Coed, independent, PK3-12th grade school in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Global Learning in Fifth Grade
by Sandra Janack, Fifth Grade Social Studies Teacher
Ms. Janack’s fifth grade social studies classes have been connecting with pen pals globally via the Penpal Schools website. Pen pals connect through a variety of curriculum topics. Ms. Janack’s students connected through the World Explorer topic and are learning about foods, daily life, art, literature, and pop culture around the world via lessons and videos on the PenPal Schools website. Over 1,500 students from around the world are simultaneously engaging with the same lessons and videos.
All students write expository pieces about topics related to the lessons, such as describing their daily lives, food popular in their local communities, and where art can be found locally. Once they post their writing on the website, they can read what their penpals wrote. They then write back and forth about the topics. Ms. Janack’s students have pen pals in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, India, and other countries.
This past week, Sawyer T’s response about food in his community was chosen to be highlighted in the PenPal Pulse Newsletter, which has a readership of over 70,000 educators in over 150 countries! Sawyer’s writing will be one of 4 student responses shared around the world! Sawyer commented that his pen pal experience is “an awesome way to communicate with other people and meet new friends. It’s an awesome way to tell people about your community and learn about other places in the world. I’ve learned foods around the world are very different. My pen pals taught me that clothes and languages are also really different.”
Ms. Janack’s students are beginning to work on final projects that will be shared globally. Student groups will be creating websites to share their ideas. They have a wide variety of project choices such as designing a local field trip for a pen pal, creating postcards from landmarks around the world, exploring a global career and arguing for global education. Students are eager to see their pen pals’ projects as soon as they post their own work.