PenPal Schools Project

Global Collaborator and Digital Citizen


PenPal Schools connects students from 144 countries to learn together through collaborative online projects. Once you log in and select a topic and grade level, PenPal Schools connects each student with a group of PenPals from multiple classrooms around the world, so that students can collaborate with newfound international friends. The possibilities are endless!!!

This will be a project-based activity that will take multiple weeks. 

Students will:

  • Be able to research a topic and learn about it.
  • Be able to collaborate with another international student who is working on the same project.
  • Know the rules of digital citizenship.

Vocabulary Words:

  1. Collaboration: Collaboration is the action of working with someone to produce or create something.

  2. International: International is relations between existing, occurring, or carried on between two or more nations.

  3. Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. 

  4. Digital Citizenship: Digital Citizenship is the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use. 

Note: Each lesson may have its own vocabulary to add. 

To prepare for this lesson:

  •  KEEP IN MIND THAT THIS IS PROJECT-BASED.  What you will be part of will be around 30 minutes once a week until the project is complete, usually about a month. 

  • Watch the video intro to Pen Pal schools.

  • Register for an account. (The first five teachers from a school can register for free) 

  • Choose a topic. Each project comes with lesson plans including articles and videos to share with students.  
  • To avoid any issues, familiarize yourself with the content. Go over plans and videos, etc. Each project is different, so you may need to teach some skills required first before you dive into the project.
  • Set aside time each week for students to collaborate with their penpal. The timetable  is 30 Minutes Per Week for PenPal Time
  • Talk about cultural differences and empathy.
  • Play around with the teacher dashboard that enables teachers to view student work, provide feedback and tailor assessment.
  • Deeper information can be found at

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

Directions for this activity:

  1. Previous to the activity, have some conversation about digital citizenship and what that means. Talk about empathy and how to be respectful of people from different places.

  2. Have students go to

  3. Have the students click students.

  4. Have students create a username and password.

  5. It will prompt them to enter first name, last initial, year they were born. Students  may also provide a profile pic.

  6. Penpal schools will them prompt students to enter your classroom code (case sensitive) 

  7. You will have students select your activity. It will walk them through the activity. 

Different options for assessing the students:

  • Observations
  • Check for understanding
  • Once your students enroll you'll be able to grade their work across a variety of reading, writing, technology, and social-emotional skills.

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.

Digital Citizen
2b. Students engage in positive, safe, legal and ethical behavior when using technology, including social interactions online or when using networked devices.
2c. Students demonstrate an understanding of and respect for the rights and obligations of using and sharing intellectual property.

Device: PC, Chromebook, Mac, iPad

Browser: Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge, ALL

App, Extension, or Add-on:

Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

Introduction to PenPal Schools

PenPal Schools


  • Students can choose a book to discuss with other students. 
  • Students can write a story together. 

Students can work on an art project or music project together. 

  • Students can compare and contrast flowers and other vegetations from their area. 
  • Students can compare and contrast the weather. 
  • Students can compare and contrast the animals in their region. 

Students can compare and contrast their neighborhoods and regions they live in. 

This task card was created by Courtney Conley, Utica Community Schools, July 2019. Updated March 2022.