How I Use It
I used PenPal Schools last year in my 7th-grade History/ELA classes. At first, I would select the projects that my students would work on. After a while, I turned the ownership of choice over to my students. My students enjoyed talking with their penpals about global issues. I really liked that I could see every answer my students made, as well as the responses/reflections of their penpals. At times, this led to conversations about how to tactfully disagree/agree with someone. I started to incorporate Flipgrid into their projects at the request of my students. They wanted to be able to "see and talk" with their penpals. That was very successful; my students really enjoyed working collaboratively with other students. I like how easy the platform is to use in class with students of all abilities and languages. PenPal Schools is a great, safe way for students to interact globally. The differing perspectives of the students helped my students become better critical thinkers. I also used Goolge Maps to help my students better understand the geography of our world. My students really enjoyed pinning the locations of their Penpals on their maps, and then writing about they had learned from their collaboration. I love PenPal Schools!
I love PenPal Schools! I really believe that is a safe way for students to connect globally. I worked with my middle school staff on how to use PenPal schools, and several of the teachers used it throughout the year. I really like that there are multiple languages, in which students can communicate. My students were able to understand that even though we may live in different parts of the world, we are all facing the same issues. They were able to think critically to solve problems, both locally and globally. They were given different perspectives on issues they themselves were facing. My students gained friendships that I hope they will continue to foster. In using PenPal Schools, I am bringing the world to my students, and helping them find their place in it. Being able to critique/grade the student responses, and give specific feedback to my students helps me understand where they are, and where they are headed. My students were always in class on PenPal days, and I did notice that attendance was much better on those days.