Ep 187: The Back to School Activity That Pays Off All Year Long - EB Academics

Ep 187: The Back to School Activity That Pays Off All Year Long

“HEY! IT’S LUCAS FROM YOUR 4TH PERIOD! I EMAILED YOU THIS MORNING AND I NEVER HEARD BACK.” Ever opened an email that started something like this? In this episode, Caitlin and Jessica want you to consider starting your year with an activity that makes sure you don’t have to deal with these kinds of messages for the rest of the year.

Email is a ubiquitous mode of communication these days, yet few teachers pause to teach this important writing genre with students. From writing an effective subject heading, to using an appropriate and professional tone, to keeping the message clear and comprehensible, this activity will set your students up for success in this genre that transcends classroom writing.

Writing a professional and respectful email is an important skill that students will need throughout their lives. If we as teachers don’t nip bad email habits in the bud early, students may go through life communicating online in an unintentionally ineffective and even offensive way. So, how can you start your year by teaching this important skill? Listen in to find out! (Bonus: This activity is also fun and easy to grade!)

Tune in now to hear:

  • [01:00] Caitlin walks listeners through a commonly problematic email from a student. 
  • [04:40] Jessica introduces the Email Etiquette activity. You can create it yourself through the instructions she gives or, if you’re an EB Teacher, use your coupon code to pick it up for free! (Non-EB Teachers can also purchase it here.)
  • [05:10] Not an EB teacher yet? Consider joining our priority list to join us! 
  • [05:40] Jessica shares her own experiences using this activity with her 5th graders, and how her colleagues thanked her after receiving much better emails from students. She notes that this is a great activity for grades 5-8, and it can also work for high schoolers who still struggle with this skill.
  • [06:00] Caitlin explains that this activity doesn’t just address important skills – it also hits several writing standards!
  • [07:00] Start out with a pre-assessment. Before giving any instruction on writing an email, tell your students to draft an email to a teacher, using any appropriate topic. Students then print it out and turn it in. Hand these back to students after the Email Etiquette lesson, so they can see their growth.
  • [07:40] Share the “why” with students. After the pre-assessment, explain why email etiquette is so important both in and out of school.
  • [08:40] Next, distribute an Email Etiquette Examiner to each student. This will explain everything students need to know in order to write a professional email.If you’re making this on your own, you can make it any style you’d like, but the EB resource mentioned earlier has it designed in a fun newspaper format. It includes both good and bad examples of emails.
  • [09:30] The Email Etiquette Examiner also includes 15 tips for writing an effective email, including tips like showing gratitude, avoiding excessive use of exclamation points, and keeping the email concise. It also includes an opportunity to practice a short email.
  • [10:00] Jessica shares some great discussion questions for after the activity: 
    • “Why do we need email etiquette?” 
    • “Why should you consider your audience when writing an email?” 
    • “How would the way you write an email change depending on your audience?”
    • “What if you have a complaint that you want to address with your teacher via email? What do you think you should do?”“
    • When is it appropriate to email a teacher?”
  • [11:10] The next class period, assign your students a made-up scenario in which they should write an email. Students will then write an actual email, which they will send to you, and you will grade. (Don’t forget to hand out the rubric first, so they understand the expectations of the assignment.Some important areas for the rubric: professionalism, respect, mechanics, and use of the tips they learned earlier.)
  • [12:00] Jessica shares a great scenario to use with students in this post-assessment.
  • [13:00] Jessica shares the bonus of this activity: It’s so easy to grade!
  • [13:20] Caitlin explains that they can return to this activity if students’ email etiquette begins to slip later in the year.
  • [13:20] Caitlin explains that this activity is also a great opportunity to set your non-negotiables in terms of your email response time and the times/days in which you respond to emails. Set those boundaries early! Then stick to these boundaries – responding to emails outside of your set times sets a different expectation for students.
  • [14:50] Caitlin and Jessica wish all their listeners a great new school year. Leave last year in the past and look forward to a new year full of possibilities!

Click here to listen now!

Click here to watch on Youtube!

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Then, pick the date you’re going to teach it in your classroom, and sit back while you watch as your students show up to your classroom pumped about what the day holds…and gush about your class to their parents on the car ride home!

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