The most active newsgroup we have is geometry.pre-college. Here teachers, students, educators, and researchers talk about all sorts of topics concerning pre-college geometry, especially, but not limited to, the high school curriculum. Textbook, software, and curriculum recommendations are common. Discussions have included Escher, what to do in geometry after you've finished the 'expected' curriculum, the Urban School in San Francisco and tracking, word problems, the fourth dimension, geometry and art, buckyballs, the utility of the math curriculum in the 'real world', and a preview of the features in Sketchpad 3.0. It is also the place where the Problem of the Week and Project of the Month are posted, and where the Learning and Mathematics discussions take place.
A sample "thread" is available for you to read. It's a great example of the kind of community that exists on the Forum specifically, and the Internet in general. The first post, which starts things off, is from a high school teacher. The responses come from not only other teachers, but a college professor who has been involved in writing curriculum, a professor who is a geometer and an expert on the work of M. C. Escher, someone from the United Kingdom, one of the inservice editors at Key Curriculum Press, and a professor of Curriculum and Instruction. How many other venues support dialogue within such a wide range of people on a daily basis?
One of the great advantages of the Internet is that it gives you instant access to people all over the world. The K12 teacher has traditionally existed in a very isolated environment. Say you want to do something as simple as try a new activity dealing with rhombuses. You ask your colleagues or you look through your back issues of the Mathematics Teacher. No success? Now you can ask a numerous "colleagues" on the Internet! Struggling with implementing the NCTM Standards in your classroom or school? Imagine talking with 20 other people who have already been there, or 30 who are going through the same thing! Met a bunch of really cool, innovative, and inspirational teachers at a conference? Now you can stay in touch with them and continue to share ideas and questions.
Anyway, you get the idea. And now you want to participate. Great! All you really need is an e-mail address. If you read news on your system, check to see if they carry the geometry groups. If you have an account on AOL, you can read our groups as news from the Internet Center. You can subscribe to any of the groups by sending a message to our mailing list administrative address, email@example.com. The body of your message should read
subscribe geometry-whateverwhere "whatever" is the end of the group name--note that when you're subscribing to the mailing lists, the dots in the group names become dashes. So if you want to subscribe to geometry.pre-college and geometry.software.dynamic, you would send the message
subscribe geometry-pre-college subscribe geometry-software-dynamicYou don't need to include your name or e-mail address, as the majordomo software will figure all that out from your return address. When you've subscribed, all the messages posted to those groups will get sent directly to your mailbox.
There's a lot more that can be said about newsgroups and mailing lists, both in general and specifically. But you should have the general idea, and be rarin' to go!
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