Sunday, May 13, 2012

International Penpals: Encourage kids to write, speak, listen & explore culture in the Target Language

My school board just had a Professional Learning day (aka PD day) devoted to educational technology to which I had the honour of contributing. My family of schools (the secondary school in my area, and all of the lower-grade schools which feed into it) collaborated to offer a series of presentations, workshops and information sharing meetings.  Each teacher got to pick three to attend in total.  There were a wide array of options offered, according to various teacher-presenters' areas of expertise and tech-infused projects we had experienced first hand.

I shared the website ePals, which I've used as a main component of a bilingual correspondence project in the past couple of years.


Keep in mind that it's up to you to decide what other technology to integrate to best suit your needs and your students needs and interests!  You could have them record themselves using a microphone & computer, or a iPod or other mobile device, or even a digital recorder!  Make a movie showing each of your students sharing a couple of sentences about themselves, the school, our country.  If time zone differences permit, organize a live online real-time chat using video or simply a text chat room.  The possibilities are endless.

As part of my grade 8 courses, I've connected my classes with other classes in francophone areas of the world where students are learning English in school.  Here is a zip file containing my presentation, sample permission letter, organization chart to track which classes communicate with which schools (in which countries, and with what types of preferences...) and some other resources I've created for this endeavour.  Feel free to use these for your own class projects!  I'm very open to any feedback and improvements that you can suggest for me as well, as this is something I plan to continue and do find a bit of a struggle to organize without feeling the workload pinch!  The students love it so much, that I have a student with an IEP indicating an exemption from Core French but this student still wanted to be part of the project.  Another student is seeking an exemption, and also wants to continue to correspond with the international pen pal.

Source: morguefile.com - Mary R. Vogt

I see the work I put into this as just one step in combating the negative attitudes of my learners towards this subject area that is so near and dear to my heart.  


4 comments:

  1. Epals - that is so cool. Saying hello from the giveaway at A Teacher's Treasure.

    ~April @ ideabackpack.blogspot.com

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  2. Thanks, April! The ePals site/service IS cool... and isn't purely a language-based collaboration tool for teachers & students. It could even be used to connect classes just in different states, for a geography-based project, for example.

    Good luck with the giveaway!

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  3. Just stopping by from the giveaway at A Teacher's Treasure!

    Lindsey

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  4. Love the ePals site!! Thanks for sharing!
    Coming from A Teacher's Treasure!!

    Allie
    the-gypsy-teacher.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

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