Michelle Tanaka downloads mail looking for
some sign that her Learning Circle placement was received and that she
and her students had be assigned to a Learning Circle for the session
beginning in September. She sent in her placement form over a month ago
and she knew that circles were to be formed this week.
Yes! It is here. Great." She did not want to say much
to her students before she was sure that they would be able to participate.
She had been reading the Teacher's Guide on the WIDE WORLD WEB and she
was hopeful that they would be able to participate.
She made a quick pass through the library to prepare and
print copies of the letters to parents that she had downloaded from
the Teacher's Guide. It just took a few minutes to add the school name
and a few details about parent participation. Just as she pushed print,
the bell rings with its routine urgency.
Michelle is now eager to share the news with her students.
"We have just received a message that says that we are going to be in
a Learning Circle," she tells her students. "A Learning Circle is like
an electronic classroom and we will be in this classroom with kids from
lots of places we have never seen. Well, we won't really be going anywhere.
It is a "virtual reality" classroom. You will have words, materials
and maybe pictures to help you see the other students. We are going
to be linked by the computer. It will be the way we "talk" to the students
in this electronic classroom. Just like in any classrooms, there will
be projects that we will do together, and we will get to organize one
of them. You will all get to be the teachers with me defining our project.
But we will also help on projects of the others students and I will
get to be part of the student team working on these projects. But the
best part is that we will all have an opportunity to find out what is
going on in the rest of the world and to be a resource for others about
our own part of the world."
"What will the projects be about?"
"How many students will there be?"
"How old will they be?"
"What countries will they be from?"
"Can we work with kids in Poland?"
The students had many questions and Michelle had to admit
that she did not have all of the answers. She told them that they be
finding out much more in the next week.
Later, after the students have gone home, Michelle finds
the Learning Circle Time line. She carefully records the Learning Circle
phases in her lesson plan book.
The next few days are also hectic for Michelle but she
finds time to slip away to the computer lab and logs on to service and
looks for the conference that was listed in her message. There is was
just waiting for her to join.
She checks the conference and sees that there is already
a message. She eagerly reads it hoping to find out who else is in her
Learning Circle. The message is from the Circle support staff. It tells
her that everything is almost ready and that Learning Circle Members
will be announced in a few days when placement is final. The message
suggests that she work on her teacher "Hello" message and that students
work on their classroom Survey.
Later in class, Michelle tells her students that everything
is ready. They spend the afternoon discussing ideas for Circle projects
and what students in different locations will want to know about Hawaii.
She gives them the letter for their parents and urges them to tell their
parents that we hope they will want to work with us. They are ready
for the opening of the Learning Circle!