What I Wish I'd Done Before Deploying the iPads to 735 Middle Schoolers

There are many things I’ll detail over the course of the year, but there is one thing sticking out right now, and I must share it with you in case you are considering a similar 1:1 project:

TRAIN STUDENTS TO USE EMAIL APPROPRIATELY.

Each of our students and staff members has a Google Apps for Education account to create documents, collaborate online, and communicate. Since they submit many projects and lessons through email, they have the ability to email teachers. These are 6th, 7th and 8th graders who have limited or no experience with email. They do know how to text, so the logical step for them was to use their Google Apps for Ed email account just like a giant texting feature. They are emailing constantly with not that much to say.

The problem is that they are emailing everyone many times a day, including their teachers, principals and former teachers.

Teachers report up to 120 emails a day with such intoxicating content as “Go  Tigers!” and funny cat faces. Their signatures are “PB&J Time!” and “Rangers Fan.” Teachers could just delete them in the inbox, but the students are not using the SUBJECT line, so teachers must open each one to know if it’s class related.

Meanwhile, the principal, assistant principal, and counselors receive email from all the students. You can imagine what their inbox looks like! Sounds like no big deal, but with a little training, it would have been no deal at all. Luckily, each staff member continues to have an Outlook account for school business, so they easily segregate the student email from others.

The teachers like the fact that the students send emails when they are absent or if they forgot the assignment. Another positive outcome is that the frustrated, quiet students are more comfortable emailing to say, “I don’t understand what we’re doing in class right now.”

The counselors and principals are busier than ever because students also email them to say things like, “Maria is being picked on” or “I hate myself” which never would be said out loud. Students also don’t hesitate to forward messages which are inappropriate or mean, and there have been a few of those too.

Each of these needs investigation and discussion. Sometimes the students who emailed in panic were in a typical middle school drama which resolved itself 10 minutes later, but that resolution is rarely emailed to the administrator, so the legwork must be done.  Everyone is relieved that it was nothing to worry about, but it took time and effort to find that out. Our poor counselors and principals are worn thin.

We don’t want to stop the email; we want to train the students. During the three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas we are taking up the iPads to upgrade them to iOS5 (more on that later). While we have them, the students will participate in email lessons during homeroom. If you have suggestions, please share them with me. These are the topics we plan to cover:

  • Professional email vs personal email. What’s the difference?
    • We will use teacher email as an example. It is for professional use and is archived.
    • We will show students what types of email are appropriate for school.
  • Who can see my Google Apps for Ed email?
    • We can!
    • Their teachers have access and their parents can have access.
  • Why use a subject line?
    • The reason we need it.
    • It’s quick and easy to do.
  • What should the subject line say?
    • We are going to give them a standard subject line for lesson questions and turning in assignments.
    • We will show subject lines in a list of teacher emails so they can see what teachers see.
  • Who do I email for this?
    • We will detail the types of problems to email to a teacher, counselor, coach, and principal
    • We will give them email addresses to ask for help, both with schoolwork and with technical issues.
  • What’s an email signature and why do I need one?
    • We will show them how to create a signature for emails addressed to teachers and staff.
    • We will show them how the signature looks when sent in an email.
    • We will walk them through creating a signature for their account.


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31 Responses to What I Wish I'd Done Before Deploying the iPads to 735 Middle Schoolers

  1. What I Wish I’d Done Before Deploying the iPads to 735 Middle Schoolers | Terice T. Schneider's Digital Home well writen article!!

  2. What I Wish I’d Done Before Deploying the iPads to 735 Middle Schoolers | Terice T. Schneider's Digital Home great ideas for this world!

  3. Pingback: What I Wish I’d Done Before Deploying the iPads to 735 Middle Schoolers | Terice T. Schneider's Digital Home | Mobile Learning in K-16 & Beyond... | Scoop.it

  4. decdent guy says:

    thanks this will help in future.

  5. Very interesting information!Perfect just what I was looking for!

  6. As a Newbie, I am permanently browsing online for articles that can be of assistance to me. Thank you

  7. Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

  8. Pingback: What I Wish I’d Done Before Deploying the iPads to 735 Middle Schoolers | Terice T. Schneider's Digital Home | 1:1 and BYOD | Scoop.it

  9. Greetings! I’ve been following your site for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from New Caney Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the excellent job!

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  11. Aida says:

    I think you are covering this, but just in case, you might find it helpful to give them a basic three part subject line, for example, whether it is personal or professional, which class it pertains to and what assignment or situation (if it is professional or personal, depending, and this may mean for personal, the name of a fellow student or professional, the name of the assignment)
    We do this with our Creative Writers at my school when they submit for a variety of things, and it aids separating everything up. We also utilize gmail (every incoming student must create a gmail account that has their name in it, not something odd and overly personal, similar to the emails of teachers), and utilize the labeling system in there. Also, the Google Docs is helpful, because then we are able to put documents into collections and go almost entirely paperless. Just a thought, though y’all seem to have a system that works!
    And lastly, try to clarify any assignment boundaries. In my school, students can often get away with a deadline if they don’t have it in class, by submitting the assignment through email by midnight that night and still receive full credit. Some teachers clarify at the start of the year that if the assignment is not in class, the assignment is late, while others are comfortable with receiving the assignment whenever on that day. Also, DO the teachers want a hard copy or a digital copy? Some students love typing and will send in their assignments entirely on the computer, which some teachers are fine with except for certain assignments. For example, my World History teacher banned the turning in of reviews for her tests because a student from a previous year typed the whole review on his computer, sent it to his friends, and it was soon passed around to almost the entire class, and the review was printed out by each student so they could receive credit, but none of the students actually bothered to study the review (needless to say, many of the students failed the test). In cases like that, a teacher may prefer hard, hand-written copies. Admittedly, this is middle school, but making this distinction would set a good preface for high school, so make that clear to them. Also! Can the students turn in their assignments EARLY via email? If they can, let them know, this may actually decrease late assignments because often, students complete the assignment on time, but fail to have it in class for a variety of reasons and if they could turn in the assignment as soon as they complete it, there may be an increase in on time assignments.
    This is an awesome thing you are doing, and don’t be discouraged, systems take a little while to work all the kinks out!

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  15. Great tips! We also have 750+ iPod touches and iPads in our district and are using Gaggle.net email with students. Excellent ideas to share with our teachers. Thanks.

  16. Pingback: What I Wish I’d Done Before Deploying the iPads to 735 Middle Schoolers

  17. I actually put together a short, comedic video on how to write the perfect email. It’s from one of the presentations I give about social media and technology. This was for a college crowd, but the lessons would still fit for your audience: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3nOYFXJxPc

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  22. I have very similar issues with my 9-12th graders and our new iPods. E-mail is so foreign to them. The first few times they send their voice recordings, we had to go over the etiquette and expectations of e-mail. It will be a challenge to break them of old habits, but if they learn early in middle school, my life will be easier! It’s a very steep learning curve! Also, watch out for the random pictures they all take. Every day. Filling up the memory with 20 pictures of other students. We had that talk quite early. I posted some of the pictures on the projector to help make my point.

  23. runneals says:

    Remind them how anyone, including their parents can request to see their emails. Also, we have had quite a few kids here at the high school who have been dumb enough to send images of themselves via their school email.

  24. Pingback: What I Wish I’d Done Before Deploying the iPads to 735 Middle Schoolers | Terice T. Schneider's Digital Home | Leading Learners | Scoop.it

  25. Pingback: What I Wish I’d Done Before Deploying the iPads to 735 Middle Schoolers | Terice T. Schneider's Digital Home | iPads in schools | Scoop.it

  26. Matt Montagne says:

    Kids don’t need to be ‘trained’ to use email. They need to use email to learn how to use email.

  27. Pingback: What I Wish I’d Done Before Deploying the iPads to 735 Middle Schoolers | Terice T. Schneider's Digital Home | iPad Apps for School Administrators | Scoop.it

  28. Love this! We need (but do not have) this technology in our middle school. I don’t really see it happening anytime soon with all the budget cuts going on, but I think this is a great resource for those who have them. I will be bookmarking your site because even though we do not have iPads, the students still send us emails and definitely need training on email etiquette.

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