Friday, September 16, 2011

Write an email to the future


Write an email to the future

I remember when I graduated from high school, and we had to write a prophesy about what we would be doing ten years hence. These were buried in a jar on the school grounds to be dug up at the 10th anniversary of our class graduation. Mercifully, they forgot where the jar was buried when the time came. :)

Anyway, the idea does have merit, and there are plenty of alternatives to pieces of paper being buried in a glass jar. The idea is the same. At the start of a new year or course, ask your students to write a simple email message to themselves, to be delivered a day or two before the last lesson of the course--you should set the date and time. There are variations on what to suggest they write, but you want to make it fairly simple.
  • You could ask them to list the most important achievements that they hope to reach by the end of the course.
  • Or the three things that they most want to learn by the end of the course.
  • Or, it could be about other skills, such as study skills, time management, etc.
Of course, to make this exercise as meaningful as possible, get the students to report back on the achievements they fulfilled on the last day of the course (by which time they should have received their pre-dated email message).
  • To encourage discussion, you could ask them to list the reasons for their success. If you have a good group of students, you could also explore the unfulfilled expectations and reasons for not achieving them with some kind of "next course I must..." follow up.
  • If you have a good relationship with your class, you could ask them to forward you their pre-dated emails when they arrive, and you could create a WORDLE (see http://wordle.net) and make a poster of the keywords from the entire class.
Here are some of the tools I've come across for this. BTW...thanks to my colleague Sercan Çelik for reminding me about these.
  1. http://forlater.net/ - probably the easiest of them all. Just write a message, set the date to be delivered and the email address. No sign up or log in required
  2. http://www.lettermelater.com/ - this one requires the user to sign up. Might be useful if the user wants to use this feature as on ongoing way to remind themselves.
  3. http://www.timecave.com/timecave/about.jsp - the original site, as far as I can determine. Started back in 2000 (I guess the dawn of a new millenium prompted this). Requires a log in.
Note - if you are a GOOGLEphile like me, and use GMAIL, there is a great add-in you can install in your browser called BOOMERRANG. See http://www.boomeranggmail.com/ -- makes it easy to repost emails in case you don't hear back in a specific time, plus schedule emails for the future.

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