Frequently Asked Questions
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What grade levels can participate?
For now, American Pals is pairing classes at the middle and high school levels (grades 6 - 12). Interested in having your younger grade participate? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
How are classes paired up?
We take into account the following factors when pairing classes and strive to match classes from different environments: urban /rural, coastal/inland, public/private, "red"/"blue" state.
Will each of my students get a pen pal?
We make every effort to pair classes with the same number of students. In instances where this is not possible, students have the option to be paired with more than one pen pal.
What should students write about in their letters?
The content of the letters is up to you and your partner teacher (and, of course, the students). The goal of these exchanges is to have students learn firsthand about the life, experiences, and perspectives of people in parts of the country different from their own. Usually the first letters are introductory, with students sharing and asking each other about hobbies, school culture, their hometown and community life. Subsequent letters might address certain topics or questions suggested by students and agreed upon by partner teachers. Suggested topics are provided on the Resources page and partner teachers can opt to use these as prompts for students' letters or develop their own.
Should I read students’ letters before sending them to my partner teacher?
Yes. Teachers should review letters to make sure content and tone are appropriate and respectful.
How often should I communicate with my partner teacher?
This will vary and is up to you and your partner teacher. Getting on the same page as your partner teacher about common goals for the pen pal project is very important. Communicating by phone, email, or video chat before students start writing their letters is essential and will help ensure that the exchanges are meaningful and fun.
Where should I send my students' letters?
Teachers should collect letters written by their students and mail them directly to their partner teacher at his/her school address.
Can students mail letters directly to their pen pals?
No. In order to protect the privacy of all students, home mailing addresses/email addresses/social media handles should not be shared. Letters should be bundled together and sent teacher-to-teacher.
Why are letters handwritten? Is it ok if students type and print out their letters instead?
While hand-written letters are preferred, it’s up to you whether you allow your students to type up and print out their letters.
Can students exchange personal contact information (email addresses, mailing address, social media handles,...etc) after the program?
We want students to be excited about staying in touch with their pen pals! You and your partner can decide what contact information is appropriate for students to share at the end of the year.