Written by 5th grade teacher Heath Kelley
What is a PLN? According to Edutopia, "A PLN is a tool that uses social media and technology to collect, communicate, collaborate and create with connected colleagues anywhere at any time. Participating educators, worldwide, make requests and share resources. Each individual educator becomes a potential source of information."
Watch the screencast below to view one way of extending your PLN. Also, please share ways you have of using Facebook or other ways to extend your PLN.
Written by fifth-grade teacher Heath Kelley (@6kelley)
There are many social media options that provide content for educators to collaborate and share ideas. One of these options, Twitter, is used by millions of teachers to supplement the learning that may not take place during face-to-face, traditional professional development sessions.
I first started using Twitter a few years ago as a way to glean from experts such as Rick Wormeli (@rickwormeli2), Marzano Research (@MarzanoResearch), and read about how fellow teachers implemented strategies in their classrooms. I began following hashtags that organized topics such as standards based grading (#sbg). Twitter chats provided a place to discuss questions and exchange ideas. The district I was teaching at worked to communicate a shared vision to the community with posts of what was happening in and around the school using a common hashtag, similar to Howard Winneshiek (#2020howardwinn). Tools such as TweetDeck continue to help me organize the people and categories that I want to follow.
The personalized nature of Twitter gives teachers an opportunity to direct their learning at their own pace. Todd Whitaker (@toddwhitaker), author of What Great Teachers Do Differently, speaks to this when he says, “Twitter is the best PD in the world. Twitter is not an obligation. Email is an obligation.”
"Twitter = Connections. The bulk of what I have done in my teaching pedagogy has been lifted, stolen, and shared from sources using social media. Specifically, Twitter has afforded me the opportunity to connect, personally, with the creator of some really awesome educational tools that have helped me extend learning and make it more meaningful for students. It is like a short-cut to meeting and engaging with people smarter than I am in the field I am passionate about. Creating a Professional Learning Network (PLN) through Twitter has also helped me stay really motivated and engaged with learning how to become better at my craft. I only hope to continue to build my footprint on Twitter and be a resource for others to reciprocate all the benefits I've received from it."
- Zach Fromm (@ZachFromm1)
"I use Twitter to be exposed to current research by following leaders in the fields of education and math education; I have read more professional articles via Twitter than any other resource. I also use Twitter to help me process my thoughts on, and see other sides of, issues. Often this is done as part of a Twitter Chat, but I have also responded to individuals or groups to participate in these types of conversations. I do not always have time to check in, and I had to learn that that is ok. When I do have a chance to check in I almost always find some inspiration for reflecting more deeply on what I am doing in my classroom- and to me that is key. Twitter has made me more thoughtful about the decisions I am making in my classroom, rather than just following the status quo."
- Allysen Lovstuen (@alovstuen)
"I've found Twitter to be a great way to take advantage of the hive-mind to help me keep up on new thinking in both ELA and science. I've also shared materials that I've developed on Twitter and have most definitely benefited from seeing others' work, too."
- Steve Peterson (@insidethedog)
"Twitter is something I'm fairly new to, but it was introduced to me as an educational tool at a music education conference two years ago. I follow a wide range of people -- some friends and family, some educators, some policy-makers, and some pop culture personalities. Twitter is where I turn when I have 45 seconds to kill -- and it's amazing how many times I come across a gem of an idea that can transfer into my classroom! Sometimes I find stand-alone tech integration ideas, other times I stumble across a thread of tweets from amazing music educators around the country engaging in an on-going conversation about best practices. While Twitter isn't my first stop for research about education, it's definitely opened some doors and sent me down some rabbit holes!"
- Andrew Ellingsen (@AndrewEllingsen)
"Our goal with our twitter account is to use it as a tool to positively push information out about our activities and what our kids are accomplishing in all of their activities." Here is a link for more information about the Decorah High School Social Media Presence.
- Adam Riley (@Decorah_Vikings)
"I use Twitter to connect to various individuals in the physical education setting as well as for coaching. There are many valuable resources to connect with on Twitter and I have found it as a very easy tool to use. It is also been a way to be visible with my students as well and be able to communicate with them through this medium."
- Jonathan Carlson (@coachjc03)
"I get inspiration from a variety of sources: professional journals, Facebook groups, and email subscriptions. Nothing, however, compares to the depth and breadth of information I receive through Twitter. At the KPEC conference last summer in Dubuque, Todd Whitaker, educational leader and author, motivated me to use this invaluable resource more than I had been. He stated, “Teaching is a lonely world; Twitter connects you with experts. You learn how to be great by great people.”
Was he ever right! All my favorite educators – Penny Kittle, Carol Jago, Meenoo Rami, and Kelly Gallagher (to name a few) as well as groups such as TeachThought, edutopia, NCTE, and Heinemann PD are now available to me through Twitter. Just this week I learned about new books my students will love, prompts for argumentative writing, and strategies for reaching quiet and disengaged students. I can also search a topic (for example Civil Rights Movement) to assist me as I’m refining lesson plans or search #edchat for more inspiration.
I used to feel guilty about following others without tweeting out information in return, but another statement by Todd Whitaker alleviated those feelings. He said, “Twitter is not an obligation; it is 24/7 learning.” I realize people share because they want to help others become better at their craft, and I sure appreciate that! I’ll still want to read books and attend conferences to hear from people whose work I admire, but now I can access what they’re thinking about with a quick tap on my phone. Priceless!"
- Liz Fox (@Lizabethfox1)
"I began using Twitter in 2012. My initial goal was to connect with other professional educators and gather resources to help me be a better teacher. I have found that at times I can also be a resource for other teachers. I like sharing ideas and seeing what types of activities and classroom management styles other teachers use. Twitter allows me to make those connections with teachers all across the nation quickly and easily. I have also participated in Educational Chats. These are opportunities to engage in discussions with other like-minded professionals in a guided format. I also use Twitter to follow authors. I find it fascinating that many authors will reply to my tweets. It is fun and exciting to share these connections with my students."
- Jenny Butler (@jennybutler83)
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