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Letter from the Director Ask Emerson Best Buddies Spotlight Conversation Starters e-Buddies in Action Update from the Field

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e-Buddies in Action!

Periodically, 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 spoke with Kelly from Kenwood Trail Middle School in Minnesota.

Kelly has been including e-Buddies in her class for over 4 years and currently has 10 participants matched. Thanks for bringing e-Buddies to your students, Kelly!

What do you enjoy most about your group being involved in e-Buddies?
There are so many things I enjoy about e-Buddies that it is hard to narrow it down to just one. I love how my students are excited to "write" each week. They don't necessarily view writing to their e-Buddy as writing and that is what is so great. We are working on their writing skills and their social skills at the same time and they love e-Buddies so much, it doesn't feel like to work to them.

What are some key challenges you have faced and overcome?
The biggest challenge for us is finding computer time/space each week to be able to do this. However, our building tech people are great at helping us find computers to use each week. Another small challenge is if a student is gone on a Friday when we write to our e-Buddies, finding another time for them to do it, is often challenging because of their schedules.

How do you make e-Buddies work with your group?
At the beginning of the school year, we map out the dates for the entire year as to when we will write our e-Buddies. We have found over the years that Fridays (or the end of the week if a short week) is the best time to write. The students look forward to the end of the week because they know what we will be doing. We set aside an entire class period (52 minutes) for the students to write to their e-Buddies each week. Some students take longer than others and we want to make sure everyone has enough time.

What have your group members gained by participating in e-Buddies?
Our group members have gained valuable learning experiences in the areas of social skills (getting to know people, email etiquette, basic conversation skills, etc.) and writing skills (forming complete thoughts/sentences, appropriate grammar, etc.). We do a comparison of their first emails of the school year to the last emails of the school year and their progress is unbelievable. Many of them go from writing one or two sentences to full paragraphs by the end of the year. It is truly remarkable the progress they make in these areas and as I previously said, the students don't feel like they are "working" because they think writing their e-Buddies is so much fun!!!

Do you have any tips for other group admins to make e-Buddies successful for their group?
Some things we've learned over the years include the following:

  1. Make a schedule and follow it. That way you will make sure that everyone writes their e-Buddies every week as required.
  2. Go through the basics of writing a letter and email etiquette prior to starting the e-Buddies program.
  3. Develop a writing rubric for the students to follow. This helps staff with grading the activity (we have to give grades) and it is also a visual to help the students so they don't forget any important parts of the writing process.
  4. Do a 5 minute brainstorming activity prior to writing each week. This helps the students generate topics to write about as some students get "stuck" and don't know what to say.
  5. Do grammar lessons as needed. We find they often need reminders for the various grammar/punctuation areas in writing.
  6. Have fun!!!

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Do you work with a group of e-Buddies participants? We'd love to feature your group here! Please contact us at info@ebuddies.org.


Letter from the Director | Ask Emerson | Best Buddies Spotlight
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