In high school I got a pen pal from Holland and was told to correspond with her for a year so I did. She seemed really nice and I think I still have the picture she sent me in a box somewhere. It was a fun project but I can't say as we really connected, we were teenagers who had never met so our letters mostly reported what we had been doing. I don't think we ever ventured into our ideas, opinions, thoughts or feelings, that just felt too awkward. This was in the 80's so we barely had computers and I was still typing my papers up on a typewriter so we were limited to snail mail. Now, don't get me wrong, I love snail mail and receiving an electronic message never quite stirs up my excitement like opening an actual envelope with hand-written addresses on it, but today we have so many more options with how we can communicate with our peers across the world. In addition to exchanging letters, we can actually work on projects together and share ideas.
By asking students to work together with their counterparts in other countries they not only connect with (and hopefully form friendships with) other students, they also develop skills using technology and learn how to share ideas with people of other cultures in order to reach a goal.
A Few Things You Will Need to Do Before You Get Started
**Make sure you can communicate well with the other teacher and be clear about exactly what you have in mind as far as what your students will be doing together, what your goals for the project are, how much time they would need to spend both in and out of the classroom, how many exchanges students would need to make. This might take a bit of time so make sure that both teachers are excited about the project and are on the same page. You might also want to discuss how students will be evaluated on their work and what the consequences would be if students aren't able to work effectively with each other because of things like attendance.
*If you are currently using another platform that will allow you to add anther teacher so your classes can work together, by all means, use that. Just make sure that both teachers know how to use the platform and are comfortable with it before you get started. Help each other out!
Introduction Project Ideas
The Story of My Name
Instead of just asking your students to introduce themselves and say one or two things about themselves, ask them to dive deep and explain their name to the person they will be working with. Have each student choose several of the questions below and make a video. They could just explain it themselves or they could get creative and interview their family members and friends who speak English.
Depending on how old your students are or how proficient they are at commenting, you might want to add some guidelines for how to comment. For example, you must respond to at least 2 specific things that were said in the video and ask one question.
Introduce Your School/City/Country/Region
Divide the class into small groups who share a similar interest like sports, music, food, architecture, or geography. Let your students brainstorm interesting things and then either ask each group to choose an interest or have each person in class choose an interest and put them in groups according to their interests.
If you coordinate topics with the other class, after making the videos, the groups from the two different countries could work together to create a presentation that compares and contrasts the topic in the two different places. Each group could then give the presentation to their classmates. After the presentations, students could come up with a list of things they are curious about, do some research and then discuss those things over video conferencing with students from the other country.
Collaborative Project Ideas
I hope you and your collaborators have a wonderful experience working together and that lasting bonds are created between individuals. Let me know if you used any of the ideas!
Other articles of Interest:
Hi, I'm Kia.
Teaching is my passion, I have been teaching for over 20 years in 4 different continents. One of the things I have learned over the years is that I am never done learning about teaching. Both teaching and learning should be fun and inspiring.
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