ePals Ideas: The Geography of My Community

Created by: Bedria Hassen

Grade level: 2nd grade

Content area: Social Studies


I think children are always fascinated to learn about the lives of other children their age that live in a different country or continent where there are geographical differences.  The WA State Social Studies Standards indicate that 2nd graders are expected to “understand the physical characteristics of places in the community by being able to describe physical characteristics such as rivers, lakes, mountains, and parks of the community in which they live in” (EALR  3.1.2 Geography). To this effect my 2nd grade students, here in Western Washington will connect with students in 2nd grade in a city located in Kenya and learn about the geography of the communities they each live in.


Introduction: In this activity, students in both classrooms will start by introducing themselves using ePals blog – name, age, city they live in and something about their family (siblings, parents’ main source of income etc.) and anything else they would like to say about themselves. Before the main activity starts, students will have an opportunity to connect via Skype or another technology for a face to face introduction.

  • Students in each classroom will be grouped in threes or fours and will be given a choice to research and describe particular physical characteristics of their communities such as rivers, lakes, valleys, mountains and parks.
  • They will find length measurements for water bodies and depth/height measurements of valleys/mountains. In their research, students will be encouraged to include any interesting information that is known in the community about a particular geographic marker. (For example, Mr. Rainier is the highest mountain in WA State.)
  • They will record their information in a table form using any word processing program or Excel spreadsheet or PowerPoint which will then be uploaded onto ePals’ media gallery. http://en.community.epals.com/epals/support/p/web-tools.aspx#whatIsAMediaGallery
  • Students in either classroom can blog about their ongoing experience so that others can share in their journey. Teachers in both classrooms will check periodically for updated blogs and share with their classes.
  • At the end of a two week period of researching and recording, students will present their findings using their digital files on ePals’ media gallery.  This can be achieved by uploading a summary of their findings on to the gallery.
  • Students will have an opportunity to have a face to face interaction via Skype and share what they learned from the experience. As an ending to this activity, students may use ePals blog to reflect on their shared experience and acknowledge each others’ efforts.

Technology standards addressed:

EALR 1: Integration 

Component 1.2: Collaborate – Use digital media and environments to                              communicate and work collaboratively to support individual learning and                                contribute to the learning of others.

Component 1.3: Investigate and Think – Research, manage and evaluate                    information and solve problems using digital tools and resources.

The above components in this standard were met by having students work in                        groups to investigate and describe geographic features in their communities and                    share their information using ePals and Skype as well as other word processing                      and presentation programs.

EALR 2: Digital Citizenship

               Component 2.2: Practice Safety – Practice safe, legal and ethical behavior in                  the use of information technology.

Component 2.3: Operate Systems – understand technology systems and use               hardware and networks to support learning.

Component 2.4: Select and Use Applications- Use productivity tools and                    common applications effectively and constructively.

The above components in this standard were met by having students access                         computers safely with teacher supervision, record their information using Word or               Excel for the benefit of sharing with others online so that they can learn from each                 other’s community and experience.








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ePals Ideas: Comparing Moon Phases

Name: Kris Baker
Grade Level: 6-8
Content Area: Science

Depending on whether you live in the northern hemisphere or southern hemisphere the Moon can appear different in the evening sky. Exploring this concept would be the perfect opportunity for students to collaborate with each other from different parts of the world. Ideally, a student in the northern hemisphere could share what their Moon looks like with a student in the Southern Hemisphere. This activity could be accomplished by individuals, groups, or as a class. Communication and collaboration can occur through email, ePals, skype™, blogs, forums, or any acceptable social network.

This particular activity will be designed for individual students to collaborate with another student via ePals. Prior to beginning this activity the classroom teacher will identify and contact another teacher from the opposite side of the world. The two teachers will share the month long plan to have their students participate in exchanging information about themselves and the phases of the Moon. Once the plan has been established the students may begin.
1. The first step for this activity would be for students to make an initial contact with each other. This is a good opportunity for the students to get to know one another. Students should be given a list of questions that they could ask about the other student, i.e. name, age, where they live, if they have siblings, what they like to do, what the weather is like, have they visited other countries, the time of day it is in their location, what season they are experiencing, etc.
2. All of the students should begin tracking the phases of the Moon. The students should be given an approximate time of the evening that they should view the Moon, obviously with some variance. The teacher should also observe and record the same information as a backup plan. Each morning the class will share their observations and document the phase on a large (poster) calendar.
3. Students and teachers take pictures of the Moon twice a week, on Monday night and Thursday night. All students should learn how to upload a picture, save them to a file, and attach them to emails. The students who didn’t get to take a picture can use one from another student or the teachers.
4. On Tuesday and Friday the students will email and share their pictures with their ePal. They should also describe the time they observed the Moon, where it was in the sky, and the weather. Sometimes the weather prevents us from seeing the Moon and if that happens, then they can share that information.
5. Each time the students email their friend they should be given a specific question to ask. The question should be related to the Moon or astronomy and could be predetermined by the class or teacher. For example, which direction does the Moon appear to be moving? Where does the Sun or Moon rise?
6. The communication should continue for at least one month for the students to observe a full cycle. At the end of the month there will be a class discussion about their observations and the concepts.
7. The class will make a short video to be sent to the cooperating class. The video will include students saying hello, explaining their findings as well as how the Moon appears different, and thanking them for participating. The video will be uploaded and sent.

This activity addresses the following Educational Technology EALR’s;
1.2 Collaborate: Use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.
This activity includes communication with others via ePals to learn about the phases of the Moon and how it can appear different.

2.1 Practice Safety: Practice safe, legal, and ethical behavior in the use of information and technology.
This activity will include a brief overview of using email and pictures in a safe and ethical manner. Students will also be required to get permission from parents before they can be videotaped and sharing the video with others. They will briefly learn the legal ramifications associated with videotaping.

2.2 Operate Systems: Understand technology systems and use hardware and networks to support learning.
Students will be uploading pictures to the computer and using networks to communicate with others. In this process they will be learning how to operate systems.

2.3 Select and Use Applications: Use productivity tools and common applications effectively and constructively.
Students will be using a number of applications throughout this activity. When students upload their pictures they might want to edit them which would require them to use a photo application. They will also be using ePals, like email, to send messages which also require the use of an application.



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ePal Ideas: Exploring The Weather Down Under

Exploring The Weather Down Under

Created by: Becca M.

ePals Idea: Compare and contrast weather in Sydney, Australia

Grade Level: Kindergarten

Subject: Science



The goal for this activity is for my students to compare and contrast the weather in Sydney, Australia to our weather in Kent, Washington. My students will be doing this with the online platform, ePals, http://www.epals.com/#!/main. Prior to this activity, I will be setting up with another classroom in Sydney, and arranging details. My class and I will be connecting with a classroom from Sydney, Australia. Prior to connecting with our ePals classroom in Sydney, we will be learning about our seasons, and our weather in Kent, Washington. Therefore, my students will have prior knowledge with what happens in fall, winter, spring and summer. They will also have prior knowledge on different weather patterns, such as rainy, snowy, sunny, stormy, etc. In addition, before we start our ePals adventure, I will be reading a book to my students called, “On the Same Day in March” by Marilyn Singer. This book is a wonderful lead in book for this activity. My students will understand that on the same day in March, in some places around the world it may be cold and snowy, and in other places in the world, it may be hot and sunny. By reading the book to my students, I will be doing a process of previewing and understanding what my students know and what they have yet to learn.


1.) My students will connect with a classroom in Sydney, Australia to compare and contrast the weather.

2.) I will place my students in groups; I will have four students per group.

3.) My students will then be connecting with the classroom in Australia by using ePals. With prompting and support, I will be assisting students through the whole activity when needed.

4.) The first task is for my students to explain to the Australian students what season we are in. They will be using prior knowledge to retrieve this information. My students will then have to explain what the weather is like daily and weekly when we chat with our Australian classroom. They will also need to incorporate what degrees it is outside. As a whole class, I will be taking my students outside to look at our thermometer to determine what the temperature is outside.

5.) After each group has collected data, they will then create a document of their choice to explain and describe our weather we are experiencing. They will need to choose a document that allows them to display with pictures and some words. These documents could be, Kidpix, Power point, word document, or even making a video. They will then share their document with our Australian classmates over in Sydney. The same process will then be done with the classroom in Sydney.

6.) Throughout the school year, we will then continue to collaborate with our ePals in Sydney. We will start this process in November and we will continue this process once a week until March.

7.) After the children have discovered and learned about what season Sydney is in, and discovered what the weather is mainly like in Sydney, we will then compare and contrast Sydney weather with our weather here. The students will be able to share with the class the information that was given to them. Each group will have a chance to either share something that is similar or something that is different about Sydney’s weather and our weather.

8.) To deepen my students knowledge, besides sharing with the class a similarity or difference they discovered each week, I will also have each student keep a journal throughout this whole adventure. This journal will be called, “What’s the weather like?” In detail, this journal will consist of the children writing the date at the top of the page. On the left side, it will be labeled “Weather in Kent, Washington” and on the right side, it will be labeled, “Weather in Sydney, Australia.” The students will then draw a picture of what the weather is like in Kent that day and in Sydney that day. By keeping a journal, the students will have a visual representation of the weather similarities and differences.

9.) This process will continue weekly as the children will also be learning something new about the weather and how each season in Sydney is at a completely different time then our seasons.


EALR 1- Component 1.1: Innovate: This standard is met in my activity by my students using a published program to construct their understanding to compare and contrast weather in Sydney.

EALR 1- Component 1.2: Collaborate: This standard is met in this activity by my students collaborating with other students in Sydney, Australia using the technology of ePals to communicate in a friendly manner to understand and express the similarities and differences in seasons and weather. As my students are in groups together they will also learn and get ideas from each other. They will also be sharing their ideas and discoveries with the Australian students.

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What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)?

As an educator you may be asked by students or family members about the “DREAM Act” or “DACA“.  I estimate that about 10-15% of my students were undocumented.  Undocumented students should be aware of what DACA means to them.  Below is some general information on DACA you can share.

deferred action seattle immigration attorneys (1)

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Immigration reform has been a hotly debated political topic for years now. It seemed inevitable just a couple of years ago that immigration reform would happen, granting new alternatives for people living in the U.S. without proper status. Although immigration reform may eventually happen, (see article) the Obama administration has offered short-term relief to certain people who arrived to the U.S. under the age of 16.

This program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), began on August 15, 2012. While it does not offer permanent lawful status, it does grant a two-year work permit. It takes approximately 6 months to receive approval once the DACA application is submitted. Applicants from Mexico, who are approximately 75% of the total applicants as of March 2013, had a 57% approval rate. DACA applications are accepted on a rolling basis and there is no deadline. As of right now, USCIS has not offered specific guidelines on a renewal process.

You may request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals if you:

1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;

2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;

3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;

4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;

5. Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;

6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and

7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Some DACA applications may be straightforward, but some may be more complicated depending on the person’s immigration and criminal history.  Please consider contacting an immigration attorney, NOT a notario.

(source: L.I.H. Law, Seattle WA)


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ePal Ideas: Discovering the World of Ecosystems

Created By: Janet P.
Grade Level: 2nd Grade
Content Area: Life Science – Ecosystems

In second grade, students build on their prior understanding about plants and animals living in habitats by expanding their knowledge to include the concept of ecosystems and the interdependence of plants and animals on each other as well as dependence on nonliving resources to survive. The purpose of this activity is to provide second graders the opportunity to explore ecosystems with a Teach-Share-Learn experience. In this activity, the second graders in my Western Washington classroom will connect with a second grade classroom in Central Australia to exchange knowledge about the ecosystems that are local to where they live. Skype and several of the ePals tools including discussion forums, media galleries, and Wiki pages will facilitate communication and collaboration for this activity. Prior to the start of this project, I will have connected with a second grade teacher in a Central Australian classroom who is willing to participate in this activity via ePals at



1) Second graders in both classes will be organized in learning groups with four students per group.

2) In my classroom, each group will decide on a “group name,” and create an introduction thread in an ePals discussion forum that shares a little bit about who they are, while serving as the initial connection with potential partner groups. From the discussion forum threads, Australian student groups will each choose a group from my classroom to partner with and will respond with an introduction of their own.

3) Student groups from both classes will research and create a presentation (handout, PowerPoint, brochure, etc.) that teaches about a local ecosystem. Photographs are required and video clips or any other resource that cultivates learning in an interesting, relevant way will be strongly encouraged.

4) Groups will share their presentations with their partner groups using the ePals media gallery. Reflections on learning experiences will be posted on the discussion forum by partner groups from both classes.

5) In order to deepen new knowledge, partner groups from both classes will work together to create an ePal Wiki page that compares and contrasts the ecosystems that they shared with each other.

6) While this project may continue over two to three weeks, the final activity will be a “Skype Party” that allows students a face-to-face interaction experience with their new Australian friends.


EARL 1 – Component 1.1 Innovate: Students will meet this standard by researching local ecosystems using online resources and by using a publishing program of their choice to design a presentation that creatively teaches about a local ecosystem.

EARL 1 – Component 1.2 Collaborate: This standard will be met as students communicate with their Australian partner groups through ePals discussion forum and Skype. Students will also meet this standard when they work collaboratively within their own classroom community groups as well as with their Australian partner groups to support their own learning about ecosystems in addition to contributing to the learning of their peers. Work samples representing this standard include the presentation on ePals Media Gallery and the ePals Wiki page created by each group.

EARL 2 – Component 2.1 Practice Safety: Students will practice their skills for safe, legal, and ethical behavior in the use of information and technology throughout this activity. Guidelines will be reviewed frequently and student Internet activity will be monitored.

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ePals Ideas: Star Maps

Created By: Jared Brown

Grade Level: 6th-8th

Content Area: Science/Astronomy

The goal of this project is for students to see that the earth is both rotating on its axis and revolving around the sun. This project should be done through a collaborative platform, like ePals, Skype, or Google Hangout, and with classes that are in different locations; for best results, use locations on opposite sides of the globe. Each person in the class will be corresponding with another student from the other class. Each week the student will make star maps of their night sky, their ePal will do the same on the corresponding night where they live. Part of their responsibility is to collaborate to make sure they do it on the same day and around the same time of night. The aim is to take notes so that it is easy to distinguish which star formations are in the night sky and where they are located in the sky. They will then compare the two pictures and determine what is different about them. They will also learn about each others cultures because different countries may have different names for the same constellation. To overcome this obstacle, they will do a little research on common names for constellations so they know they are comparing the same things. The constellations that show up in both locations, those that are only in one, as well as similar constellations that are located in the same area. After comparing and contrasting, they will then hypothesis why there are differences between the two locations even though they are looking up at the same sky.
This activity meets EALR 1.2 Collaborate because it requires students to work with another student using the technology at hand. Along with comparing the information that they both have to come up with the final answer. The success of the assignment is dependent upon each ePal. This also meets EALR 1.3: Investigate and Think Critically. The students will have to take the knowledge they have of the star maps they have made and try and figure out why it is different. This requires higher level thinking because after comparing and contrasting the two star maps, they have to come up with a hypothesis of why the maps are different. Then in our astronomy lessons we can go to further explain why the maps differ.

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ePals Ideas: Writing a Fictional Story Collaboratively

by Eunbi Kim

Grade: 2nd

Subject: Literacy

Summary: My goals for the activity are for my students to learn how to collaboratively work together with other students and for them to expand their imaginations and creativity.  I will be doing an activity in which my students and the same grade level students in one of the elementary schools in California will be able to write a fictional story collaboratively. In order to work collaboratively with other students, we will be using ePals. As we are doing the activity, we will be using “Facetime” on iPad in order to look at each other and talk to each other. Also, the students will be using Google Doc to type in their sentences so that we can share with the teacher and the students in California as well.

Activity: Students will be asked to brainstorm and type in 1 to 2 sentences in Google Doc for about 10 minutes on the topic of “Friendship.” Afterwards, I will bring them back together and ask them to help me organize the sentences so that the whole story makes sense. I will be also editing spellings and grammar as we organize the sentences together. When we get done with that, students will read each sentence out loud by taking turns and we will share our thoughts and ideas on how the activity went and whether they liked or disliked the activity.

Technology Standard: EALR 1-Integration: Students
collaborate, communicate and generate
ideas; investigate and solve

thinking, construct
develop innovative
technology.                    1.2:
work collaboratively

This activity meets the above technology standards and the components because students are using ePals to create a fictional story with others collaboratively. They also have to brainstorm ideas and be creative in order to come up with their sentences. They also use an iPad and Google Doc to share ideas and improve literacy skills with support from each other.

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ePal Ideas: Community Helpers

Name: Amy Christensen

Level: Preschool/Kindergarten

Grade: Social Studies

    Students will be communicating with another classroom in a different state in the US using the ePals site http://www.epals.com/#!/main.   First, the class will come together and develop questions that they want to ask students in the other class about how they use their community helpers and why they are important to us.  Community helpers can be anyone from nurses, doctors, teachers, police officers, paramedics, firefighters etc.  The purpose is for the two classrooms to collaborate on the importance of these people in our community and to understand how they help us.  This activity will be used to supplement a community helpers unit the class will be working on over several weeks.  

    Each week a different community helper will be highlighted and each class will develop questions to ask the other class on either their own personal experiences with the community helper or how they may be more specifically used in their own community.  As a class, we will develop a video to send with our class discussion every week. Each class will come up with three questions to ask the other class.  Then, students will have opportunities to answer the questions and have a discussion on the importance of doctors, nurses, teachers, firefighters in our communities.



PK-2 Standards

#3  Engage in learning activities with learners from multiple cultures through email and other electronic means.

The class will be communicating with a class in another state, through video and email correspondence.

#4  In a collaborative work group, use a variety of technologies to produce a digital presentation or product in a curriculum area.  

The standard is represented in the class creating a video of themselves asking questions for the other class and then answering the questions the other class asked.


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ePal Idea: PenPal

Created By: Janay Brim

Grades: Kindergarten

Subject:  Language Arts


In an effort to create my students to become strong writers I will provide my students with pen pals. Using http://www.epals.com/#!/main  I will find a teacher of a kindergarten class that is located in the United States. Once a month the students will write a story about an exciting event they want to share with their pen pal, respond to previous letters, or ask questions. In addition the students will include a picture with their text. After the students are finished I will have each student (with assistance) scan their document then I will attach them through email to send to the responding teacher.  The teacher will then do the same in return. When I receive the letters from the other students I will print them and give them to each student. Students will have the opportunity to share with the class what their pen pal has wrote. The teacher and I will arrange specific dates; this will take place monthly and it will be a reoccurring project that will start in the middle to the end of the school year.  Each student will have a file that contains their letters to track their success and share their progress with their parents.

This assignment is built around the common core literacy standard W.K.3. I am encouraging the children to use a combination of drawing and text to communicate an event to their pen pals. Also, students will be practicing their penmanship, reading comprehension, and verbal skills through sharing what their pen pals have wrote. In addition, students will have practice using technology by helping scan the documents in preparation to send the email. The children will be using the equipment in a safe effective manner to support EALRS 2.1 and 2.2. EALR 2.1 states, Practice safe, legal and ethical behavior in the use of information and technology, when the students help me scan their documents they will be practicing safe and ethical behavior with the scanner.  EALR 2.2 expresses students use common applications effectively and constructively, the scanner is a common tool and with routine practice the students will learn how to use the scanner effectively.

Standards Addressed:

Common Core Standard

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.K.3 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to narrate a single event or several loosely linked events, tell about the events in the order in which they occurred, and provide a reaction to what happened.

2.1: Practice Safety: 
Practice safe, legal and ethical behavior in the use of information and technology.

2.3: Select and Use Applications: Use productivity tools and common applications effectively and constructively.

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ePals Ideas: Weather Around The Globe

Created by: Bridgett Kawachi

Grade: 2nd Grade

Subject: Science


To integrate technology in the classroom and offer a cultural spin on science education, I will be asking classrooms around the globe to connect. Throughout the year students will connect with at least two other classrooms outside of our country, who do not share our weather pattern. Students will be asked to reflect daily/weekly on weather patterns in their own environments and larger weather events around the globe. As a class we will discuss our weather observations and any other information they have collected throughout the day/week. Each class around the globe will be required to submit their findings in a google drive document that will be shared.

As a class they will need to review and discuss the similarities and differences in the weather patterns seen in the classrooms they are collaborating with. Once every class has submitted an entry and reviewed the observations, a google hangout appointment will be set. By using google hangout, multiple classes will be able to connect around the globe and students will be able to make visual connections. The students will be able to see other learning environments and weather conditions. During each google hangout students will be able to ask each other questions regarding weather patterns, impacts in their society caused by weather, etc. Students will be able to see that weather patterns not only change from day to day and season to season, but they change due to location as well. As our students may be in the rain every day there is probably a class out there that is in the sun every day. I want my students to know that weather is a global matter and impacts society.

WA Standards:

2.2: Operate Systems: Understand technology systems and use hardware and networks to support learning.

- Students will need to be able to use the computer to document weather patterns and must have a clear understanding to do so.

2.3: Select and Use Applications: Use productivity tools and common applications effectively and constructively.

- We will be using google hangout and google drive to effectively communicate with classrooms around the globe.

1.2: Collaborate: Use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.

- We will be using google hangout to effectively communicate with classrooms around the globe.

2-3 ES2C Weather changes from day to day and over the seasons. Weather can be described by measurable quantities, such as temperature and precipitation.

- Students will be able to see the changes in weather not only in their own environment but in others around the globe. Students will also see that seasons are not all the same around the globe.

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