PLN, Professional Learning Network. Sounds techy and 21st century, doesn’t it? Sounds like one more thing to add to the ever-growing list of responsibilities thrown at teachers. I get that, but I’ve also realized that carving out even 15 minutes a day to check in with those in my PLN has a huge impact on what I accomplish with students. I can hear some of my teacher friends now saying, “15 minutes? You’ve got to be kidding me! I only get 30 minutes of planning time some days, and I can’t waste 15 minutes of that playing on Twitter or Edmodo, or whatever else you’re suggesting.”
But let me give you an example of what I accomplished accessing my PLN last week:
- I found this great link http://www.periodicvideos.com/ which has videos for every element and sent it to our Science teachers plus posted on facebook for other friends who teach Science.
- I shared this Science and the Olympics site with my Science teacher friends http://www.nbclearn.com/portal/site/learn/science-of-the-summer-olympics
- I sent this link about a sister species to Neanderthals to a former student who teaches Biology http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/early-africans-mated-with-mystery-species-of-humans/2012/07/26/gJQAxFzZBX_story.html?Post+generic=%3Ftid%3Dsm_twitter_washingtonpost
- This article about technology reminded me of a doctoral classmate and a discussion we had last semester, so I forwarded it to him. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/is-cell-phone-new-pencil-jeff-grabill
- I tweeted this article http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/book_whisperer/2012/07/guess_my_lexile.html?cmp=ENL-EU-VIEWS2 at three educator friends because we’ve had this discussion.
- I bookmarked this video link http://www.bie.org/videos on PBL to use in a workshop I led yesterday.
- I used messaging on facebook to talk with a college friend about how being an NBCT (National Board Certified Teacher) is an asset to the GT students I teach.
- I participated in two #gtchats on Twitter – one about enrichment activities for GT students and the other on critical thinking. I bookmarked at least ten things that will benefit my students this fall.
- Thanks to Twitter, I learned a couple of new things I can do using www.prezi.com as a presentation tool.
- Through one of the many of PBL sites, I found a great PBL on rollercoasters and Newton’s Laws of Motion for one of our Science teachers.
- I found these rare Life Magazine photos of the Dust Bowl survivors http://news.yahoo.com/photos/life-dust-bowl-survivors-slideshow/ for one of our Social Studies teachers to add to his wiki.
- I emailed my friend and amazing library/media specialist about why she preferred one site over another.
For me, the beauty of a PLN is I get to choose who is in it. It allows me to tap into so many resources that would not be available otherwise, and it’s free! If I have a question about gifted education, I can tweet using the hashtag #gtchat, and within minutes I have responses from teachers, parents, and other GT experts. I can do the same with #edchat, #edreform, #sschat, or dozens of other education hashtags. I love that I can ask a question about a resource, an article, a pedagogy and get answers from all over the world. Because I follow people in all areas of education, one question can generate multiple perspectives, and at least one response will make me go, “hmm”.
But the best part? When I find things, I share it. I can retweet it, tweet it at specific people, post it on facebook, bookmark it and share it through www.bagtheweb.com or www.diigo.com, or I can add it to my wiki. Never before have I felt so in control of my own professional development.
So, the next time a co-worker, library/media specialist, or administrator talks about creating a PLN, instead of assuming you don’t have time, give it a try. To help you get started, I’ll share one last thing, this great list of 1,133 educational leaders to kick start your twitter feed. http://dangerouslyirrelevant.org/2012/07/1133-educational-leaders-to-kickstart-your-twitter-feed.html