Posts Tagged ‘PLN’

I’m pretty happy with the variety of discussion formats that we’ve used for this class: (“conversations” through the comment sections of our blogs; the teachingscience2.0 wiki, and D2L), and I’m happy that we finished out the course with the threaded conversations on D2L. They were a nice change of pace/format, and actually seemed like they were more of a conversation, if that makes any sense. Maybe because there was more back-and-forth than on blog comments, where I felt like I was chiming in every once in a while, but not actually writing to the author (even though I was).

I see three themes that came through loud and clear (and many of my classmates have commented on these already):

1. The increased confidence that comes from getting to know a few tools/skills, having had the chance to test drive them for a while. And even though this course was carried out “in public” (out there in the blogosphere for everyone to read my assignments!) it still felt pretty safe. We were collectively willing to admit that some tools were frustrating, or that we had problems loading, embedding, getting audio levels and image resolutions right. But I’m sure that each of us found websites, software, and new tech tools that we will definitely use (to good effect) in the coming year. We’ll also try some things that won’t work out as planned, and that’s okay too.

2. Students will have similar range of reactions to the new technology, and they’ll need some time to practice and get comfortable with new tools as well. I’m not entirely convinced that all kids take to technology as quickly as we (as teachers/adults) think they do. I’m skeptical of lumping all students in any category (especially one as broad as general as “digital natives“) just because they’ve been around computers since they were born. They’ve been around food since they’ve been born, and some are still picky eaters.

3. The chance to connect with new teachers and expand our personal learning networks has been invaluable, and will continue to be a useful resource. We come from all kinds of schools, we teach different age levels, and we teach various subjects (within the broad heading of science). But we are all interested in making science education better, and we have found new colleagues with whom to share information. I’m happy to have made some new connections, and I look forward to hearing about your classes through the coming year.


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I need to write these things down before I forget them. I actually typed them first into a catchall Google Doc I’ve started called “Before I Forget.” (That document has notes on everything from books I’d like to read and music I’d like to check out, to what we’re having for dinner on Thursday night when friends come over.) So most of that list won’t be of any benefit to anyone but me (although parts would be interesting to some). But I digress…

Here are the things I’d like to follow up on after tonight’s #scichat (Tuesdays 9pm; Twitter):

  • Using a Pecha Kucha model to help students work towards more effective presentations – 20 slides, 20 seconds each. It doesn’t work for every presentation, but I really like the model. You could modify it to fit your class or project (10 slides, 20 seconds each; 10×10; you get the idea). Several teachers mentioned that they limit the amount of text allowed on a given slide. I find this incredibly helpful for 7th and 9th graders.
  • Revisit Prezi this year – good presentations, bad presentations; how to make a good one? I signed up for an account last winter and played around with a presentation to introduce Cell Respiration, but I ran out of time before the unit started. Revisit.
  • Twitter #APBio chat for Mondays 8-9pm EST. I don’t teach AP Bio, but I might listen in.
  • Read “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information” by Edward Tufte. Called “the Strunk & White” of visual design. Are there elements of this that could be helpful in teaching my students to communicate effectively with visual media? I think there might be. Added to the book pile…
  • Add contact info to The Science Teacher’s Hub to broaden PLN – http://sciteachhub.wetpaint.com/

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Cross-posted at HowToUse65.

So, with the interest of collaborating and sharing ideas with other educators, many teachers have begun to “build” their own Personal Learning Network (PLN). “Grow” a PLN might be a better way to put it, since a PLN expands organically (in some ways), and it requires tending, occasional pruning, and general upkeep not unlike a plant or garden. It’s also made of living people. Making connections with other professionals in one’s field is not a new idea. Professors and scholars of all kinds have been traveling to other cities, monasteries, and universities for centuries with the intent of sharing information and learning from others. This happens today, although The Professional Conference now plays a significant role in many fields, as do the organizations that sponsor those conferences (NSTA, NABT, NCTM, NAIS, etc).

Everybody has a PLN, by the way. Your PLN includes the people in your department, colleagues present and past; they could be down the hall or a phone call or email away; it might include classmates from your college or university, folks you’ve met at conferences, on trips, through old fashioned social networking (family connections and cocktails), or sometimes they are simply friends of friends. Who do you turn to when you have a question about content, about teaching, assessment, learning styles, use of time, lab procedure? Who do you bounce ideas off of? Those people are part of your PLN (whether you’ve called it that or not). I can’t help but think of the old Sesame Street song — and I apologize in advance, a little, for getting this stuck in your head — “Who are the people in your neighborhood?

What’s different now is how people are making connections outside of those conferences, using the Web to share best practices, pedagogy, breakthroughs, field work, etc. (a web-based PLN). Blogs can also be a terrific forum for conversations, ones that allow for reflection, thoughtful comment, and discussion.

There are many ways that the Web can help to connect people:

Teaching networks like Classroom 2.0 are designed with connecting teachers of all disciplines. The Synapse is a similar network specifically for teachers of biology, and I’m looking forward to making new connections and participating there.

Twitter is a remarkable resource that’s used by many different people in many different ways. Thousands of educators have latched onto this tool as a way of sharing information and making connections. I joined Twitter during a workshop at November Learning‘s Building Learning Communities conference back in 2008, and it’s been key in growing my PLN. The website Twitter4Teachers is one of many that make it easy to find colleagues by discipline in other schools, districts, states, and countries. It can also be used in the classroom.

I use Delicious primarily as a way to keep track of web links from interesting articles I find online. If I don’t have time to read it all, or if I know I’ll want to have access to it later, I’ll add it to my bookmarks. I’m curious to find out how other people use Delicious.

This is just a start. Which tools you’ve found most helpful in connecting with other educators?

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