Often one thinks of pen pals being across the continent from one another or at least a thousand miles apart. This fall Parkview Elementary School 3rd graders embarked on an interesting writing opportunity when two sisters, who are teachers, decided to connect their students. Parkview Elementary school teacher, Tina Wehner contacted her sister, Molly Campbell, who also teaches third grade at Wanatah Elementary School just down the road. The two teachers recognized an opportunity for their students to develop relevant writing skills through pen pals. Both classrooms committed to writing letters at least one time per month with hopes of motivating their students to not only build relationships but also develop writing skills.
The two classrooms began sending mail back and forth in September. Students immediately shared what it was like to be in their classroom, asked a question about their pen pal and then awaited a response. Within the letters, the third graders wanted to know what their pen pal’s classroom was like. The Parkview Elementary student letters shared how much they enjoyed the beach theme in the classroom, and how they could earn a day sitting at the teacher’s desk. Wanatah Elementary students wrote about their cooking club and their favorite playground games.
In December, the pen pals were finally able to meet. Tina Wehner and Molly Campbell organized a day of shared learning opportunities at Parkview Elementary School. The teachers facilitated a book exchange. Students brought a book to share with their pen pal that they exchanged during a read-aloud game. Learning together with their pen pal was the highlight of the third grader’s day. Since the beginning of the year, both teachers have recognized substantial growth in the area of writing including the desire to write more. They would contribute this to their pen pal experiences and using a creative way to connect children.