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Teach Students Email Skills by @dyerksjr1

Don Yerks Email Assignment
Teach Students Email Skills by @dyerksjr1

Don Yerks Email Assignment

Don Yerks Shares his Email Lesson Plan

Guest blog post by Don Yerks

October is being recognized in many digital arenas around the world as “Digital Citizenship Month”. I thought it would be a great idea to have my students learn how to compose a proper email.

So many times through our interaction with students, we receive email messages that don’t have the subject line filled in or a signature that identifies the student.

When I came up with the idea of an email lesson for our students, I wanted it to be a real life situation. Constructing a proper email is a “Digital Life Skill” and most of our students just don’t have enough practice with email.



Make a copy of the directions document and personalize it for your students.

Control Shift H

In the document default text of XXXX is used to indicate Mr. Smith or Ms. Smith. Use Control Shift H to open the “Find and replace” dialogue box. Search for XXXX and replace it with your name.


Read through the directions document and look for brackets to indicate entering your school name and the email address students should use for the assignment.

Automated Response

I currently use “Canned Responses” for my health students. When they send me an email that has health study guides or something to that effect in the subject line, they will receive a “Canned Response” from me. That email will have all of our study guides for health enclosed in the reply message.

So then it dawned on me why not use the canned responses with my students and have them receive email messages back from their teacher. Students love feedback and the feedback is relatively easy to set-up and in real time.

Enable Canned Responses in Labs

To create a “Canned Response” you need to go into “Settings” and click on the “Labs” link, find “Canned Responses” by Chad P and click on Enable. Make sure you save your changes.

Create a Draft Email

Then to active the canned response function you need to open a “Draft” email message and type in what you would like to be sent out. The To: ”Address” and the “Subject Line” text is what will be the Activators or Triggers that sends the “Canned Response”. When an email is sent to your email address with a specific subject in the “Subject Line” of the email message your canned reply will be sent to them “automagically”.  

You can add pictures or as I did “Bitmojis” to make your reply message more fun and engaging.

Filter Emails

Now you need to go back into “Settings” and click on “Filters and Blocked Addresses”  scroll down until you see “Create a new filter” and click on it.

Now type in the To: line your email address and in the Subject: line your subject that was in your “Canned Response” draft email verbatim.

Next you will click on the blue link in the bottom right hand corner of the filter pane “Create filter with this search »”

I would suggest you click on  ▢ Skip the Inbox (Archive it)  so that your “Inbox” does not become inundated with all the “Practice” emails your students will be sending you. Just a reminder that when you “Archive” an email all that it is doing is sending it to your “All Mail” and you view the practice emails in that view. So much better than within your normal Inbox view.

I would also create a label and apply it so that you can find them later and view them as a group. I used Practice Writing an Email to Mr. Yerks.
practice writing email to mr yerks

Continue with your set-up by clicking on Send canned response
send canned response

You are selecting the “Subject Line” of your “Canned Response” you created earlier in the process.

If you have any test runs or other conversations that match that filter, click on the also apply box.

Lastly, now click on Create filter.
Create filter

I would test your newly created “Canned Response” just to make sure you set it up correctly.

Thank You

A special thanks to Alice Keeler for giving me the opportunity to post this Email lesson activity on her blog.

Thanks for your time and good luck with receiving all those emails from your students’ with a Subject and a Signature, I hope?

Don Yerks, M.Ed.
Pine Brook School
Health and Physical Education Teacher
Google for Education Certified Educator Level 1 and 2






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