Students in Lisa Piper's class at Wilson Elementary School recently received letters from their pen pals in Bloemfontein, South Africa. This is the beginning of a relationship that, for some students, continues into the summer and even includes some face-to-face conversation via Skype.
The students are strengthening more than their writing skills through the pen pal project. They also learn about geography and get an inside view into another culture. The African students write about their class subjects, sports, their home life, hobbies, pets and family members. The Wilson students especially enjoy hearing about the wild animal experiences their pen pals have had. Mrs. Piper has also taught in third world schools in South Africa and her class discusses how first world and third world live and go to school together.
Using Google Earth on the classroom SMART Board, the students were able to see what it looks like in Bloemfontein and even located the homes of their South African pen pals. They also utilize other technology tools to take photos of themselves to send to their new friends.
Mrs. Piper spent the summer of 1996 teaching at Grey College Elementary School in Bloemfontein and her students have exchanged letters with the fifth grade students in South Africa every year since then. On three different occasions, South African teachers have visited her classroom. On the most recent visit, one of visiting teachers brought her family and her daughter spent a few days in a second grade class at Wilson School.
The students are pictured here holding letters from their South African pen pals.
Using the SMART Board, Jessica, Miakayla, Bailey, and Riley are pointing to the location of Bloemfontein on the map of South Africa.
Using "Google Earth" Michael, Ezekiel, Karl and Nicholas are pointing to the location of the home of one of their South African pen pals on the SMART Board.
Nathan, Jack, and Dru proudly show off their pen pal letters.
(photos posted with parent permission)