PenPal-A-Palooza has officially started and our awesome students are loving making global connections through project based learning! To celebrate all of the great work our PenPals are posting, we will recognize four PenPal-A-Palooza All-Stars who excel in writing, reading, social and emotional learning (SEL), and digital citizenship each week. Will your students be next week’s All-Stars? Keep them inspired with these excellent examples!
Congratulations to this week’s PenPal-A-Palooza All-Stars: Cassidy, Jimmy, Marcus, and Alvaro! Your work inspires students around the world. See how these All-Stars are helping students develop key skills in these project based learning examples:
This week, Cassidy has been participating in the topic VR Fieldtrip: Pakistan. Through a combination of virtual reality experiences, readings, and videos, Cassidy has been learning about the culture and history of this dynamic country.
When asked about her experience with PenPal Schools Cassidy shared, “I really like how PenPal Schools presents the information because it is very engaging and it makes it a lot more fun! Along with watching the video and writing you response, you can read other students responses and comment on them. That makes it a lot more fun! I also like how you can request to be pen pals with students because whenever they write a response, it gives you a notification and you can go read their latest response!”
“My 6th grade students look forward to our weekly progress on PenPal Schools projects. They love to make connections with students from around the world. Using PenPal Schools has introduced my students to well-organized lessons and authentic communication with children from many of the places we have learned about this year.”
Students love discussing different topics with Cassidy! Cassidy’s work uses details, transitions, punctuation, and academic vocabulary to share what she’s learning. Check out her latest wonderfully worded discussion post:
“Ok, so the person I chose to talk about is Malala Yousafzai. Malala is Women's Rights and Children's Rights activist. Malala was born on July 12, 1997, in Mingora, Pakistan. Mingora is located in Swat Valley. For the first few years of her life, her hometown remained a popular tourist spot that was known for its summer festivals but all that began to change as the Taliban tried to take control. The Taliban banned Girls from going to school. Malala loved learning and getting a good education was important to her so she went to school in secret. Malala began speaking out in public about how education was important to everyone. Everyone had heard about Malala and how she was speaking out against the Taliban. Unfortunately, so did the Taliban. On October 9, 2012, when 15-year-old Malala was riding home from school in a bus with her friends, a gunman entered and demanded to know which one of them was Malala. So, Malala said, "I am Malala". The gunman shot her in the head. Malala was rushed to the hospital. She ended up flying to England so she could get medical treatment there. Miraculously, Malala survived. She continues to speak about Women's and Children's rights. She is the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. She won the Prize at age 17.”
It is obvious that a lot of thought and research went into this response. After receiving this award, Cassidy reflected that “it really has motivated me to keep trying my best and putting a lot of effort into my responses”. Cassidy’s work will help inform students around the world about Malala’s role in Pakistani history. Keep up the fantastic writing, Cassidy!
Jimmy’s class is participating in Protecting the Planet, one of our STEM topics that allows students to explore environmental issues impacting our communities. In addition to investigating problems such as poaching, pollution, and fossil fuel dependency, students also learn about the people that are taking action to protect the environment.
After reading a text about the Great Barrier Reef, Jimmy demonstrated rockstar reading skills by sharing this summary:
“The Great Barrier Reef, 130,000 square miles off the coast of Australia, is dying. Coral is at risk, and it needs to be stopped. The Great Barrier Reef is the largest reef system in the world. Scientists learned that the bleaching of coral reefs can kill more than 15% of the world's coral. Sunscreen is also a big culprit, with 4,000-6,000 tons of sunscreen entering coral reefs every year. Coral reefs are home to more than 25% of total marine species. In 2005, the U.S. lost half of its coral reefs in the Caribbean in one year due to a massive bleaching event. Something that we can do to help this issue is by only wearing sunscreen when needed.”
Jimmy’s response is an excellent example of supporting claims and summarizing. Jimmy starts his response off with the strong declaration that “The Great Barrier Reef… is dying.” He is able to successfully support this claim by identifying and rephrasing key details in the text. Jimmy’s response makes it clear to students all around the world that the destruction of the coral reefs is an urgent, international issue. By connecting reading to a topic that is interesting and relevant to Jimmy, it motivated him to use his reading skills to find out more about the topic and reflect about how it was relevant to his life. Jimmy explains that “It's so important to learn about what's happening around the world and in their communities. It then gives you a chance to then reflect on yours.“ Awesome reading skills, Jimmy!
“Teaching students to understand and celebrate diversity is such an important part of what we do as educators. Having global connections allows our students to see diversity in action and to focus on positive similarities and differences among the students they connect with.”
Marcus’ class is exploring Race in America. Though this topic focuses on how racial discrimination impacts America, it’s a great resource for students all over the world to explore themes such as identity, bias, discrimination, and empathy! Marcus’ class in Sweden used what they learned about American civil rights issues to analyze their own communities’ perceptions about race and identity. After reading a text about identity, Marcus wrote a response that shows respect and empathy for other races, genders, and religions:
“I feel like race, gender and religion is all a part of my identity. There is a big diversity of things that you can identify yourself as but there are still things that you cannot really change. If you have white skin then you are white but you can choose religion. There are many people that i know that has been treated worse because of their identity and I think that is very wrong. Although you can choose some parts of your identity and get treated badly by that, but I do not think that you should be treated worse for something you can not change at all.”
Social and emotional skills are important for success in the 21st century. For us to solve today’s global issues, it is essential that our students develop the ability to collaborate with people from a variety of different cultures, religions, and backgrounds. Marcus’ answer makes people reflect on who we are and how we treat others. Great job!
Digital citizenship involves many skills including collecting information from multiple sources, creating a positive digital reputation, developing healthy habits of online discussion, and more! This week’s Dynamite Digital Citizen, Alvaro from Washington, has been practicing all of these skills while participating in The World Through My Eyes. Check out his question response in this project based learning example:
“I define the word family as a strong bond that is created by earning complete trust and loyalty within one another, however, family does not necessarily have to blood related. In order to make a strong family is to have complete faith and never give up on each other despite the challenges that arrive. One example of this is in the video "Home Is Where You Find It" it says that the 16 year old kid named Alcides Soars has lost his mother due to aids. With no family near to help Alcides, a nice old lady offered to take him in without knowing who he is as a person rather as someone who is in need of help. She states "I felt that I needed to help you.. because my children are in South Africa and I don't know who is helping them ... so that's when they brought you over here, and I love living with you". Throughout the years they have created a strong bond allowing Alcides to describe her as his very own grandmother. Overall, family is a very strong connection that is built within time and trust.”
In this response, Alvaro references information from the specific video “Home Is Where You Find It,” adding credibility to his response. Additionally, he contributes to a healthy conversation about family by providing original ideas and supporting his claims with details. All of these skills are helping Alvaro create and maintain a positive digital footprint. Keep up the amazing work!
Having students like Alvaro connecting globally makes a big difference in achieving our mission of promoting a learning environment where each student is empowered to develop his or her full potential, and in fulfilling our vision that students are globally aware and culturally sensitive. We are proud of Alvaro for being a model of what this vision looks like at CHS.
These PenPal-A-Palooza All-Stars stand out for their outstanding reading, writing, social & emotional, and digital citizenship skills. Their work samples are great examples to share with your students!
We are so proud of all our students participating in PenPal-A-Palooza. Do you want your students to connect to PenPal-A-Palooza All-Stars like Cassidy, Jimmy, Marcus, and Alvaro? Join one of our global project based learning topics today!