Whether students are learning with peers in their classroom or around the world, they need to be prepared to be safe, respectful, and responsible citizens. That’s why we’ve prepared some activities that you can do offline to prepare your students to be successful online!
Our new 21st Century Skills Toolkit is full of mini-lessons that you can use to help students learn about internet safety and responsible online behavior. From creating a username and password to searching for information online to how to prevent cyberbullying, we’ve got you covered with downloadable activities that you can use with your students.
Have you checked out PenPal Schools recently? You may not recognize it! With the help of suggestions from educators like you, we’ve made improvements so that you and your students can take global collaborations to the next level. Here are a few changes that will make your next PenPal project the best one yet!
Guaranteed responsive PenPals
To encourage students to write to their PenPals more frequently, they now earn PenPal Points for their work. Students who earn the most points get matched with the most responsive PenPals! We also now match every student with 3 PenPals instead of just one, so there’s almost always a new message waiting. Learn more about how we match PenPals.
Note: If students don’t hear from a PenPal within 7 days, they will be matched with a new PenPal. So make sure your students write at least once a week or they may lose their PenPals!
Dozens of new projects
We’re thrilled to offer more projects than ever, thanks in part to educators around the world who have been helping us create projects. Choose from new projects related to art, science, and media.
Meet our PenPal of the Week, Ann O from Ukraine! Ann participated in World Explorer and was matched with PenPals from Poland and the United States. Ann is being recognized as a great PenPal because she wrote detailed responses each week and always included questions for her PenPals! She also commented on a lot of her PenPals’ posts and asked them more questions about their perspectives.
In one of our newest projects, PenPals have been learning about food and culinary traditions around the world. Join the biggest PenPal project of the season by participating in A World of Food starting Monday, July 17!
Invite your friends and colleagues to enroll their students and participate in the biggest global collaboration project this July. This great collaborative project inspires students to reflect on their own food communities as they learn about how food impacts people around the world.
Teachers and students must enroll before July 17 to participate, and the project can be completed in as little as one hour between July 17-23. You can meet other teachers from around the world who are participating in the Global Teacher Forum!
Are you jealous of your students when they’re having amazing conversations with PenPals around the world? You won’t be anymore! Educators can now connect in our brand new Global Teacher Forums.
Here are a few great forums to check out. You can share your ideas or what inspires you, post a photo of your students or their work, or share tips with others to help them make the most of PenPal Schools (you’ll need to be logged into your PenPal Schools account to participate):
Over the past few months, PenPals have been more engaged than ever. We’ve given teachers assessment tools to help them monitor student work and give students feedback. We’ve also introduced PenPal points which reward students for great writing. However, when our PenPal of the Week noticed that her PenPal stopped responding in the middle of their project, she persevered, started asking more questions, and never stopped learning! Meet our PenPal of the Week, Seryung P. from the United States!
You work hard all school year, and now that summer is here we want to help you get into relaxation mode faster. That’s why we’ve posted Match Dates for the Fall semester already!
Teachers love how easy it is to design lessons and units around PenPal Schools projects, which are aligned to a variety of standards and are available at different reading levels. With weekly lessons that include everything from videos, readings, and vocabulary to discussion questions, downloadable activities, and built-in assessment tools, you can go ahead and cut your summer planning time in half!
From classrooms to summer camps, projects starting this June are flexible enough to fit into a variety of learning spaces. Check out the great projects starting every Monday this month!
I write this blog post to discuss ways to engage English Language Learners (ELLs). As an experienced educator, I have found different ways to teach English that they genuinely use the language. Students may feel hesitant and lack confidence about their inability to speak English fluently; however, you can maximize their potential to feel comfortable speaking English by paying close attention to some valuable resources.
When I was invited to be part of the Google for Education Innovation Academy, this event became a turning point to be an empowered educator in 2013. As I started to participate in local and international edtech conferences, I decided to take a step forward by getting out of my comfort zone. Due to my increasing #PLN (Personal Learning Network) through Twitter, Facebook, Skype, WhatsApp, G+ and Instagram, I found out that the key ingredients to be an effective 21st century educator are passion, respect, inspiration, empathy and most importantly action.
Educators all over the world use different tools to provide English Language Learners (ELLs) with an opportunity to practice English in authentic conversations. In order to empower all students to deepen their language acquisition, they have to find real audiences in order to practice English for students who are learning English as a second language. As educators we must find several ways so that our students can have true conversations with native speakers in a meaningful and positive educational environment.
The most important thing to remember in an ELL environment is that students need to be speaking English as much as possible. The more they practice, the better they will speak. The better they speak, the more confidence they will gain. And this cycle will continue to build fluency. So in order to get students to talk they need to practice English as much as they can in a wide range of ways.
I feel lucky since I have had great opportunities to connect and collaborate with classes on a multitude of projects and global interactions, from Skype and Google Hangout exchanges, to creating websites, to presenting face-to-face or asynchronously at local, regional, national and international conferences. Therefore, I strongly recommend you attend these conferences and/or online resources to find other classes willing to connect and collaborate with your classes.
“Wait, they have never talked with a class from another state before?”
“I bet they are going to be nervous, I remember my first time I was nervous too.”
“They are going to be so excited! I was really excited when we did this for the first time”
As my first grade class were preparing to learn about suburban Maryland by talking to a group of third grade students in my sister-in-law’s class, they were already building empathy for people they had yet to meet. Soon they would be face to face, talking in real time with a group of kids in another state.
There is incredible value in learning from different people. Providing our kids with opportunities to connect and learn with people from all over the world allows them build a greater understanding of our differences and become more well rounded people. It is a uniquely special experience being able to see someone’s face and hear their voice as their words spark your imagination. The opportunity to communicate with people anywhere and at any time changes things. For over a decade I had done pen pal projects with different schools in different areas, each bringing unique value and learning experience to my students. Allowing them an opportunity to bring the pen pal experience to life through real time video connections with real people, changed the depth of learning for my classes.
The wait is finally over! We are excited to introduce two new projects, La Comida Latina and La Cultura Latina, available exclusively to PenPal PLUS subscribers! Both projects are entirely in Spanish and can be completed in one week.
If you’ve been to any of the major education technology conferences in the last few years then you’ve likely noticed the buzz around global education. While it’s promising to see the great work of organizations and educators leading the #globaled charge, the vast majority of classrooms across the US and around the world haven’t taken notice. Globalization for adults - in our workplaces, politics, and daily lives - has been developing rapidly for decades now. However most classrooms are not much more connected now than they were decades ago.
While there are many reasons why Global Education has been so slow to develop, most fall into one of three categories: Too much work for teachers, inadequate learning outcomes for students, and lack of support from administrators.
Hello global educators! We’ve got many free global projects available this month, including some new shorter projects that can be completed in as little as one week! It’s never been easier to incorporate collaborative global projects into your classroom.
To celebrate Earth day and the end of the school year, we’re organizing the biggest PenPal exchange ever! From May 8th to 12th, students from around the world will join forces for the environment!
In our new 1 week project, Joining Forces for the Environment, students will think globally and act locally. Students will learn with PenPals around the world about topics like freshwater supply, deforestation and climate change. They’ll then identify an environmental issue affecting their own communities and work together to complete a project designed to make a positive impact.
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!
Getting Started with PenPal Schools
By Aprilanne Lynch @lynchified_422
When I was in fourth grade, my teacher one day announced that we were going to have pen pals from Ghana. The whole class erupted in excitement! Will we get to write them everyday? Will we meet them? Can we ask them about their lives? Questions and comments bounced off the walls of my classroom until our teacher calmed us down.
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!
This month, we welcomed one of our largest cohorts ever - over 5,000 students have started PenPal projects together in April! Let’s celebrate one of our PenPals from Russia, Alina R, as PenPal of the Week!
We know how hard it can be to make time for long projects at the end of the school year. That’s why PenPal Schools has introduced new PenPal projects that can be completed in 4 weeks, 3 weeks, or even in less than a single week!
We’ve made these new projects short enough to fit into your busy end-of-the-year schedule, and we’ve emphasized project-based learning to keep students engaged even as summer approaches.
My journey began from applying to the Global Teacher Prize. The Global Teacher Prize is a US $1 million award presented annually to an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their profession. The Global Teacher Prize is awarded by the Varkey Foundation under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister, and Emir of Dubai.
Teachers have always loved how students develop skills with PenPal Schools through fun, global exchanges. Our new assessment tools empower teachers to guide student learning and improve learning outcomes!
Star ratings allows teachers to provide students with clear, actionable feedback. Teachers can also comment to provide more personal instruction.
Students around the world have been engaging with PenPals like never before. With our newest project, VR Field Trip to Pakistan, students have connected with PenPals in Pakistan and other regions to learn about a country that is often misunderstood. Through virtual reality, PenPals have experienced the sights and sounds of the bustling streets of Lahore, Pakistan.
For teachers who missed the first exchange we have great news. The project begins again - with even more Pakistani classes participating - next Monday! Students will need to enroll before Monday to be matched with PenPals. Have you signed your class up yet?
March has been a busy month at PenPal Schools. In fact, students in 73 countries have already exchanged over 70,000 messages with their PenPals this year! This week we celebrate a PenPal who has also been busy (learning), Molly from Saudi Arabia!
Pakistan is one of the most misunderstood countries on Earth. Students (and adults) often form perceptions about Pakistan based on what they see in the news, which frequently includes violence and political instability while offering little insight into the country's rich history and culture.
PenPal Schools' newest project, “VR Field Trip to Pakistan,” seeks to address this problem by enabling students to explore Pakistan like never before. On the invitation of the Pakistani Government, PenPal Schools has filmed Virtual Reality video content throughout the ancient city of Lahore, in the Punjab province of Pakistan. Through incredibly immersive VR “field trips,” students from around the world will connect with online PenPals to experience the bustling streets, ancient forts, and stunning mosques of Lahore. They’ll also get a glimpse of Pakistan’s rich culture, arts, food, and traditions - all while improving their reading, writing, and technology skills.
Teachers can sign up for free and invite their students to enroll before PenPal Match Day on March 20.
Of course, no PenPal Schools project would be complete without PenPals, so we’ve teamed up with the All Pakistan Private Schools Federation so that students around the world can learn with PenPals from across Pakistan! The federation represents over 197,000 schools and 20 million students from every province in Pakistan, so there should be plenty of Pakistani PenPals to go around!
February has been an exciting month for our PenPals of the Week! Our young scholars have left us feeling inspired as they explored topics from food and history to education and civil rights! Our February PenPals demonstrated respectful behavior, a commitment to academic excellence, and an interest in collaborating with people from diverse backgrounds. Please join us in celebrating our PenPals of the Week from the month of February!
Have you ever noticed all the flags you and your students see every day? From national, state, and municipal flags, to university flags, business flags, athletic flags, and flags that champion social causes, you can learn a lot about communities by studying the flags they create and choose to display.
PenPal Schools connects over 100,000 students in 170 countries to learn together.
Connect with other PenPal Schools educators in our Facebook community.