Posts Tagged ‘Personal Learning Network’

I was recently to share about the power and usefulness of Twitter at a recent conference and was given 10 minutes to do so. Ten minutes! That was a true challenge.
I turned to my PLN for help. I knew I wanted to share this video that I came across on Twitter. I need to thank the faculty and staff in District 123, wherever you are!

As I was preparing for this presentation, I tweeted this out:

“Preparing presentation. Please finish this sentence: I use Twitter as an educator because…”

And the responses came in and kept coming all day long! I’m sharing them here because I think they’re not only an illustration of the power of the PLN, but also may be helpful to share with those who don’t understand the value of Twitter.

Why Twitter?

  • because I want to learn from/interact with the best educators in the world.
  • because I get to connect and learn from people across space and time. The collective wisdom of my PLN is needed!
  • because it opens up thousands of new resources and perspectives that I wasn’t aware of before
  • because it is a place where I go to be inspired.
  • because”…it keeps me in a learning frame of mind!
  • Twitter connects me to smart, passionate innovative people who push, encourage and inspire me everyday.
  • because the sum of us is greater than we are individually (the wealth of knowledge and ideas)
  • because when I have questions, Twitter colleagues may have answers or resources to help me find answers
  • because I find great resources for learning & we can share our school’s work.
  • I can curate my own learning anytime anywhere. Oh & collaboration!
  • because it fertilizes ideas and cross pollinates them
  • because when I have questions, Twitter colleagues may have answers or resources to help me find answers
  • it’s a quick and easy way to collaborate with high quality people that care.
  • because I want to take ownership of my own PD- discovering & sharing great resources, being inspired by others.
  • because it helps me access learning for my students I could not do otherwise
  • because I can quickly read professional articles & be inspired by others to improve my practice…on a daily basis.
  • because I want to learn from the very best educators in the world.

Want to add any of your own?


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Some interesting turns of events lately. After our work with Powerful Learning Practice (PLP) this year, I was convinced even more about the power of being a connected educator. I decided to offer a course locally to help others begin that journey. I got in touch with a professional development organization that coordinates courses for educators. The ball got rolling and it became a reality.

I’ve publicized and marketed this offering via Twitter, a list-serve, at several conferences after presentations about PLNs (my own and others), meetings, and via email to specific people. After about 3 months of marketing and spreading the word, I found out this week that there’s one definite person registered. One.

I dug deep to figure this out. Are there too many other offerings in the area this summer? Are iPad courses taking all possible participants? Is work on the Common Core taking precedence? Does the blended-learning model I’ve offered (some face-to-face, some online meetings) not appeal to people? Perhaps educators just aren’t ready yet for this topic? (That can’t be, given how many educators ARE on Twitter, but maybe people not on Twitter just don’t get it?)

Then, our school district announced that we’d try a pilot program where teachers teach teachers in a summer course and support them in implementing the ideas the following school year. I was one of the teachers asked to do this with my peers. I used much of the same description for this course as the first one, with the focus on becoming connected educators. This was just announced yesterday to our faculty and there has been overwhelming response! We were going to limit it to 6 participants, but now it’s been doubled.

Why has this school-based course taken off when the other course didn’t? I’m going to chalk it up to the PLP experience. We have 5 others besides me from our team sharing with our colleagues about the value of being connected in our schools. My theory is that teachers in our schools have heard and are ready to get connected. Yeehah!

What do you think?

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Here are some quotes from the presentation our team did last week at the Culminating Activity for PLP. Thanks to @techsavvygirl for recording it! We welcome questions and comments!

If we are connected educators, what’s the impact on our students?

We decided to focus on us as learners and experience that together. We were invested in the process, we took our time.

We used a Google site to create a community of our own. We posted to it about once a week and supported one another. We spanned a span of grade levels and subject areas- but liked seeing what was happening for one another as the journey went on.
We were all lurking, questioning the value of lurking. How long do you lurk? Who should we follow? How deeply do you go? When you’re lurking and following, then you slowly start to tweet. We asked, “Are you tweeting out things that will be helpful to others?” We wanted to be contributors as well as takers.

I’m engaging in a conversation with people I don’t know and I feel respected. I started going into chats and it opened up a whole new world. That was a huge turning point.” We reached a new point of how we plan for what we do with our students and it was effecting our own teaching. We were able to use whatever group we found to enlarge our network of people who help us and we help them with what we do on a daily basis with our students.

The biggest obstacle was me. I didn’t know the value of networks. It was an amazing moment when I added hashtags and I got comments or RTs. My students blog, but was confined and now it’s not.”

How do we get more people in our school/district to drink the PLN kool-aid? The audience isn’t just the classroom anymore. Students can have a broader audience than just the teachers in the classroom. Students can have an audience of anyone in the world. Students can develop their own PLNs.”

I’ve been on Twitter for a few years and never tweeted. Finding out about hashtags changed everything for me. I found Twitter so powerful. It was like doing a Google search, but people gave me exactly what I needed when I needed it. I started paper-tweeting with students and then had them give me ideas of what to tweet on our class account. It gave my classroom transparency to the world. We’re connecting with other classrooms.”

“I have a dream that my first graders won’t be saying that they’re just beginning to build their PLNs when they’re our age. I am helping students know that they have others they can go to… like resident experts in the class. We’re reaching out to our parent community- I want students to know that they have a lot of people they can go to for help. When they are young adults, they will already have networks in place.”

“It’s wonderful to talk with people in your school, but so powerful to connect with others beyond that community – I now think about this and how it can help my students. I hope that my PLN will bridge the gap for me and my students, connecting us to the world.”

“It was not until this PLP experience that I started to redefine what it means to be connected and connecting. A recent Edutopia article really resonated with me- about the gap between haves and have nots, the teachers who have powerful networks, and know how to utilize that information to benefit their students and themselves.  I want my students to have the passion and know that nothing is impossible. You can do it, but if you don’t know how, there are others out there that are so good and so kind that they’ll help you.”

Overheard from a member of our team: “I don’t understanding why every teacher isn’t on Twitter.

How much are you surfing and how much are you publishing and engaging in conversations? Our data from surveys we took showed that we’re more engaged with what’s going on. More of us are finding resources and sharing them with one another and with others. A few of us are blogging and sharing our thoughts and ideas that way.

We’re hoping to continue this process in some form. We’re not going to stop or use Twitter less now that this PLP experience is winding down.

Next steps and questions: Our first PLN are our colleagues that we work with every day. Is the school environment supportive of innovation, risk-taking? Are we tolerant? We need a new box. Are we supportive of people who are trying to push the boundaries? Do we embrace change even though the path to progress is not always crystal clear?

Question from Sheryl: Your learning journey: would you label it transformational? Would we have gotten there without Twitter? “Yes! It was a group effort. When I found the educational chats and hashtags that were professional in nature, that changed everything about that network for me.” “We felt connected to one another, that made it easier, and pushed the learning a lot.” “I wouldn’t have gotten to where I did without our team community. Twitter is the gateway drug.”

Will’s question: Is the conversation in your classroom different now than it was at the beginning of the year? “The conversations are different and the direction is different. How do we move it out to others in our school? We need to feel comfortable as learners before we can do that with others. We know that we’re not done. We want to continue. How do we get others to realize the power of it and want to build their PLNs too? We’ll be meeting to try to determine where we go from here.”

“We always heard about and dreamed of connecting our classrooms with others globally, but weren’t sure how to do that. Now we found the road to get there.”

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Two big ideas converged yesterday for me. I’m a member of our school district’s Program Council, a leadership team that represents all aspects of our schools. I’m also devoted to expanding my Personal Learning Network (PLN) and the professional learning communities with which I interact and learn.

We have a Program Council meeting coming up this week and one topic is Adopting Effective Educational Practices. The Program Council is working on the task of outlining our thoughts to present to our administrators and school board. Fortunately, our administrators are open to change from within. Best Practices in Math as well as Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) are recent practices we’ve adopted as a district.

Some ideas that have come up in preparation for the Program Council meeting this week include:

  • An important part of adopting any new practice is the follow-through that occurs after initial implementation
  • Think about how adopting a practice will look from multiple angles
  • Who decides that we’re going to adopt another effective educational practice? With input from whom?
  • How will this impact teachers and their work? More work, enhanced work with students, etc.
  • How long will it take for the implementation of this practice? How will we know we’re there?
  • How does the process begin? Do we start with an initial ‘pilot’ group and then expand?
  • How do we get buy-in?
  • When do we stop adopting new practices and focus on what is happening now?

There’s very little out there on the ‘net about adopting effective practices. I’ve put questions out on Twitter and have not heard much. Who else has done this and what are the things you’ve encountered?

Here’s where my thinking converged. Yesterday, I saw a tweet on Twitter from @engaginged with a link to a post. The topic: Should building a Personal Learning Network (PLN) be required? Of course, I vote YES. From reading recent posts on this blog, it’s evident that I feel strongly that PLNs have a positive impact on teachers and learners of all ages. As Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach says, “None of us is as smart as all of us.”

Why shouldn‘t this be the next practice we adopt?

Our district’s initial task isn’t to pick another practice to adopt, yet it’s always on the horizon. Has anyone moved forward with establishing PLNs as an example of adopting a practice schoolwide?

I look forward to hearing input from others – both in the Program Council community as well as the larger networked community that reads this post.

Image credit: Creative Commons/flickr   http://flic.kr/p/2PRN1v

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I just finished reading The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age. This book resonated for me for many reasons. I have been working to build my own Personal Learning Network (PLN) over the past few years. The book helped solidify my understanding of PLNs and how they relate to professional learning communities. I feel better prepared to reach out and take the risks necessary to establish my digital footprint, build trust, and ultimately build community.

For the reader, this book is structured in a meaningful way. There are chapters that help differentiate between Personal Learning Networks, Communities of Practice and Professional Learning Communities. There are chapters that describe useful tools in building your PLN and connecting with others, along with examples of where to start and with whom. There are chapters that illustrate WHY this is important for educators in today’s world. Most importantly, it’s shared in a format that makes sense. The chapters begin with short scenarios illustrating the ideas and end with activities for the reader. These short activities (Get Connected!) are suggestions for how to create accounts, collaborate, and connect with others. Do these- they’re worth it! It’s hard to imagine that someone reading this book won’t be a connected educator when they’re finished. The book guides the reader through every step of the process smoothly.

I highly recommend this book. Educators world-wide are connecting, enriching their work with knowledge and experiences from one another, and building collaborative cultures. Don’t miss out on this journey.

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baby stepsI have written in the past about building my Personal Learning Network. I’ve truly felt the impact of connecting and collaborating with others. It’s been positive all around as I engage, think harder about education, contribute, and share.

Recently I wrote about some great events happening at school. One of which was our 100 Schools Map project. I think the effects of that experience are still paying off. Teachers are noticing that I may be able to assist them by utilizing my PLN. As a result, at least 3 teachers have asked me to send tweets out asking for comments on blogs, comments on Voicethreads, and comments about an on-going social studies project. I wonder if they’d be asking me to help them in this way if we hadn’t done that project?Did it demonstrate the power of the PLN in a more concrete manner?

Our PLP team is also embarking on an action research project to learn first-hand the benefits of building a PLN. That group, including our administrator and me, is striving to build our PLNs and find ways to measure the impact on ourselves as professionals and on our work with students. I truly look forward to the conversations and blog posts about our journey.

I’m almost finished reading Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach’s The Connected Educator. It’s providing fabulous fodder to support my growth, my thinking, and my next steps. How can I play a part in helping more educators on their journey to become connected?

My hope is that more in our community (and beyond!) are becoming aware of the value of PLNs and want to engage in deeper learning themselves. Teachers are ready to take those baby steps.


Image: Creative Commons/flickr http://flic.kr/p/4WmZiW By San Diego Shooter Nathan Rupert

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