Aprilanne Lynch is a PenPal Schools Global Ambassador from Chicago, Illinois, USA. She teaches 5th grade and her students love to learn about what’s happening around the world with PenPal Schools. Visit her blog for resources and tips!
By Aprilanne Lynch @lynchified_422
However, it was the end of the school year and we sent our letters by mail. By the time our pen pals got our letters and responded, we were out of school and never received them. It pained me not to know if she received my message! It would have been amazing to get to know someone outside of my hometown. Was she similar or different than me?
So, how do I give my students the experience of getting to know a student that lives beyond our country’s borders? By having my students write to PenPals with PenPal Schools!
If you are working with Pen Pals Schools for the first time, I have a couple of tips to help you plan how you are going to use PenPal Schools in your classroom.
1. Go through the project lessons yourself before assigning the project to your students.
Read each article and watch the videos. Try answering all of the questions with your students in mind. While doing this, think, what skills will my kids need to be successful at doing this? This way, you are preparing for questions that kids may have and if they get stuck, you will know what to do.
2. Pre-teach a writing skill that they will need while writing to their Pen Pals.
One of the biggest things I realized was that my students did not know how to write in a complete sentence or how to construct a proper paragraph. So, I taught those skills before they began. I also pre-taught how to use evidence from the text, add detail to an answer, and edit before hitting send.
3. Do the Mystery PenPal Class activity.
Under the introduction tab on your Teacher Dashboard, there is an activity called “Mystery Pen Pal”. It comes with a lesson plan and printables. It helps teach the kids how to start a proper conversation with their PenPals.