2 R's and an E: Reading, Writing, and Emailing!
Yesterday, I introduced our 6th grade students to their school-issued email accounts. I had a student volunteer to log in to his account for the first time in front of everyone as I walked him through the steps of accessing his new account.
The kid was great. He had no problems navigating his way through the computer and he caught on quickly. However, when it came time to actually sending out an email, I noticed he lacked some skill. I know the kid knows how to write. He proved he was bright right away. But, he still tended to type very informally and used what I would call "IM English." He abbreviated. He didn't punctuate. He didn't capitalize.
I didn't dare correct him or point out those fallacies in front of his peers. After all, I pulled him up from the audience with no prior notice. But I did realize that we (teachers and administrators) need to do a better job actually teaching some of these skills.
Students (and all users young and old for that matter) need to know when to write informally and when to step it up a notch. They need to learn how to write a good, informative, and concise subject line. They need to know the difference between "cc" and "bcc" and know when to use which. They definitely need to know the difference between "reply" and "reply all." They need to learn about white space. THEY NEED TO LEARN NOT TO CAPITALIZE EVERYTHING!
I realize these students are digital natives and they know the technology. But, they don't always know understand the application of that technology.
I looked up our state technology applications standards and found no mention of these skills. I hope they're written into the Language Arts curriculum or show up somewhere! I know this for sure - we'll be giving the students in our district some direct instruction on email style.
If you have any ideas to share, please do!