5. Tips for Soliciting Help Through
- Most people are eager to help you.
There is a genuine concern for education and using the Internet to send valuable
information to classrooms is an obvious benefit of technology that most people appreciate.
So, do not hesitate to seek information through e-mail.
- At the same time that most people are
eager to help education, they are also busy. They will not appreciate receiving
numerous inquiries. So as you ask for information from experts via e-mail,
consider that this will be your only chance. Carefully word your question(s) so that you
will get the most and best information for your classroom. Ask your students to
help. Learning to ask effective questions is an important skill for the Information
- The subject line of your e-mail message is
critical to getting a response. Because most of the people from whom you will be
requesting information are busy, they may not be in the practice of reading all of the
e-mail messages they receive. They will, however, read all message subjects. It is
the subject that will convince the expert to open and read your message. In a way, the
subject is your advertisement. Make it short, descriptive, and inviting.
- If you can not find the expert, then find
someone who can. Most government agencies will not post the e-mail addresses of
consultants and other specialists on their Web sites. Instead, they will usually post a
single address for the entire agency or department. This address is very much like a
receptionist. The person who receives messages will forward them to the appropriate
person. So do not hesitate to send your question to a general department or agency
- When writing your request for information,
make it short. Once again, the person to whom you are sending the message is busy, and
does not have time to read a lengthy letter. Also keep your paragraphs short (no
more than three sentences) with a blank line between. People are more likely to
read many short paragraphs than fewer long paragraphs
- Do not write a lengthy
introduction. Explain very briefly what your class is doing so that you don't
waste the time of a busy person.
- Include a signature at the bottom
of your message. The reader can much more quickly learn
about you and your personal and/or professional context if you clearly identify yourself
and how to contact you.
- If you are soliciting information from
other K-12 educators, then promise something in return. If you are
developing a new unit on butterflies, then offer to send your teacher friends a copy of
the unit. If you are asking teachers to survey their students for information that your
class will be compiling and analyzing, then offer to send the results of your survey to
all contributing classes.