Online penpals, or keypals,
allow students to learn what everyday life is like in other
parts of the world. This is a great activity to integrate
into your language arts or social studies curriculum.
To register your class for keypals, or to have students search
for their own, we recommend the following sites:
A completely free service, ePALS provides members with the
collaborative tools, ideas and community needed to communicate
worldwide in ways that are both fun and educational.
Connect's Connected Teacher to Teacher Search Locate and
contact educators from around the world to hook up with project
collaborators and get keypals. Use Teacher Search to find
other educators, or introduce yourself by creating a profile
so other educators can find and contact you
easy to get in touch with professionals via email. It's not
hard to find someone's email address compared with their personal
phone number or even a direct line at work. You can find someone
via a Google search, by visiting a site that has their own
roster of experts like RefDesk's
hotlist of Experts for pros in various lines of work.
A particularly great site is the
UN's "Ask An Ambassador."
However you find an expert, remember that these are busy people
who may or may not have time to help you and your students.
Of course, be polite, make first contact yourself, and get
their permission before allowing students to contact them
Williams, a teacher in New York City, contacted an
orthopedic surgeon at the Yale School of Medicine after seeing
his name in an article in the New York Times. Dr.
Renshaw began corresponding with Jill and her 5th grade class,
sharing statistics on pedestrian safety. His input transformed
her class and her students. Read more about Jill's
online collaboration and view
her curriculum unit on Pedestrian Safety.
Battagliese, a teacher in South Portland, Maine,
wanted to address his students' curiosity about extra-terrestrials.
He had them email scientists found by emailing the astronomy
departments of several top universities. Once they had the
scientists' permission, his students created
an online survey then graphed the results to compare their
beliefs about extra terrestrial life with their own. See the
survey results, and view his
entire curriculum unit, "Are We Alone?"
listserv is an email-based mailing list that provides an online
forum for discussing issues of interest to its members. Sign
up, and messages posted by members get sent to your email
in-box. There are literally hundreds of listservs dedicated
to education issues. See a
sampling of the major lists.
you have a question or comment about this article? E-mail
Sandy Scragg is a consultant forTeachers Network's TeachNet Project. She has been a technology trainer, staff developer, and an English teacher for the New York City Public Schools.