To participate in Books as Bridges, US teachers are expected to:
be able to check, and respond to, emails from their international partners in a timely manner,
send at least 2 packages/envelopes of letters, and 2 “culture packages” that depict life in your students’ community (so long as you are receiving a response from your pen-pals),
participate in both the mid-year and end-of-year Books as Bridges questionnaires, and
help your students initiate and complete a service-learning project related to Books as Bridges.
To Get the Most Out of Your Experience
Sign up for a Books as Bridges Cultural Literacy Lesson! These interactive lessons are administered by the Books as Bridges Coordinator and can last for 1-2 hours (decided upon by the teacher). Students create 3-D maps illustrating important geographical features, participate in “cultural gesture skits,” and sample the cuisine of their partner country; these lessons are an excellent hands-on supplement to your students’ Books as Bridges experience.
Use email to correspond with your pen-pals if it is available to your partner organization’s students.
Build your classroom’s service learning project around fundraising $200 to send the next shipment of books to your partner classroom.
To Begin Your Culture Exchange
The US classroom should start the activity by sending an email to your organization’s contact person introducing yourself and providing your mailing address. Books as Bridges asks the US partner to initiate classroom correspondence by sending the first package of letters from the US students to the international students, so you may let your contact know when you plan to mail the first letters.
Schedule a Books as Bridges “Pen-Pal Prep Session.” (Optional) Books as Bridges is happy to offer your class a short session to introduce the program to your students and encourage a student-led service learning project. This would also give a chance for the students to learn how Books as Bridges benefits their partner classroom, including discussing why they need books, and possibly allowing the students a chance to help pack the first shipment of books to their pen-pals.
You should receive a return letter from your partner organization within 6 weeks. When you receive the package, you should then send your first culture package consisting of pictures, letters, drawings, and other items depicting life in your students’ community. The pen-pal relationship should then be underway!
Please stay in contact with the Books as Bridges Coordinator throughout the school year. Schedule times for classroom visits, work with her/him to incorporate multicultural lesson plans into the curriculum, keep her/him updated on progress, and notify of any difficulties or frustrations along the way.