Grade 3

PenPal Schools

Global Collaborator
Figure carrying red envelope


PenPal Schools is a global learning community where teachers can foster global awareness and understanding of a variety of cultures. Students are able to practice reading and writing skills, learn more about digital literacy, and gain social and emotional learning skills. 

PenPal Schools connects students from over 144 countries to learn together through collaborative online projects! The website is a safe environment that only registered students and teachers can take part in. 

Up to five teachers per school can use this website free!

Students will:

  • Be able to connect globally to learn and share perspectives through collaborative projects.
  • Understand different perspectives from students in other cities, states or countries. 

Vocabulary Words:

  1. Collaborate:  To collaborate is working together as a team. 

  2. Global: Global is relating to the whole world.

To prepare for this lesson:

  • Teachers should go to PenPal Schools and join the community.

  • Teachers should explore the projects and choose one that fits best for the curriculum they are looking to enhance. They should choose the type, length, how much time they want to commit and subject area.

  • Teachers will need to provide their administrators contact information to prove that they are an educator.

  • Then, teachers will invite their students to join their class using the class code provided.

  • Finally, teachers should preview the get started lesson and select the ability level that's best for their students. Teachers should also assess student's work to help them get matched with the best PenPals.

  • Check out the FAQs

See Accommodations Page and Charts on the site in the Teacher Resources. 

Directions for this activity:

  1. Invite your students to go to PenPal Schools and provide them with the class code to get started. Students will complete a profile and they will have an intro lesson on how to be a great penpal.

  2. Each week after the getting started lesson:​

    • Students must log in to the PenPal site each week during the project.

    • Once logged in, students complete weekly lessons.

    • Lessons consist of watching a video, reading a text and answering a discussion question.

    • Sometimes students work on collaborative projects with their PenPals and share links.

    • Lessons take about 30-45 minutes to complete and can be done at any time during the week.

    • Student answers are sent to their PenPals via the online PenPal messenger located right next to each week's lesson.

    • PenPals then respond with their own ideas and perspectives.

Different options for assessing the students:

  • Observations
  • Check for understanding
  • With the teacher dashboard  teachers can read every message that is sent and received and provide feedback.  
  • There are also built-in assessments to help improve reading and writing, digital literacy and social-emotional abilities.  

MITECS: Michigan adopted the "ISTE Standards for Students" called MITECS (Michigan Integrated Technology Competencies for Students) in 2018.

Global Collaborator
7a. Students use digital tools to connect with learners from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, engaging with them in ways that broaden mutual understanding and learning.
7b. Students use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints.
7c. Students contribute constructively to project teams, assuming various roles and responsibilities to work effectively toward a common goal.
7d. Students explore local and global issues and use collaborative technologies to work with others to investigate solutions.

Device: PC, Chromebook, Mac, iPad

Browser: Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge, ALL

PenPal Schools

PenPal Schools FAQ


Each content area can be found in the projects.

Each content area can be found in the projects.

Each content area can be found in the projects.

Each content area can be found in the projects.

This task card was created by Jacki Zawierucha, Utica Community Schools, February 2018.