Connecting Classrooms

Pen Pal Projects

Connecting Classrooms is a project that is bringing classrooms from diverse locations together to learn about one another through pen pal exchanges and other forms of communication. This project started very simply when a handful of teachers that I have worked with in different countries expressed an interest in having a partner classroom in another country. Teachers Michael Palmer at Pechersk School International in Kiev, Joe Giulietti at the American School of Budapest, John David Hartnick at DeRust Futura Academy in Grabouw, South Africa, Ken Buescher at Stadley Rough in Danbury, CT., and Gael Lynch at Reed School in Newtown, CT., were among the first ones to participate. Joe and Ken maintained a weekly skype conference that lasted through two school years.

The project broadened somewhat in March 2008 when I traveled to a conference in Bucharest, Romania, bringing with me letters from approximately twenty classrooms in the USA. All of these letters were distributed to teachers from new “Bridges” sites including Finland, Romania, Russia, Turkey, Australia, Poland and more. Some of these new connections flourished and resulted in productive relationships, others fizzled out in spite of good intentions. It is our hope that we will continue to develop a highly effective model for facilitating pen pal connections.

In October 2009 I brought more than 1000 letters to Africa from over 50 classrooms in the USA. Many of the letters were successfully delivered. Some were not. One of the mysterious aspects and sometimes frustrating aspects of pen pal ventures is sometimes they work out incredibly well and other times they fail. We will do our best to try to help you when we can but there are no guarantees beyond that.

Shown below are two dedicated volunteers, Mary Jain Dayger and Darlene Humphrey. In the photo they are organizing the directory of teachers who sent letters to Africa in October 2009.

Mary Jain (MJ) will be managing communications with the various partnerships that evolve. We plan to use this web site to report on these classroom connections.


 

How to Get Your Class Involved

If you would like to pursue a pen pal connection with students from a school far away please send an email to mdayger@stny.rr.com letting Mary Jain know that you are interested. We cannot guarantee we’ll be able to arrange a connection for you but we will try. There are web sites that are primarily dedicated to facilitating pen pal connections. Bridges of Peace and Hope is not a “Pen Pal” site. Our mission is to enable diverse groups of students and teachers to work together to promote respect, understanding, and cooperation through collaborative educational projects. Establishing a pen pal connection is one way to start these collaborations.

The link below will bring you to a document that provides guidelines for preparing your class letters to send to prospective partners.

Insert link here to file with direction for preparing pen pal letters