The personal learning network for educators
A few days ago a teacher in our district asked me about different online publishing platforms for her students. She explained that her students are working on writing mystery stories and she was looking for a way for them to share their writing with others, get feedback and publish their work.
In the days B.T. (Before Twitter), I would have headed right for Google and dug in. But I didn't. Instead, I sent out the following tweet:
Within a few minutes, I received two responses.
The first response came from @ccoffa, "Teacher, lifelong learner, blogging and TeachMeet enthusiast in Melbourne Australia." She sent me a link to the Langwitches Blog, written by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano, a globally connected author, 21st Century learning specialist, faculty member at Curriculum21. The specific link in @ccoffa's reply connected me to a Langwitches blog post on Implementing Classroom Blogs that included steps for teachers learning about blogging, examples of blogs, considerations when getting started, rationale for have students share their writing in digital spaces, and a rich description of the process. Global connections don't get much better than that!
The other response came from @Kate_Todd who suggested I check out @kathleen_morris and her 4th grade classroom blog (from Geelong, Australia) for resources on how to get started. On this site, I found video segments, classroom polls, samples of student writing and guidelines for student blogging. This classroom blog engaged students in a variety of writing and publishing activities and even earned them third place in a Classroom Blog contest!
And so, my exploration began. What amazed me was the speed and reach of the connections that enriched my learning.
In my work, I often encounter educators who are fearful of or "don't see the point" of social media. The tendency to block or avoid is alive and well. Yet, to do so closes us off from our own learning, and limits our students' learning.
Alvin Toffler said:
The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.
In an age, when we have access to tools that have the potential of connecting us with other educators across the globe, it seems to me that we need to think differently about how we cultivate our own learning and how we model our learning for our staff and students.
A set of questions guided by a desire to find out more about professional practice to benefit our students led me to a vast array of learning resources available through a network of connected educators. That is why Twitter continues to be a very powerful source of my professional growth and learning.
Please feel free to share how your personal learning network has helped your growth. As always, questions and comments are encouraged.