How it works:
participating in this international project are exposed to many different
components of technology: research, blog writing, e-pals, and PowerPoint
presentations. After choosing a country, students research and gather
information on various topics related to their subject, using templates
to help organize their work. They are assigned a student from E-pals.com
to e-mail regularly, with hopes of asking questions and learning more
about the country's culture, people, and more. The teacher helps set
up each E-pal link, contacting the teacher in the appropriate country
and linking the student with a student in his/her classroom. Students
are also required to create a blog. Here, they use their creative
writing skills to take the research they have gathered and incorporate
it into three different blog entries. Students imagine that they are
on a journey in the country they are researching. They write a blog
to express their thoughts and feelings on the many sights and experiences.
Using factual information from their research tied into creative writing,
they create a PowerPoint presentation for their final project. Students
must produce a minimum of eleven slides, each with specific information
on their country, and they make their presentations to the class.
Each assignment gives students great exposure to the many different
aspects of technology in the classroom while having important learning
Students employ the English language for
information and understanding, and for literary response, enjoyment,
and expression. Critical analysis and evaluation develops students’
abilities to read, write, listen, and speak. English for social and
classroom interaction outlines strategies, both in and out of school,
that LEP/ELLs must master to communicate effectively in English. English
for cross-cultural knowledge and understanding articulates the components
of acquiring a “second culture” in both social and academic contexts.
For this project, each student needs a computer with Internet
access and Microsoft PowerPoint software. An LCD projector will be
needed for the classroom when presentations will be made.
The students involved in this project are ESL advanced students who
have completed three or more years of ESL. Their English ability is
relatively strong, and they have very good command of the English
language. They are asked to choose a country that they know little
about, but want the opportunity to learn a lot about. Students work
individually throughout the entire project.
The use of e-pals and
blog writing is a great addition to what would have otherwise be a
typical research project. Students are able to ask questions about
the country being researched and get information from a real person,
not just another Internet site. In addition, students practice their
writing skills through e-mail writing. By creating a blog, students
are exposed to a way of communicating that is commonly used throughout
the Internet. Students tap into their creative side, and imagine they
are actually in the country they are researching. This is great way
for students to use the information they collect, connecting it with
their research by writing about it in a creative way.
This project can be done at any time. Students may need extra time
in setting up with e-pals. In addition, it is helpful to give students
a model copy of a blog entry, since some students felt the blog was
seen as "lying" rather than creative writing. Once they
begin writing, they quickly get involved.
About the teacher:
Cari Gersh is currently an ESL teacher at Christopher Columbus High School. She has been teaching for three years, and teaches all levels of ESL. She recently graduated with a Masters Degree in ESL and participated in the New York City Teaching Fellows program.