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Technology and the New Teacher: E-mail

About this Daily Classroom Special
Technology and the New Teacher is designed to introduce you to the topics, successes, and pitfalls of technology in the classroom. It was written by Buzz Eyler, a Teachers Network web mentor who has been leading in-service training in technology use for the past 12 years.  

(Note: This page was written in 1999. Some information may be dated.)


While one can ever be sure about statistics, it is agreed that most of the people who use the Internet do so for the purpose of sending or receiving e-mail (electronic mail). In fact, there are more e-mail messages sent each day than letters via the postal service. Using e-mail is pretty straight forward. You start your e-mail program (and there are several from which you could choose), type in the address to whom it is to be sent, compose the message and press the "send" button. To check your mail, you log into your Internet Service Provider (ISP), verify your password and under the file menu, "Check Mail." To read your mail, you double click on the message to open the message. It sounds so simple, but there are a few things which many beginning e-mailers fail to grasp.

What's In an Address

First, those new to e-mail are confused by the addressing scheme. There are three parts to every address:

  • a username
  • the @ sign
  • the name of
the computer where their mail will await the person to check for mail.

Consider this e-mail address: merle329@shaw.sbceo.k12.ca.us. This is an old e-mail address. The first part is my user name. I could have chosen any name I wanted. I put together my Mother-in-Law's first name and part of my airplane number, but it could have been anything. The @ sign is a must. The portion after the @ sign names my county schools' POP3 mail server which is basically my post office. Unlike the US Postal Service, the address must be correct EXACTLY. If your mail comes back as "undeliverable," you undoubtedly misspelled the address.

E-mail in your classroom is a powerful tool for you and your students. With your e-mail address, you can subscribe to online newsletters in subjects that interest you and they will be delivered automatically to your e-mail address. You can send and receive information from experts anywhere in the world. And your students can be electronic pen pals with a school on the other side of the globe.

Let Your Fingers Do the Walking...Attach Pictures

But the feature I personally think is the most exciting is being able to attach pictures and documents to an e-mail message that can be viewed or opened by the receiver. Think of the possibilities. Scan a few pictures of your children and attach them to pen-pal messages. Make drawings or paintings, scan them and attach to an e-mail message. Begin a story, attach it to your message so the receiving class can add to it and send it back for you to add your thoughts. Take some pictures using a digital camera, download them and send them to your parents who have e-mail access. This one file can be sent to everyone you know. You don't need to have 30 copies of a picture developed.

How do you do it? First compose your letter and scan or download your picture from a digital camera. Then depending upon your e-mail program, locate the menu item "attach file." Navigate through your directories or folders to locate the file to attach. Click "OK" or "OPEN," what ever your program says. You will not see the file, but a pointer to it is in the header of your message. Watch as your file is sent when you hit "Send." The file name will appear as being sent.

What do you do if you get a file? First, in the "Preferences" of your e-mail program, you can specify where attached files you receive will be saved. To view the file, you must have a program which recognizes that file format (see graphics). Start the appropriate program and "open" the file. Voila!

Become familiar with e-mail. Use it while you can because it won't be too long before the US Postal Services figures out a way to make you use a stamp.

Advanced Topics
Curriculum Development
Mac vs IBM
Printers & Copiers
Word Processing


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