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.
Reading and writing skills are at the core of the PenPal Schools learning experience. These “Every-Century” skills are essential to success across academic disciplines. Every PenPal Schools article is available at three different reading levels so students can read the articles that are just right for them. When students read content that is not “too easy” and not “too hard” they are able to practice reading at a targeted independent reading level. This approach to reading instruction emphasizes comprehension. It also prevents readers from becoming discouraged while working to understand the meaning of a passage or new vocabulary words.
Reading happens in many different places (books, newspapers, online etc.) so we emphasize presenting written content to students in a diverse number of formats. Each weekly article also includes vocabulary charts and text features like tables, photographs, maps, illustrations, and infographics. These are formats students will encounter in and outside of the classroom!
Explore a PenPal Schools Rubric
There are many different approaches and strategies to writing instruction. While some strategies are more effective than others, almost all students benefit from collaboration and sharing writing with peers. Working with a peer gives students the chance receive quick feedback, great examples, and a real audience! That's why collaborative writing is at the core of every PenPal Schools lesson. Students have more chances to use evidence when supporting claims, more chances to practice sharing experiences related to the weekly article or discussion, and more chances to use writing in a real-world context.
Lifelong Learning with 21st Century Skills
While we can't be sure of all the skills that will help students succeed in the 21st century, the ability to use technology is sure to be important. PenPal Schools can help students develop and master 21st Century Skills like navigating online environments or working with peers from around the world.
Digital Literacy Skills include the ability to use a variety of different devices such as tablets, smartphones, and personal computers.Students must be familiar with how to use these tools to find, capture, and evaluate information. Teachers use PenPal Schools to provide students with a safe and concise place to do just that!
Another learning outcome teachers can achieve with PenPal Schools is Digital Citizenship. When students interact with another person via email, social networks, mobile applications, or community forums, they are practicing Digital Citizenship skills. Digital Citizenship skills help a technology user understand acceptable behavior in online communities.
By framing lessons around 21st Century and Digital Citizenship skills, teachers can use PenPal Schools to help students collaborate with peers in digital communities. Students can also learn to evaluate user generated content for relevance, accuracy, and safety.
Course Specific Learning Outcomes
In addition to learning outcomes that all PenPal Schools courses target, each course can be used to address learning outcomes specific to the course’s unique content.
Our Most Popular course, World Explorer, helps students practice language and 21st century skills while also developing global competencies and skills at the core of the social sciences.
With World Explorer, students work with a PenPal “expert” from a community far from their own. Students explore the chronological relationship of major historical events, as well as the people involved. Students analyze geographic, political, religious, and social structures in their PenPals’ communities all while comparing and contrasting their PenPals’ communities with their own.
World Explorer: Explore a PenPal Schools Rubric
World Explorer is also an ideal course for English Language Learners around the world. For students outside of the United States, World Explorer lessons include speaking frames and additional language learning scaffolds making the experience accessible and welcoming for English learners of any level!
In our Decision 2016 course, students will not only explore the topics at the center of the upcoming presidential election but learn about American civics as well. Students compare different points of view around key issues and discuss each perspective with their PenPals while forming their individual opinions.
Decision 2016: Explore a PenPal Schools Rubric
Because this course includes charts and research data alongside qualitative analysis from both print and digital sources, Decision 2016 is a wonderful course for any student hoping to learn more about the upcoming national election and American civics.
Walking to Freedom
Walking to Freedom provides students with a unique opportunity to develop global awareness and empathy through a lense of civil rights and social justice. Students analyze how and why individuals work together and interact through history as they works towards a common goal.
Walking to Freedom: Explore a PenPal Schools Rubric
Through exploring primary sources like speeches, interviews, and other historical texts, students and their PenPals can engage with historical events events in a unique way while evaluating the points-of-view of various activists and champions for change.
The World Through My Eyes
The World Through My Eyes connects students from around the world to learn and share perspectives on globally relevant issues through a series of five short films. As students explore the lives of five young people through documentary films, they explore the elements of both filmmaking and storytelling.
The World Through My Eyes: Explore a PenPal Schools Rubric
As students move through the The World Through My Eyes course, they also learn about ways to take action in bringing awareness to causes that impact communities around the world.
And The Learning Keeps Going!
This post includes just a few of the specific learning outcomes that teachers and students can work towards both across all of the PenPal Schools courses but also within each of the individual courses.
Our Teachers are amazing people and we’re sure they’ll continue to find new and exciting ways to user PenPal Schools to enhance learning in their classrooms. If you use PenPal Schools to teach an interesting or different skill, we’d love to hear all about it! Download and edit our PenPal Schools rubric template to show us what skills your students are developing!
Blank PenPal Schools Rubric
Don’t use matrix based rubrics to monitor student learning outcomes? We’d love to hear how you keep track of student learning in your classroom community! Let us know by sending an e-mail to Mark, our Head of Learning and Student Achievement, at firstname.lastname@example.org.