2019 was a busy year for the PenPal Schools community! Over the past twelve months, PenPals discussed a variety of academic subjects from current events and world cultures to robotics and environmental issues. In 2019 students on PenPal Schools answered 146,986 discussion questions, shared 457,012 comments, and published more than 50,000 projects!
Whether writing poetry and personal essays or designing flags and fashion trends, PenPals worked together to develop critical reading, writing, technology, and social and emotional skills. Students from 48 countries connected to share perspectives and publish projects!
New to PenPal Schools
In 2019, the PenPal Schools team released a number of new features and collaborative topics to make global project-based learning even more accessible to our community. Perhaps no update was more helpful than in October of 2019, when the PenPal Schools team welcomed parents and guardians to the PenPal Schools community with the launch of a new mobile app! With the new PenPal Schools app (available on Android and iOS), parents and guardians can follow along as their children learn with peers from around the world.
2019 also saw the introduction of Global PenPal Challenges. From ‘Don’t be (April) Fooled by Fake News’ to the ‘Earth Day Impact Challenge’ and ‘Global Poetry Contest,’ 2019 gave PenPals plenty of opportunities to show off their creativity. More than 2,000 PenPals from over 15 different countries participated in a special PenPal contest in 2019 and we were continually inspired by the resulting projects! Use the buttons below to meet some of the contest winners and see their amazing work.
In 2019, our team added many new collaborative lessons for PenPals to discuss. In March 2019, PenPal Schools introduced four new student created documentary films to ‘The World Through My Eyes,’ a topic created in partnership with New York based non-profit Films BYKids. These new documentary films feature young people from New York City, Nicaragua, Syria and Senegal and cover timely themes like climate change, criminal justice reform, immigration, and women’s rights. To date, nearly 20,000 students from more than 30 different countries have discussed these important and inspiring documentary films with their PenPals.
In May of 2019 the PenPal Schools team announced an exciting partnership with global publishing leader Oxford University Press. Thanks to this amazing partnership with Oxford University Press, educators from around the world were introduced to the PenPal Schools community while existing PenPal Schools educators gained access to high quality content from a global leaders in primary and secondary education. Two additional topics designed in partnership with Oxford University Press were released in January 2020.
Notable PenPal Stars
Students from around the world who demonstrate excellence in reading, writing, technology, and social & emotional skills are featured PenPal Stars! Not only does the PenPal Stars initiative give the PenPal Schools team the opportunity to recognize some of our exceptionally bright scholars, but the monthly contest helps students share their examples and inspire other members of the PenPal Schools community.
PenPal Star Erik and his classmates from Sweden demonstrated excellence in the World Explorer topic.
PenPal Star Addison and her classmates from the United States studied pollution and different ways
that people around the world negatively impact the environment.
In addition to sharing their exemplary work and projects, PenPal Stars also have the opportunity to explain why they think Global Education is important, give their advice to other students in the community, and thank those who have supported them in their education.
Use the buttons below to meet some of the exceptional PenPal Stars from 2019!
Is there a student or a group of students from your classroom that should be profiled as PenPal Stars in 2020? Click here to nominate a PenPal Star!
Most Popular Teacher Resources
At PenPal Schools, we believe that learning is better together. That’s why we continued to offer high-quality professional development resources to help our teachers learn and grow alongside their students in 2019.
Among our most popular teacher resources included tools for the International Baccalaureate (IB) network. The IB network is known for promoting international mindedness and global citizenship and through a series of guest blog posts and webinar, we invited a number of International Baccalaureate educators to share their experience using PenPal Schools. In 2019, our most popular resources for the IB continuum included a webinar titled Global Connections for the IB Continuum, Global Connections for the IB Middle Years Program, and Global Connection for the IB Primary Years Program.
In addition to our top resources for the IB network our second most popular resource helped educators consider how international-mindedness can enhance any academic subject area. During this webinar, our team was joined by Hanna Dudich from the Ukraine and Leticia Citizen from the USA to learn how students practice and demonstrate international mindedness in every academic subject including math, history, science, English, art, and foreign language classes!
Other popular professional development topics from 2019 followed international trends and addressed topics on Social & Emotional Learning and Language Learning. In our webinar titled, ‘Authentic Social & Emotional Learning through Global Exchanges,’ Director of Innovation for a medium-sized Catholic School in Central Texas, Alison Starling, shared how Global Education supports SEL within her school community. In a webinar titled, “How Authentic Global Connections Support Language Learning’ we had the chance to hear from Anna Dudich in the Ukraine, Flavia Nunez in Uruguay, and Miguel Perez in Venezuela as they explained how global connections provided the motivation and structure their students needed to improve their language skills.
2019 was a truly wonderful year for the entire PenPal Schools community. We’re excited to see what 2020 has in store!