Here's Looking at You!

Keeping Interest High

In order to keep the keypal interest sparked your students will need to discuss ideas and topics that are meaningful to them. Below are a few suggestions though they will be the best ones to brainstorm topics. Be sure to invite them to do so.

In teaching my students over the years I have watched some students struggle to find something to say after they receive a message from their keypal. They are stumped and have no idea how to comment on something their friend has said. One of my students sent back a two line reply to a friend and I cautioned him to write a bit more. His answer to me was, "But he didn't ask me any questions so I don't know what else to write."

This child has little imagination when it comes to striking up a conversation with his keypal. This is something we are working on this year in his writing skills. Knowing what to say does not always come easy to some students. Help your timid student who can't seem to find the words. I keep near our computers a list of sample questions that might spark conversation for shy keypals.

As always, in their keypal exchanges, encourage your students to check their spelling and grammar. They should work toward using descriptive language that will be interesting and fun to read by their keypals on the other end.

What's in a Name?

The students will have fun making an acrostic from their name. Suggest that they try to capture their spirit. Here is a sample for the name - Karen:


Along with their acrostic encourage them to draw a picture of themselves using a simple paint program. Paintbrush in Windows will suffice. Be sure to convert the images to .gif format before sending to keypals.

We are more alike than we are different

As your students are getting to know each other their likes and differences will become obvious. I have found over the 9 years that I have been using the Internet with students that kids all over the world are more alike than they are different. I think you will find the same thing to be true.

Dreams For the Future

The students can begin by sharing their hopes and dreams for the future and how they plan to be a part of a better world. What are the dreams of the students in your class and their keypals? Have them complete sentences such as these and compare answers:

  1. If I were in charge of the world I would_______________________.
  2. If only there were no more ____________________________________.
  3. In the next year I would like to_______________________________.
  4. If only everyone could ________________________________________.
  5. If I had a million dollars I would ____________________________.
  6. I wish someone would invent a _________________________________.

Future Careers

What do they hope to become in their adult life? What career path do they hope to take? As in everything we do with our students we want to encourage them to think beyond the present and look deeper into their ideas.

Have the students create a survey for their keypals and discover what career plans they have in mind. Students on both ends of the exchange will collect the data, organize it, display it so that all in the class can see and make some conclusions about what they see in the data.

  • Do they know about each of the careers named? If a student says that she would like to be an obstetrician or pediatrician would your students know what these words mean? If not, the student who has chosen the career needs to explain it and tell more about it to the class. The student in your class who is writing to the student with the career that is not recognized will need to write and ask for an explanation.
  • Are there common careers among all of the students in both classes? Have the students make categories for the careers such as sports, medicine, service, technology, clerical, etc. What careers seem to be most popular? Why is this so?
  • How long will it take to trained or prepare for these careers? Can the students prepare in the city where they currently live or must they go to a university in another city or country?
  • Will preparation for some careers be more costly than others?
  • What careers do we have now that the grandparents of your students did not have the choice to pursue?
  • Can your students identify careers that are no longer around because of advances in technology?

What kind of music do the students enjoy? They always have fun telling each other about their favorite musical stars. Have the students explore the cost of CD's in other parts of the world. Do the prices vary? Have the students send each other the names and prices of their favorite CD's. Once they have gathered all the data they can organize the data and make graphs. If the prices vary by quite a bit they might want to dig deeper into the reasons for the price variations.


Who are the favorite sports stars of the students in your class and their keypals? Students can discuss the salary that sports heroes make. Are high salaries common around the world for stars in the sports world?


How many of the students in your class and in their partner class get an allowance? Must they earn their allowance or is this money that is given to them each week just because they are part of their family?

If there are students who do not get an allowance, how do they feel about this? Do they think they should get one?

Driver's License

Older students can discuss the age when they are allowed to apply for a driver's license. This is another bit of information the students can chart and graph.

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Patti Weeg
April 17, 2004