Every year of teaching I’ve done a version of pen pals. Here is the evolution up until this year:
v.1.0 Handwritten letters sent by post
v.2.0 Grainy pictures of handwritten letters sent by e-mail as PDF
v.3.0 Typed letters collected on Google Docs and sent by e-mail
v.4.0 Typed letters sent directly to pen pals by e-mail
While all of these were valuable experiences in their own right, they were missing the spontaneity and the social media element of “anyone, anywhere” learning that I have been aiming for in my C21 minded classroom. Stephanie’s last post was about the value of using connected blogs to link classes within a school. I wanted the focus of this article to be on the potential that exists in connecting classrooms around the world with most any blogging tool.
C21 Pen Pals (Pen Pals 5.0!)
This year, my class in Sudan has become pen pals with a class from Minnesota through their Seesaw Blogs. Every week or so, our classes take turns sharing multimedia posts about our unique experiences as members of separate communities. Students comment on learning activities and post letters, pictures and videos. This is a screenshot of a video one student made explaining what tea ladies do in Sudan during Celebrate Sudan Week.
While my class is only connected with this one class, there is so much potential for learning if this model is improved upon or expanded to include more classes around the world. What if every book that we read could lead to a pen pal experience with members of that particular community? What if every social studies unit could be made real by connecting students to other kids from specific geographic locations?
Take a look at this guy’s post, aka the dream:
Have you connected your class in similar ways before? Looking to connect with a class in Sudan via Seesaw? Follow me on Twitter and keep coming back to educationrickshaw.com
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