Sunday, February 28, 2010

Professional Learning Networks are Essential

Do you have a PLN?  After attending the ICE conference this past week, I have an even greater appreciation for my expanding PLN.  I learn so many new things from them and also enjoy the collaboration and enthusiasm we all share for learning.  During this past year, I have been participating on Twitter, Nings and various blogs, and I have come to rely on these resources for the new ideas and energy that I need to be able to teach my students.   There are always people who have great resources and new ideas for ways to incorporate technology into the curriculum.  I find that if I have not checked in with these resources for a few days I am not as excited about my teaching.

At the technology conference this past week, I gave a presentation on incorporating the whiteboard into classroom instruction for differentiation and tier 1 interventions.  I was amazed by the turnout (standing room only) and the consequent positive feedback from those that attended my presentation.  Where else in the world would people come up to you and tell you that they really liked your presentation?  The positive feedback is like a shot in the arm, and gives me the validation I need to know that I am on the right track and providing positive instruction for my students.  I feel very lucky to be able to be a part of such a positive group of educators who want to make a difference and are willing to go out of their way to let you know you have had a positive impact on their teaching as well.  It is also exciting to go back and visit the conference wiki to access the many resources that the presenters have put online to share.

If you don’t have a PLN, it is easy enough to get started!  I created an account on Twitter and started to follow those individuals who I had seen and admired at past ICE conferences, such as David Jakes and Will Richardson.  Then I investigated who they follow and then I add some of their network to my network!  Before you know it, you have a wealth of resources at your fingertips! 

In education we keep encouraging our students to collaborate with each other.  I think it is essential that we practice what we preach.  So if you don’t have a PLN, I would recommend you get one so you can be a good example to your students!


  1. You raise a good point Sherry...and what better way to build a PLN than with the world of technology that we have at our fingertips. For the most part, I find that the physical structure of my school building as well as schedule constraints make it difficult to "network" with other teachers in my school. Even if those obstacles did not exist, since I am the only FACS teacher in the building there is no one else who has the same area of interest. Tapping into PLN of FACS teachers by means of the WWW could really break down those barriers. I would find it really helpful to attend a workshop that focuses specifically on professional social networking groups and how to maximize their potential. When I first started using Twitter I did a search for other people that had an interest in Gluten Free Living. That was over a year ago and I swear not a day goes by without someone else starting to following me on Twitter because of that specific interest. My use of the app is so sporadic that I know I am not benefiting from it as much as I could be. Thanks for the reminder and encouragement.

  2. Sherry, I know that two of my colleagues at school are very happy with your presentation. After coming back from the ICE conference, our principal is already planning on using some extra funds and requesting white boards for next year after your incredible presentation. I felt honored to say that I new you personally :) Not having been able to go to the ICE conference or any outside school conference due to a new district mandate, I can truly see how important a PLN is, especially as Julia said when you are limited to a specific team or area. Thanks for convicting me of my need to rejoin some of the network sites I've let slip and may be missing out on useful pieces of knowledge. Knowledge from the whole is always greater than that of the individual.