Electronic Pal (E-pal) Topics
E-Pal topic: Introduction
students introduce themselves in a creative way. For example,
they can create a song, a jingle, a poem, or a limerick. The focus
of this activity is the creative aspect. We do not want the students
to feel uncomfortable sharing personal information.
Hook-Up topic: Introduction
Explain telecollaboration to your students. For your own background
information visit Judi Harris’ “Virtual Architecture”:
Research the history of computer communication.
Test videoconference equipment
Have students answer what they remember about social studies when
they were in elementary school.
E-pal topic: Autobiography
the students discuss 3 major/important events in their lives.
Include the respective dates.
Have students research and discuss 3 main events that occurred
the year they were born. (Think on the following levels: local,
state, national, and global.)
Hook-Up topic: Autobiography
the students bring in an item that represents a part of their
lives. They should be prepared to describe, contextualize, and
summarize their personal relics.
E-pal topic: Family History
are some possible topics for the students to discuss with their
Family Traditions: Define what family means to you? Did your family
have any special traditions, such as things that they did on holidays
or birthdays? What about family heirlooms? Is there anything that
has been handed down from generation to generation?
Hometown: What was the name of the town where you grew up? Was
it a big city or a small town? Were there any special activities
or festivals at different times of the year?
Previous Generations: Did you know your grandparents or great-grandparents?
What stories can you tell about them and their lives?
(Teacher caution: Consider your students’ backgrounds if
you choose these
Hook-Up topic: Family History
one of the following for your October hook-up:
Have each student bring a photo of a family member. Have students
write a personal narrative from the perspective of the person
in the photo.
Design an extension lesson on the term “family.” Research
the history of the word family. Have the students create a timeline
of how families have changed. Consider using television situation
comedy clips to introduce media influence.
E-pal topic: Local History
students discuss physical features/landmarks of their towns/cities.
Students should share the absolute and relative location of their
Discuss favorite restaurants, places to hang out, entertainment
Hook-Up topic: Local History
up the students in your own classroom. Give digital camera access
to each set of partners. Have the pair go on a scavenger hunt
for evidence of one of the core democratic values. Students can
share their findings during the hook-up through Power Point, a
Web Quest creation, or a document camera.
Consider having an election discussion. Compare and contrast the
candidates and their corresponding platforms as well as other
related election issues.
E-pal topic: State History
(This month’s topic works well if e-pals are in two different
MR.HELP (Movement, Region, Human Environment interaction, Location/Place)
Have students discuss some of the following topics with their
Why did people move to your state?
Why is your capital the capital?
What are the regions?
What is the climate?
What are the main industries and occupations?
What are some notable/historical sites?
Hook-Up topic: State History
(This month’s topic works well if e-pals are in two different
in groups prior to the hook-up date.
Have each group work on one of the MR.HELP topics. Each letter
represents one of the five themes of geography. Groups will present
during the telecollaboration.
E-pal topic: Local or State Article Discussion
your students locate two articles from a local or state newspaper.
Students should read the articles independently and discuss one
of the articles with their e-pals. Have the students write a short
reflective summary to their e-pals. Some possible guiding questions
can include: Why is the topic important? How will it affect you
as a student and/or citizen?
Hook-Up topic: Local or State Article Discussion
students create a television network with classmates. Create a
station name. Divide the students into anchor groups--for example,
the Social Studies Network, or SSN, could include Economic Experts,
a History Hotline, and Geography Gurus. Share prepared news stories
of local/state interest with your telecollaborative partner class.
E-pal topic: GRIPE session
your students brainstorm a local, state, or national problem that
concerns them. Provide the following prompts: Tell your e-pal
about the concern. Why does it bother you? How can you change
it or make a difference? Discuss some suggestions or solutions.
Hook-Up topic: GRIPE session
your students pick a controversial issue (i.e., school uniforms,
year-round school, school violence, dress code). Have a philosopher’s
chair or debate.
E-pal topic: National History Day
your classes are participating in National History Day, have your
students share their projects with their e-pals. Peruse the following
website for information on National History Day: http://www.nationalhistoryday.org/
If your class is not participating in National History Day, have
your students research an obscure facts website related to your
current curriculum topic and have them try to stump their e-pals.
Hook-Up topic: National History Day
you are participating in National History Day, use this hook-up
as practice/feedback for the school/regional/state/national competition.
If you are
not participating in National History Day, play a “Did you
know?” game show with obscure history facts.
E-pal topic: Global Issues Day
all of your students the same article about a global issue (e.g.,
terrorism, arms race, poverty, global warming, pollution, etc.)
After reading the article, have the students discuss the issue
with their e-pals. Brainstorm suggestions and solutions to the
Hook-Up topic: Global Issues Day
your students through a global connections virtual fieldtrip.
(Teachers may have prepared a TRACK-STAR in advance related to
how their hometown is connected to the world. Use http://trackstar.4teachers.org/trackstar/index.jsp)
E-pal topic: Heroes
students choose someone in history whom they view as their heroes.
Ask the following guiding questions: Why did you choose that person?
How has that person affected your life? How has that person affected
history? Is this person famous or infamous? Write/E-mail a dialogue
back and forth between your famous person and your e-pal’s
Hook-Up topic: Heroes in Costume
the students to come to the hook-up dressed as their heroes. Require
them to bring a card with 4-5 facts on it about their heroes.
Have students read their facts aloud and play “Who Am I?”
with your partner class.
E-pal topic: Final Meeting
to arrange for your students to meet face-to-face.
Hook-Up topic: Final Meeting
a face-to-face meeting is not possible, consider conducting a
student-led telecollaborative meeting.
the telecollaborative experience active?
did you learn about social studies?
the telecollaborative experience relevant and meaningful?
what manner can technology enhance the social studies course? Why?
the telecollaborative experience challenging?
what ways is the long distance relationship with the other middle
school a success? And not a success?
the telecollaborative experience value-based?
would you define telecollaboration?
the telecollaborative experience integrative?
you recommend this technology-infused section of social studies
to a friend? Why or why not?