Category Archives: 4. Classroom Exercises

Requesting a Letter of Recommendation

E-mails requesting a letter of recommendation for graduate school applications, jobs, or internships should be polished and well-constructed. Follow the pointers below to help compose an e-mail that will make a good impression on a former or current instructor.

  • Request letters from instructors who know you beyond attendance in a class and are likely to remember you, if you took the class more than a year earlier.
  • Write in a conversational yet professional tone.
  • Use a proper salutation, such as Dear Professor Sandoval or Dear Dr. Wilson, if the instructor has a doctorate.
  • Include a photo to help the instructor recall who you are and a copy of the job/internship description if applying for a position.
  • Provide all the information the professor will need to write the letter including: (a) memory jog of the class you took, which term, grade received, classroom participation, and any specific interactions you had with the instructor; (b) current résumé; (c) explanation of the reason for the letter; (d) when and how the letter is to be submitted. Note: never assume a quick turnaround. Professors are busy. Give the instructor two to four weeks to compose the letter.
  • Thank the instructor for taking the time to write a letter in a sincere fashion by avoiding cloying clichés such as “Because I learned so much from your class… “

Your task. Analyze the request for a letter of recommendation below. Then rewrite it using your own situation.

Hey, Liliana!

Howzit? I hope you had an awesome time on that trip you talked to us about in class! Since you were one of my favorite profs EVER 😊I was hoping you’d write me a letter of rec for this job I’m applying for. I really loved your class and learned so much in it. I need the letter like really soon, so if you could send it to by the end of this week, that would be really cool! Call me at 509-667-3422 if you need anything.

Thanks for your help!


Classroom Exercise Letter of Recommendation

Suggested Solution

Using Action Words in Résumés

[Instructors: PDFs of the exercise and solution key can be found at the end of the post]

Hirers looking at résumés are notorious for speed reading, so writing concise, powerfully
worded experience statements is critical.

To make experience statements effective, do the following:

  • Begin with a strong action verb (present tense for current job, past tense for former positions).
  • Quantify where possible and add detail to provide context.
  • Omit I.
  • Use truncated language rather than complete sentences.


Poor                  I am a good speaker and have given talks to large audiences.

Improved         Used finely-honed speaking skills while presenting to audiences of 50+.

In the experience statements below, replace the bland verb with a stronger action verb, and flesh out the sentences so a reader would find them more descriptive as well as vivid.

  1. Have good writing skills.
  2. Worked well with teammates.
  3. Showed new employees very difficult payroll system.
  4. Did data input with Data Entry App on a daily basis.
  5. Was good at customer service especially for complaints.
  6. Can use Adobe CS for variety of projects like newsletters.
  7. Went to weekly status meetings.
  8. Responsible for counting cash and doing bank deposit slips.
  9. Got Best Salesperson of the month.
  10. Made weekly report spreadsheet about sales statistics.

Action Words in Résumés-Exercise

Using Action Words in Résumés-Solutions

Writing Concise Tweets for Organizations

[Instructors: Download the exercise and suggested solutions at the end of this post.]


Tweets are a common way for businesses to communicate with customers. The messages can contain up to 280 characters (which include letters, spaces, and punctuation), but tweets of around 100 words grab more attention than longer messages. When writing tweets, follow these tips:

  • Include only main ideas and focus on useful information.
  • Choose descriptive but short words.
  • Personalize your message if possible.
  • Be prepared to write several drafts.

Use the situations below to compose effective tweets and tiny URLs if necessary.

Flight cancellation.American Airlines flight number 2425 from Palm Springs, California (PSP) to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport has been cancelled due to maintenance issues. The flight was scheduled to depart at 6:10 AM. No new flight has been scheduled. Passengers are asked to rebook by sending a direct message (DM).

Reply to customer. Mia Sanchez wrote a complaint to Target about a lengthy wait for a toddler’s play kitchen, which she purchased online. Target wants Mia to know her irritation has been noted but does not want to apologize since she received her delivery within Target’s stated time frame.

Promotion information. Vern’s Verdant Nursery is promoting a wide variety of drought tolerant salvias for one week only, October 12-19, at 20% off the regular price. Vern’s prides itself on good service.

Information sharing. Prof. Marty Jameson wants her students to be aware of a new study that links to a lesson she taught recently in her business communication class. The study focused on what hirers are looking for in new graduates and found that new graduates possessed skills employers considered important.

Emergency notification.After a devastating fire, local officials in Ventura, California, are concerned that a heavy rainstorm will lead to potentially deadly mudslides. The county is issuing evacuation warnings to citizens whose homes may be susceptible to danger and wants residents to remember to gather important records, pets, and medicines.

Writing Concise Tweets for Organizations Exercise

Writing Concise Tweets for Organizations Exercise-Solutions