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e-Buddies in Action

Each e-Beat, we are happy to take the time to highlight a school or agency that is 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 edition, we feature our participants from Red Wing High School in Minnesota. The group is led by teachers Brian Auge and Jody Ohlhaber. We thank them for their efforts to bring e-Buddies to their students.

How long has your group been involved in e-Buddies?

Mr. Auge's class has been involved in e-Buddies since fall, 2010. Mr. Auge found a newspaper article about e-Buddies a couple of years ago. The article was from a school district within our conference; it described how an e-mail exchange benefitted students. Even though we knew that e-Buddies would be beneficial for our students, committing the time to integrate the program into current curriculum was difficult. As with all schools in our country, assuring that students passed the mandated testing was paramount. Realigning curriculum to meet state standards in language arts, math, science, social studies, and arts has been our primary focus. We made the commitment to e-Buddies this past fall. First we met with administration to compare Red Wing School District and e-Buddies rules to assure that student' rights were safeguarded. During the fall parent-teacher conferences, the e-Buddies program was explained and parent signatures were gathered. Unfortunately, it took a couple of months to gain all signatures. We currently have 12 students in e-Buddies.

What are some key challenges you have faced and overcome?

One of our challenges was figuring out how to align the e-Buddies e-mail system with the Red Wing School District e-mail system. As with any school district, internet security is strict. As it all turned out, it wasn't all that difficult, it simply took time to figure out who to contact and how to ask the right questions.

Another key challenge was integrating e-Buddies into the schedule. Through trial and error, the following worked the best for our class. We co-teach a social communication skills group twice a week. We found that taking time within the class to participate in e-Buddies worked the best. A student used the Smart Board to project for the class e-mailing his/her e-Buddy. The students worked together to suggest/critique how the e-mail would be written including ideas, organization, word choice and sentence construction. The e-mail was sent when the student who was writing his/her buddy was sure that the message contained what he/she wanted to say. Mr. Auge also has a transition electronic portfolio class. When the students have completed the daily assignment, they have the option to e-mail their e-Buddy. Students opt to edit their e-mail with students or staff.

What have your group members gained by participating in e-Buddies?

The students have gained an essential communication for social and work success. They learn that what and how they write gives a friend or employer an impression about their character, no differently than when meeting face to face. They learn how to write using correct organization of thought for idea and sentence construction as well as using spelling, grammar, and punctuation correctly. They learn that the problems and triumphs of a student from another state aren't all that different than what students face at Red Wing High School.

Jody Ohlhaber

Speech/Language Therapist

Red Wing School District

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If you know someone who you would like to nominate for e-Buddies of the moment, please click here to contact us!


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