Center for Technology in Teaching and Learning,

Rice University

In training a child to activity of thought, above all things we must beware of what I call "inert ideas" - that is to say, ideas that are merely received into the mind without being utilised, or tested or thrown into fresh combinations.

The Internet and the World Wide Web (WWW) in particular have become increasingly common household terms as evidenced by the wealth of references to them in the popular media and on television programs in the US. The popularity of the WWW has spread to the educational community as well. The Internet is increasingly being used as an educational tool in K-12 schools with access. There is a sharp increase in the number of schools connected to the Internet. Professional development opportunities for teachers to learn to use the Internet are ever increasing and the number of books that specialize in educational resources on the Internet are filling bookshelves. Recently Cyberschools are coming online under the auspices of public school districts. Online courses are being conducted for K-12 students. One can safely predict that in the short term larger number of teachers are going to grapple with effective ways of integrating the Internet into the classroom. " The Internet and the countless possibilities associated with the Internet are quickly reshaping the way we conduct business, and redefining the way we relate to one another" ( Nielsen Media). We can extend this statement to relate to K-12 education as well.

Literature reviews reveal a growing number of case studies, project reports and experiences related to the use of the Internet in K-12 education. Practitioner journals are replete with how-to articles about the use of the Internet in the classroom, participation in online projects and creation of web materials. A multitude of online and paper-based resources reference online materials for almost every subject in the K-12 curriculum. The potential of the Web is emphasized, explored and sold repeatedly to the educator. There is an overwhelming amount of practical literature available to the teacher interested in using the Internet in the classroom. However, there is very little that emphasizes effective instructional strategies needed in creating or using Internet materials in the classroom.

In this paper, I will analyze lesson plans created by teachers primarily to integrate the Internet into their classroom activities. These lesson plans are a result of two projects that focused intensely on training K-12 teachers to integrate the Internet into their curriculum and create online lesson activities. The paper starts with a brief description of the two projects followed by a discussion of the instructional strategies used in the lesson plans.

The two-week training program resulted in teacher produced Internet based curricular units. The teachers from the diverse Texas sites collaborated to produce inter-disciplinary units that allow students to extend their everyday educational experiences and engage in learning activities that include:

- simultaneous exploration of the Internet,
- exchange of thoughts, ideas and data,
- presentations to peers and teachers,
- collaboration and peer-review.

**The
GirlTECH Project:** Funded by the NSF, the project started in the
summer of 1995. Twenty teachers
were provided with an IBM Thinkpad ® computer and Internet access
through Rice University. In a four-
week training program, teachers learned to use the Internet and create
online lesson plans. In contrast to the
OWLink project in which teachers returned to classrooms with
Internet-ready multimedia computers for students
use, GirlTECH teachers were returning to classrooms where their project
computer was the only one available for
students. As a result of this constraint, lesson plans created by these
teachers were distinctly different from those created by the OWLink
teachers. They were created with a single student in mind rather than
groups of
students with simultaneous access.

Oliva (1992) defines an *instructional strategy* as "methods,
procedures, and techniques the teacher uses to
present the subject matter to students and to bring about effective
outcomes" (p. 403). Teachers chose
instructional strategies that were best suited to the Internet. They
were focused on the needs of their students, the
school and state mandated curriculum and instructional problems
associated with some fundamental concepts. In
addition to these traditional techniques, however, they focused on the
educational opportunities of the Internet
to rethink their instructional strategies. Teachers focused on the
following characteristics of the Internet in
creating their lesson plans:

- electronic information source with access to worldwide databases of information;
- interactive and easy to use information exchange medium;
- source for meaningful learning experiences through application of real world problems and data;
- an avenue to electronic portfolios of their teaching activities; and
- as a means of communication and collaboration with colleagues beyond the walls of their individual classroom.

**The Golden Ratio**is a model example of information exchange and collaborative learning across the Internet . Students accessed teacher-researched Internet sites that were linked to online lesson plans to research the Golden Ratio. Students from three different schools then calculated their body measurements; exchanged cumulative data from each site and compared the school means to the golden ratio. Interesting discoveries were made which led to discussion and dialogue among the students at the different sites. The golden ratio concept was explored across the disciplines of architecture, mathematics and science. Students from the different age levels were able to learn, explore and investigate the application of the concept simultaneously.**Golden Rabbit Stew with Honey, Flowers, and Music**takes advantage of the mathematical resources on the web. The teacher asks students to explore the interdisciplinary relationships of the Fibonacci numbers, traditionally taught in mathematics, to not only geometry but nature, art, and music as well. The teacher asks the students to explore the concept across the disciplines by linking relevant sites and then apply the knowledge gained by creating personal examples based on these concepts.**Mandalas: Geometric Link between Medicine and History**is a lesson plan that asks students in high school geometry courses to relate the mathematical concept of symmetry and to ancient cultures and modern medicine. The teacher creatively links together resources on the Internet to allow high school students and younger students to explore the properties of mandalas across disciplines. Students use paint programs to create their own mandalas, use the internet to access mandala resources, learn about symmetry and the ancient Aztec cultures. This lesson serves as a good example of intellectual broadening of the concept in the students' minds, allowing learners to make connections among subject areas and actively leading the learner to form these connections through guided exploration.

Following are a few examples of lesson plans that use the problem -based approach in mathematics. These have been further subdivided into three curricular perspectives outlined by McNeil. ( 1995)

**The Utilitarian Perspective**holds that student learning should be related to real-life and challenges students to answer real-world problems using resources on the internet.**A Functional Housing Market**asks students to gather data from local real-estate sites to explore linear equations. Students are required to gather, manipulate and process data to predict the housing market prices using the "line of best fit" method.**Pop Clock**asks students to download current data from the U.S. Census Bureau and use it as a base to predict future population trends. Students compare their predictions to those of the experts.

**The Academic Perspective**aspires to present the students with an authentic view of the subject matter as held by experts in the field. Lesson plans discussed below use this perspective in using integrating the Internet.**Hysterical Math**links history of mathematics resources and combines them with creative lesson ideas to give the students the perspective of famous mathematicians. The lesson provides students with opportunities to foster a deep understanding of a mathematician of their choice. Following exploration, students are asked to make presentations to their peers that convey the perspective of the mathematician.**Eratosthenes Finds Diameter of Earth!**takes an academic perspective by asking students to perform Erosthenes's original experiment, research the concept and complete e-mail based activities.**Earthquaked!!**teaches students to calculate the Richter Scale by linking to resources in higher education. Students are asked to gather information about earthquakes and study the methodology for measuring earthquakes.

**The Student Centered Perspective**holds that the teacher has to activate student interest in the topic to be learned and then lead them into further exploration. The following lesson plans use activities that have high relevancy to students. These innovative mathematics and science lessons use entertainment sites for educational exploration.**I feel the need for speed**allows students to explore the concepts of speed, velocity, acceleration, and inertia of moving objects by linking to sites with roller coasters.**Calculating a Car Payment**uses a highly relevant topic for teenagers as an opportunity to explore formulas containing complex fractions and large exponents. Students are linked to used car sites on the Web and are asked to calculate car payments.

This traditional approach requires less creativity on the part of the teacher in using the web. However this approach lends itself less to rethinking teaching on the part of the teacher. They are certain traditional content oriented objectives that could make use of the wealth of information the web as seen in the following examples.

- Using Standard Deviation asks the students to download weather data to explore the concepts of Standard Deviation.
- A Bit of Computer History connects students to sites that host computer history. The students answer questions as directed by the teacher. This lesson plan can be expanded to encompass a broader educational objective by including activities that require the learner to interact with the information.
- Those Amazing Seaworld Animals!! uses a databases on animals to have students explore mathematical equations.

Although wide spread implementation of the Internet in the classroom is not a common occurrence in today's schools, knowing that this change is inevitable, it is very interesting to watch these pockets of successful experimentation. Training the teachers in the use of the Internet is important but it is equally critical to challenge them to rethink and re-envision teaching and learning. Inter-disciplinary curriculum, collaborative learning and the production of knowledge are central themes of the lesson plans discussed here. These processes require students to acquire important skills: evaluating, processing, discussing and presenting electronic information. Changes in instruction, changes in curriculum and changes in teaching technologies are all evident in these classrooms (Gibbon, 1996).

"The most obvious benefit of the electronic classroom is that it achieves what progressive educators could only dream of: a union of work and play......There is no certainty that the electronic classroom will actually fulfill this promise, but it is this hope that makes the realization so attractive" (Ravitch, 1987, p. 28). Teachers whose lesson plans were discussed here engage students in meaningful learning activities that are of high relevance to students. The Internet is serving as a solution to engage students and teachers as equal partners in an educational journey in these electronic settings.

McNeil, J. (1995). Curriculum: The teacher's initiative. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Nielsen Media Research. (1996). Recontact study March/April 1996: Executive summary {On-Line}. Available: http://www.nielsenmedia.com/commercenet/exec.html

Oliva, P.F. (1992) . Developing the curriculum. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.

Ravitch, D. (1987). Technology and the curricukum: Promise and peril. In White, M.A. (Ed.), What curriculum in the information age. New Jersey: Lawrence Elbaum Associates.

Whitehead, A. N. 1929. Aims of Education. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc.

Siva Kumari

Center for Technology in Teaching and Learning

Rice University

Houston, Texas skumari@rice.edu

Siva Kumari manages Project OWLink, a tele-distance research project in Houston, Texas. She is an Instructional Technology Consultant in the Center for Technology in Teaching and Learning at Rice University.

Siva Kumari © 1996. The author assigns to the University of New Brunswick and other educational and non-profit institutions a non exclusive license to use this document for personal use and in courses of instruction provided that the article is used in full and this copyright statement is reproduced. The author grants a non-exclusive license to the University of New Brunswick to publish this document in full on the World Wide Web and on CD-ROM and in printed form with the conference papers, and for the document to be published on mirrors on the World Wide Web. Any other usage is prohibited without the express permission of the author.

N.A.WEB 96 - The Second International North America World Wide Web Conference http://www.unb.ca/web/wwwdev/ University of New Brunswick.