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International pen pals. Contact thread

This is a discussion on International pen pals. Contact thread within the iPad at School forums, part of the iPad for Business and Education category; Recently, a couple of us started a pilot project which involved setting up correspondence between two schools; one in Canada, and the other in Austria. ...

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Thread: International pen pals. Contact thread

  1. #1
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    International pen pals. Contact thread

    Recently, a couple of us started a pilot project which involved setting up correspondence between two schools; one in Canada, and the other in Austria. It has been a resounding success and I'd like to tell any educators who are interested how we went about it.

    First thing to note is that the children involved are 9 or 10 years old, and have been very excited about corresponding with children in another country. The Austrian children are using the experience to help with their studies in English, and the Canadians have found that it fits into several areas of their curriculum.

    The teacher in the Austrian school is a member of iPF, and will be adding her comments to this thread in due course. If anyone would like any help in setting up a similar project, I'd like to offer some guidelines. First thing to note is that although we usually prefer to confine use of languages other than English to the international section, in this case we are encouraging the use of any and all languages in this thread, so that anyone who is interested can find a correspondent who uses a language that they are interested in.

    iPF protects privacy. Please do not give personally identifying information in the main threads. Please use PMs to give email addresses and other necessary information.

    Please take the time and trouble to make sure that you know who you are corresponding with.
    I suggest that initially, any correspondence takes place between the schools involved, until you are comfortable with the any other parties involved.

    Threads may be started in this sub forum of iPF if desirable.

    I am not an educator. I am the parent of one of the Canadian children involved in the pilot project, but I'll help if help is required, within these threads.

    If I missed anything, or anyone requires further information, don't hesitate to ask questions or place comments in this thread, or send me a PM.
    Apple Equipment (so far) rMBP 15"; iPad 2 (iOS 7.1); iPhone 5s (iOS 7.1); iPhone 4 (iOs 7.1); AirPort Extreme; Airport Express; AppleTV

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  3. #2
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    First of all:

    This project started because of Kevin's idea. Without him it never would have been possible.

    This is what happened since his first pm:

    At school, I told my colleagues about the possibility to start communicating with pupils in Canada.
    What we did next was ask for the parents' permission, which they gave without hesitation. We also informed school authorities what we intended to do.

    After receiving the email address of the Canadian teacher, I contacted her, introducing myself and asking for her opinion. We agreed to let the children communicate through letters, written by them. Our task as teachers is then to scan them and send them in an email to each other. This way we hope to protect the identity of the children.

    First thing I did, before starting to write introductions, was to tell these children about Canada, showing them pictures I had googled before (iPad involved).
    Our first letters were short, using basic structures as "I am ...", "I like...", "I have...", writing about names, village, hobbies and pets. These letters weren't addressed to someone, because we didn't know who would answer them.

    In Canada, the students there seemed to choose the one pen pal with similar interests or hobbies, and wrote in return. So everyone of the children in Austria got a letter from one kid in Canada. So far, the pupils in Austria wrote 2 letters and received 1.

    It was amazing for me as teacher to find out how much they do understand of the English language in it's written form. Also they are eager to learn and communicate.
    In Austria, the parents are not involved. Everything is done at school. My experience is that it is possible to manage this communication with only 2 lessons a week. (I use my English lessons, and when letters arrive, also the music lessons.)

    Perhaps a few "technical" details:
    As consequence of the extended communication with the Canadian teacher, I added a new Mailbox to my mails, where I move her emails as soon as I get them, because I don't want to delete them by chance. The letters the Austrian pupils as well as the Canadian pupils send are stored in a folder on my iPad. This way I can take a look at them when I need to.
    Last edited by J. A.; 05-05-2013 at 10:32 AM.
    KevinJS likes this.
    Johanna A.
    You will recognize your own path when you come upon it, because you will suddenly have all the energy and imagination you will ever need. ~ Jerry Gillies

  4. #3
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    Great going by you both for setting this up. I remember how much fun it was to have a pen pal at that age. Of course, in my day it was snail mail and scribbles among kids, but the best things were widened horizons and connecting with kids from afar, who we discovered were just like us in many ways!

  5. #4
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    This school year will end in a few days in both countries, Canada and Austria.

    Here's a short summary about the recent events:

    3 (CA)/ 4 (AT) letters were written and sent.

    The Austrian students will leave my school. Most of them are interested in continuing pen pal friendship with the Canadian children.
    Their address was sent to the Canadian teacher. She'll give them to the parents of her students, if they decide to go on writing.
    Last edited by J. A.; 06-21-2013 at 07:12 AM.
    Johanna A.
    You will recognize your own path when you come upon it, because you will suddenly have all the energy and imagination you will ever need. ~ Jerry Gillies

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by J. A. View Post
    This school year will end in a few days in both countries, Canada and Austria.

    Here's a short summary about the recent events:

    3 (CA)/ 4 (AT) letters were written and sent.

    The Austrian students will leave my school. Most of them are interested in continuing pen pal friendship with the Canadian children.
    Their address was sent to the Canadian teacher. She'll give them to the parents of her students, if they decide to go on writing.
    At this end, the kids are also leaving the school. Most of them will be going to the same Junior High. The only one who was involved that is going to a different school spends just about every weekend at my house, so I'll be able to report any progress I hear about.

    Hopefully, the correspondence will continue, and perhaps other kids can take part in this as time goes on.
    J. A. likes this.

  7. #6
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    Just a short update for this term:
    I contacted my Canadian colleague last week, asking her if it's possible to start writing pen pal letters again, this time with my own students (3rd and 4th grade, 8 - 10 years). The reply came this moment, and I'm very glad that I can tell that we'll continue our project this year. This time she will start the conversation. The first letters from Canada should arrive this weekend.
    Johanna A.
    You will recognize your own path when you come upon it, because you will suddenly have all the energy and imagination you will ever need. ~ Jerry Gillies


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