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

Supporting Learning Circles

While it is possible for teachers to set up their own Learning Circle, it is much more cost-effective and productive to have this type of support provided by a central group. While teachers may feel that setting up their own Learning Circle is free, it takes a great deal of time and energy by one or more individual teachers. Teacher time is one of our most valuable and limited educational resource. By working within a larger educational community, a more supportive environment can be created which leads to a higher rate of success in Learning Circle Interaction.

The support for Learning Circles described in this section is currently provided by iEARN but could be provided by many different groups around specfic project themes.

Matching Schools into Learning Circles

Matching students and teachers into Learning Circles is one of the important services that is provided by to teachers and students who participate in Learning Circles. Locating partners through the Internet is a time-consuming process and takes teachers away from their work with students. Teachers as well as students report that the most exciting part of Learning Circles is finding out who their partners will be. When teachers are provided this service, they do not have to find the teachers, set up the arrangements or set common time lines.

Return to: Introduction--Support for Learning Circles

Technical Support for Learning Circles

The technology plays an essential role in facilitating the exchanges in Learning Circles, but it is not the focus of the activity. Students will learn about the technology as they use it to work on their Learning Circle projects. Detailed instructions for using the communications software and a source of technical support are important to the success of Learning Circles.

iEARN provides technical connections and support for teachers in Learning Circles through iEARN. It is important to have some form or technical support for teachers involved in Learning Circles.


Return to: Introduction--Support for Learning Circles

Learning Circle Facilitators

For many of the teachers in a Learning Circle, this will be their first experience in tele-collaboration. It helps to have someone with Learning Circle experience in the group. Working within a larger community makes it possible to provide this level of support. iEARN identifies one teacher in each Circle who has volunteered to share his or her expertise in tele-collaboration by acting as the Learning Circle "Facilitator." The Facilitators provide a center to the Circle, helping the group work as a team to support one another.


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Learning Circle Mentors

If issues arise in the Circle that could benefit from additional resources, the Circle Facilitators are in close communication with other Circle Facilitators and with a "Mentor Coordinator," a designated leader among a group of Circle Facilitators. In this way the expertise of teachers reaches across Circles to provide a very supportive learning environment.


Return to: Introduction--Support for Learning Circles

Circle News

Teachers are deeply involved in teaching it is often difficult for them to refer back to a print or online curriculum guide. To help teachers stay on schedule, it is helpful if the supporting community arranges to have electronic "Circle News" message sent to each participant at the beginning of each of the phases described in this guide. These messages share what is taking place in the different Learning Circles so that teachers can share in the excitement of other groups on the Learning Network.

The "Circle News" messages facilitate the start of the Circle interaction, introduce participants, and encourage the exchange of messages. They also provide direction and advice for each of the Learning Circle phases. These messages should be sent to all participants in Learning Circles to help keep everyone working on schedule.

Return to: Introduction--Support for Learning Circles


Network Newsletter

A Network Newsletter is one way to share what teachers and students are doing across Circles. By sharing information about new developments in the community, highlight the work of teachers and students in the different Learning Circles, and guide Circle activities, it provides an important link among all members of the community.


Establishing a Common Time line and Schedule

It is important for schools to have a shared schedule before they begin their work. iEARN posts the timeline for each session several weeks before each session begins.

Return to: Introduction--Support for Learning Circles