Classroom pen pals - suggestions?

Discussion in 'Sixth Grade' started by skilpadkos, Jan 8, 2009.

  1. skilpadkos

    skilpadkos Rookie

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    Jan 8, 2009

    I've looked at the "Connecting Clasrooms" subforum for some time and would perhaps like to connect my Grade Six class up this year. I have a few questions I would really like some of you more experienced teachers, who have undertaken this before, to answer before I make a definite decision.

    I teach in a middle to low socio-economic school in a small town in South Africa. The class is multicultural and consists of mainly white and black kids with a small coloured minority. There are 31 kids in total. Their linguistic abilities would probably be at least one year lower than a Grade Six class in other countries (Grade 5 level perhaps?). English is the dominant language and most learners speak this as their mother-tongue although their parents may speak Afrikaans or Xhosa.

    My classroom has four computers connected to the internet. Most kids would have their own computer at home and about 1/4 of those would be connected to the internet.

    Okay - the questions :
    1. How would one link the learner's correspondence with their pen-pals to the curriculum. Do I need to?
    2. How would you pair the the learner's off with pen-pals? Do all learners need to take part? Could I divide the class and allocate different learners to different pen-pals from different schools and different countries? Do learners necessarily need to communicate one-to-one or could it be whole class to whole class?
    3. Would each learner require their own email address or could all emailing be done through one account?
    4. Could learners type their letters in Word and send this off - it would be easier as learners could type it up anywhere.
    5. What would the learners talk about?

    Perhaps obvious questions, but I don't wish to start up a project which could take more time than I have available or wouldn't be suited to my context.

    What are your experiences of this?
     
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  3. peachacid

    peachacid Companion

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    Jan 12, 2009

    Have you had any luck finding pen pals? I am about to start teaching a class of 6th graders in West Philly and it might be neat to have pen pals in South Africa! It might be VERY cool for them to get actual mail from Africa...

    Let me know!
     
  4. skilpadkos

    skilpadkos Rookie

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    Jan 12, 2009


    Hi. I start teaching next Wednesday. I've spoken briefly with two fellow Gr6 teachers about possibly setting up pen-pals. We thought that it would be a good idea to pair the kids up with other learners from a range of different schools and countries. We're looking into pairing up about 5 kids with another school, from each class.

    It could be quite cool to spread the communicating schools across the world and from other regions in South Africa.

    Remember though that South Africa is distinctively different from the rest of Africa. No roaming wildlife etc - the population is also quite cosmopolitan. The larger RSA (South Africa) cities are comparible to the European cities I've seen in the UK and Ireland.

    Physical postage could be a problem though - it would be very slow from this side.

    Let me talk out this idea in our first Grade developmental planning (next Monday) and get back to you!
     
  5. peachacid

    peachacid Companion

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    Jan 13, 2009

    Hi - I think the fact that South Africa is so different from many kids' idea of Africa is one of the selling points, here! I have to talk to my school, too. I really like the idea of having real letters, despite how long it may take.
     

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