I have to admit that our current second graders are wonderful. They follow directions, they are eager to learn, and they are simply a bunch of sweet kids. I was a little leery about introducing email to these young scholars, but after I finished the lesson, I realized I had nothing to worry about.
We started in the tech lab with their usual 45-minute session. They sat down, and I told them we were going to access our email accounts for the first time. Of course, they cheered with enthusiasm, making me feel more comfortable with their readiness. We talked about what a domain name was, and they figured out what domain we used for our email accounts through the classroom website. I explained to them that through Google Apps for Education, I was able to lock their accounts down so that they could only send and receive emails to and from their teachers, parents, and other students – all of them being within the same domain. I also told them that when they get something in their inbox, their parents will also receive it. This led to a short discussion on what is appropriate for email. We talked about .org, .com, .net, and .edu, and I gave them more reminders about internet safety. I told them that emails weren’t private, and I reminded them that if they weren’t sure about an email they received, they should show their parents, a teacher, or another responsible adult instead of deleting it.
Next, we talked about the parts of a friendly letter. There’s an opening, a body, and a closing. Then we moved it to email: To whom we write an email, the subject, and the body. The kids figured out from the domain discussion the naming structure for teachers, and I said that for this first email, they’d email me. When it came to subject, one student said, “We put technology as the subject.” I said that subject usually means which class we’re in, but this time, it was the main idea of the letter. In the subject area, we always put our first name (because who knows who firstname.lastname@example.org is), and then, we put our main idea.
Finally, we got to the body. This is where the friendly letter lesson they learned in first grade came in handy. How do we start a friendly letter? “Dear so-and-so,” a student eagerly responded. Exactly! I went on to explain the body, spacing after end punctuation, line spacing between paragraphs, and the closing with a signature. They were given 25 minutes to type their emails to me – only needing two sentences in the body of the friendly letter for this first round. In about 15 minutes, I had most of the class in my inbox. They were eager to write another, and they did, to their wonderful homeroom teacher. (She loved this, and she said she promptly replied to all the emails she received.)
In the end, the entire class did a great job sending email. I need to go reply to those emails, so we can discuss receiving and responding to an email next time. Soon, the second grade will also use Google Docs, and we’ll share documents between partners, using our email addresses. I am hoping it will be a silent class – because they’ll be busy chatting online with their partners who sit nowhere near them.