MY HERO Learning Circle

by Wendy Jewell , The Schoolers

Subject Area:    Art/Music, English/Language Arts, Social Science, Technology/Media Literacy

Grade Level:    K-4, 5-8, 9-12


The MY HERO Project, in partnership with iEARN's Learning Circles, brings together students and teachers from diverse parts of the world to collaborate on the topic of heroism through writing, digital art and/or short films.

There are two sessions per school year, each lasting 4 months. These interactive sessions allow kids to discover not only who or what inspires them, but also who or what is a hero to someone halfway around the world. Over the 16-week session, circles, made up of between 6-9 classes from around the world, exchange class surveys, welcome packets and ideas about heroism over the Internet and through the mail. There are weekly missives from the MY HERO Learning Circle facilitator to keep everyone on track and working towards completion of their own hero stories, art or short films. When finished, everyone has a chance to share each other's work and share their thoughts about each other's heroes.

A common reaction from teachers taking part in this project is, "everyone learned so much about each other's heroes, cultures, beliefs, food, music, lifestyles and countries." Here are some comments about the MY HERO Learning Circle from teachers who have participated:

Lillian from Lishan High School in Taipei, Taiwan:
"It really gave them a sense of accomplishment when they saw their works published on the website. I can still recall how they presented their works with pride. Through these works, they not only share with the world their heroes but also leave something which they can reminisce about as they look back on their high school days."
Lishan High School ECREATE page

Debbie Senger, from Notre Dame Elementary in Alberta, Canada:
"Our class of twenty-seven students decided to take part in a World Wide Learning Circle adventure. The MY HERO Project spoke to me as a teacher and I felt my class would learn about what it means to be a hero. The students chose a wide variety of heroes right from family members to members of our own class. This has been an uplifting experience for us all and I am very proud of the results."
Click here to view the GOOD NEWS segment on the MY HERO Learning Circle project on Global TV.
Notre Dame Elementary ECREATE page

Dadhiram Khanal, Principal from Kathmandu, Nepal:
"Participation in this project has broadened students' horizons and knowledge. They have come to realize how important the computer is in today’s world for learning. Our school is in a rural area, where students had not even seen a computer, let alone used it."
HVP-Thali ECREATE page

Jennifer Collison, Bullock Creek High School, Michigan, USA:
"After a classmate lost his battle with cancer, our class was able to rediscover heroism, both personally and globally. Collaborating within The MY HERO Project helped us to heal and to reconnect with our faith."
Bullock Creek High School ECREATE page

Farnoush from the Mashar High School in Tehran, Iran:
"We loved participating in this project. We have learnt a lot and enjoyed our new relations. We realized that each person can have more than one hero and learning from different people is exciting."
Mashar High School ECREATE page

THE SCHOOLERS, a homeschooling group from Canada participated in the MY HERO Learning Circle with 12 other classes from Belarus, Poland, USA, Australia, Uzbekestan, Egypt, Israel, Lithuania, India and Nepal. Click here to view some of their written stories and here to view a short film from the same group--PAINTING PEACE.



MY HERO will mail a welcome pack containing support materials to participate in The MY HERO Project, including a Teacher Training DVD, postcards, stickers and step-by-step tutorials on how to author and build a Web page using the Create Program, how to upload original artworks to the Gallery, how to produce a short film, and how to create and upload original audio to the MY HERO Audio Studio.

Classes will need access to computers and the Internet.

Activities and Procedures:

1. Your school or class must first register with iEARN.
What is iEARN? Started in 1988, iEARN is the world's largest non-profit global network that enables teachers and young people to use the Internet and other new technologies to collaborate on projects that both enhance learning and make a difference in the world.

2. You must register for the MY HERO Learning Circle:
GO TO iEARN Learning Circles. You will then be placed into the appropriate group of classes… elementary, middle or high school. Registration for the Learning Circles happens a few weeks before each session… so for the mid-September to mid-January session you would register during the end of August or beginning of September. And for the end-of-January to end-of-May session, you would register in mid-January.


Getting Ready
Prior to Week 1 -- Teachers log on to iEARN, receive Circle News and read the Teacher's Guide. They introduce the concept of Learning Circles to their students.

Opening the Circle
Week 1 and Week 2
Learning Circle interaction begins. Classes log on and respond to the Electronic Roll Call. Each teacher sends an introductory message to the on-line Learning Circle forum.

Teachers and students prepare and send their responses to the MY HERO Classroom Survey.

Welcome Packs are mailed to postal addresses.

Planning the Learning Circle Projects
Week 3 and Week 4
Teachers in the MY HERO Learning Circle discuss The MY HERO Project proposed in the Classroom Survey. Each student and class decide how they will participate in The MY HERO Project:
- as journalists using the CREATE Program to write about your hero
- as artists using the GALLERY to visualize heroism
- as filmmakers producing SHORT FILMS about your hero that can then be entered in the MY HERO FILM FESTIVAL
- as musicians and oral storytellers recording and sharing your original work on MY HERO AUDIO STUDIO

Be sure to watch THE MY HERO REPORT DVD with your class. It gives a great overview of The MY HERO Project. A Teacher Training DVD is available upon request.


Students must register on MY HERO to access the program they will use to share their hero story. Most students will be using the CREATE PROGRAM to do a journalism piece consisting of text, images and links. REMEMBER THEIR STORIES MUST BE IN THEIR OWN WORDS.

Click here to register to use the Create Program.

Those using art, drawing, painting, collage or photography to visualize heroism will need to register in GALLERY.

Click here to register to use the Gallery.

Those doing a short film need to go to SHORT FILMS and follow the directions on what format to send their film in to MY HERO.

Those creating and uploading original music or reading their original poetry or hero story will need to register in the AUDIO STUDIO.

Click here to register to upload Audio.

Week 5 through Week 10

Once all of your students have completed and submitted their Web pages, MY HERO has a tool that you can use to organize their projects into a unique directory page for your group to share their stories. It's called Organizer and can be found in the Teachers Room on MY HERO. You will receive a tutorial on how to create an ORGANIZER directory page in your Welcome Pack.

The MY HERO Teachers Room holds a wealth of info and resources to help teachers. Please check it out.

(Most groups will be out of school for at least a week during this period, the circle continues with those who are in school).

Week 11 through Week 13
Students and teachers have a chance to share their own work with each other, as well as the work of their partner classes. It would be nice for each class to give comments to their partners about the stories, art and short films they are seeing. Schools post their final project on the FINAL POSTINGS page of the Learning Circles.

Closing the Circle
Week 14
Teachers and students send their final good-bye messages to the forum and the Learning Circle closes. The list will still be active for a week after the end of Learning Circles to make sure all final messages are received. Many teachers and students that participate in these circles have kept in touch and even visited each other. It is truly a wonderful experience!!!