Thing #15 – Professional Learning Networks

Building a PLN Through Social Networks!

I have been Facebook and Twitter user for awhile now, and I’ve recently added Google+ to my repertoire.  I already belong to a number of the teaching resources, and because of this, there are several new ones that are frequently recommended to me.  I’ve already had the opportunity to build my Professional Learning Network through social networks.  I am also now a proud follower of the 21 Things 4 Teachers Twitter Network!

MACUL!

I am now an official MACUL member, and I was able to sign up for a number of Special Interest Groups during my sign-up process.  I’m hoping to become an even more proficient technology teacher for my students, but also a leader in my school.  While all of the web tools and concepts introduced in the 21 Things course are groundbreaking and exactly what is necessary for education to move forward, these ideas are quite new to my district, and I look forward to sharing what I have learned through this course and what I will get from MACUL!  These Special Interest Groups may help me to get started.

  • Multimedia (SIGMM)
  • Professional Learning (SIGPL)
  • Technology Coordinators (SIGTC)
  • Online Learning (SIGOL)

MACUL Journal!

After becoming a proud member of MACUL, I noticed the journals on the site right away.  It felt like Christmas when I realized that the journal was completely FREE online, and I had immediate access to it!!  I know I only had to read one article, but an hour later, I realized that I had just read the entire journal and was actually disappointed that I had reached the end.  I read through several contributions from people I actually knew, and so I felt pretty important!  😉  I read through the current journal, Fall 2014, Volume 35, Issue 1.  The most interesting articles to me included:

  • TRIG Classroom Readiness – The staff where I teach is constantly griping during staff meetings about the new testing that is right around the corner and how are students won’t be prepared for it.  I wonder if this is something that would help ease their concerns.  I plan on sharing this article with my principal for some potential professional developement.
  • Bringing the Real World Into Our Classrooms – As a math teacher, my students are constantly inquiring as to WHY they have to learn this “junk”.  After reading through this article, I am now a Vimeo member, and I will definitely be using some of the Video Story Problems in my classroom this year.
  • Building Online Assessment Literacy – As with the first article I mentioned, the new testing methods require our students to be able to show what they know as far as content, rather than being bogged down by their lack of technology proficiency.  This topic is a must for our students.
  • A Dynamic Resource for Classrooms – The mention of 21 Things for Students here is perfect, as it is an idea that I have been toying with since way back in Thing #2…as I gradually realized this resource was out there.  We have an outstanding technology teacher in our building, but after blending my Math Lab class last year, I’ve realized that my students’ technology skills are limited to keyboarding, word processing, and data sheet skills.  They are completely unaware of the Internet safety and collaborative skills that are necessary in the world today.  I would certainly like to take some time this year to work with students through 21 Things for Students and to share this resource with our technology teacher.
  • When Digital Native Blog – This is yet another idea that I have tossed around since the very beginning of this course.  Our district writing scores are low, and administration and curriculum leaders have been encouraging us ALL to include more writing in our own core content for quite awhile.  As a math teacher, I never really knew how to implement more writing effectively until taking my Masters in Math Education program completely online, submitting more writing than I ever dreamed possible.  Having students create a blog to write about their math skills is ingenious!  It’s an excellent location for students to write about what they’ve learned, what they understand, what is still confusing…and they can comment and collaboratively work through math content!  I love this idea!

As I said, I got a little carried away with this journal, but the good news is that I am certain to go back and read past issues now, eagerly awaiting the latest issue.

REMC!

Sadly, I must admit that as early as 2-3 years ago, I would receive emails from our REMC director and just shrug my shoulders.  I had no idea what REMC was, what it did, and no one had ever really mentioned it in our district or explained it, so it didn’t seem that important.  NOW, things are dramatically different!  I lament over the years worth of resources and information that I missed out on, simply due to ignorance.  I am certain that the new school year will bring on HUGE changes in my own classroom, and I’m hoping that a “ripple effect” will cause other staff members to see what I’m doing and bring about some changes district-wide.  As a BLiC instructor, I have already begun to share blended learning ideas with colleagues, and it is guaranteed that they will hear all about 21 Things and how much REMC 10 can do for them.

After visiting the REMC page, I watched the video entitled “Knocking Down Walls: Connecting Students With Blogging” because of this growing idea I’ve had about students forming their own blog page.  It was nice to hear the confirmation that blogs are an excellent place for students to put down their ideas and collaborate.  What I hadn’t thought of was the fact that student blogs will provide students with an entire year’s portfolio of work that they will have forever if they choose, much like this blog that I’ve been keeping throughout the 21 Things course.    The  Kidblog space seems nice, but I’d love to do some exploring to see what would work best.

ISTE Standards

Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity – Building a Professional Learning Network will provide me with the latest information on building a learning environment that will inspire my students.  Whether it be through professional, social, or collaborative sources, the knowledge is invaluable.

Model digital age work and learning – As the knowledge is built for me as a teacher through professional learning networks, I will be able to take what I’ve learned and model and share that information with my students and colleagues.  This is the direction that education is heading, and it is important for students to see models with digitla tools.

Engage in professional growth and leadership – Becoming a member of MACUL and linking to a variety of educators through professional and social networks, I am actively growing professionally as I acquire more information.  Sharing what I have learned with my colleagues will mark me as a leader in the field.

CITW – Best Practices

Cooperative learning – Students will reap the benefits of what I learn through Professional Learning Networks.  I already have a Facebook page that I have set up for my students (past, present, and future), and I also have a Twitter account.  Students can begin building their own learning network as they are exposed to a variety of digital age tools and resources.

Setting objectives and providing feedback – Through social networks, I can certainly share objectives with students as well as provide feedback.  For example, I can Tweet to students the objectives of tomorrow’s lesson (maybe graphing parabolas), and I can encourage students to put on their graphing brains.  Similarly, a student has often asked me a question on Facebook about homework, and I am able to respond directly.

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One thought on “Thing #15 – Professional Learning Networks

  1. As a former REMC director I know how hard it is to get the word out to teachers. My first and second year, I literally visited every building and did a dog and pony show to introduce REMC resources to them. Usage really doubled of the videos we had at the time etc. You cannot just send emails etc because they are dismissed if they really don’t pertain or people don’t understand them.
    Glad you enjoyed the journal so much. I just got it yesterday and I read it front to back! I know what you mean. The articles are easy to read and always have great ideas.

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