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This great International Pen Pal idea helps students combat terrorism in a significant way


Language Arts, Social Studies  


4, 5, 6  

Title – International Pen Pals
By – Nancy Bennett
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Secondary Subjects – Social Studies
Grade Level – Grades 4-6 

The Objectives:
With this lesson plan, students would learn geography, world cultures, and letter writing. Most importantly, they would learn that they can make a difference in the world.

Background Information:
A recent study conducted by two Boston University professors, Drs. Margaret and Melvin DeFleur, had students from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Mexico, China, Argentina and other countries answer questions dealing with American character. 

The survey of foreign teenagers shows “the majority of teenagers viewed Americans as violent, materialistic and greedy, lacking family and religious values.” According to the study, the media’s (movies, television and music) portrayal of America is responsible for the anti-American attitudes abroad. [Quote is from newspaper article and not the above link.]

The Challenge:
I believe teachers and students can help fight this misrepresentation of our country through a pen-pal program. If you could help get the word out to other educators, I would greatly appreciate it.

How to Get Started:
International pen pals can be found at these sites:
[I have no experience with either organization so I urge you to check them out first.]

Materials Needed:
Pens, Pencils, Paper, Envelopes, Stamps, Sign-up Forms from one of the above web sites, Sign-up Fees (see Budget below).

Additional Materials:
World Map and possibly map of country selected, books and informational handouts about country selected.

What to Write:
Each teacher can decide if they want to share the background information above with their students. It is not absolutely necessary but may be beneficial, especially to the older students.

Each student should be encouraged to write about his or her everyday life. In turn, they will learn about everyday life in the pen pal’s country.

Both of the sites above mention a fee. The first one listed charges $3 per student and the second one charges $6 per student. Also, there is the cost of the stamps, envelopes and paper. If the school budget could not stretch to include this, I’m sure that a sponsor could be easily found in the community. I would start with communication businesses.

Letters from younger students can be reviewed for grammar and spelling, and rewritten for clarity before mailing. Students can write essays about what they have learned about the selected country from their pen pal. Older students can also write about each person’s effect on the world.

Thank You:
I feel this is a very important issue and the solution starts with the young people of the world. Thank you for contributing to this effort.

E-Mail Nancy Bennett !

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