Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pen Pals: Step One

My blog has managed to open up several opportunities for me in the classroom. This summer, a wonderful teacher from the Chicago suburbs emailed me about collaboration work. I said, "why not!?" Now, we are in the beginning stages of our pen pal exchange. Except, this is no ordinary run of the mill snail mail exchange. Well, we're starting with snail mail but moving towards more technological interfaces. 

Today, my students were given the name of their pen pal. Then, as a class we found their school using Google Earth. All of our school computers have Google Earth downloaded already, so most of my students were familiar with the program. First, we found our school in Missouri then zoooooomed over to Illinois to find out pals. Of course, everyone wanted to show me their house, their Grandma's house, what pool they swam at this summer, and where they want to go on vacation. BUT, that has to wait for Wednesday.
Generic Shot of Google Earth via Google. 
We began scoping out the area of our pen pals neighborhood. Side note: this is a random google image of Google Earth. This is not our pen pal's location!! Anyway, we were checking out the area of our pen pals and the students were firing off several similarities and differences of our schools. One being that THEIR school is surrounded by houses. Which means students are more likely to possibly walk to school? In our community, all students have to ride a bus or be dropped off. Walking isn't an option because of our location. The students were amazed! 


Then, the question was asked, "can we visit our pen pals?" I mean the kids were ready to jump into these friendships head first. They barely had their names written down and they were packing their bags for a road trip.  I pulled up Google maps and got directions to their school. We found that it would take us about 6 hours to get there. The class was super excited - I'm pretty sure they think I'm going to load up a van and drive them all there. I'll break the news to them tomorrow. 

Random Generic Map. 

Next, each student was given a checklist for writing their letter. Mrs. Larson and I decided to start with regular snail mail. We wanted to show a comparison between mail through the postal service and electronic mail (aka e-mail). The kids don't know this part yet. Shhh! It's a secret. I could barely stop the kids from writing their letters. I was reviewing them tonight and most of them told their entire life story. I had to caution a few to only include necessary information.

After we receive our letters, I'm probably going to have to rent a bus and drive my kids to Chicago. Just kidding. Actually, we plan on *hopefully* skyping with one another and/or creating Gaggle.net accounts. I'm looking forward to this experience!!

Have you ever had pen pals? How about electronic pen pals? Do share!

15 comments:

  1. How fun. I've done snail mail penpals and the kids loved that so I'm sure your email penpals will be great!

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  2. I would love to snail mail a class with my kiddos! So if you hear of anyone...let me know! :)

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  3. I so recommend penpals! I was paired with a penpal when I was in 2nd grade (back in 1977) & this summer (July2012) I was fortunate enough to finally meet my childhood penpal, after 35 years & losing touch for about 15 years. We had the best day & both wished for more time together, but now with email & Facebook we are able to keep in contact like we weren't able to before.

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  4. This is such a cool idea!!!! I would love a pen pal class...it would probably have to be email seeing as I'm halfway across the world :)

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  5. Love this! My grandmother is actually STILL pen pals with her friend from 1st grade who lives in England. They are both 82! They have met up a handful of times and I got to meet her when I visited England with my mom. So neat!

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