Have you ever thought about what it would be like to live in a different country? How would it be similar or different to your home? In the World Explorer project, students participate in collaborative learning activities to compare and contrast their lives with those of other students around the world. Students from 150 different countries share about their daily life, food, history, art, literature, and pop-culture. This month, over 2,000 students participated in this project based learning unit!
This week we’re excited to introduce you to PenPal Stars Anna from Spain and Emma from Iowa, USA. These PenPal Stars have done an amazing job sharing about their lives and countries in World Explorer by frequently participating in discussion forums, both reading about other cultures and reflecting about their own. Through collaborative learning, students develop high-level thinking and communication skills while being exposed to different perspectives.
Although this weeks’ PenPal Stars live 4,500 miles apart, they are both able to collaborate and share about their countries to deepen other students’ understanding of communities around the world. Are you curious about how their countries are similar and different? Check out some of their responses in this project based learning example:
Describe your typical weekday:
Anna from Spain: These is my typical weekday, first I wake up at 7:00. I have the breakfast(a bowl of milk with cereals)at 7:10 because I stay ten minutes in the bed. Then I get dressed. When I finish I'm going to wash my teeth and comb my hair. Later I go to the school,that is five minutes from my house.I do classes from 9:00 until 13:15 for lunch, at 15:00 return to classes until 17:00 to go home. I go to extra classes at 17:30.
Emma from the USA: My day starts by my alarm going off at 7:50 and after I get dress in my long sleeved shirt and pants for the winter I let my dogs outside and feed them. Then I watch a movie and eat breakfast. By the time I'm done it's time to walk to school and when I leave it is around 8:40. At 8:45 I arrive at school I have about 15 min to talk with my friends. Once the bell rings for us to go in we all have 10 min to get our chromebooks and to go to class. After school I walk home and on Mondays Thursdays and Fridays watch my little brothers until my mom gets home from work. Finally once my mom gets home I go to my room and color while my grandma or my mom makes dinner then after we eat I get ready for bed and let my dogs out one last time. At 9 O'clock I lay in bed and watch a movie. At around 11 I finally go to bed.
What is your favorite food?
Anna: Hello I'm from Catalonia. In Catalonia the tipical food is "pa amb tomata"(it's bread with tomatoe and oil) but I do not like it too much, the "butifarra"(it's a big sausage), the "crema catalana" I love it.These are some of the tipical food of Catalonia.
Emma: There are lots of different types of food in the U.S some of the most popular types of food is pizza, hamburgers, and steak. In the U.S on the of July lots of people will have grill out and cook hamburgers and hotdogs. In the U.S chinese and tacos are really popular to. What kinds of food do your family eat and what foods are popular in your country
Describe an important figure or event from the history of your community
Anna: I'm Anna and I will talk about the history of Catalonia flag. In Catalonia (it's a community of Spain) we say the flag "senyera" the flag is based on the coat of arms of the Crown of Aragon, which consists of four red stripes with the bottom yellow. There are some communities of Spain that use the"senyera" too. The "senyera"is one of the oldest flag in Europe. The flag have got a legent: one day the king of Catalonia was fighting and he die because the adversary kill him with a sword and the king with 4 fingers touch the wound and he put the fingers with the blood in a yellow wall.
Emma: In Iowa there is a lot of history that has happened. I'm only going to talk about 1 important moment that happened in Iowa. In 1804 John Deere was born. He made the famous company Iowans know today as John Deere. When he was 17 he moved to Illinois to get a fresh start. In 1837 he invented the self scraping plow. By 1841 he was selling 100 plows annually. In 1843 he entered a partnership with Leonard Andrus to produce more plows to meet increasing demand. By 1848, Deere dissolved his partnership with Andrus and moved the business to Moline, Illinois. By 1850 his company was making approximately 1600 pows and the company was producing other tools.
When they’re not learning with PenPals, Anna and Emma are both very active in their communities. Anna loves playing basketball, watching TV, and hanging out with her friends. Emma enjoys watching Netflix and participating in both drama and art club! We reached out to them to learn more about their lives and their experiences with PenPal Schools:
PENPAL SCHOOLS: What has been your favorite thing about learning with PenPals?
Anna: You can learn about different cultures.
Emma: My favorite thing I have learned with penpals is how people live their daily lives.
What was the most important lesson you learned in this project?
Anna: I've learned that some students have different timetables depending on where they live. I met a boy who gets up at 5.30 in the morning to go to school.
Emma: I learned how different the world was from us. The most interesting thing I learned from penpal is how and what the world eats and what the world does on a daily basis.
How has your project changed the way you think about the world?
Anna: I've learnt that there are different lifestyles in the world, I'm more open now.
Emma: These projects have changed the way I think about the world because at the beginning of this project I thought that almost everyone ate a lot of the same food and got ready the same.
Why do you think it's important to learn with other students from around the world?
Anna: Because you get to know more about the world.
Emma: I think it is important to learn with other students from around the world because then you can learn things in different ways.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Anna: I would go to New York because I've always wanted to go.
Emma: If I could travel anywhere in the world I would travel to Paris, France because the city is beautiful and I would love to see the Eiffel Tower.
What advice do you have about being a great PenPal?
Anna: You should try to participate in the forum regularly.
Emma: Some advice I have about being a great PenPal is to read what other people write so you can learn.
Congratulations Anna and Emma! Thank you for being such great PenPal Stars and helping other students learn about your communities. Your students can participate in World Explorer to learn more about cultures around the world, too!
Want to learn more about World Explorer? Read about other PenPal Stars who have had fun collaborating with students around the world in this project based learning unit:
PBL Example: Ahmet Adem from Turkey Gains Global Citizenship Skills through PenPal School’s World Explorer Project
PBL Example: Marija Loves Exploring the World with PenPals!
A PenPal Led Tour Of Springfield, Missouri
Meet our PenPal of the Week from Iraq
Meet our PenPal of the Week from Bulgaria