TOP 5 (FREE!) TECH TOOLS TO SUPPORT MODERN DAY PEN PALS
Technology has completely transformed the way we see and communicate with one another. It has taken a very big world and turned it into a very accessible world where we can experience one another’s culture with the click of a button. One of the many concepts that has suffered a decline due, in part, to technology are good ole pen pals. Or has it? You remember pen pals, don’t you? It gave students the opportunity to connect with another student somewhere around the world via written letters. It was a way to learn about another part of the world and gain a global perspective, all while fostering long distance friendships. We like to think that technology didn’t kill the concept of the penpal; it simply provided a catalyst for the evolution of the penpal.
- PenPal Schools
PenPal Schools was created by teachers to create a space for global project-based learning. Teachers enroll in a specific project that relates to their subject and PenPal Schools connects every student with a group of pen pals that are the same age, the same learning levels, and within the same project. Students will then collaborate online with their pen pals through weekly lessons controlled by the teacher. Students have the opportunity to create and share original projects all across the globe. Don’t worry, it’s 100% safe. Only verified teachers and their students can participate. Teachers can read all messages, and all data is secure.
Flipgrid is a video-based social learning platform that allows students and teachers to create and share videos that are led by a discussion. It is a fun way for students to engage with their classmates, community, and world. Teachers can create their very own social network that allows collaboration between students and classrooms from all around the world. Think of it as the best parts of Instagram and Snapchat, but you’re in control! A teacher can pose a question to their class and any other classroom across the world. It can then be left to the student’s creativity to make videos replying to the question and/or other students. It leads to a robust discussion among students in different places with unique perspectives.
- Google Docs
Is it just me or are there infinite uses for G Suite? Specifically, Google Docs. The collaborative power of Docs inherently makes it a great platform for pen pals. Teachers across the globe can connect with one another and set up a system of writing and sharing via Google Docs. Students can share stories, pictures, and even video of their lives at home. It is an easy and free way to leverage something that we use every day. Teachers have the power to monitor their students and comment. It fosters a collaborative environment and gives students a comfortable way to share their stories with one another.
ePals is a huge network of classrooms and teachers who want to get a pen pal collaboration started. Teachers choose the language, age range, class size, and subject that match up with their own classrooms. Students can then connect, communicate, and collaborate with one another. One very cool collaboration option students love is Taste of Culture. It allows students around the world to connect, exchange recipes, and find out how geography and culture can shape food traditions! It would be great for a foreign language classroom.
We’ve all used Skype once or twice right? Whether it was for an interview or connecting with a family member across the world, Skype was one of the first real time, face-to-face video technology used to communicate. But have you ever thought about leveraging the software for the classroom? Skype in the Classroom is an entire educational community with many ways to connect and learn, not to mention a wonderful way to provide a classroom with pen pal relationships. Under teacher supervision, teachers can connect with classrooms anywhere in the world and the students can communicate with each other in real time. It creates a more interactive and enjoyable experience for everyone.
Have more pen pal ideas for the classroom? Comment below and share your ideas with us @edvergent and #iTeachDigital!