PLN

Creating a Professional Learning Network (PLN)

There are four tools we will discuss: blogs, Twitter, Paper.li, and Pinterest.

Overview of Blogs

Blogs- web logs- are online diaries and publishing sites. Blogs are a great way to discover teaching methods and lessons, share your own ideas, connect with parents and use as a learning tool with your students.
The first step in exploring blogs is setting up a simple way to read them. In order to do this you will need to create a free Google account so that you can subscribe to blogs.
Go to Google and create a free account or open an existing account. After logging in go to Google Reader {either in the list of links at the top or in the list of drop down menu}. Now that you have an account let's find some blogs to subscribe to that interest you.
Check out these lists of educator blogs. When you find one that you like copy the web address of the blog, click Subscribe on Google Reader, and paste in the blog's address. When Google Reader brings up a list of blogs, click on the blog to subscribe.
Top 100 Educator Blogs
Educational Blogs by Subject and Grade
Edublog Award Winners and Nominees by Category
Specific to Foreign Language:


Ideas for the Classroom

  • try an idea from a blog you read
  • create a class blog to connect with parents
  • use student blogging for writing assignments and learning reflections

Creating a classroom blog is easy using Schoolwires. Log into the district page, navigate to your class page, open site manager to edit your page, create a new page and choose blog from the choices for type of page. You can write posts about the activities in your room so that parents can stay connected through your web page. Remember to only use student's first names and be sure you have permission before posting student pictures on your blog. You can allow comments on your blog. You have the power to approve and remove comments if needed.
Student blogging is an excellent way to engage your students. Having an audience of more than just the teacher is a motivator for reluctant writers. If you would like to explore creating student blogs look at these two sites. Each step of the process is explained. Remember that your librarian can be a great partner in preparing your students for a successful blogging experience.
Teacher Challenge: Blogging with Students
Edublogs Guide

Overview of Twitter
Social media includes online tools that allow teachers to communicate, share resources and information. Many people use social media as part of their social lives, yet they do not utilize these tools to build a professional network. Social media tools will be introduced and you will learn how they can be used to create a professional learning network (PLN).
One of the most powerful social media tools is Twitter.

The strength of Twitter is connecting with educators that share relevant information for your interests and needs. To find other educators on Twitter read this list of 7 ways to find teachers on Twitter. Another way to connect on Twitter is to follow a hashtag. A hashtag is a tag embedded in a message allowing you to search and filter messages. Common educational hashtags for foreign language are #langchat, #spanishteachers and #flchat. For a full list see this site. Educators use hashtags to "meet" regularly and share ideas. A calendar of Twitter chats can be seen here. Langchat "meets" on Twitter every Thursday evening at 8 pm. Langchat has its own wiki with archived chats. Even if you can not be there in person you can search the hashtag at a later date and read the chat.

Twitter does have a learning curve, but if you stick with it I believe it can be one of the most helpful tools in your PLN.

Overview of Paper.li
According to their web site, “Paper.li organizes links shared on Twitter into an easy to read newspaper-style format. Newspapers can be created for any Twitter user, list or #tag.
Login to paper.li and create a paper – supplying the Twitter account name – so that it summarizes those you are following. You will also be given the option to create other types (hashtag, custom, etc). You can choose to have your paper updated once a day, twice a day or weekly. If you want to subscribe to the #langchat hashtag they already have a paper here.

Overview of Pinterest

Pinterest is a combination of a bookmarking site and social network. Users "pin" online sites onto boards organized by subject, such as recipes, crafts, lesson ideas, etc. There are many uses for Pinterest in education. Please take a moment to read this article from Stephen Abram listing ways to use the site to enhance your classroom instruction.
Read this article with steps to get started using Pinterest.