At first glance, Pen Pal Whizz can be easily dismissed as a talking pen that merely reads text aloud. Most users may not realise that it can double up as a teaching tool that can transform story time into interactive learning journeys for young children.
By simply tapping on different parts of the page, students can hear character dialogues, accurate pronunciation of the names of objects, realistic sound effects, and even music. All these interactions can help to reinforce students' vocabulary acquisition.
Sebastian Tan, developer of Pen Pal Whizz (and managing director of JLB Educational Technology), gave a demonstration on how to integrate the Pen Pal Whizz tool in the classroom.
In addition to language learning through read aloud activities, teachers and students can discover additional content embedded within Pen Pal Whizz picture books. These include directed learning activities designed to tap into children’s natural curiosity, thus encouraging the development of various skills through play.
Teaching With the Pen Pal Whizz Tool and Books
Dr. Tan Kar Chun (ALC) highlights relevant learning objectives that teachers can achieve when creating lesson plans with Pen Pal Whizz.
Books in the Pen Pal series also contain teachers' notes which can provide guiding questions that teacher can use to help students discover learning activities that can be activated in specific parts of each book. Each learning activity enhances students’ understanding through multi-sensory learning – listening, reading, creative thinking and speaking. The interactive activities also provide affirmation for each correct answer which students tap on the page, and gentle re-directions for incorrect responses. With such active learning resources, students can use the Pen Pal Whizz and books independently.
Pen Pal Whizz Resources
In conjunction with our Pen Pal Whizz display, live demonstrations were conducted on 26 February and 5 March to show student-teachers how the tool can be incorporated into lessons.
NIE Library currently offers 147 illustrated books with enhanced content which can be used together with Pen Pal Whizz. A variety of books are available in Bahasa Melayu, English, and Mandarin. These include the award-winning ‘The Animal Boogie’, as well as the Chinese for Early Learners series which feature locally relevant content. Our Chinese for Early Learners series is also available in the ‘Big Book’ format, making them ideal for group reading sessions in a classroom setting.
Pen Pal Whizz Tool and books
Chinese, Malay and English teachers can also borrow a Pen Pal Whizz kit from the Library to explore how this teaching tool can be used to maximise learning in a reading session. Our Pen Pal Whizz kit is available for a 3-day loan. You can approach our loan counter to find out more.
Guide on Searching for Pen Pal Whizz Books
To view the list of Pen Pal Whizz picture book titles offered in our Library, follow the step-by-step search guide below.
1. Go to the library portal at https://library.nie.edu.sg.
2. In the search box, type PenPal Whizz . Select the “Books & Media” search option.
3. This will retrieve a total of 148 results - 147 results show book title results, and one result for the pen itself.
Mother Tongue teachers looking for books in Mandarin or Bahasa Melayu can limit the search results by language:
1. Scroll down to the bottom of the search results page to the “Search Again” function.
2. Again, search for “PenPal Whizz” and limit the language to Chinese.
3. For Chinese titles, please note that PenPal Whizz compatible big books are included in the search results as well.