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:
How can educators inspire students and prepare them for their future education and careers? By teaching 21st century skills! Watch this Google Hangout broadcast to learn more about what these skills are, why they are important, and what technology tools/resources can help.
Many teachers aim to be learner-centered. To be learner-centered means putting the focus on the student. The teacher's primary role is as facilitator to that learning experience. We at PenPal Schools are fans of learner-centered teaching strategies and are passionate about sharing how pen pal exchanges can help make creating a learner-centered classroom fun and easy.
Educators, we are excited to present you with our official PenPal Schools resource kit! We hope these tools help you and your students...whether you’ve just heard about us, want to share PenPal Schools with your fellow teachers or administrators, or are looking to get your students learning with pen pals as fast as possible.
Recently I spoke about technology in the classroom with a group of young teachers at the University of Texas School of Education. Edtech is a hot topic right now and a growing number of universities are adding technology specific courses to the core requirements for any aspiring teacher. Young teachers use technology every day but they are still unsure how to best use technology in the classroom.
Read this letter from Sungu Samnyirwa, head of Mfangano Girls Empowerment Academy in Kenya, demonstrates the impact PenPals can have on young women.
Check out this awesome testimonial we received from a Alisa Bhakta, a PenPal in California, about her experience writing to peers in Ghana.
Today we’re launching a new blog series inspired by our Dell Big Small World Contest! In this series, called “Changemakers,” we’ll explore the amazing work happening to make quality education more accessible in communities around the world. It’s a big passion of ours and one shared by the many people and organizations we get to work with every day. Let’s learn together, pen pals!
Three months ago we launched our Global Ambassador Program. This program recognizes those share our passion for providing excellent educational opportunities for learners everywhere while breaking down cultural barriers. One of our first Ambassadors was Mr. Greg Zugrave. A World Geography and History teacher, Mr. Zugraves coaches the Varsity Basketball team at his Florida high school! Last month, Mr. Zugrave and his AP U.S. History class participated in the maiden voyage of our newest course Walking to Freedom. They connected with students from Soweto, South Africa. Together the pen pals explored human rights issues and learned about civic leaders who advocate for equality. We chatted about his thoughts on teaching, global education, engaging students.
Wednesday was "Austin Reads Aloud Day" in our fair city. The day recognized local non-profit Bookspring and their achievement in delivering one million books (and counting!) to children in Greater Austin. To celebrate schools across the city hosted "celebrity readers." These readers shared their favorite children’s books along with their love of reading.
Back by popular demand is another installment of Meet the PenPals! It's awesome to think about all the pen pals out there, learning and sharing together. Since our founder Joe Troyen (aka Mr. PenPal) founded PenPal Schools we've grown to a community of over 70,000 learners. We'll be profiling as many of these pen pal's as possible so we can get to know each other better, beginning with the team here at PenPal Schools headquarters! This week we chatted with Mark, a passionate teacher who leads the creation of our courses. Let's meet Mark!
We would like to celebrate the holiday by taking a look into some traditional clothing across the world! Each country has various traditional clothing, some of which are specific to certain regions. While many traditional clothes across the world are no longer worn on a daily basis (today it may be symbolic and worn during certain festivals or celebrations, for example), traditional clothing is highly representative of a country’s history, climate, customs and the diverse ethnic groups who inhabit them.
We're excited to announce that PenPal Schools is partnering with South African publisher Via Afrika on a new course to help students understand the struggles people have overcome against discrimination and prejudice. Over six-weeks the course, titled Walking To Freedom, will introduce students to the historic challenges posed by prejudice, discrimination and racism. Together with a pen pal from another part of the world, students will learn about civic leaders and social activists who have dedicated their lives to freedom, justice, and equality.
Last week Mr. PenPal (our founder Joe Troyen) attended the Clinton Global Initiative's 2015 Annual Meeting in New York City. The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) “convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world's most pressing challenges.” The Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation holds the event as part of their mission to “unlock human potential (through) the power of creative collaboration.” Business, nonprofit, and government leaders take part by making “Commitments to Action.” These commitments are plans "for addressing a significant global challenge.” (CGI)
Exciting things are happening here at the PenPal Schools headquarters! Fall is in the air-- which in Texas pretty much means that the temperature drops below 90 °F. School is back in session and many of you have been signing up for new classrooms (welcome new PenPals!). We’ve been working on new courses like Decision 2016 and a few others (stay tuned for more news on those!).
As we welcome more new PenPals everyday we thought we’d start a series to introduce the PenPal Schools team. This week is a special one as its our founder Joe Troyen’s birthday! Let’s learn together and spend a few minutes getting to know Joe:
It’s been a busy summer here at PenPal Schools! We’ve had some great times, including building our new mobile app (more on that soon!), winning the Capital Factory Summer BBQ, and joining the Clinton Global Initiative. Another highlight was traveling to Nashville, Tennessee to attend the first ever TFA Corps Member Summit.
We're turning the Presidential election into a learning opportunity with our latest newest course: Decision 2016. This free course helps K12 students of all abilities study and share issues at the center of the upcoming presidential election. Each week, students watch original videos, read nonpartisan articles and share their thoughts with a PenPal from across the country!
PenPal Schools has teamed up with Dell to promote global education through the launch of The Big Small World contest. More than 60 non-profit organizations within the Dell Youth Learning program will share PenPal Schools with educators in their programs. The non-profit organization that signs up the most students will win $10,000 in Dell technology! Winners will be announced in March 2016.
The PenPal exchange is alive and well, and this fall, students around the world will build friendships with their peers half a world away! From learning foreign languages with native speakers to exploring current events with students close to the story, there’s a whole lot to look forward to when it comes to having a penpal! While programs like PenPal Schools, it is easier than ever before to get started with a PenPal many learners hunger for more!
PenPal Schools connects over 100,000 students in 170 countries to learn together.