Here are six no-cost ways to use the web to improve your knowledge and skills, as well as increase student and parent involvement in the new school year:
• Join an online professional group. Sharing information and ideas with peers is the best way to find new ideas for your students. Online professional groups are valuable resources for learning more about how you can integrate the web into your classroom.
• Join listserves. Listserves are similar to online discussion groups, but they tend to be more tightly focused on a specific topic. The way to find these groups is to send the message “list global/topicname” to firstname.lastname@example.org. Replace “topicname” with the topic of interest, such as K-12. In response, you will get lists of listservs on your topic of interest.
• Check association web sites. These sites contain valuable information on many subjects, including technology issues, curriculum development, and grants.
• Track education news. Several web sites maintained by private companies or associations compile education-related news on a daily or weekly basis. Among the best: Education Week (http://www.edweek.com) and eSchool News (http://www. eschoolnews.com).
• Become an expert. The web is bursting with information on every topic imaginable. Take time to research a topic that is of great interest to you or your students. Visit web sites and select those that are best for your students. Since the web is too vast for any one person to comprehend, you will become a valuable resource for your students and colleagues about that subject.
• Help parents use the web. Compile a list of web resources that parents can use to help their children with homework and personal matters. This will increase parental involvement in schools. A good place to start is the Partnership for Family Involvement in Education, found at http://pfie.ed.gov.