Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mastering Standards through... Email

Students email me all the time, and I encourage them to email their other teachers all of the time as well.  There are times when their emails reveal a lack of organization, clear style, or fail to include background information that is necessary to answer their questions.  Sometimes the emails lack an understanding of audience and academic language.  There are times when the emails are not signed, start with "Hey," or are inappropriate in terms of tone.  And, because sometimes the address is something like: "calibunny@ blank.blank", it is difficult to decipher who it is from.  So, whose responsibility is it to make sure that our students know how to email us?  It's our responsibility.  Not only is it a perfect, simple, teachable moment, but it is something that allows me, as an English teacher, to address a few ELA Standards in the process.

Today, while sitting with my students, each one of them worked on composing an email to their teachers, parent(s)/guardians, and myself, their Instructional Supervisor. The purpose of their email was to introduce themselves, share their academic goals for the month, as well as for the school year overall, and make sure that everyone knew when they would be on campus over the next two weeks for the various content workshops being offered. 

We dialogued some ideas, the students wrote down what it was that they needed to include, and then I stepped back while they put together, read aloud, revised, introduced, explained, and concluded their emails to their teachers.  It may seem like such an easy task, but in the past, when I have asked students to email their teachers, I have taken for granted that they actually knew what that meant.  Most needed direction, guidance, and a second pair of eyes.  Although students email all the time, it was nice to sit with them and have the opportunity to discuss structure, grammar, and organization.  There is power in clarity, and today, I watched as my students communicated a little more clearly.