In my online TESOL course the topic of using pen pals from different countries around the world came up as a great way to teach about different cultures. I wanted to be able to recommend safe programs/websites that offer making connections with kids around the globe.
My Google search came back with many results with websites that offer to set up pen pals from around the world. I looked at a few, but I am hesitant to recommend any since I haven’t used them myself or even heard if they are safe to use. I thought I would throw this question out to my knowledgeable Community members to see if any of you could recommend safe programs/websites that help teachers from different countries set up pen pals for their students.
Thanks for the information!
I have seen two sites recommended by teachers for connecting students world-wide.
Skype in the Classroom connects teachers globally and provides opportunities for project collaboration among students. Check out the blog post--"21st Century Engagement with Skype in the Classroom"--to learn new ways to tear down walls and help students become global learners.
Also the ePals Global Community is another website for connecting teachers and classrooms around the world.
Has anyone used Skype or ePals to locate international pen pals?
Tammy, I've met some of the folks involved with the ePals.com and it would be high on my list for use for cultural exchange. Some sites, not ePals, are geared for ages 0-99! Which leaves a bit of concern in my heart for our youth.
It's a good idea for parent support whenever you recommend sites that are outside the "school" umbrella. A site can be hijacked and a teacher in good conscience can make the recommendation, but things do not turn out quite as planned.
With Skype, you can connect with another teacher in a similar grade from the US or Europe. Kids within the class can become pals.
With an activity like this, it would be a great opportunity to include lessons on digital citizenship. Be on the look out for a new group forming. There will be plenty of resources to aid in lesson preparation.
You certainly make some valid points regarding sites that are suitable for youth. I like your idea of teaching digital citizenship along with enjoying global pen pals. We have an informative discussion in the Community on digital citizenship that may provide useful resources for teachers who want to introduce their students to international pen pals. See How do you teach digital citizenship?
What do others think of incorporating digital citizenship in the pen pal assignment?