This semester I focused on building a Personal Learning Network (PLN). As an educator, creating connections is important to be successful! One thing led to another and pretty soon my PLN expanded a great deal. In the future, these connections will be beneficial and I will continue to build them.
This is a before picture of my PLN...
As you can see there was not a ton there.
I first started building my PLN by creating a professional Twitter. I decided to create a Twitter for educational purposes so I could create beneficial connections with other professionals. To start I found other educators to follow. Immediately, I started finding useful information. In the future, I will continue to grow my Twitter network because it is an excellent way to learn new thing, share ideas, and ask questions. Additionally, this would be a great way to share information with students and athletes.
Once my professional Twitter had a good base, I started to try to build connections with others. I spread new knowledge I was gaining in class and retweeting beneficial information. I even shared links to different assignments that I created, hoping to give others ideas or provide them with an activity they could use in their classrooms.
It was exciting to get a response but I found it really difficult to gain follower for them to benefit from the information I was sharing. In the future, I will gain more followers and it will be easier to get feedback and to get my work out to others. The more experience I gain the more valuable people I will interact with over Twitter. I did not realize the amount of knowledge at your fingertips from one social media source.
As a way to build more connections and gain followers, I joined a TweetChat. This was completely new to me and I was not really sure what to expect. Professor Zeitz had suggested this to his EdTech students so I thought it was a cool way to expand my PLN. It ended up being a live stream video were you could tweet others who were also watching the live video of Trevor, the creator of Train Ugly. This experience was fantastic! It was such an exciting and easy way to gain information. I was able to talk to other educators and even ask questions to Trevor. I started following a number of other educators, furthering my PLN. In the future I will definitely join more TweetChats to expand my knowledge and bounce ideas off of other educators.
From their I was thrilled to learn more about Train Ugly. I immediately started following Trevor Ragan on Twitter. He discussed the Train Ugly website in the video chat so of course I had to go check it out for myself! Seeking this resource allowed me to find out even more about Train Ugly and gave me more time to brainstorm how I will use it. This website was great and I already found ways I would take things I learned from their and implement them in my life. In the future, I will use this website to find out more information, share this wonderful ideas with others, and to contact Trevor in order to find out more information. I can see how growth mindset is important to instill in my students and athletes in the future.
Additionally, Twitter helped connect me to other resources. I saw a retweet of a Twitter account called "WeAreTeachers". I followed them but the article ended up talking me to a blog called The Brown Bag Teacher which was filled with many beneficial articles. I explored this and read many interesting articles. This blog was so helpful I thought about how I could use it in the future as an educator. This source is filled with lesson plans for different subjects, articles about technology in the classroom, and other informative articles for teachers. I will definitely continue to dig deeper into the blog and in the future use it to continually grow as an educator. This will provide some fun ideas for future lesson plans.
Well now that I had so many wonderful resources to use in the future, I had to create a more efficient way of storing them other than hundreds of sticky notes. This lead me to Symbaloo! I have always been one to keep more than twenty tabs open at a time, in addition to my sticky notes covered with different resources I will need down the road. Symbaloo is a website that allows you to book mark different resources so you can efficiently return to them when they are needed. I first created a Symbaloo page that had different websites that I will use in the future. For instance, the Train Ugly website, Iowa Common Core website, and many others.
The benefits of Symbaloo were apparent imminently. I can use it now to organize things for class and things I discover that I want to use in the future. It will also be very beneficial in the future to continue to organize important things as a teacher. This got me thinking...How can this benefit my students? I can create Symbaloo pages for students to organize any important websites they will frequently visit. Older students could save websites that they find when working on a project or a paper to easily return to them. Additionally, I can create a Symbaloo page that my students will use the websites that I have preselected and they will be located in one spot.
I absolutely love reading! So when I was reading one of the Harry Potter books, I got to thinking that it would be cool to reach out to J.K. Rowling. This would be a fun and interesting way to build my PLN. I tweeted J.K. Rowling but sadly I never got anything back in response. It is understandable though because she has so many fans. In my future classroom, I will try to make connections with authors of the books my students love. This would make the kids ecstatic to hear back from one of their favorite authors. Before I would tweet to one of their favorite authors I would contact them and fill them in on how my students love their work and would enjoy hearing from them. I think this will prepare the author and hopefully then we would get a shout out.
This then lead me to checkout a couple of my favorite authors' websites. I have not ever visited an author's website before but after I tried to reach out to one of them I was curious to learn more about them. I chose to visit J.K. Rowling's website and Ransom Riggs' website. It was really insightful to read and learn more about each author and any news about their work. As a teacher, I plan to encourage students to find the websites of their favorite authors. Students will learn more about their personal life, career, and maybe find a new book to read. Additionally, I learned that it will be valuable to students learning to have them research information about the author of the book we are about to read.
Pinterest, the consumer of hours... Most of us could say that they have spent hours on hours looking at tons of different things on Pinterest; I know I have. One fun way I found to expand my PLN was through Pinterest. I ended up creating a new Pinterest account that is just for educational purposes. I have seen so many educational boards on Pinterest that I wanted one account that I could organize all the good ideas that I was finding. This resource gave me so many great ideas from other educators that I can use in my own classroom eventually. It is so easy to specify your search to find an abundance of ideas for that particular topic. I was also lead to other websites and book through Pinterest that I will utilize in the future.
I created boards for each separate category. For example, I made a board dedicated to Social Studies material only. I will benefit from Pinterest in my future teaching because I will use it to find different experiments, activities, crafts, and much more to implement in my classroom. Additionally, I will use Pinterest to share my own ideas with other educators and parents. I can even create different boards that will be beneficial to my students to use.
Another awesome tool I used to expand my PLN was Zoom. Zoom is a free video conferencing source. I learned about Zoom because I had a Zoom meeting with my professor and group to discuss our group project. It made it convenient for everyone to meet even though we were all in different locations. Zoom is a great resource that I will use in the future to communicate with teachers around the world and collaborate with my colleagues. I will use this resource to reach out to other educators to gain different perspectives and expand my knowledge. This will make it much easier for me to gain knowledge from a teacher who is teaching in a very different area of the world then me. Overall, this tool will help me educate my students with different perspectives in mind.
My PLN has grown so much in such a short amount of time. This is a map of what my PLN looks like now...
Can you see the huge difference? I know that to be a successful educator I need to continue to grow and expand my Personal Learning Network. There are so many amazing tools and people out there, you just have to go find them!