I recently “attended” a webinar about reaching reluctant readers, and the presenter frequently referred to ePals as a resource. In that context, he explained it as a great place for age-appropriate articles that would entice fans of nonfiction to read. Sign up for the service and articles from Smithsonian are delivered straight to your inbox.

It wasn’t until I went onto the site to sign up that I saw the true scope of ePals, and its intended purpose. While it hosts a great variety of teacher-friendly resources (lesson plans, projects, articles), it is in fact a service that matches up classes around the world as pen pals. A teacher simply signs up and makes a profile, indicating the type of classroom he or she is interested in connecting from (Spanish-speakers, students in China, students in grade 3).

Watch this video for a quick overview.

The site makes communicating with classes around the world so easy, with video-chat and email services incorporated. You can search for a class to talk with, or join a project that other classes are doing. With all the great resources (from trusted sources like National  Geographic, Cobblestone/Cricket, and Smithsonian), your class can read an article on global warming, then discuss it with another class in Argentina! Having a common discussion point can help to dispel any awkwardness.

Even if you aren’t interested in connecting with international classes, the resources on this site are top notch. There are some great project ideas, and Learning Centers with games, quizzes, articles, and videos on topics in science, current events, and books.

The site has a lot, which means it can be a bit overwhelming. I encourage you to take a look, though, because ePals is a portal to all kinds of innovative learning.

BBC Languages

I received a special request for resources on foreign languages, specifically grammar. Now, while the internet is teeming with games and resources on vocabulary, there is very little when it comes to grammar. Fortunately, I found the BBC Languages site.

This site basically provides language learning courses online. Interactive lessons are available in both audio and video for languages like French, Spanish, German, Italian and Portuguese. There are tons of other resources on the site, like information on culture, quizzes and slang guides.

The interactive lessons are perhaps the most useful, as they present material via video, and then use interactive games to quiz on those same concepts. Here is the program for learning French, called Ma France. For the Spanish language course, Mi Vida Loca, go here.