An introduction to Mind Works Learning Circles
Mind Works is an writing theme designed to enhance creative
and expository writing as well as develop different forms of self-expression.
Student work in this Circle involves reading, writing, editing, and evaluating
the work of other students. These critical language skills are developed
in the context of meaningful writing activities.
Mind Works promotes creative problem solving as a part of
writing. The potential projects for this theme are diverse but there is
a similar goal to all of them: to help student learn how to communication
their thoughts and feelings in writing, then share and compare them with
other students from distant places.
The Circle publication for Mind Works is a literary magazine
that might be called Creative Mind Works. The sponsored projects
could be a specific form of writing such as: personal narratives, place
poetry, city dialogues, school fables, local myths or personifications
of local products. Or students can select a topic to sponsor and request
different forms of expression on subjects like the family, jobs, schools
or cities. A popular project is "circle" stories or poems. In these projects,
one school begins a story or poem and each group adds to it. This theme
allows for a wide range of writing projects.
Overview of Mind Works Theme Section
The material in this section parallels the Teacher's Guide
and presents suggestions or ideas that are specific to the Mind Works
Theme. This is an outline of the content in this section related to the
different phases of Circle interaction. This file can be read from beginning
to end to understand the Mind Works theme. Or, using the "hypertext" links
from the phase structure of Learning Circles, it is easy to move back
and forth from the general phase structure of a Learning Circle
to the specific theme examples. At the end of each set of Mind
Works examples and ideas, there is a button to make it easy to return
to the phase structure of Learning Circles.
(Remember the backgrounds of the phases are shaded in the colors of the
rainbow while the themes have a white background with the theme icon.)
Introduction to Learning Circle--Mind Works
Phase 1: Getting Ready--Mind Works
Phase 2: Opening the Circle
Phase 3: Planning the Projects--Mind Works
Phase 4: Exchanging Student Work--Mind Works
Phase 5: Publishing Mind Works--Mind Works
Phase 6: Closing the Circle
INTRODUCTION TO LEARNING CIRCLES--Mind
Mind Works Learning Circle
Joining a Mind Works Learning Circle makes you and your
students a critical members of a team experience that will help develop
reading, writing, and communication skills.
Learning Circles recognize the critical role played by teachers
and students in developing innovative uses of new technology. You, together
with each of the teachers and all of the students in your Learning Circle,
have a responsibility to learn from and teach your Learning Circle partners.
Your interaction will revolve around producing a Circle
publication called Mind Works: A Student Literary Magazine. Your class
will have the opportunity to sponsor a section of the magazine as your
Learning Circle project. You will solicit articles from your partner classes
and edit them to create one section of the journal. Your section will
be combined with the project sections sponsored by other classes to form
the complete magazine.
Learning Circle Task
The purpose of this guide is to establish some common goals,
to share ideas and suggestions from other teachers, and to support you
in your teaching and learning. To accomplish these goals, teachers and
students share a task-- the creation of a Learning Circle magazine featuring
the project sections sponsored in your Learning Circle. This task will
help students develop technical and computer expertise as they use the
technology to accomplish important educational goals.
Computers and computer networking are very efficient tools
for the task of creating a literary magazine. However, they will never
replace teachers and the valuable role teachers play in organizing learning
experiences. Computers do not evaluate the quality of a student's writing,
nor do they deal with the human emotions that are a vital part of the
The Mind Works Learning Circle creates a motivating context
for students' writing by providing communication goals and a diverse audience.
When teachers and students work together in Learning Circles, everyone
shares in the excitement of exchanging news with people in distant locations.
Students read each other's work for content on the Learning Network. This
helps students learn that writing involves communication and not simply
the placement of words in grammatically correct positions. The importance
of grammar and mechanics becomes apparent, however, when students have
difficulty understanding articles from other students which lacks standard
The Mind Works Learning Circle is a rich, diverse, network
of human resources. When teachers and students from different places work
side by side to create a publication, they create a unique vision of the
world. In doing so, they acquire a new level of understanding of the process
of writing and a new level of understanding of the rich diversity in our
modern world. The recognition that students receive from having others
read their writing and share their ideas can increase their motivation
for future writing.
The Learning Circle Timeline
A general timeline serves
as a guideline of how the sequence of phases might bew arranged in a Mind
Works Learning Circle. The timeline
for the current Learning Circle session is posted on the
Learning Circles web site on iEARN.
The timeline is arranged by phases of Circle interaction.
to "Introduction to Learning Circles"
PHASE 1: GETTING READY--Mind Works
Thinking about Literary Magazines
You will be introducing your students to the idea of working
with other classrooms to create a literary magazine that will be widely
circulated. They will all be writers and editors. You might want to do
some classroom activities before they begin exchanging messages in the
Learning Circle to help them understand the role of literary magazines
in the community. The literary magazines they create will be shared with
a wide audience of people who will not know them personally, but will
learn about them through their writing. Urge them to take pride in their
work as it will be a form of "self expression."
You might want to do some classroom activities to introduce
the topic of creative writing to your students before they begin exchanging
messages in the Learning Circle. One way to help students learn to express
themselves in writing is to have them read the writing of others. Discuss
how writers help us learn more about ourselves and others by finding words
to express hard-to-describe feelings. In creative writing, authors experiment
with humor, metaphor, rhyme, tone, style and other aspects of writing
to communicate their ideas. One of the following ideas
might help your students prepare to write.
to "Phase 1: Getting Ready"
PHASE 3: PLANNING A MIND WORK'S CIRCLE
How to select a Circle Project
for Mind Works
Involving the students in the planning
phase gives them a sense of ownership that often results in higher
motivation. Integrating the network activities with something you already
have planned in the curriculum gives you the advantage of extending the
learning by using your own teaching materials.
Project ideas are listed in this
guide to help you think about organizing a project, but you are welcome
to select any topic that interests your students or fits your curriculum.
Classroom Activities for Your Sponsored Project
The sponsored projects take place both in the classroom and on the Learning
Network. If your students are sponsoring a section on poetry, you might
want to arrange for a classroom visit from a local poet. If your project
is to sponsor a writing theme on AIDS, peace, or race and human relations,
you could contact local agencies like the Red Cross, peace groups, or
the American Civil Liberties Union for speakers or materials. Your students
will want to share what they learned from these activities by sending
messages on the network. However, it is not realistic to expect other
classrooms to be involved in your project at this level, since each classroom
will be actively involved in developing their own project.
Network Activities for Your Sponsored
Your class should send a Learning Circle project planning
message describing the section of the magazine they have selected as their
Learning Circle project and providing some examples or general guidelines
for the type of participation they want from their partners on the network.
Remember that you cannot expect all of the students in another
class to write for your section. In fact, you would have too many articles
to evaluate if all of the students did write! Your section will not be
long enough to accommodate more than a few contributions from each classroom.
Your request for writing should be reasonable considering the total number
of projects sponsored in your Circle.
Mind Work's Circle Project Ideas
Teachers are encouraged to sponsor a project that is integrated
with the curriculum. Your students are likely to have many ideas. If you
want to look beyond these sources there are descriptions of projects that
have been done over the network in this guide. The Internet is another
great source. You might want to start with Ask
Eric Lesson Plans in language arts. The Ask-Eric librarians can point
you in the direction of other resources.
Ideas for sponsored sections are listed by grade level.
However any of the projects could be adapted to be done by either older
or younger groups.
If you cannot download project graphics, a text
only version of project ideas is also available.
Listing Your Ideas for a Mind Works
Learning Circle Project
Now that you have read through these examples of
Learning Circle projects, take a few minutes and list
some of your own ideas. The most successful projects are those that
are integrated with the classroom curriculum. Your Learning Circle Facilitator
will be able to help you link what you do in your classroom with a network
Introducing your Mind Works Project
Here are examples of message that you might send to your
Learning Circle during the Project Planning Phase:
"Circle Update" Message from a Learning Circle Facilitator
to "Phase 3:Planning the Circle Project"
PHASE 4: EXCHANGING STUDENT WORK--Mind
Student Work for Circle Projects
Organizing your classroom response to involve each student
in at least one Learning Circle project can ensure the success of all
projects sponsored in your Circle. Here are some ideas
to help you organize classroom writing for the Mind Works Literary
to "Phase 4: Exchanging Student Work"
PHASE 5: ORGANIZING THE CIRCLE PUBLICATION--Mind
Selecting Articles for Your Section
of the Mind Works Literary Magazine
A very effective way to make decisions about what to include
in your section of the Mind Works Literary Magazine is to set up Editorial
Board meetings. These groups make decisions about which articles to
accept, reject and revise. They develop a very strong sense of the characteristics
of good writing.
Example of a Sponsored Section for
the Mind Works Literary Magazine.
Here is the first 3 pages of a section called the Poet's
Corner from The Mind Works Literary Magazine edited by Kay
Bryan and the students at Stanley Junior High, San Diego CA.
There are also examples of projects on
5: Publishing Circle Work
to Overview with List of Themes
This Web guide was written by Margaret
Riel and is based on the
Mind Works Learning Circle Curriculum Guides she developed
for the AT&T Learning Network. Some of the projects
ideas in Mind Works were originally developed by Michael Blyth
from Concord High Mind Works School. Report all problems to
Copyright © 1997, 2002,