This week, meet Georgette Wilson, an elementary school English teacher in Japan.
How long have you been using PenPal Schools and what do you love most about it? How has learning with PenPals impacted your students?
I've been using PenPal Schools for a little over 6 months. We use PenPal Schools to connect our students to the world. My students love the immediate responses they receive from fellow peers who are continents away. I love the easy access, student monitoring and projects that PenPal Schools provides.
PenPal Schools has positively changed the way I prepare, teach and evaluate my student's learning. PenPal Schools has been a gateway of curiosity for my students to learn about the world around them. It has allowed me to teach my EFL students important educational skills by connecting projects with geography, grammar, and social studies. It has more importantly, helped me teach my students life skills such as internet privacy, appropriate communication, perception of others, computer navigation, internet navigation, typing skills, global collaboration, empathy and the list goes on.
What is your favorite PenPal Schools project?
I think our favorite project has been A World of Food. It was my favorite because it was short, easy to follow and my students didn't need much assistance. It was also my first project so I was able to give my students more preparation time. We started working on the project a few weeks before it started.
What other ways do you connect your students with the world?
Our 3rd graders are first exposed to global communication with our Travelling Teddy Bear project. Our other students participate in PenPal Schools and Flat Stanley projects. My co-worker has recently started to connect with a school in Taiwan through Zoom video conferencing.
What advice do you have for teachers who are new to PenPal Schools?
Start with a short project like "World of Food". If you are an EFL or ESL teacher do your homework first. Go through the project demo, create your timeline, resource worksheets and write out your detailed lesson plans ahead of time. Give your students the much needed grammar points, reply hints and teach key vocabulary ahead of time because once they get on the computer they will have a hard time focusing on anything other than communicating with their peers, which is an awesome thing.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I would love to go to Egypt. I think with all the chaos in the world at the moment it has become a place less traveled. It's sad to admit but I think that virtual adventures will become the only way we will be able to reach and explore the less traveled or prohibited places around the world.