Last year many Global Classroom members enjoyed having their students take part in the Edmodo Pen Pal Project. Edmodo is a social network that allows teachers to create closed groups for their students. It looks very much like Facebook, but students need a code from the teacher to access the group. If you have never used Edmodo, go to their website (Edmodo.com) and click on the video link at the bottom of the page to see it in action.
Due to the suggestions of last years’ members, the project will run a bit differently this year. Last year we had 3 large groups with 200 plus members in each. Some of the teacher and students felt overwhelmed with that many members and said they couldn’t connect with any one class. I also had a hard time keeping up with the moderation of comments on such large groups. So this year, we will run the project a bit like the Quad Blogging sign ups. Once teachers sign up, I will group them into clusters of 4 schools with similar age groups. An Edmodo group will be created for each cluster and the 4 teachers in the group will be responsible for signing up their students, deciding on the chat topics, and moderating their own Edmodo group. There are sample chat topics listed on the wiki page and I would really love it if teachers would add on more ideas. The chat topic should be changed either biweekly or monthly and each class should try to get in and chat a few times a month at the very least. If you don’t think your class can commit to that, then please don’t sign up. It is not fair to the other students/teachers taking part when one class doesn’t follow through.
Feel free to get creative with your pen pal cluster. Last year Kimberley Rivett and I used an Edmodo group in conjunction with a Flat Stanley Exchange. We paired up students in my class with students in her class and had them exchange Flat Stanley’s and letters by mail. We then created an Edmodo group and put the children into smaller sub-groups of 6 children where they chatted to learn more about each other, their schools, countries, hobbies, and more. At the end of the year, my class came in at night to meet her students in a live Skype. It was an exciting connection that the children (and teachers) won’t soon forget!
Teachers who are interested in having their students take part, can sign up on the Edmodo Pen Pal wiki page. I will do my best to connect classes in different parts of the world. We will have 2 rounds of sign-ups for this project. Round 1 will start now and go into January and Round 2 will go from February to May to accommodate the schools in Australia and New Zealand who will be going on summer holiday in about 5-6 weeks. As always, I will be on hand to answer questions and help anyone who is new to Edmodo or the Global Classroom. You can contact me on Twitter at @MrsSchmidtB4 or by email in the K-3 Global Classroom Directory.
I hope you are as excited as I am to get this project into gear. My students had a lot of fun and learned so much from the other project members last year. It opened their eyes to other parts of the world and made them appreciate the opinions, cultures and customs of others. Can’t wait to see where this year’s project takes us!