Mr. Palma

The students in bilingual class B2-218 were identified as English Language Learners (Ells). Many of these native Spanish speakers struggled with learning how speak, read and write in English. To alleviate the stressors of mastering a second language and provide a more engaging experience students were introduced to the website On this site they were able to practice newly taught language skills with digital penpals across the country and world. Through emailing and blogging Ells were able to share thoughts about their schoolwork, communicate their feelings on certain issues related to immigration and persuade their digital peers with new ideas and perspectives while mastering 21st century skills.

Making Connections:

ePals effects on oral and writing abilities

Mario Palma Class B2-218/2010-2011 Inquiry Project

2011-2012 Inquiry Project


Vision: Students will be able to be critical thinkers and express themselves effectively orally and written through the use of technology

Smart Goal: 90% of students will improve their oral and written communication abilities in English through the use of technology (epals) by the end of April 2011.

Smart goal (attitudes)

Students will develop an appreciation, respect and understanding of computer technology and how it can enhance their ability to communicate effectively.

Smart goal (personal)

Teacher will demonstrate increased comfort navigating and infusing technology modalities into lessons and assessments.

Students will be able to:

Have increased access to laptops that are internet ready via computer lab and in classroom (2 times a week/50 minutes)

Handle hardware/turn on and off/pull up an internet server

Navigate a website independently

Communicate their thoughts through writing

Acquire sufficient typing skills to effectively and efficiently communicate their thoughts (time for project should start after a sufficient level of mastery has been demonstrated by 90% of class)

Respond critically to their epals writing through an ongoing/developing conversation

Oral presentations about their epal partners

Use accountable talk during their epals sessions based on preselected content areas as per teacher agreement

Transfer these same skills into their writer’s unit projects

(Improved performance on story writing on subsequent units?)


Teacher observation notes and protocol for analysis

Students’ epal correspondence

Comparison of number of questions that came up during initial and final epals sessions

Students’ end of unit written pieces

Checklist with technology skills

Student surveys about comfort levels and attitudes towards projects etc.




Oral rubric







S generates commentary/questions and uses accountable talk regarding content areas

S generates commentary/questions and may generate accountable talk

S may generate commentary or questions


S does not comment


s responds to epal with relevant commentary and questions, uses accountable talk re: content areas

responds to epal with relevant commentary and questions; may respond with accountable


s responds to epal with commentary and questions


S does not respond to epal with relevant commentary








Writing rubric









S writes in



S writes in



most of the


S writes in



some of the


S writes commentary

that may be






All punctuation and capitalization complete

Most punctuation and capitalization complete

Some punctuation and capitalization complete

No signs of punctuation or capitalization





Can spell check independently and teach others how to as well

Can spell check independently

Can spell check with help

No evidence of spell checking ability




Commentary is relevant and thought provoking

Commentary is relevant

Commentary is somewhat relevant

Commentary has no relevance



Technology skills checklist

S can:

Turn comp on/off

Open/close browser

Access epals page and log in/off

Use keyboard effectively

Type legible sentences

Spell check

Access punctuation keys