Last week, my class began experiencing a 21st century pen-pal opportunity with a primary grade class from a neighboring district. I’ve encouraged my students to converse with pen pals in previous years; however, this year their pen-pal experience was quite different.
After attending a professional development session this summer regarding 21st Century Skills, I wanted to adapt my pen-pal activities to align with the skills of creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, and communication and collaboration. A great part about today’s educational world is the influx of technology in classrooms that can be used to address these skills. 21st Century learning is not only about using technology, but the learning skills developed while using technology.
This year, our first interaction with our pen-pal class was through Skype. The other classroom teacher and I met previous to this Skype session to set a timeline of events and curriculum alignment. During our Skype session, the class got to see each other, briefly share about our classroom, compare the two classrooms, and learn about the subsequent activities that would follow.
In the following two and a half weeks, each classroom will be reading Flat Stanley: His Original Adventure by Jeff Brown. Students will be working on comprehension activities such as main idea/ details, summarizing and sequencing events. After the completion of the text, the students will create their own “Flat Stanley” adventure in their respective elementary schools.
Students will place in small collaborative groups where they will be responsible for designing a creative adventure for Flat Stanley. Each group will write a script, record their adventure using a classroom Flip Camera, and then insert the video into a class Keynote (power point) presentation. Within each group’s scripts, they will be using concepts such as transitional phrases, telling time concepts, and fluency/expression when recording.
At the end of the two and a half weeks, the two classrooms will exchange presentations. We will view each other’s presentation in order to learn more about the schools and get to know the “adventures” that happened to Flat Stanley. Then, we will Skype again and discuss the presentations. At this time, students can ask questions and offer affirmations related to the presentations.
From the beginning, my students have been extremely excited, interested and motivated by this project. This project encompasses many of the 21st century learning skills that all students should have the opportunity to develop while attending school.