Michelle signed up for the Learning Network
because she was excited about giving her students the opportunity to work
on projects with students in other locations. The introductory student
messages have been fun, but she is eager to begin the cross-classroom
collaboration on projects. She's looking forward to helping students frame
their class project.
"Today," Michelle begins, "we will need to work on our
Learning Circle project idea. We are in a Places and Perspectives Learning
Circle and we share a common theme with our distant friends. Now is
the time to begin thinking about how to organize our Learning Circle
"What are our choices? Can we do anything we want?" asks Kawehi.
"Well, not anything Kawehi, there are some things we need to consider,
but we do have an open choice. I have some examples in a project booklet
that we can look through. But let's consider some factors as we think
about possibilities," replies Mrs. Tanaka as she turns to the board
and begins writing.
"We want to think of a project that will take advantage
of the knowledge and skills of our distant partners," she says, as she
writes "Geographic Variability" in the first column. "We will rate a
project idea high in this dimension if we suspect that the information
coming from each school is likely to be different because of factors
like the size of the school or community, the climate or land formations,
the culture or language."
She writes "Scale of Project" in the next column and continues:
"Remember, there are likely to be a number of projects in our Circle.
We will most likely have a small group of 5-8 students from each of
the schools helping us out with our project. They will be looking to
us, not their teacher, for instructions. If we make our project too
involved, it will be hard to explain it to these distant students. We
have to be very clear about exactly what we want them to do. In fact,
it is a good idea if we collect the information here BEFORE we send
our request. Then you will be in a better position to give them directions."
"The last thing we should consider is our interest and
how the project ties to what we are doing in this class," concludes
Mrs. Tanaka as she writes "Level of Interest" in the third column. "As
the sponsors, we will all be working on the information we collect to
present our final conclusions. So, our project should be something that
we all want to learn about. If it is related to classwork, it will involve
less outside work."
"O.K., I got it, different results in each place, not
too much work for distant students, and not too much work for us. Right?"
"Well, that's not how I would say it," laughs Mrs. Tanaka, "but it is
important to set a goal that you can accomplish in the time you have.
That is part of the learning process. If we define a great project but
no one finishes it, where will we be at the end of the session?"
Now the students are ready to consider each of their ideas.
Michelle is pleased to see how seriously her students take the planning
of the project. As project planning messages begin to arrive from the
other classrooms, Michelle decides on a plan to assure that others will
receive the information they request from Hawaii. She forms seven teams
of students and assigns one team to each Learning Circle project. It
isn't long before the groups are busy preparing messages to send to
the other classes!