e-Buddies in Action!
This is a new segment of the e-Beat! Each month we will highlight a school or agency involved in e-Buddies. Our hope is that this will be an opportunity to share some of the challenges and triumphs encountered through group participation in e-Buddies!
This month, we spoke with Anne Rounesville from Sharon High School in Sharon, Massachusetts!
How long has your group been involved in e-Buddies?
We have been involved since fall of 2001.
How many members are currently matched with e-Buddies?
What are some key challenges you have faced and overcome?
Keeping track of who needed to write to their e-Buddy was one problem. We keep names on a list on the white board. Students check off their name each week that they have written their e-Buddy. At the end of the week names are underlined who have not written. That way we can look at the board and see who needs to respond asap, as each line represents a week of not writing.
We have a range of students who have difficulty writing. For some a checklist has helped with the following: answer questions from your e-Buddy's e-mail, make comments about what they have written to you, and ask a few questions about your e-Buddy and share what is going on in your life now. For others a scribe is needed or a teacher has to offer multiple choice ideas about what to write. Often we print out a large print copy of the e-mail received and then use a word processor program to compose and then copy/paste the response since it took so long to compose. Responding weekly can be challenging for some of the students who are very busy with vocational placements, school clubs and specialists.
How do you make e-Buddies work with your group?
See above. We aim to write once a week but this really happens with the more independent students. Sometimes students are helped to write e-mails that are grammatically correct, and sometimes students are encouraged to write e-mails more independently as long as their ideas get across.
What have your group members gained by participating in e-Buddies?
They gain a sense of getting to know someone who lives in a different part of the country. It opens them to so much, responding to life events that they have not experienced (birth of a child, fear of performing, moving in with roommates etc.). They really have to think about questions to ask of someone they have not met. Once they find out what area of the country their e-Buddy lives they have to think about questions to ask, how it might be different from living in Massachusetts. They better understand the common bonds between people: family, friends, work, school, hobbies, and interests. One of our matches has been ongoing since we started with correspondence at least twice a month. Students have also expanded their skills using the Internet, e-mail and written composition. They are usually greatly motivated to work on their writing. Some students really gain self-confidence in expressing themselves and sharing their lives and thoughts!
Participation in e-Buddies is one of the more rewarding aspects of our work!!
Do you work with a group of e-Buddies participants? We'd love to feature your group here! Please contact us at email@example.com.
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