Introduction Getting Ready
Learning Circles Teachers' Guide
Open Circle Plan Projects Share Work Publish
Close Circle Overview

Computer Chronicles Learning Circles

The material in this section parallels the Teacher's Guide and presents suggestions or ideas that are specific to the Computer Chronicles Theme. This is an outline of the content in this section related to the different phases of Circle interaction. This file can be read from beginning to end to understand the Computer Chronicles theme. Or, using the "hypertext" links from the phase structure of Learning Circles, it is easy to move back and forth from the phase structure of a Learning Circle to these theme specific examples. At the end of each set of Computer Chronicles examples and ideas, there is a button to make it easy to return to the general description of the Learning Circle phase.

Introduction to Learning Circle--Computer Chronicles

Phase1: Getting Ready--Computer Chronicles

Phase 2: Opening the Circle

Phase 3: Planning the Projects--Computer Chronicles

Phase 4: Exchanging Student Work--Computer Chronicles

Phase 5: Publishing Computer Chronicles--Computer Chronicles

Phase 6: Closing the Circle


Computer Chronicles Learning Circle

Joining a Computer Chronicles Learning Circle makes you and your students a critical members of a team experience that will help develop reading, writing, and communication skills.

Learning Circles recognize the critical role played by teachers and students in developing innovative uses of new technology. You, together with each of the teachers and all of the students in your Learning Circle, have a responsibility to both learn from and teach your Learning Circle partners.

Educational Benefits

A list of goals for Computer Chronicles

Your interaction will revolve around producing a newspaper called The Computer Chronicles. Your class will have the opportunity to sponsor a section of the newspaper as your Learning Circle project. You will solicit articles from your partner classes and edit them to create one section of the newspaper. Your section will be combined with the project sections sponsored by other classes to form the complete newspaper, your Circle publication.

Learning Circle Task

Task of a Learning 
Circle--Collaborative Publiction

The purpose of this guide is to establish some common goals, to share ideas and suggestions from other teachers, and to support you in your teaching and learning. To accomplish these goals, teachers and students share a taskÑ the creation of a Learning Circle newspaper featuring the project sections sponsored in your Learning Circle. This task will help students develop technical and computer expertise as they use the technology to accomplish important educational goals.

Computers and computer networking are very efficient tools for the task of creating a newspaper. However, they will never replace teachers and the valuable role teachers play in organizing learning experiences. Computers do not evaluate the quality of a student's writing, nor do they deal with the human emotions that are a vital part of the writing process.

The Computer Chronicles Learning Circle creates a motivating context for students' writing by providing communication goals and a diverse audience. When teachers and students work together in Learning Circles, everyone shares in the excitement of exchanging news with people in distant locations. Students read each other's work for content on the Learning Network. This helps students learn that writing involves communication and not simply the placement of words in grammatically correct positions. The importance of grammar and mechanics becomes apparent, however, when students have difficulty understanding communication which lacks standard writing conventions.

The Computer Chronicles Learning Circle is a rich, diverse, network of human resources. When teachers and students from different places work side by side to create a publication, they create a unique vision of the world. In doing so, they acquire a new level of understanding of the process of news reporting and communication in our modern world. The recognition that students receive from having others read their writing and share their ideas can increase their motivation for future writing.

The Learning Circle Timeline

The following timeline is only a sample of how to arrange time in a Computer Chronicles Learning Circle. If you are participating in Learning Circles on iEARN, they will have a timeline posted for each session.

This is an outline of the content in this section related to the different phases of Circle interaction. This file can be read from beginning to end to understand the Places and Perspectives theme. Or, using the "hypertext" links from the phase structure of Learning Circles, you can move easily back and forth from the general structure of a Learning Circle to theme specific examples. At the end of each set of theme related examples and ideas, there is a button to make it easy to return to the general description of the Learning Circle phase.

Return to "Introduction to Learning Circles"

PHASE 1: GETTING READY--Computer Chronicles

Thinking about Newspapers

You will be introducing your students to the idea of working with other classrooms to create a newspaper that will be widely circulated. They will all be reporters and editors. You might want to do some classroom activities before they begin exchanging messages in the Learning Circle to help them understand the role of newspapers in the community. The newspaper they create will be shared with many people who will not know them personally, will not have visited their school and may be unfamiliar with their community. They will be serving as information sources for distant readers.

It is important to help students understand the role of newspapers in our society and acquire a general understanding of how computers and communications technology help reporters and editors find out whatÕs happening around the world. Here are some ideas that might help you prepare your students for their roles as reporters and editors.

Press Cards

Recognition is the fuel that will ignite the writing process. One way to help students take their roles of reporters and editors seriously is to provide them with the certification of their new role. Reporters carry press cards and show them when interviewing people or covering stories. Press cards can sometimes be used to gain admittance to places that have been restricted to the public. The Student Press Card Master form can be copied to make enough cards for your students. Use class pictures or take pictures of students in groups of 6-8 against a white background. Laminate the card or cover it with clear contact paper. Encourage students to show their press cards when they review an event for their newspaper. Some performances may offer discounts or special seats for members of the press. Remind students that press privileges are not the same as rights. No one has to honor a press card.

Return to "Phase1: Getting Ready"


Ideas for Selecting a Newspaper Section to Sponsor

Ask each student to write a one page editor's plan for a section of the newspaper that he or she would like your class to sponsor. The editor's plan should be very specific about the type of section and the kind of articles that would be written.

For example, if a student proposed a sports section for your Learning Circle project, how would it be organized? What directions would be given to the distant reporters? Should a maximum or minimum length be set for articles? Will the section include articles on local sports games, school varsity games or sports that students play or all of these? Will there be a special section for interviews with star student athletes from each of the areas?

The editor's plans (without names) can be circulated among the students and a chart can be posted on the bulletin board. Students can vote on their three favorites. When it comes time to make a choice on which section to sponsor, you will know which sections interest your students and you will have a first draft of a student planning message to send on the network.

Planning: Ideas for Sponsored Section

Ideas for sponsored sections are listed in two ways. The first listing is by grade level and gives a brief summary of the different type of sections that might be sponsored by the classes working at each of these levels:

Brief Project Descriptions

The second list contains more detailed descriptions of specific ideas. These ideas can be adapted of modified to make the appropriate for any grade level:

Detailed Project Descriptions

If you cannot download images, a text only version of project ideas is also available.

Listing Your Ideas for a Computer Chronicles
Learning Circle Project

Now that you have read through these examples of projects, take a few minutes and list some of your own ideas.

Introducing your Project Plan Online

Here are examples of message that you might send to your Computer Chronicles
Learning Circle during the Project Planning Phase:

Teacher Planning message

Student Planning message (elementary class)

"Circle Update" Message from a Learning Circle Faciliator

Return to "Phase 3:Planning the Circle Project"


Ideas for Organizing Writing for
the Computer Chronicles

Organizing your classroom response to involve each student in at least one Learning Circle project can ensure the success of all projects sponsored in your Circle. Here are some ideas to help you organize classroom writing for the Computer Chronicles.

Return to "Phase 4: Exchanging Student Work"


Ideas for Selecting Articles for Your Section
of the Computer Chronicles

A very effective way to make decisions about what to include in your section of the Computer Chronicles is to set up Editorial Board meetings. These groups make decisions about which articles to accept, reject and revise. They develop a very strong sense of the characteristics of good writing. A similar but less involve procedure is the Bulletin Board Evaluation.


Example of a Sponsored Section for
the Computer Chronicles.

Here is an example of a newspaper index of the different sections and the first 5 pages of the opinion section of The Computer Chronicles edited by Northeast High School Students from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

There are also examples of sponsored sections on the web as teachers and students are beginning to explore online publishing.


Phase 5: Publishing Computer Chronicle



Return to Overview with List of Themes

This Web guide was written by Margaret Riel and is based on the Computer Chronicles Learning Circle Curriculum Guides she developed for the AT&T Learning Network. Report all problems to

Margaret Riel ([email protected]).


Copyright © 1997, 2002, Margaret Riel