Pen Pals for the Future Ready Classroom - Mrs. B's First Grade

Pen Pals for the Future Ready Classroom

Do you remember having a pen pal in elementary school? I am sure that your class connected with another and you wrote letters back and forth. The time in between the letters was most likely weeks or even months. If you were lucky and your pen pals were in the area, you might get to meet them at an end of the year field trip.

Do teachers still do that? Yes. Is it still relevant? Sure! Can we do better? Of course!

If you are a frequent reader of my blog you know how much I treasure the connections both myself and my class make via Twitter. In April I tweeted about our chick eggs arriving. My friend Michelle saw the tweet and responded that they were receiving their butterfly larvae soon. We both thought that our classes could teach each other about the different life cycles. Then, I sent her this amazing post from the amazing Tim Kaegi and we decided to take our spin with it!

We started our adventure by have our classes Skype call each other. During the call both classes shared what they had learned so far about the different life cycles and what stage each of our animals currently were in.
Our next step was to set up the Google Doc and assign pen pals. We decided it would be best and easiest to just make one large document with the same table repeated over and over. This way we could email the one document out to all of the students and not have to create and send separate ones to the different pen pals.

We planned a time to both be on the Doc together so that our students could write with each other. Michelle and I went through and put each of our students names in the doc to "assign" pen pals. When we got on the Doc in class my students just scrolled down and found their name. Then, they waited for their pen pal to start talking. We had an "About Me" section so that the kids could get to know their pen pal. Some of the students spent their entire time writing on the "About Me" section, others moved on to "About the Chicks" and "About the Butterflies."
I was a little worried about my students using their iPads and thought about checking out our MacBook cart. However, I found that the iPads actually made the experience easier. With features like autocorrect and the pop up words above the keyboard, my students were easily able to write their thoughts.

We connected again a second time and the students wrote more about what they had learned about the different life cycles. I found that this time my students remembered their pen pals name and anxiously waited for them to start typing. We had the students write in a different font color so we could tell the difference from the first and second time. My room was silent. They were all so engaged with the conversation they were having over Google Docs!
To end our learning, we Skyped one more time so that the students could meet their pen pal face to face. We called them up one by one and they answered a quick question. It was the perfect ending!

Last but not least, check out our Kid Cam video from one of my friends wearing our GoPro during our Skype call!
Life Cycle Skype from Sarah Barnett on Vimeo.
This project taught me that possibilities are endless. I have so many thoughts and ideas in my head for next year to take it even further. Stay tuned!


  1. I wish our classes could do this next year! I love it! Great job! 😊

    1. We totally can!! Lets just keep in the loop with what each of us are doing and I am sure there is a topic we can connect on!!
      Thanks for the comment!
      Sarah : )


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