Learning, Presentations

Building a PLN

I am sharing some ideas with teachers at my school about building a Personal Learning Network. I have put together a Haiku Deck to summarize my main points and then expanded on these in a Smore Flyer.

Part of my job as a Learning Technology Teacher is sharing tools with teachers so I decided to use two ways of publishing that I don’t always use.

Smore is a great way of putting a lot of multi-media information neatly into one spot. They offer free accounts which do not expire but do have a 5 flyer limit.  Educators can sign up for $59USD per year which gives access to many education themed backgrounds, a default private setting, and unlimited flyers (so your kids can go crazy and make flyers too!).

Haiku Deck is a piece of  presentation software with a Presentation Zen feel.  It is minimalist in design and won’t allow you to fill your slides with thousands of words.  Instead, when you type in a few key words or a sentence with your main point, Haiku Deck will offer you pictures that match those words for you to choose as your background images.  All the images are licensed for Creative Commons use. The only hitch with this one is that our tech department can’t help us with the firewall situation that is blocking access to the images via the iPad app at school.  😦

Any suggestions for things to add to the resources below for people new to creating a Personal Learning Network? Your feedback is welcome! Click on the images below to go to the Flyer and the Presentation:

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PLN

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21st Century, Coetail

Connect, Connect, Connect

This post was previously published on my COETAIL blog as part of a five courseCertificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy.

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In The Connected Educator , Nussbaum-Beach and Hall write of the emergence of a new culture of teaching in which “conversations turn to topics of practice rather than staffroom complaints.” They go on to describe the evolution of the teacher as a process in which there is “a shift from seeing education as a series of things we do to students and instead as a dynamic learning environment in which learners take ownership for their own growth and pursue it passionately.”

I am so inspired when I sit with a colleague at lunch (as happened recently) and they recommend the ideas and passions of their former colleagues and it turns out they and I have long been connected, virtually.  I have stopped expecting someone else to take care of my professional development and I am dedicated to ‘passionately pursuing’ my own growth.

From links to articles, to ideas on lesson plans, my Personal Learning Network is a real time professional development network of educators that I rely on to help me do my job as an educator. –Jeff Utecht REACH, p 10.

I agree with Jeff wholeheartedly although I would go so far as to define ‘educators’.  I was intentional in the way I set up my Facebook and my Twitter accounts (although the lines in Facebook are becoming more blurred as educational organizations like Edutopia,Mind/Shift, Making Thinking Visible, and various PYP groups are pushing a more visible presence on Facebook). My intention was to keep Facebook for keeping up with friends and family and Twitter for education and educators.  And authors.  And humanitarians, poets, activists, innovators, ruckus-makers, and disruptors.  I made a conscious decision to not follow friends who tweeted about their coffee/dinner/workouts. I love these friends but Twitter was my sacred ground for teaching and learning.

I started my blogging life with a blog that was a little bit of everything – personal, professional, cooking, crafting, photographing.  Then I found myself leaning more toward the education side of things, buoyed by comments from friends and parents of children I was teaching or had taught. This blog evolved from there. I wasn’t sure if I had anything to say but I blogged anyway.

When Jeff talks of the time it takes to develop a PLN he is spot on.  There have been times over the course of the past two years when I have felt like quitting the blog.  Who would miss me amongst the excess of 200 million blogs already in existence? So I eased off and then I stopped (and had a baby) and then I got going again because I missed not being connected.

Recently my dad sent me a message on Facebook.  It read:

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Dads are great, right? But he touches on the same issue that Jeff mentions: blogging when no one is looking (or reading).  My stats indicate that I have a lot of ‘lurkers’ and I would confess that I too, am a lurker at times.  But when I get out there and post and comment and respond, that is when the learning happens.

A quote that has stayed with me since I first read it in his book, Creating Innovators is as follows:

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Who are you plugged in to?  How do you connect with other educators?

Innovation, Inspiration, Internet

To Tweet or Not To Tweet – It is Now A Conscious Decision

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Gone are the days when it was “cool” to not know what Twitter was.  Or any form of Web 2.0 technology that enables you to connect to the bigger picture.  I took a while to become a fan of Twitter and now, I can’t imagine my life as an Educator without it.

But first, came the change in my mindset or my world view and then came for the need for a tool to support that change and that tool happened to be Twitter.

That is worth me repeating.  Seriously.

First came the change, then came the need for a tool. 

I really don’t mind if you use Twitter or not.  What I do think is important, is that you challenge yourself to maintain a connection with other people wanting make the same kind of ruckus you are making – or wanting to make.  Over the last six months or so, I have become more active on Twitter and would site this tool as being in the top ranking of the Professional Development that I have gotten as a teacher.

Why? Because I am connecting with other Educators and we are not bound by geography.  We are able to quickly share in 140 characters or less, what is going on in our classrooms and to connect.

Just today, in the last half hour or so, I have:

  • Been inspired by the amazing work happening at my former school, Yokohama International, in a post titled Tech Pilots Taking Off.  It really is inspiring to not only read about a phenomenal program, but I am both blown away and grateful for the thorough documentation of the implementation and goals for this program.  The example set here of initiative, forward-thinking, collaboration and leadership is truly outstanding.  What’s more, it is not being hidden but put out there for others to use, copy, emulate, remix and build upon.  Did I mention I am inspired?
  • Been taken through a very thorough analysis of what it means for a project to be authentic.  “What Does It Take For A Project To Be Authentic?” gives great understanding about the use of the word authentic as it applies to Project Based Learning (PBL) or just learning in general.  It cleared up a few wonderings I had and has given me a new lens through which I can take a look at the assessment of and for learning that occurs in my classroom.
  • Spoken often of the amazing work in inquiry-based learning that I experienced first-hand in the classroom of Tasha Cowdy.  I was so excited to see Tasha post about the Morning Meeting routine she establishes with her kindergarten class.  It is phenomenal and so empowering and a must-see for anyone interested in inquiry teaching and learning.
  • Been reminded of a tool I was introduced to a a couple of weeks ago called Thinglink but have not explored fully.  Turns out I can now benefit from other’s explorations via the post 26+ Ways to Use ThingLink in the Classroom.
  • Been introduced to a new app called Kids Journal which I have not downloaded (yet!) but could be a fun tool for easily documenting summer activities such as the Summer Bucket List challenge we just set our fifth graders as a ‘prewriting’, information gathering exercise for their first sixth grade writing assignment in the new school year.

And this is just the surface!  I use Instapaper as my ‘read later’ service.  When on Twitter or browsing the internet, one click of ‘Read Later’ and all these goodies get stored on my Instapaper account – kind of like my own awesome newspaper of awesomeness.

I keep my Twitter account mostly for following educators but also writers, artists, musicians, curators, innovators, movers and shakers.  I want to know what is new and exciting in education but also around education – we are not in isolation.

If tweeting is not for you, fine.  But I encourage you to find some way of connecting yourself to big ideas in a way that works.  You will thank yourself and your parents and students will thank you even more.