PenPal Schools connects students from around the world to learn together! Students collaborate through online projects ranging from human rights and the environment to fake news and robotics, all while practicing literacy, technology and social-emotional skills. PenPal Schools is so effective in increasing student engagement and learning outcomes that our program has won numerous high-profile awards, was recognized by President Obama, and has grown to half a million students in 150 countries.
As of mid March 2020, the COVID-19 coronavirus has kept almost 300 million students out of school around the world. In response to school closures, PenPal School is offering free access for the duration of the pandemic so that learners everywhere can access high-quality online learning materials while maintaining the social interaction necessary for their continued development.
Our team is working closely with schools in China, Italy, Iran, and other countries that are currently experiencing school closures as a result of the coronavirus. In many of these cases, schools are already closed and teachers are struggling to provide students with learning opportunities now that they are outside of school.
We encourage teachers and that are not yet affected by the coronavirus to be proactive. Make a digital instruction plan long in advance of school or district closures and make sure both students and parents are aware of the plan.
In addition to extending free access to PenPal Schools, we want to encourage teachers and students to participate in a number of specific PenPal topics to support their students in learning about the health issues and current events that are in the news.
The Human Body connects students with PenPals to learn about the human body, its systems, diseases and illnesses, and strategies that people in their community use to stay healthy. Accurate information is one of the most effective ways to help reduce stress and anxiety related to virus fears and we encourage students to learn about this topic virtually with PenPals.
World News connects students to learn about and discuss current events. We invite teachers and their students to add a human element to the news through the discussion of health, government, and economic news with PenPals.
Many schools are facing restrictions on school-sponsored travel. In lieu of traveling to locations in the community, we invite students to join our World Explorer topic. In this topic students will meet peers from across the United States and around the world to learn about and discuss themes like daily life, history, and popular culture.
Schools Around the World is one of the most popular topics on PenPal Schools. In this topic, students are invited to learn about school in different countries and compare and contrast schools around the world with their own.
PenPal Schools for Parents
The PenPal Schools team has also extended free access to parents who would like to use PenPal Schools to connect their children to peers through curriculum-based online instruction while out of school. Parents can download the PenPal Schools mobile application to enroll for free over the next two months.
For more information on how to access the PenPal Schools Resources, check out their website. We thank our community for offering support and resources in this time of need. For more articles, innovations & resources, head to our Educator Toolkit especially designed to support educators & parents during this COVID-19 outbreak.