus. Our mission is to educate, enrich, and improve our campus student leaders through conferences, training, and community projects. With these developments underway, my responsibilities involve recruiting student leaders through organization marketing, word-of-mouth, and workshops offered on campus.

The Successful Student Academic Scholarship will assist in paying for tuition, books, and other learning materials necessary for academic achievement. My intention is to utilize the scholarship to reach an even higher level of academic achievement before my graduation in June 2009.

Please review the enclosed resume, references, and application for my candidacy of the Successful Student Academic Scholarship.

Thank you for your time,
Your name (signed)
Your name (Printed)

Do not copy this Scholarship Cover Letter, use it for ideas and guidance only. Create your own unique cover letter for best results.


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