The New Jersey state standardized test scores from a Newark Public Schools 4th grade class show strong indicators of significant reading and writing improvement through use of
simple email letter writing with fellow classmates and a peer classroom in Italy. The 4th grade class at Roseville Avenue Elementary School in Newark Public Schools used a protected and multi-lingual school email solution and global classroom network called ePALS Classroom Exchange for email letter writing exchanges twice a week with an ePALS peer classroom in Bologna, Italy. At the end of the school year, those students scored 72.4% on the New Jersey
State ASK4 Language Arts Literacy Test, a 30 point higher score on the state standardized test than the previous year’s fourth grade class, which had been taught by the same teacher, using the same curriculum and goals.
Twice a week, the students were required to read and write proper email letters using the ePALS SchoolMail(TM) solution as part of the curriculum. Students became increasingly motivated to email their peers and gradually increasing the amount of reading and writing they normally would perform each week. Before and during the pilot, ePALS Classroom Exchange conducted several teacher-training workshops in Newark to demonstrate and provide examples on how ePALS SchoolMail(TM) could be easily integrated with literacy projects and lesson plans in the classroom. The Newark pilot also suggests students may be more motivated to do classroom assignments with a collaborative peer using email, than for the teacher with pencil and paper.
One of the Italian students, who had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, started responding much better in class. His teacher attributed part of his improved response and class participation to the ePALS correspondence he received from the Newark students. Asperger’s Syndrome is a Pervasive Developmental Disorder characterized by severe and sustained impairment in social interaction.
“The students learned to write a letter and a profile, which was then sent to the Italian classroom,” said Newark teacher Mary Carille. “We then received individual pictures and profiles from all the Italian students as well as interesting reading materials on how the Christmas Holidays are celebrated in Bologna. “Students studied volcanoes, collected photos of famous Italian cities, ruins, Mt. Etna, and corresponded in email letters on specific topics.
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They learned to create and send Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, even created a class Haiku poetry book, which they brought home to parents and sent electronically to Italy. Using email and connecting the students with a peer enabled more literacy skill building to occur and they were self-motivated knowing other students would be receiving their work.”
“Email has many benefits for the learner and has become the new paper and pencil for the 21st Century Generation” said Sheila Gersh, Professional. Development Liaison for Title IID Region 10, New York City Department of Education and Center for School Development, City College of New York. “When students use a safe and protected K-12 email solution to connect to school peers and teachers, they care about their grammar and spelling, and are inclined to use dictionaries and grammar aid tools which add an immediate and visual component to correcting their mistakes. As teachers try to apply ELA/Literacy standards across the curriculum, they need to begin to use email as a writing, reading and sharing tool.”
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“We’re seeing increasing evidence from schools worldwide that student email used with teachers and their school peers as a communication or project-sharing tool significantly motivates students to write and improves their literacy skills,” said Tim DiScipio, Chairman and Co-Founder of ePALS Classroom Exchange, whose company is the leading K-12 provider of school-safe email and the solution used by Newark Public Schools. “Email actually helps
teachers instruct students on proper sentence structure, language and writing skills when using the school email system just as they would using paper. We’ve found that when students are allowed to email in a safe environment, they are engaged, on-task and care about what they might be sending their teacher or another student. ePALS teachers from over 50 countries report a positive impact on literacy, some mention students beginning to incorporate
the teacher’s vocabulary and writing style due to seeing it in text rather than hearing it verbally. Unfortunately, while most US schools allow students to surf websites on the Internet, over 96% of US schools still do not provide a student-based email. Most are unaware of very specialized K-12 / primary- secondary solutions such as ePALS SchoolMail(TM) that are protected,
centralized and customizable to each school usage policy. These unique features ensure that school users are safe, in an authorized and pre- determined online environment (e.g. class, grade, school, class-to-class) and where literacy can be immediately improved through collaborative peer and teacher exchanges.”