Examples and Experiences of Existing Teacher Study Groups
There are many examples of existing teacher study groups, collaboratives, or research groups that are using the Internet. These examples can provide helpful guidelines for forming and sustaining regular communication in this type of group. In this activity, we briefly describe examples of teacher study groups and provide links to resources on how these groups formed and where they are moving in the future.
- Learn about teacher-researcher collaborative groups.
- Learn about teacher-teacher study or research groups.
- Learn about Web-based resources for forming teacher study groups.
Materials and Resources
In developing our lessons and activities, we made some assumptions about the hardware and software that would be available in the classroom for teachers who visit the LETSNet Website. We assume that teachers using our Internet-based lessons or activities have a computer (PC or Macintosh) with the necessary hardware components (mouse, keyboard, and monitor) as well as software (operating system, TCP/IP software, networking or dial-up software, e-mail and a World Wide Web client program, preferably Netscape, but perhaps Mosaic or Lynx). In the section below, we specify any "special" hardware or software requirements for a lesson or activity (in addition to those described above) and the level of Internet access required to do the activity.
- Special hardware requirements: none.
- Special software requirements: none.
- Internet access: Medium-speed (28,800 BPS via phone) or higher.
As the Internet has grown in popularity, teachers have been creating and sustaining relationships with other teachers using telecommunications or e-mail. With the growing use of e-mail for teacher communication, projects and research groups have sprung up on the Web. Many of these groups are composed of teachers, with a few university faculty members and graduate students thrown in on occasion, who all share a sense of the possibilities of the Internet in education. To help these teachers realize their own potential, teacher groups have been helpful and supportive as people learn to use technology for their own means. Several of these successful teacher groups have described their experiences, forming and sustaining their communication, and made these experiences available for others to learn from. This activity describes and summarizes some of these experiences, and provides links to more information on these groups for further study.
- The Online Internet Institute: The Online Internet Institute consists of the people who create and use the resources, the processes that led to the development of the OII Website, and the products that support teachers' use of the Internet. "We're building a place on the Internet that's like the Potlatch of the Northwest Native Americans. 'In Potlatch, the entire community gathers to assemble, celebrate and redistribute the riches that have been generated individually; in OII, ideas for insight and actions have replaced material wealth as a medium of exchange.' by Ferdi Serim." This Website has useful information describing the process teachers used to create the OII.
- The Learning Circles: Created by Margaret Riel, the Learning Circles now resides at AT&T, and represents "task-oriented groups of 6-9 classrooms who plan and implement curriculum-based projects. The concept 'Learning Circle' is drawn from two contexts, one from school and one from the business community." Riel has started another similar project called I*EARN (see Internet Resources below).
- The Mathematics Learning Forum: Organized by Bank Street College, these workshops and discussions are around new standards for teaching mathematics. "The Mathematics Learning Forums offer teachers the opportunity to do mathematics with their students and talk about mathematics with their colleagues. The forums are designed to help teachers introduce new mathematics teaching practices in their classrooms in accordance with current nationwide mathematics reform efforts."
- Chronology of the Development of OII
A description of the creation of the On-Line Internet Institute (OII), a series of forums, workshops, and other resources created by and for teachers.
The International Education and Resource Network (I*EARN) project is another example of a collaborative Internet project for teachers and students.
- Learning Circles
Designed by M. Riel, Learning Circles represent "a team of 6-8 teachers and their classes joined in the virtual space of an electronic classroom. The groups remains together over a 3-4 month period working on projects drawn from the curriculum of each of the classrooms organized around a selected theme. At the end of the term the group collects and publishes its work."
- The Mathematics Learning Forum
A series of workshops and on-going discussions about mathematics reform in K-12 education.
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