Connecting students to learn together is the heart of a PenPal exchange. The most exciting and rewarding moments are, of course, when students hear from their PenPals! However, with varying class schedules and access to technology around the world, consistent communication can be a challenge. To solve this we’ve come up with a solution that enables more communication amongst PenPals and accommodates the different needs of classrooms around the world. The result? Over 95% of students now receive responses from their PenPals!
We now connect students in PenPal groups (rather than one-on-one). Groups allow students to learn about more new perspectives while also receiving messages and replies more quickly and consistently. Most students will now receive 3-4 PenPals from around the world. Teachers do not need to do PenPal matching, we take care of that for you!
When teachers sign up for a course they can choose their Match Day (when all students are matched with PenPals). All students should complete their profiles before Match day in order to be matched with PenPals!
Students are matched based on their age, gender, and the course selected by their teacher/facilitator. Students who take the time to create strong profiles and answer the introductory question are matched with other students who do the same. Most of the time students PenPals will come from different countries, but for some courses students may be matched with PenPals in their own country.
Log in to your PenPal Schools teacher dashboard to meet your students’ PenPals and see what they’re writing!
We hope you and your students enjoy these improvements! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what you think or take this quick survey to share your class’ experience. In the meantime, we’re working on even more ways for teachers to evaluate and provide feedback on students’ work as well as activities to help prepare students for their PenPal exchanges. Stay tuned!
We had a great time co-hosting the #GlobalEdChat on Twitter this week! Check out this full wrap-up to see the conversation and meet the educators that participated.
Every day the PenPal Schools teams and educators around the world get to witness the extraordinary learnings and connections that develop from our student’s PenPal exchanges. Now with our “PenPals of the Week” series you will, too! Follow along as we celebrate these young global learners.
This year we are proud to welcome a new cohort of PenPal Schools Global Ambassadors. Our Ambassadors are not only passionate about global education but also value community and learning with peers. Together they form a global network of education leaders from North America, South America, Europe and Africa. Over the next year Ambassadors will share best practices and lessons learned with one another and colleagues through professional development opportunities as well as work to grow our global community.
2016 has been an election year like no other. As election rhetoric intensifies and anticipation builds, how can we engage students thoughtfully? One way is by teaching students issues at the center of the election in an unbiased manner. Another is to put student voice at the center of instruction. PenPal Schools’ Decision 2016 course does both by connecting students from across the country to share perspectives on these important national issues!
Over the past two years we’ve seen some truly awesome PenPal exchanges!
This year, the PenPal Schools team wants to show our respect and admiration for the young scholars who demonstrate the values of a great PenPal! These exceptional PenPals serve as an example for the classmates but also for our community of PenPals from around the world!
We are all connected by our environment. We depend on natural resources for the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the energy we use. The great diversity and possibility of Earth is truly awe-inspiring! Ideally every student would have the opportunity to experience the similarities and differences of our planet’s ecosystems first hand: to visit the Great Barrier Reef or hike alongside rhino’s in their South African habitat, for example. This may not be possible for every student, but thanks to technology, students and their peers around the world students can now learn together about Earth and our shared challenge of protecting it.
About a year ago, our team sat down to explore Global Education and explain why including Global Education in the classroom is so important. Following that blog post, many of you reached out with comments and questions. You wanted to share and discover resources about Global Education and learn about better ways to prepare your students for a connected and collaborative future.
For young people to succeed in the future they must learn in the present, and Global Educators are helping young people successfully navigate our connected world! We’re excited to share some of our professional development tips to help you reflect and grow as a Global Educator!
We know that technology in our schools and classrooms is here to stay. But with new tools coming out every year, how will you choose the right tech for your students this school year? Our Head of Learning, Mark Danforth (@MarkDDanforth), shares five questions that every teacher and school administrator should ask before deciding to bring tech into the classroom.
They’re back! Students all around the world are returning to school and classroom decor is being hung. We’ve been hard at work over the summer learning from teachers around the world and making PenPal Schools better than ever! Whether you’re returning to enroll in another course or connecting your students with PenPals for the first time, here’s the latest and greatest.
As a team of lifelong learners, we at PenPal Schools have an increasingly long list of blogs we turn to daily for inspiration, teaching strategies, quick tips and emerging best practices from our fellow educators. As you prepare for the new school year check out these must-reads!
Summary and recap of the 2016 ISTE conference in Denver, Colorado where the focus was on global education and technology as a driver of change in education.
From choosing courses to creating the content in our articles, PenPal Schools designs learning experiences with teachers’ and students’ goals in mind. We work with educators around the world to help students meet their individual learning goals in a fun and collaborative way.
For example, students can practice critical reading and writing skills with Decision 2016. Or they can take a deep dive into geography and global history with World Explorer. Our courses make it easy for students to master many different skills while learning with a peer from a different community around the world.
This spring, we’ve been working hard to make PenPal Schools an even better learning resource for our teachers and students! Thanks to your thoughtful feedback, we’ve made some pretty excellent changes that we’re excited to share with you! Here’s a brief list to help you get caught up!
The emphasis on aligning classroom instruction to academic standards is growing not only in the United States but in countries around the world. But academic standards are more than simply stated expectations that teachers and students must meet during a given school day or year. Academic standards are important guidelines that identify content, skills, and processes that students have already been exposed to, as well as the topics and skills that students will be expected to develop in the future.
At PenPal Schools, we have studied a number of different academic standards to ensure that teachers and students can confidently use PenPal Schools to help young scholars learn the information and skills required to succeed in both their primary and secondary education, and in their future careers.
In our Academic Standards Alignment resource, we have identified reading, writing, language, and technology standards that can guide teachers towards targeted learning outcomes while using PenPal Schools.
To most effectively align PenPal Schools to academic standards, consider the following questions:
This year PenPal Schools and Dell co-hosted a contest to promote global education. "The Big Small World" contest connected over 2,000 students from around the world while assisting non-profits in need of technology.
More than 60 nonprofit organizations within the Dell Youth Learning initiative participated. These organizations joined PenPal Schools' global community and the program with the most PenPals had a chance to win $5,000- $10,000 in Dell technology. Today we are excited to share not only the organizations that took home the prizes, but what happens when students from around the world connect to learn together.
Did you know that 62 million girls worldwide are not in school? In many places it is customary for girls to stay home while their brothers pursue an education. In some places girls are able to attend school but lack critical resources like textbooks and trained teachers. Even worse, young girls around the world sometimes face harassment and violence when they pursue an education.
If we were middle school students today we'd want to have Ashley Selck as our humanities teacher. Why? You don't have to chat with Selck for long to learn how passionate she is about her students and her profession. Also, when we asked her for a photo of herself she sent this awesome one!
Selck teaches cutting-edge humanities courses at Monte Vista Christian School in Watsonville, California. She holds her students to a high standard (especially when it comes to writing). She inspires them with interesting topics (like "entrepreneurship and the Gilded Age"). Selck also offers her students opportunities to reflect on what they've learned. For example, her students keep a classroom blog and Twitter account. Recently students published their letters to social enterprises and notes from their lessons.
We chatted with Selck, one of our Global Ambassadors, about becoming a teacher and measuring "success." Here's our conversation:
PenPal Schools connects over 100,000 students in 170 countries to learn together.