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E-mail pals in Ontario

Lynn Lau
Northern News Services

Paulatuuq (Oct 29/01) - Years ago, kids had pen pals. These days, it's key pals -- at least that's what teacher Julie Demaeyer is calling it.

Last week, students at Angik school were paired up with e-mail buddies in Ontario for something of an online cultural exchange.

"It's cool to talk to people from out of town," says Denise Wolki, 13. She received her first response recently from her new key pal, a boy named Jack. "I just wanted to know all about him and where he's from and what grade is he. I found out he's in Grade 10, he's 15- years-old and he's from Toronto."

It all started when Demaeyer put the idea out to her former colleagues in the Toronto-area school district where she worked until last year. Two schools were interested and last week, the 25 students in her Grade 7/8 class were paired with Grade 10 kids from Brampton and Thornhill.

Demaeyer says students are enthusiastic about the key pal idea. "The kids race to the computers at lunch and recess and after school, to check to see if they're getting any e-mails," she says. "It's very cute."

Writing to their key pals should help students learn about proper sentence construction and grammar, says Demaeyer. "It also falls into social studies guidelines, because they're looking right now at different provinces and territories. This gives them a kid's perspective on Ontario."

At the other end, students in Ontario are learning about such things as climate and landscape, and some of them will have to do presentations on what they're learning from their Northern counterparts.