19 12 / 2012
PenPal News’ curriculum modules guide students through an interactive exchange in which students read and write about various real-world issues. The program is designed to take 45 minutes each week for six weeks.
Curriculum Module 2 has students discuss poverty, education, technology, war and conflict, and the environment. In the last week of their exchange, students will produce a final project that focuses on one of these topic in greater depth.
Each week of their exchange, students will be asked to watch the short explainer video about the topic of the week, and then select an article they would like to read about that topic. PenPal News provides all articles as well as short-answer questions for students to complete.
Below find the articles and videos students will discuss during their 6-week exchange (Note: students will pick one article to discuss per week).
Week 1 - Poverty
- Money Stress - One Teen’s Story of Growing up Poor
- The Clash over Fingerprinting for Food Stamps
- Eating Nutritiously a Struggle When Money’s Scarce
Week 2 - Education
- Some Schools Actually Want Students to Play with their Smartphones In Class
- Sticking With It: One Teen’s Story of Staying in School
Week 3 - Technology
- Where Eye Care is a Luxury, Technology Offers Access
- Google and Facebook and the Next Billion Users
- Social Media Helps Diabetes Patients (and Drugmakers) Connect
Week 4 - War and Conflict
- Back to the Middle East: Growing up with a Dad in the Military
- After Sudan’s Civil War, Where The Wild Things Are
- In Gaza, New Arsenals Include “Weaponized” Social Media
Week 5 - Environment
- Software Calculates City-Specific Carbon Footprint
- Climate Activists to Cut Emissions Focus on Forests
- California to Begin Rationing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Week 6 - Final Project
Students will be able to choose from a variety of options including writing an editorial, interviewing a parent or friend, or making a video or website.
04 12 / 2012
This post first appeared on Hive Learning Network’s Explore Create Share blog.
This fall, Hive NYC supported PenPal News Red-Blue, a 6-week online exchange program that partnered middle and high school classrooms in red and blue states across the country. Student penpals ranging in age from 12- to 18-years-old were able to share their perspectives about election-year issues like the role of government, the economy and immigration. Over 8,000 students in 30 states participated.
PenPal News is a web platform and matching service that makes it easy for teachers to connect their students in one-on-one exchanges with peers in another location. It also provides a dynamic curriculum that includes short animated videos and news stories as the basis for discussion. The idea is to provide students with background about an issue, engage them with an interesting news story about a specific aspect of that issue, and then have them share their perspectives about it with their penpal.
For example, here’s an animation used to provide background on the health care debate:
(Check out other animations at https://vimeo.com/penpalnews/videos)
24 10 / 2012
13 10 / 2012
"As a parent of a student that has a pen pal through this organization, I felt compelled to add my two sense for what it’s worth. I cannot say enough for what this opportunity allows for not only my son, but all of his classmates as well. He eagerly rushes to answer letters from his pen pal and eagerly shares all that he is learning about her country, the life she has lead, and the things that are important to her. She seems to be just as intrigued by the life my son leads as well. This is, quite simply, one of the most powerful things I can imagine our kids having the opportunity to engage in. Talk about global perspective. Simply brilliant."
04 10 / 2012
04 10 / 2012
"Wow! Week 1 was a total success and I’m looking like an all-star teacher right now! It’s making it much more fun and enjoyable to teach students and to interest students in this year’s election. I hope you have something planned for next year too…"
8th Grade American History
Northwood Academy Charter School
26 9 / 2012
"My kids are thrilled to have a penpal. They even took it upon themselves to research Lancaster, Pennsylvania today during lunch. Having my students this engaged in their learning makes me so happy!"
8th Grade History Teacher
Monte Vista Christian School
21 9 / 2012
20 9 / 2012
"My kids love this! They were so excited to get replies…Thanks for the opportunity, it has really generated a genuine interest in my room."
Honors Government Teacher
Our Lady of Providence High School