3 ways to personalize your digital PLN

I am currently in an online doctoral program at Winona State University. One of our recent discussion queries required answering the following prompt: “Share three pieces of your own PLN that you think would be helpful to the others.”

I wasn’t quite sure if I should share platforms, tips, or connections, so I will be sharing three things I wish I would have considered sooner than later.

1. Drop the IRL

I have listened and visited with Angela Maiers–an educator, consultant, and speaker–a number of times. One thing that she frequently shares in her keynotes is around dropping the “IRL” (in real life) mentality when talking with your online PLN. For those who connect with you virtually, a digital relationship is IRL. You may never physically meet these individuals due to logistics, geography, or time and that is ok. Such relationships do not necessarily become instantly more meaningful when you meet in the same moment of time or space.…Read More

10 reasons why you’ll love Edcamp as much as I do

Have you ever been in a professional learning (PL) experience where you don’t keep looking at the time, checking Facebook, or texting people? I have! I spend several Saturdays a year at an Edcamp, an unconference-style professional development (PD) for all educators. You might be wondering why I would give up a Saturday to attend an Edcamp, so here are 10 reasons why you will love Edcamps as much as I do.

1. You are with rockstar educators from all walks of life. The energy at an Edcamp is electric! Rooms are buzzing with passionate people ready to learn to support students and make positive change in schools.

2. It is the perfect place to build your professional learning network (PLN). You will meet many of your Twitter connections face to face and encounter new faces to connect with on Twitter. Edcamps build relationships that last long after the Saturday event. I now have plenty of people to reach out to when I do not know the answer to something.…Read More

The New Librarian: How to build a face-to-face PLN in 3 easy steps

By now the term professional learning network (PLN) is used very often, but much of the time it refers to the virtual type, meaning our online colleagues and networks. Being a media specialist can be a lonely profession and it’s not uncommon to feel like we’re siloed. As I have moved from being a classroom teacher into teacher leader positions, I’ve noticed it can get lonely and I find myself looking for a face-to-face tribe. Although I find this at conferences, they are infrequent and expensive.

So how can media specialists get out from the media center and network with like-minded educators without flying to ISTE or AASL? By getting involved in the “unconference” movement. Here are three different ways to do just that!

1. CoffeeEDU
I first encountered CoffeeEDU as “CoffeeCUE” and thought, “Cool. I like coffee.”…Read More

4 terrific teacher communities for summer PD

Keeping up on skills over the summer isn’t just for students. The summer break is a great time for teachers to take advantage of those professional development (PD) opportunities that are hard to fit in during the school year.

Teacher communities are a nice blend of social interaction and knowledge-sharing among peers. We put together a list of our favorite online professional learning networks (PLNs) for you to check out over the break. And yes, we included our own. See you there!

Common Sense Educators
Common Sense Educators is our Facebook group for educators committed to creating a positive, collaborative culture of digital learning and digital citizenship in their classrooms, schools, or districts. Whether you’re a classroom teacher, administrator, tech coach, or homeschool teacher—you name it—you can connect with inspiring colleagues here. Topics of discussion include tech integration, media literacy, internet safety, and much more. Members share articles, ask for advice from peers, give virtual high-fives, and relate to each other’s challenges. And if you’re looking to complete our recognition program to become a Common Sense Educator, membership in the Facebook group is the first step toward that goal! It’s a “closed” group, so you’ll need to request to join.…Read More

4 awesome videos to check out over the summer

Videos can be used in many ways in the classroom and in professional learning, and they can greatly benefit students if they’re engaging and thought-provoking.

They’re also valuable tools for educators who wish to access on-demand resources for students, who want to learn more new instructional strategies, or who want to expand their professional learning.

Check out the following four videos for help with your professional learning network (PLN), to supplement lessons about video essays, to help students self-assess, and more. You may want to use these videos with existing lessons next school year, or you may find yourself creating new lessons around the video content.…Read More

7 tips for teachers building collaborative, fearless PLNs

 Don’t be daunted! Try these best practices for finding and collaborating with fellow educators

PLCs-communitiesEd. note: Innovation In Action is a new monthly column from the International Society of Technology in Education focused on exemplary practices in education.

PLNS-fearlessResearch indicates that nearly 50 percent of educators will leave the field within the first five years of entering a classroom. This is an astounding number that costs the U.S. more than $2 billion annually. Why the high burnout rate? Many cite isolation and lack of support as reasons for exiting the field. Sometimes new teachers are nervous to admit they may be struggling. By helping educators build strong connections to others, both within their buildings and around the world, we can begin to create more stability in the profession and refresh our passion for education.

Teachers are natural collaborators. From the school hallways to what could be called today’s water cooler—social media—teachers love to share and discuss what’s working, what isn’t, and the finer points of why or why not.…Read More

7 ways to keep girls interested in STEM for the long haul

Just 15 percent of U.S. engineers are women. Here’s how to correct that statistic and get girls invested in STEM

girls-stemEngineering is empowering. It encompasses the ability to create whatever you can imagine and thereby change the world for the better. But in the United States, fewer than 15 percent of working engineers are women, despite comprising half of the population. There are a number of possible reasons for this inequality, but a variety of contributing factors take effect at an early age.

Consider that our culture encourages boys to play with construction toys, while girls are given dolls and are expected to be princesses. Boys are praised for being smart while girls are praised for being pretty. Children learn through play; by having the opportunity to build, boys are able to develop spatial reasoning skills in a way that girls aren’t. Classroom expectations also vary by gender; for instance, research has shown that math teachers call on boys far more often than girls.

We need more women to bring their talents and energy into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This process must begin in the elementary school classroom, because by the time they reach middle school it may be too late. Girls may already be discouraged about math and science from earlier negative experiences.…Read More