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As the technology integration specialist for two schools that encompass grades K-8, I have many people with whom I work. I am frequently pondering how best to share the many resources, tip and tricks, and ideas that I come across from my PLN or that I have learned about via my own professional development experiences. I share things with specific groups (science teachers, for example) when a resource is content-specific.

Image: Creative Commons/flickr http://flic.kr/p/cu3jnE via Intersection Consulting

Image: Creative Commons/flickr http://flic.kr/p/cu3jnE
via Intersection Consulting

I also share many of these things via a Tech News that I compile every other week or so. This came about after it was made clear that I was sending too many emails with too much information, feedback that I greatly appreciated! The Tech News includes timely announcements from the tech department, tech-related professional development opportunities, new collaborative and global projects, and tips and tricks involving the tools we use on a regular basis. There’s more too- innovative videos, sharing examples of what educators in our schools are doing, and information about how/when to get support. It turns out that the Tech News is read and viewed by quite a few people, but not enough people. It’s just another thing for the teachers who already have too much on their plates.

It has also become clear that those who don’t get to the Tech News aren’t aware of the things I assume they know. That’s a big mistake on my part. I wonder why everyone else isn’t in my head?!

I get very excited about the things I learn and come across and am eager to share, but what is the best way to do that? How can I share things in a timely manner, but in a way that doesn’t overload the teachers even more?

Suggestions? How do YOU communicate and share with those in your schools/districts?

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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.
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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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