We agreed early on that we would uses e-pals because of the protection it provided for the students as well as the resources the service provides - mainly, the list of other schools enrolled in the program as well as the opportunity for students o progress from e-mail to blogging.
We had also decided we would focus on social studies.
After a brief discussion, we selected culture as our central theme. Our decision is founded on the following beliefs.
- Third graders are aware that people are alike and different. However, because many are still so concrete students need to be supported in building their understanding of the causes creating the sameness and the differences.
- This aligns with the standards of learning in Maine.
- This is an essential learning in an ever shrinking globe - one these students will inherit.
Right now, we are thinking we will have students identified by numbers or nicknames.
Teachers will pair them up based on profiles (interests, etc.) provided each student's teacher.
A problem solving format will be established through e-mail at the beginning of the project when students will attempt to build a profile of their pen pal through a process of inquiry. This process will be clarified and expanded as students explore the elements involved in creating a culture - i.e. natural resources.
We are planning to begin the project after February break.
Stay tuned. More to come!