Now that more schools around the world have access to the internet, teachers are eager to connect their students globally. Global connections not only increase engagement for students and improve social & emotional skills like empathy, but they also require students to improve communication skills like reading, writing, and digital literacy. Global connections can take your project-based learning unit to the next level! According to Andrew Miller, “PBL naturally connects to global readiness as it focuses on complex issues, problem solving, and taking action.”
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!
We couldn’t be more excited to start 2020 off with two new PenPal topics designed and built with leading global publisher Oxford University Press!
Happy New Year from the PenPal Schools team! We hope that you and your students had a restful holiday season and have returned excited to pursue project-based learning and global connections in 2020.
In the first PenPal News of 2020 we share a couple announcements, featured PenPal topics for January 2020, and our most recent PenPal Stars!
Over 900 students from more than 17 different countries participated in the Giving Thanks Photography & Essay contest on PenPal Schools. Students from the United States, Mexico, Thailand, and Lithuania shared photographs and wrote essays about the people, places, and things that they are most grateful for. From the 900 contest participants, seven students were selected as contest winners!
by Mark Danforth, PenPal Schools Chief Learning Officer
Student voice helps shape the learning experience by encouraging students to sharing their opinions, beliefs, perspectives, and cultural backgrounds. As a result, units, lessons, and projects become more relevant to students. Student voice is at the core of project-based learning (and every PenPal Schools project), and it requires more than simply allowing students opportunities to speak during class. Here are four ways you can nurture student voice in all of your PBL units.
This November, PenPals from more than 30 countries including Turkey, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and the Ukraine have learned together on PenPal Schools! PenPals are studying robotics, comparing popular culture, and exploring how people around the world celebrate the holidays. Join a PenPal topic today and keep your students motivated through the end of 2019!
Young people around the world have been speaking up for climate change (or climate crisis, depending on the language used in your part of the world!). On PenPal Schools, students discuss the changing environment and examine factors influencing the environment around the world. Meet PenPal Star Addison from the USA, one of the winners of our Global Earth Day Challenge!
Over 700 students from more than 20 different countries participated in the 2019 PenPal Schools Personal Essay Contest. Students wrote about their families, favorite hobbies, and special possessions. Students wrote about academic and athletic accomplishments, their experiences moving, and the loss of family members. After reviewing each essay and looking at the reactions and comments that each essay received from peers in the PenPal community, our team selected three contest winners and ten contest finalists!
IB MYP programs around the world are connecting student globally through project-based learning with PenPals. In this webinar, we highlighted the benefits of global collaboration and featured global projects that align to each MYP content area.