Email Exchange--An ePals Project

In this project, students will engage in an ePals email exchange, practicing the skills of collaboration and communication while building friendships and learning about the daily lives and cultures of others around the world.


Subjects: Writing



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Result

 

In this project, students will engage in an ePals email exchange, practicing the skills of collaboration and communication while building friendships and learning about the daily lives and cultures of others around the world.

Objectives

1. Students will compose well-written emails to their ePals.
2. Students will practice the conventions of standard English when writing their emails. For some writers, this will be authentic practice in their second (target) language.
3. Students will practice the important 21st century skills of collaboration, communication and critical thinking.
4. Students will work collaboratively to create a final digital presentation that represents their learning from the project.
5. Students will build a relationship via email with a student in another region of the world.



Standards


 

Standards: Common Core Standards

 


Production and Distribution of Writing
4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
5. Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach. 
6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others. 

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas 
4. Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
5. Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
6. Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

 


Conventions of Standard English 
1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of Standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
2. Demonstrate command of the conventions of Standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

Culminating Activity:  Students will work in small groups to create a final digital presentation to reflect their learning throughout the project.  The topics that you have negotiated with your collaborating teacher for the email exchange will dictate the topics of the presentation.  For example, if the main topic of the exchange revolved around culture and environment, one possible example of a final project might be a PowerPoint presentation about themselves and their ePals’ similarities, differences and unique characteristics.  If you negotiated an email exchange that revolved mostly around traditional foods and recipes, the culminating project might be short videos where students demonstrate cooking a traditional recipe or a glog that includes pictures, recipes and food reviews.  Watch this PowerPoint tutorial on How to Turn an Email Exchange Into Digital Content for additional ideas.

 

Instructional Plan:
1. Create your student email accounts if you don’t already have them.  For more information on how to do that, see the tutorial in the Media Gallery.
2. Exchange student email addresses with your collaborating teacher partner(s) using your teacher ePals email account.  Creating and exchanging excel files with student names, email addresses and a few other bits of information about each student like gender, general interests, etc., can help collaborating teachers make suitable student ePals matches.
3. Establish a time frame for the overall project and for how often the actual emails will be exchanged.  (Ex. This project will last 6 weeks and students will exchange emails once a week.)
4. Establish the topics of the emails and exchange that information with all of the collaborating teachers prior to the start of the project.  Here are a few ideas:

• Students share information about themselves, their school, and their town.
• Students share information about traditional foods, the role food plays in their culture and celebrations, exchange recipes, and write food reviews.
• Students share information about playground games, sports and leisure activities.
• Students exchange information about the environment, habitat and weather.
• Students represent the view outside their window in a drawing, painting or photograph that they can attach to their email.  They write about the view from their window in English using descriptive language to compare and contrast it with their ePals’ view.
• Students read news articles about topics related to where their ePal is located and exchange questions and information to get a local/personal perspective on the issue.

5. As a whole classroom group, discuss what makes a good email and what makes a good ePal.  Generate a guiding list of characteristics for both a good email and a good ePal and keep it posted in the classroom throughout the project for reference.
6. As your students prepare to write their first email, create a resource center of information about their ePals’ locations, either digitally or in your classroom. Include informational texts, fiction stories relating to the country, photos depicting the region/country and lists of websites that will help your students learn more about their ePals’ region/country and their day-to-day lives.
7. Review the guidelines of a good email and then have students write their first email introducing themselves, sharing a few things that they want their ePal to know about them, asking several questions of their ePal and then closing in a friendly way.
8. Proceed with the email exchange according to the agreed upon schedule and topics of discussion.


An Alternate Activity Idea: Use email writing skills to write three friendly messages and conduct interviews to gain understanding and information about the interests and activities of three other children of the same age in different locations. Compare the interview questions to discover similarities and differences.

Steps:
1. Support email skills by guiding children to write a friendly email to a student in class. Include an interview in the email with five questions formulated to help get to know the other child better. Send and exchange emails.
2. Students write similar email messages and interview questions to two other children selected from classes the teacher chooses for the project from ePals.
3. Students create a chart of answers from their classmates and global ePal replies.
4. Children gather in groups of three or four to compare their charts and discuss their email exchange experience.
Teacher Tip: Model how to write open-ended interview questions to gain the most information. Explain questions that require more than a one-word answer help them discover more about their ePal.



Culminating Activity: Students will work in small groups to create a final digital presentation to reflect their learning throughout the project.  The topics that you have negotiated with your collaborating teacher for the email exchange will dictate the topics of the presentation.  For example, if the main topic of the exchange revolved around culture and environment, one possible example of a final project might be a PowerPoint presentation about themselves and their ePals’ similarities, differences and unique characteristics.  If you negotiated an email exchange that revolved mostly around traditional foods and recipes, the culminating project might be short videos where students demonstrate cooking a traditional recipe or a glog that includes pictures, recipes and food reviews.  Watch this PowerPoint tutorial on How to Turn an Email Exchange Into Digital Content for additional ideas.

 
Assessment and Reflection:
• Formative Assessment (during the email exchange) – Teachers can review incoming and outgoing student emails and conference individually with students on areas of needed improvement.
• Summative Assessment (at the end of the project) – Teachers can evaluate the digital presentation using a rubric.
• Reflection – Reflection on the project can be done in a number of ways:  As a student journal or Learning Log entry, as a survey, as a whole class discussion or even as a final reflective email to students’ ePal when the digital presentations are exchanged.  Below are some questions that you may want students to consider when doing the final reflection on the project:
1. What was the most important thing you learned in this project/email exchange?
2. What do you wish you had spent more time on?  Where do you think you did your best work?
3. What was the most enjoyable part of this project?  What was the least enjoyable part?
4. What would you like to do differently next time?

The timeline for an email exchange varies and is determined by the participating teachers.

Project Leader:

Country:
Subjects: Writing

# of Students: 21-30
Age Range: 8-10
Collaboration: Email Exchange, Skype / Video Chat
Languages: English

About my classroom: BF Yancey is a small, rural elementary school of approximately 150 students in grades pre-Kindergarten through Fifth, located in central Virginia, USA. We are interested in communicating with other students from as many countries as possible regarding your school lunch experience. Do students eat in a cafeteria or common space? What foods are eaten for lunch at school where you live? Is the lunchtime meal prepared by the school or do students bring their own food from home? Are the meals sourced from local farmers and providers? What are the components of your favorite school lunch? We are especially interested in collecting photos of school lunches from around the world! Currently, we prefer to correspond by email and Skype, and to write at least 2x per month. We look forward to meeting you and learning about the food culture of your area.