This past month, we received a lot of incredible entries for our Global School Pride Contest! We have loved learning about different schools around the world from all of the PenPals who participated in the contest. PenPals did a fantastic job showcasing what makes their schools special and created amazing projects! This week’s PenPal Stars, Levente and Barnabás from Hungary, did a great sharing what makes their school special and comparing their school to others around the world in this project based learning example. They used photography to show off their school to their PenPals!
It is my school Képes Géza Elementary school in Mátészalka, Hungary. My school is quite big. It is a two stories building. We have classrooms on every floor. On the first floor there are classrooms for the youngest students from 1-4th grade. On the second floor there are classrooms for the students from 5-8th grade. Every classrooms on this floor has a special function. For example we have math room, history room, English room, ICT, music etc... We have to change classrooms depending on what kind of lesson we have. We don't have to walk outside to get from classroom to classroom, like students have to do in Peru. In our school we have four stairs. On the front of every stair steps we have special messages painted on. I think it is very cool because you can learn something important by walking on the stairs. I like my school because it is nice, well equipped and we have great teachers.
Levente and Barnabás not only learned about schools around the world through this project, but also developed English skills. Their teacher, Angéla Pénzes, reflects that participating in project based learning helped these English Language Learners (ELLs) advance their language skills:
“I think PenPal Schools is a great opportunity to motivate students. During the projects their reading and writing skills are improving. They understand how important is to learn a language. They can communicate, make friends with children from all over the world. They are really excited when they read the responses they get from other students. They realize how amazing is it to work with the help of other children from all over the world. They are thousands of kms away from each other, but when they sit down and log in to PenPal Schools, they feel like having more classmates around them. You don't need to open the classroom's door to let somebody in, you only need to switch on the computer and you can meet fantastic people.”
Project based learning helps English Language Learners develop English in an authentic way. In this project, Levente and Barnabás read about schools around the world from different sources and actively participated in a global conversation about schools through writing in a forum with other PenPals from countries around the world. Through this process, Levante and Barnabás did a great job learning new vocabulary and gaining confidence in their second language. We reached out to Levante and Barnabás to find out more about their lives in Hungary and their experience with PenPal Schools.
PENPAL SCHOOLS: How did you feel when you found out you were going to be featured as a PenPal Star?
Barnabás: It was surprising, I was very happy.
Levente: It was fantastic. I was very proud of my school.
Tell us about the final project you decided to publish in the showcase! What did you choose to create, and why? How did you come up with that idea?
Barnabás and Levente: Our project is a description of our school. It looks very beautiful and there are amazing things in it. We have friendly teachers, nice students. We have interesting programs, we are kind of a big family. We wrote about the unique stairs in our school. We wanted to show how amazing it is that you go from one classroom to the other and you can learn something on your way.
Why do you think it's important to learn with other students from around the world?
Barnabás: We can learn about other children's life, traditions and cultures. They can tell us about their experiences.
Levente: We learn to work in groups, we are creating a large community and we can help each other. We learn English as a foreign language, so native speakers can help us to learn new words.
What was the most important lesson you learned in this project?
Barnabás: There are lot of different schools in the world, but there are lot of things which are the same.
Levente: I learnt a lot of things about my school and about other schools around the world. I think it is very good to go to school and learn interesting things.
What has been your favorite thing about learning with PenPals?
Barnabás: It was fun to see that other students from the world commented on my work.
Levente: I think it is great that we can have penpals from around the world.
What is the most interesting thing you learned from your PenPals?
Barnabás: It is interesting that in China there can be a 100 students in a classroom.
Levente: One of my penpal wrote that they have pizza for lunch at school every Friday. I like pizza.
How has your project changed the way you think about the world?
Barnabás and Levente: We have a better view about schools around the world. We are interested in everything around us. This project motivates us to learn more.
What do you like to do after school or for fun? Are you in any clubs or activities?
Barnabás: I play football and I go to dance class. We learn Hungarian folk dance.
Levente: In my freetime I play the game Fortnite and I play football. I am a member of a football team called MMTK.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Barnabás and Levente: We were born in Texas, but we left when we were only three months old. We would like to go back there, to see our birthplace.
What advice do you have about being a great PenPal?
Barnabás and Levente: Always be an open minded person. You can discover new things, you can learn a lot, you can make new friends.
Congratulations, Barnabás and Levente! You did a great job showing how special your school is to the world. You are both amazing PenPal Stars!
Want to learn more about how teachers can use project based learning to help English Language Learners? Read how these Global Ambassadors use PBL to help their students develop their English skills:
Meet our Global Ambassador: Susan Tang from Taiwan
Meet our Global Ambassador: Georgette Wilson from Japan
Meet our Global Ambassador: Flavia Núñez from Uruguay