Live From Mars was active July 1996-December 1997.

An Introduction to Electronic Field Trips

Time Management
Written by Scott Coletti, Middle School teacher
Crittenden Middle School, Mtn.View, CA.
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Time Required (+/-)

So, this is your first time participating in an electronic field trip, you have used your computer, modem, phone line and an account with some Internet provider. If you are like most of us, you are simultaneously teaching a full load as your day job. Take heart, heroes and heroines of 21st-century education, all you need now is time. New users should plan on spending between 1 and 8 hours a week outside of class. On page 10 of the Teachers guide you sent away for will be some suggestions on "Customizing Your Field Trip" to meet your time constraints.

Of course the 8 or so hours a week will be unevenly distributed throughout the project. You might find yourself running a 15 hour a week commitment doing orientation and preparation work. Then, once the project begins, the work will involve keeping up with the net traffic for yourself and the kids. During this time you will do the following work:

How Time Shakes Out

  1. Begin learning about electronic field trips
  2. Join Live From Mars An Electronic Field Trip
    • Use a few of the many student-centered components
    • Use one teacher-centered component (e.g., maillist, mail-serves, conferences)
    • You will find and gather materials to begin the project.
    • You will schedule a time in your day to harvest materials of an ongoing, time- sensitive nature.
    • You will be acting as a filter for your students, culling out information that is appropriate for your grade level and student population. You will work with people acting as online filters or doing the work yourself.

      Teacher's Note: It was disconcerting to me when I joined one project to find the vocabulary way over my kids' heads. After a short time (a couple periods), I dropped that project and detoured to a project my kids would understand. When you engage the LFM projects, you have the assurance that lots of people have shaped the materials for the students as well as provided teacher-oriented material. In fact, there will be junior field journals written especially for our students/children with less-developed language skills. We are targeting the 5th/6th grade reading level.

    • Plan your lessons (Using the Teacher's Guide is a great resource. A comfortable and straightforward common teacher's tool that will not take much adaptation on our part.)
    • Shape pre- and post- broadcast lessons (The Teacher's Guide provides an excellent sequence of lessons for the teacher.)
    • Execute and adjust the plan as necessary.
    • Etc, etc....

Time Caveat

After having used the net for 3 years in the classroom, I strongly encourage the use of a plan B when making your lesson plans...the best laid plans of mice and men and all that. I remember three years ago when I had a project cooking with only one modem and one unreliable Internet provider. The lesson from cooking that project was to get my hands on at least 3 ways to get to the Internet. That way no matter what was broken or down for the class period, my kids didn't get burned. I also learned to design a plan C that used nothing fancier then paper, pencil, and copies of information I already had at hand.

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