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

Managing Your Mail

Now is a good time to decide how you will be handling the mail that you receive from the other schools, before you go any further. There are many different strategies and you need to find the one that fits best within your teaching style and with your particular students.

Sending and Receiving Messages

The first decision is who will be sending and receiving mail. For some, access will be in the classroom; for others it will be necessary for the teacher or students to take computer disks to a location where a computer has a connection to the Internet. Sometimes this is the media center or the office.

The sending and receiving of messages in Learning Circles will be different for each classroom. Some classes will be working within a conference structure others will be using electronic mail. Electronic mail makes it very easy for students of any age to take over the role of sending and receiving messages. Many teachers like to involve their students in the process. A few students might volunteer to send and receive mail for the whole session. A common procedure is for the teacher to show one group how to send and receive mail and then for each group to teach the next one.

While it is technically easy for students to send mail, it remains important for teachers to play a role in reviewing what is sent on the network. In some cases, without teacher supervision, students have sent messages that are nonproductive or offensive. It is a good practice to have your electronic mail senders print a copy of outgoing mail and show it to you before they send it online. This gives you a chance to check it one more time for editing errors. It also keeps you aware of the work that will represent you, your class, your school and community to people at a distance.

Receiving Mail from Others

Normally, the classes in a Learning Circle send about 1-3 messages a week. This means that you can plan on receiving between 8-30 messages a week. Some messages will be "to" you as the teacher, many will be addressed to the whole class, and others may be to a group of students who are working on a specific project. They may be "from" a teacher, a whole class, a group of students, or an individual. You will need to decide which messages should be read by everyone, which should be read by groups, and how information will be shared among the all of the Circle participants at your school. This is easy to do if you spend a few minutes planning the best strategy, and are ready with it before you start receiving mail.



Copyright © 1997, 2002, Margaret Riel