When the idea of digital volunteers was presented at the #gafesummit I attended, I knew that was something I could easily take back to my school. One teacher in third grade really took to the idea. This year Mrs. Westhoff has been using digital volunteers for her students' papers they type in Google.
The first papers they sent out they were nervous for feedback. She sent out an email that identified what the students were working on and then the specifics the people should be editing and revising. These editors have been teachers, administrators, school board members, and community members. It has been great to get different people involved in what our students are doing.
Here is the email she sent out for the last paper they shared...
"Thank you so much for volunteering again to be a Digital Volunteer. My students have been working so very hard on "Animal Reports" and should have received it this morning. A little background: My students brainstormed various animals, chose one, and completed research in four main areas- general animal facts, habitat, interactions, and babies. After the report was written, students then supported their text with appropriate nonfiction text features.
Things to look for / comment on:
- introducing a topic or new information
- nonfiction text features support understanding (and not too many)
- information given are FACTS (not opinions)
- concluding statements
- Grammar: includes but not limited to capitalization, punctuation, use of commas, spelling common words and homophones correctly
- General comments such as areas where the student did well in
You will receive a notification in your inbox notifying that a student shared their document with you. Next, comment away!
If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know at any time. If you could have them done by next Friday, March 11th that would be fabulous! Thank you again for your time and enthusiasm. "
Her class just sent out their papers for this second round of digital volunteers. They asked to have their volunteers look at their papers this time because they like getting the outside feedback. It is important to share work outside the 4 walls of their classroom, so they can see that their work matters.
Think about digital volunteers for your classroom! It took me about 10 minutes to look through and comment on 2 papers - not a big time commitment for such a great experience for students.
Donna Bader, this post is a shoutout to you! Way to go on thinking about a great way to show Kinders how email works! Jodie Langston, thank you for sharing your experience so I can share it, too!
If you have been trying to figure out when to introduce kids to email, Kindergarten may be the perfect time. Now, before you start saying that your Kinders can't type that well or that you don't want them to have email addresses, hear me out.
Kids don't have to have email addresses to LEARN about email. My wonderful friend and peer in education, Jodie, told me about what she and a couple of Kindergarten classes at her school have done.
One of the Kindergarten teachers hopped on board with the expectation to have her kids introduced to email before the end of K. Jodie (in 2nd grade) received an email from Mrs. Bader's class, using the friendly letter format. Jodie's class then email back. The kids in Mrs. Bader's class learned about how quickly email can travel.
They now contact each other regularly. Before Jodie's class went to the zoo, Mrs. Bader's class emailed her class telling them what the weather was going to be that day and what their recommendation for clothing was, as well as asking them to tell about their trip. Well, in order to show that email can travel quickly from one location to another, Jodie sent a picture from their field trip to the Kinders back at school. They were so excited!
Jodie said it opened up a lot of dialogue about how emails are replied to, how they travel, and the correct etiquette to use. I can't wait to tell my teachers here about this great idea! What a great way to MODEL digital citizenship for students!
I have blogged about Common Sense Media before, but I wanted to focus on one section of it that is great for students as they are going back to school. I say students, but I think I mean teachers, too. There is a section called the Digital Passport on their website underneath of Digital Citizenship.
Here are some great things:
I love this site because you can tailor it to what you want, choosing the lessons for your students. There are great training videos to make you feel comfortable with digital citizenship. And one thing I truly like is that the teacher can preview the activities as students, right in their own view! Pretty neat!
Why search for lessons on digital citizenship, when you have FREE resources at your fingertips with Common Sense Media's Digital Passport?
I was reminded about this site through a Tweet this week, and I thought this would be a GREAT opportunity to share it seeing as though it could be a tool teachers can use for back to school time.
FutureMe.org is a simple website where students can write their future selves a letter. They plug in their email address, put in a subject line, write the email, tell it what date to send it on, and there is an option to add a photo.
A couple of ways this can be used...
This tool can be used at any grade level. Just remember, if a student leaves the district and they send it to their school email, they will not be able to access it anymore. I would also put guidelines for their letters so they are meaningful. In the "public letters" sections, the emails are kind of lackluster, but I know they could be really great! This is also a great opportunity to teach how to send an email. There is a snapshot of the template below.
Fifth grade teacher in a 1:1 iPad classroom, sharing my journey with technology in the classroom