Create A Professional Learning Network!

How do I create or join a PLN?

(adapted from Bold Moves for Schools: How We Create Remarkable Learning Environments by Heidi Hayes Jacobs and Marie Hubley Alcock

As our educators consider making use of twitter, here is a great, step by step, way to create a Professional Learning Network.  One of the best things about a PLN is the learning is completely focused on exactly what the learner chooses to learn!  And with a growing PLN, new ideas about areas of learning will arise!

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Here are five steps to building a professional learning network (PLN).  A learning network is a tool for the professional learner. It is a way to find new ideas and answers to questions quickly.  The steps below use an experienced teacher named Jasmine.  She had heard about a PLN and wondered how to create or join one.

    • Step 1: Search for resources. The first thing Jasmine did was to conduct an Internet search. She found a collection of websites with samples of digital tools and feedback on using those tools in classrooms.  She created a folder in her browser called “Curriculum21” and began marking useful sites and saving them there so she could easily check them when she needed new ideas. Jasmine also reached out using TeacherTube and YouTube, looking for how-to videos for teachers, such as those on Common Craft, an online network that provided videos explaining how to use certain tools and apply them in a classroom (
    • Step 2: Search for partners. The second thing Jasmine did was to create a Twitter account dedicated to her professional learning.  She selected Silvia Tolisano, and searching on Twitter she found that Silvia’s Twitter username was “@langwitches” (see Figure 2.8). Jasmine “followed” @langwitches and immediately went to see whom Silvia was following. Jasmine was now looking at part of Silvia’s learning network, and because she trusted Silvia, she felt confident about many of the resources there. She chose to follow ASCD, AERA, ISTE, Curriculum21, Marzano, McTighe, Kallick, Zmuda, and Fisher for starters. When she returned to her Twitter homepage, she started to see tweets from Silvia sharing links and tools she was learning about at a conference in Florida.  I would suggest @gcouros is a great place to start!
    • Step 3: Search the discussion. The third thing Jasmine did was to find a Twitter hashtag for a topic she thought was important. She searched the hashtag #education and decided to see what kind of discussion was going on there. By searching this hashtag, Jasmine was now participating in a global conversation about education.  At first, she was just listening, but when ready, she could share her questions, ideas, or images with her fellow educators around the world—without leaving her classroom.  Other great hashtags include #futuredriven #IMMOOC #TeacherLife  #EdLeadership
    • Step 4: Participate—reflect and publish.  This act of publication is a critical part of being in a learning network. All systems have give and take. What affects us is, in turn, affected by us. Learners teach, teachers learn; it is the elegance of the cycle that makes it so exciting and rewarding. No matter how small the learning, we must strive to share it, publish it, network it.
    • Step 5: Evaluate and synthesize responses. The fifth thing Jasmine did to build her learning network was to review the feedback, comments, and questions people posted about her pictures. Some people retweeted the work; some suggested how to rotate it, making it easier to view.

Author: Jnelson

Jeff Nelson Fife School District Assistant Superintendent:Teaching-Learning-Innovation 39 years as an educator. 16 years teacher 3 years assistant principal 12 years principal 8 years Assistant Superintendent BA, Washington State University MAEd, Washington State University Previous member of AWSP Legislative Committee Previous member of UW Tacoma PEAB, Administrative Certification Established and maintained Fife’s first website for 7 years Present work includes establishing the first Teaching/Learning/Innovation department in the Fife School District. Examples of responsibilities include: teacher/administrator professional development, assessment, TPEP, curriculum/materials review, 24 credit requirement, technology levy leadership, teacher/administrator bargaining. Initiatives underway in Fife, as a result of new TLI Department: AVID, OER, Curriculum and Materials reviews, Student Perception Pilot with CSTP, Google Expedition Cofounder of Educational Internet Communications, LLC. Marketed and sold one of the first online grade checking programs in the US. Consulted with Seattle Educational Internet Company for 2 years.

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