After doing some exploring on the ePals website, I noticed a few extremely useful features that I'd love to incorporate into my classroom.
Feature #1: Collaborate > Search by Country.
Imagine your class is learning about Africa and it's history of colonization along the coast. Imagine that students in your class could contact other students from coastal African countries to discuss how this colonization has impacted their lives or their environment. You'd have to admit: This is so cool. You can do exactly that with ePals' "Collaborate" feature, which allows you to select a country anywhere in the world and contact classrooms from that country so that your students can become 'ePals' (electronic pen pals). Why spend so much time trying to tell students about what life is like in other parts of the world when they could be sharing real, relevant stories while practicing writing with other students from other countries? It takes authenticity of learning to an entirely new level.
Feature #2: Teachers > Community Media > See Teacher Work > Teacher Spotlight Projects
When you search for lesson plans online, there's always an abundance of results, and some are more useful than others. At ePals, their Teacher Spotlight Projects take inspiration in a new direction. What I love about this feature is that the projects are meant to be collaborative across the global community- it's not just something you print from the internet and try to mix some diversity into. Instead, the teacher projects actually have students collaborating in different classrooms around the world. For example, and Alien Adventure project has students from different countries each creating a 'part' of the alien, and writing part of his story (the alien travelling around the world to different countries is a premise of the story). What a rich experience for students, and what a way to see how different cultures interact with the same assignment!