Your Personal Learning Network may arguably be your most valuable resource in not only your career, but in your personal life as well. As I take my next steps to becoming a teacher, I have begun making conscious efforts to expand my PLN as much as possible. Here are some ways I've done this.
1. Twitter Chats
#iaedchat is something I was not unfamiliar with before this semester, however I finally began to utilize the awesome opportunity this August. Because I was very involved in studying education in high school and come from a family of educators, I knew about #iaedchat when it first began. I periodically tuned in to it on Sunday nights throughout high school and my first year of college, but never felt compelled to get involved. Since I did, it has opened so many new doors. Not only was I able to contribute to the crucial conversations being had by educators across Iowa and beyond, but I also found this Twitter Chat to be a great way to get connected with other educators and expand my PLN. This resource is great now, as an education student, because it allows me to learn from those in the field and over a wide variety of age levels, locations, and content areas. In my future career it will still allow me to learn from my fellow teachers but will also be a way for me to share my knowledge and experience. The chat I participated in on November 6th was very interesting as the topic was Parent Teacher Conferences. This is not something I have much of any knowledge on, so I learned a lot from watching, talking to educators, and contributing my ideas which resulted in feedback.
2. Using Twitter to Connect One-on-One
During the #iaedchat on November 6th I had the opportunity to ask a principle at a school in Iowa about his experiences with student-led parent teacher conferences. I replied to a tweet of his during the chat and he urged me to directly message him to discuss his experiences. He has had a lot of experience with many forms of conferences and had a lot to share. Being open to reach out to educators on Twitter like this in the future will help me to continue expanding my PLN as well as learn from others’ experiences in addition to my own.
3. Creating Educational Pinterest Boards
Pinterest is a great tool not only to share and find ideas on a variety of topics, but also makes it easy to organize these ideas. In the past I have used Pinterest to collect holiday gift ideas, online shop, and occasionally send hints to my parents about what I wanted for dinner. I have just begun utilizing this great tool for educational purposes as well. I can search a variety of educational topics and hundreds of people have probably pinned or shared their ideas on Pinterest. When I find things I am interested in, want to go back to read later, or know I’ll use a lot I can pin them to boards I have created by category. I can share these boards as well. Maybe in the future I will use Pinterest with my students to share resources or websites I think they would benefit from using. I can also use my boards to share with other educators.
4. Following Educational Pinterest Boards
When you first create a Pinterest account the site asks you what you’re interested in. This way, instead of just searching for educational tools or pins they will pop up whenever you use the site. I have found that often this allows me to find pinners who have a lot of good ideas to share, and if I follow their boards they will follow me back so that we can both share ideas with one another. Another great thing about this option is that you can see pins on topics you weren’t necessarily searching for. You never know when you’ll run into a great idea! In my classroom, if I have students follow some educational topics on Pinterest it may help them discover new ways to locate, create, and share information.
I have been writing blog posts for 4 years now, however I have just recently begun sharing them more publicly with other educators. In high school I wrote for a student-led website and collaborative which focused on student voices in education. I would blog for them and then share my writing on my own blog (that you’re reading now!) as well, mostly just to have a good place to access it later. More recently I have been trying to engage others in conversation with my blog. It has been a great way for me to use my passion for writing and education, but I am working on the best ways to share them now. In the past, as you see in the pictures, I have tweeted my blog posts to #iaedchat on Twitter when the topics fit well. It has really helped expand my PLN as other educators read my blog and tweet me back or follow me or share their own blogs. It has become a very encouraging way to connect. I hope to continue growing my learning network through this blog in the future so that I can share and collaborate with other educators to provide the best learning environment for my students possible.
6. Following Education Blogs
Reading and responding to others’ blogs is another great way to stay in conversation about education. Following and sharing others posts is a great way to strike up conversation and reach new people. I have recently begun using Feedly to organize and compile blogs I follow and wish to read. This makes it more simple for me to view the bloggers and topics I’m most interested in at times which I wish to see them. This site helps me stay organized and save my favorite reads.
7. Lynda Tutorials
Lynda is an awesome resource for tutorials on software and online programming. Most recently I completed a tutorial on Google Classroom which was clear and well done. Lynda has seemingly endless tutorials on lots of educational tools as well as many other programs. Not only can you log in to watch the tutorials, but you can also save them for later using your playlist. This way if I have a few minutes here and there I can fill my time learning something new.
8. Viewing or Listening to Podcasts
Podcasts are great to listen to while you get ready in the morning or drive to work. Luckily, many educators have created podcasts that are free to listen to and that you can download to your phone with the free podcast app. My personal favorite are TED Talks. There are great talks for educators, but it goes much further than that. My students can use the talks by these experts to gather data and learn more about topics they are interested. Not only is this a great way to grow your PLN but it is also very useful for entertainment and to educate yourself without sitting down to read a whole book or article.
9. Creating a Symbaloo
Many of my teachers in the past have used Symbaloos in their classrooms, but I finally made my own this semester. The great thing about Symbaloo is that you can always add more websites and widgets to meet your changing needs. The Symbaloo I created has many of my favorite sites to use for social media and presenting and compiling important information. I am hoping that it can grow and grow in the future so that I can share it with my students and fellow educators. I hope they share theirs with me as well!
10. Others' Symbaloo WebMixes
Another awesome option Symbaloo has is to follow others’ Symbaloo WebMixes. This way you do not have to create your own compiling only resources you know of. This is a great way to learn about new resources and explore others’ favorite websites. I’ve found that some of these are so great I needed to bookmark them for use later! Perhaps I will be able to direct my students to these in the future as they work to fill their own digital backpacks and PLNs.
TweetDeckhttps://tweetdeck.twitter.com/ may just be my favorite website on the internet. It is the single easiest way that I have found to organize all of your favorite tweets. As you see in the screenshot I’ve included, I like to pin hashtags so that when a Twitter Chat happens it is easy to follow along. You can also include your regular feed, notifications, news, themes, topics, or specific accounts. I like that I can easily tweet back at someone while the Twitter Chat continues, as often these move faster than one can keep up with. Because this site is a creation of Twitter itself, the two work seamlessly with one another. I may even prefer TweetDeck over Twitter!
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