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

Phase 3 Narrative:

Sponsoring a Learning Circle Project

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 project."
"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?" asks Nainoa.
"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!

ReturnPhase 3: Planning the Projects...Detailed Description of Phase three
ending with "Planning the Projects" Checklist.

ContinuePhase 4: Narrative...continues the story of Michelle.



Copyright © 1997, 2002, Margaret Riel