ePals - Collaborating Together

Global Collaborator
children collaborating across the globe


Fourth grade is a perfect time for students to have an ePal! Students will be assigned a project to work on with a student from another town, state or country, practice their writing and language skills and work on problem solving skills. 

The ePals Global Community site is a safe place for teachers and students to work on projects together with groups around the world. A division of Cricket Media, ePals safely connects millions of students and teachers across 200 countries to reinforce culture, language, and subject-based learning.

This activity will be ongoing with the students working and collaborating together on a project. 

Students will:

  • Be able to connect with a student from another town, state or country.
  • Be able to work collaboratively on a project with another student. 
  • Be able to practice language skills if applicable. 
  • Be able to practice writing skills. 

Vocabulary Words:

  1. ePal: An ePal is an electronic pen pal. 

To prepare for this lesson:

  • Decide on a collaborative project that your students will work on with a classroom in another town, state, or country.
  • Check out the official ePal Global Community site.
  • Register and create an account. All of the communication will take place through the site so it is a safe exchange between classrooms. For information on how to use the Global Community, use this handy FAQ. There is information on how to search for an exchange, how to add students, how to moderate the class exchange, etc, 
  • Do a search to see if anyone is working on a similar project. If there are, connect with them and see if it is a fit. 
    • You can do a cultural, language or subject-based exchanges, 
  • If no one is doing the project you want your students to work on, you can create a pen pal exchange or experience yourself. 
    • Pen Pal Exchange - This is an opportunity for students to communicate privately with students in one or more other classrooms.

      Teacher moderation ensures a safe exchange. 

    • Experience - These are online project spaces, where students and teachers in one or more classrooms can collaborate on projects using Discussion Boards and other messaging tools. It is optional for teachers to moderate all messages among students.

  • Some of the experiences are: creating biomimicry robots, fighting poverty and developing a plan to help those in need, exchanging favorite recipes, solving real-world problems and creating games to play with each other. 
  • Once you have decided on the project, your students will need to know how to interact with the other group.
    • Have your students create an introductory video or text introducing themselves and your school. 
    • Explain to your students about writing style and what is appropriate to share with other students. Even though the site is safe itself and can be moderated, students should still be taught what is appropriate to share with others. Personal information should be limited to what is going on in the classroom and the project the students are working on. 
    • View the video on Email Etiquette For Elementary Students

See the Accommodations Page and Charts on the 21things4students website in the Teacher Resources. 

Directions for this activity:

  1. The teacher will decide on the focus of the project. For example, do you just want your students to practice their writing skills and have an ePal to correspond with? Do you have a project that your students can work collaboratively on with students globally?

  2. The teacher will create an account with the ePals Global Community and connect with another classroom. 

  3. The teacher will add students to the exchange. 

  4. The teacher will have the students create an introductory video or text to share with the other classroom. It should be a short one-three-minute video introducing the class, the area the students live in, things that are popular in the area, etc. 

  5. The teacher will talk about online and writing etiquette with the students. 

  6. The teacher will share the video Email Etiquette For Elementary Students with the students

  7. The classrooms will begin working together on the project, 

Different options for assessing the students:

  • Observations
  • Check for understanding
  • The teacher can create a rubric for the project that covers things like:
    • Writing skills (correct spelling and grammar)
    • Collaboration 
    • Problem-solving skills
    • Project steps
    • Project completion

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

Email Etiquette For Elementary Students Video 

ePals FAQ

ePals Global Community

  • Practice writing skills with others by collaborating on a project. 

  • Students can read a book and have a discussion about it with others in the discussion boards. 

Students can learn about the art, music, and cultural events in another location. 

Students can be assigned a math problem and the students can solve it together. 

Students can work on so many different science related activities from measuring the temperatures and precipitation of their area, learning about the animals of that region to doing science experiments together. 

  • Students can learn about historic events that took place and discuss them with each other. 

  • Students can learn about each other's regions. 

This task card was created by Melissa White, 21Things Project Manager, REMC Association of Michigan, February 2018. Updated February 2024.