You may have seen my random notes popping up on Insa, Facebook, and my blog thought the past weeks and thought, "What is she rambling on about?" I don't blame you as I have been a bit vague. I promise to take a moment and fully explain. And, whatever I leave out or fail to cover . . . come after me and ask. No question is too small or silly.
I started hosting this fun event back in 2013. Why do you ask? Well, I wanted to start up pen pals in my own classroom for years. Not only is it the most authentic friendly letter practice a teacher could ask for, but it open the door to SO many different content areas. I had one BIG problem though. I didn't know where to begin and finding a partner seemed so daunting. All this changed in the summer of 2013! A friend approached me about pairing up our classrooms. (Um . . . chalk one up to the stars aligning.) Once I had the match, everything else seemed easy. Oh, and my kids always L-O-V-E-D hearing from our East Coast pen pals. After experiencing such good fortune, I just had to pay it forward. Thus, the Pair Up was born.
Now that you have a better picture of the history of this program and what I am offering up, you can make the choice to keep reading or bail on me now. However, if you are ready to take the plunge and become a COMMITTED pen pal for the upcoming school year, simply click on the Pair Up link below and fill out my Google Doc form ASAP. I guarantee matches for the first 500 to get on my list. However, I am shooting for 800+ matches this year. I wish I could take on everyone who wanted in, but the process of matching is done by hand. Don't get me wrong here. I am happy to take this on, but know that it takes HOURS and HOURS to complete this task.
Once the submission period closes (when I hit that magic number), I will work hard to provide you with the best possible pen pal match. It takes me a few weeks to go through the LONG list and then send all of those initial Meet Your Partner emails. Yes, I will contact you directly with your pen pal's info as soon as I get a grade level completed. Check back on the blog and/or social media to get progress updates. I will note when each group is slated to be completed and when the task is officially crossed off of the list.
ONE DISCLAIMER before I hit you with the link to the form. Unfortunately, I cannot guarantee that the teacher I match you with is going to follow through ((SIGH)). If I had to guess, about 5-10% of the matches end up imploding due to lack of interest when it comes down to actually connecting after my email. This makes me sad and frustrated as the "stood up" educator is always so disappointed. I will be crossing my fingers (and toes) that I make a perfect match when I reach your name on the list :)
SORRY > > > Sign Ups are now closed :(
Before I jet, I have had a few questions over the years. Here are a few that come to mind as I am typing. Figured I might as well toss 'em out and save you the step of having to email me.
- How does it work with Kinders? I suggest doing this shared writing style. Write letters as a class on large chart paper and send them this way. You can switch to individual letters later in the year if your babes are up for the challenge. TK seems a little young to me . . . but it's ok
- Which grades do you pair? I mostly pair grades K-5. However, I have paired up some middle school classes in the past. My thought here is sign up. I am not promising anything outside of 5th grade, but I sure as heck will try for you :)
- Do you pair overseas classrooms? Yes. If you want an overseas pen pal, there is a place to note this on the Google Form.
- Do you pair special education classes? Yes. I always get a handful of SPED classes and it usually works out. No promises here either, but these pairing have great odds.
- When will we get our match? I have to match everyone and that takes me at least a couple of 4-5 hour sessions. I will start rolling out the match emails within a week or so and will be done by mid to late-August.
- I have multiple classrooms . . . what do I do? Just note this on the form in the final question. I don't always get all of your classes matched, but I will try my best.
- Do you match duel language classes? Yes. These are tricky though . . . I won't lie here. I have about a 50% success rate on these. However, what does it hurt to toss your name in there? Sign up, note it in the last question and I will see what I can do for you.
- Do I have to do snail mail every time? No, there are lots of different ways you can roll with communicating. The internet, google classroom, and scanners are your friends. Ultimately, it is up to you and your partner how you with to roll this year.
If you are wondering how you will fit in pen pals and manage it all, I will be tossing up a post next week filled with ideas. I also made a Pen Pal Packet for my partner and I to use quite a few years ago. By no means do you need this to pen pal! However, it makes things a tad easier as it contains everything you need to start and maintain a successful long distance classroom connection. It also helps introduce/review the whole friendly letter concept.
|CLICK HERE to check it out :)|
Thanks for your interest my friends. Continue to check this page to see when I shut down the event. I also will occasionally post updates on when to expect your pairing . . . a progress report if you well.
**If you have additional questions about the Pen Pal Pair Up 2016, please feel free to contact me at my special email (email@example.com).
**NOTE: The response these past few years has been OVERWHELMING. I received over 800 entries within a few hours last year. So, if you want in, get in right now!
|Here's a picture of my process.|
It's probably not the most efficient system, but it works for me.
I cut the spreadsheet apart and group by grade and sort by class size.
Numbers that are semi close and in different states get connected :)