Thursday, June 23, 2016

It's Back! Postcard Pals Classroom Postcard Exchange 2016-2017

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So continuing with the theme of my last two posts about making the most of the summer by getting in on some unique learning experiences for students before the next school year starts, I'm going to offer one to you myself! 


Postcard Pals is making its triumphant return after a year hiatus with what I hope will be the best exchange yet. I have coordinated Postcard Pals since 2013, and I'm really happy with the results of both exchanges I've done. (Some of the participants must have been happy, too, because they signed up for another year!)  You can read more about past exchanges here

So here's a little description of what has happened in past exchanges:

1. Teachers (public, private, and home school are welcome) sign up, and depending on the number of classes, I divide up classrooms into groups of 20-30 classes. I do this to keep costs low for participating classrooms as opposed to asking them to send 100+ postcards. I also--as best as I can--divide by grade band, usually PK-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. 

Each teacher is then responsible for sending one postcard from his or her class to each of the other classes in his or her group. Postcards include information about the geography, economy, history, and other interesting facts about the state in which the class lives. Signing up commits teachers to sending one postcard to each class on their mailing list. If teachers want to establish a pen pal program beyond the one postcard, they are welcome to do that; however, I don't facilitate that. It would be up to the classes involved to work that out.

2. At the beginning of the year (September, usually), I provide teachers in each group with detailed instructions about what should be included on the postcards along with a mailing list of classrooms in their groups. I give a deadline by which postcards should be sent so that everyone knows by when they should expect to receive their postcards (usually October or November). I ask teachers to indicate that they have sent postcards by updating a Google spreadsheet (very easy to do) with the date that they sent them. I use this spreadsheet to follow up with teachers who have not sent postcards.

3. Let the postcards roll in! I love to receive photos and comments about how the exchange is going, and I encourage participants to stay in touch. Many of the photos I receive show bulletin boards prepared especially for the exchange, which is so fun to see. 


In year one, I had 130 classrooms signed up, and in year two 43. Now, that's a big difference, I know. However, year two actually had a higher success rate of follow through on those who committed to participate so that's a good thing! While this an intermediate blog, I do open this exchange up to K-12 students. I've had all grade levels from across the USA participate--and even a few outside of the country--which is quite exciting. 

For 2016-2017...

Step #1 is determining interest, which is what I'm doing in this post. If you're interested in learning more about this exchange, please complete this Google form. Completing the form in no way locks you into a commitment to join. Once I finalize details, I'll set up another form to officially sign up. Please share this with colleagues and teacher friends! Pin it, tweet it, post it, sky write it with an airplane...just please help me get the word out.

Step #2 is thinking about how to improve Postcard Pals. This year, I'm looking into some different options, including possibly making it a virtual postcard exchange to defray the cost of sending postcards via snail mail. Nothing is set in stone, but it's an idea rattling around in my head. I will also be incorporating feedback from past participants into this and any future exchanges as I know we ran into some issues with people not following through on their commitment to take part.

Click HERE to complete the Google form for more information.

I think that's it for now. Hope to see many of you joining the fun! 

Have you ever done a postcard exchange? Tell us about it in a comment!

3 comments:

  1. I couldn't decide between real postcards or virtual. I've never used virtual ones but I thought it might be easier for students to type rather than write and I could project them on the SMART board. I also like the idea of having actual postcards for students to hold, and to put on a bulletin board. Does anyone have any experience with virtual ones?

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  2. I filled out the form to join the postcard exchange, I've never done one of these before and just wondering when we will get the info and addresses for sending...
    I'm really excited about this fun way to connect my students to other parts of the country!

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Nicole--I'll send the mailing lists sometime early in September. Thanks for joining!

      Kristen

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