Today students live in a global village; the Internet has collapsed time and space. Children can talk in real time to people on the other side of the globe more easily than they can speak to their friends across the street. In order to increase students’ topic choices and audiences and broaden their global perspective, have elementary students swap narratives with pen pals from around the world.
Expanding students' written-language audiences fosters written-language production, whereas traditional writing assignments typically focus on everything but the students’ lives. Too often, students’ writings are destined to be read by one audience (the teacher) who has one purpose: to mark the students’ work with a red pen. Rarely do students respond to each other’s written work.
E-pal projects allow students to enjoy writing to real audiences who write back about everything from science (weather), history (historical sites in and around the students’ hometowns), math (population of the home town, price of food), to culture (winter holidays). When children participate in pen pal projects they develop stronger literacy skills, learn more content material, and develop cultural understandings; they can also to get to know each other personally. Results of research students indicate that high-risk students who participate in authentic, challenging literacy activities like writing to key pals make significant gains as measured by standardized tests. Theory and research indicate that active engagement plays a critical role in student learning--without such engagement, cognitive learning does not occur rapidly, if at all.
|Keywords:||Elementary Students, Authentic Writing, Pen Pals, E-pals, Global Village, Expand Audiences for Children’s Writing, Increase Students’ Engagement in Writing|
Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Leadership, Northwest Missouri State University, Maryville, Missouri, USA
Asssistant Professor, Curriculum and Instruction, Northwest Missouri State University, Maryville, Missouri, USA
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