Recently, my cousin, a fellow-teacher who lives in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, suggested that our two classes should be pen pals. I was interested but I have to admit that I was thinking just being “pen pals” might be kind of lame with all of the awesome technology that is available. In fact, Ruth Ayers was just at my school talking about Tweeting with classes across the world, Skyping with authors, Blogging, etc. But we got the ball rolling anyway.
The day came when my class received our very first letter from Oklahoma. I kept the students waiting until Writer’s Workshop time to actually open and read the letter to everyone. I have to say, the anticipation built up was palpable. But that is what I want---kids that can’t wait for writing time. As I expected, they were thrilled to hear from our new pen pals.. Mrs. H actually emailed us a picture of her class too. As a class, we wrote a huge letter on chart paper to reply to our new pen pals. Then each student found out e name of the student who would be their pen pal. My students were literally cheering and jumping up and down. Students put pencil to paper and began writing their letters----- Introducing themselves, asking questions, telling about our class. Yes, Yes, Yes, This is exactly what we need to be doing. These kids are eager writers. Each one of them has a purpose.
Yes, Tweeting would be innovative. Skyping would be interactive but writing a good ‘ol pen pal letter is great too. We thrive on the anticipation that builds up waiting for each reply. There is a personal connection that each writer is making with another writer from a far. These qualities help us build a foundation and form relationships with this class in Oklahoma. Mrs. H and I are eager to introduce some technology as we progress. In fact, we already couldn’t resist texting pictures of the snow outside our classroom windows. But for now, I am pleased with the pen pal’s purpose.