Nov 9, 2012

Students with Email, Part I

Our students have another tool to facilitate learning and communication! All Greenwich students in grades 5 through 8 have student email accounts activated and ready to use.

Below are some of the guidelines that have been reviewed with students to help them make appropriate choices when communicating with others. I have taken great pains to help them see that whether face-to-face or in the digital realm,  we must present ourselves in a way that will ensure that we an our ideas will be taken seriously. Through email (and wikis, blogs, chats, notes, presentations, etc.) we as teachers have an opportunity to help students develop positive and productive communication habits.
  • Rules: School rules and the district's Acceptable Use Policy apply. Our words and actions will demonstrate respect for people, resources and laws.
  • Academic use only. Like all things provided by the school, email accounts are to be used for educational purposes. Communications should enhance learning, not distract.
  • Know your audience. Since our goals are focused on training students to become literate, responsible and effective communicators, the expectation is that all messages will be comprised of complete and coherent thoughts that make use of appropriate grammar, capitalization, punctuation and spelling.
  • Leave home at home. Students have been informed that this will be the only email account they will check while at school, and it is the only email account they will use to contact teachers and staff.
  • SPAM is not cool. Sending off-topic messages to individuals or groups is both annoying and inappropriate.
  • Think before you send. Treat one another with respect, even when there is a disagreement.  Choose words carefully.  Do not share anything that has been shared in confidence. When you feel that a line has been crossed, share the message with a parent, teacher, guidance counselor, or principal.

Students will benefit greatly through regular practice, both formal and informal. The format of your reply will demonstrate what is appropriate and acceptable. Here are just a few ways that email can benefit student learning:
  • Students can contact you for clarification on assignments or lessons while the questions are fresh.
  • Students can contact each other for clarification on assignments, guidelines or homework.
  • You can send individual or groups of students notes, reminders, study helps, templates.
  • Students can send you digital copies of their work, a response to a hot question, or a link to a site related to classroom study.
  • Students have another way to share data or projects when collaborating with one another.
  • Students can email themselves assignments, documents, notes, reminders, and anything else that they will need to transport between home and school. No more lost or corrupted USB drives.
  • Students can associate their school email account with other school provided web accounts, facilitating login/password reminders.

Looking ahead... 
Part II: tips to help manage the influx of student messages.
Part III: our students' ideas on how email can be used to benefit academics, productivity and safety at school.