Friday, September 22, 2017

Pen Pals: Connecting Across Oceans

This past term, after a few years of saying I will do it, I finally got some learners to write letters to children in another country AND sent the letters. Two things happened in June that made this possible, three months later: 1) I met some very willing partners at ISTE (hey, there is a theme going through a few of these posts, isn't there?) and 2) My team back in New Zealand also wanted to connect with other schools. Having the support on both sides proved crucial in getting this off the ground.

Part of the reason I wanted to do this was that all too often, writing is done for the sake of writing. I wanted to give my learners a chance to write for a purpose (in this case, communicating with someone and fostering a long-distance friendship, maybe), and to connect with children around the world.

So as a whole habitat, we did a lesson early in the term on writing letters and all of our children wrote a draft (albeit, none of them actually had set buddies at the time). I was able to work out through one of my ISTE connections 11 learners in the US (North Dakota to be exact) who could receive letters. So a week or so ago, I had my 11 learners write their good drafts, filled an envelope and sent them off. I've gotten word that they arrived (thank goodness my handwriting wasn't TOO bad!) and the responses will come back shortly. I'm pretty excited for that. Here are the letters that my learners have written:

One of the biggest difficulties in this whole thing was arranging buddies. Some of my fellow learning coaches had some schools to write to, and some of them fell through. I was only able to (currently) connect with one other classroom (though I am still in talks with some others at a school in North Carolina). I think though, that I'm going to continue to be persistent. I'm still looking for some buddies, so if anyone is looking for some pen pal buddies (anywhere in the world), leave a comment here or a DM on twitter and I'll get back to you!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Michael,

    Well done on being persistent. I'm sure your learners are going to really enjoy the experience.
    My mother-in-law stayed in contact for many years with her pen pal and even visited her later on in life! These are connections that can make a difference to how we see the world and open our eyes to new possibilities.

    Nice work.