Saturday, 26 May 2012

With my PLN; I am.

With my PLN; I am more supported, more able, better inspired, affirmed, engaged and connected. I value my PLN immensely. I am enriched because of my PLN. Having known a PLN; I don't think I could continue working effectively without one!  What about you?

There is much discussion around the why's of a PLN. How do you connect using Web 2.0 tools to gradually build a PLN?  Is a PLN necessary in an educational setting?  How does one benefit from a PLN?  Why does one need a professional (or personal) learning network? 

My response?  
Why not?  

Just the same as having a car without a trusted mechanic OR a petrol station to fill your car up. Or food to sustain you. A PLN is a terrific support and is ever offering. Dr Alec Couros, an associate professor at The University of Virginia, Canada and @davecormier believe in Rhizomatic education (read more about this concept here on Dave's blog) Within the rhizomatic model of learning, knowledge  is constructed and negotiated in real time by the contributions of those engaged in the learning process. (Cormier, D. 2008)  Learning with a PLN is like a rhizome. It responds to changing environmental conditions.  A Rhizome makes its own path- which is needed in forming our own PLN.

Why wouldn't you be without one? 

 The beauty about this, lies in taking responsibility and "owning" our professional growth.

Most professional learning networks might look like this:
                         Image by fairfaxcounty:

YOU, your immediate colleagues at your sole place of work, your heads of department and leadership team; perhaps the odd people you may meet at the occasional conference; that you may or may not keep in contact with.  So, if you need help, this is the extent of your support network.  Limited when only a couple of those people   maybe able to help you with the support required OR the person that you need to ask that important question is off sick for a few days....

With web 2.0 tools, our PLN now has the capacity to stretch across the globe and be as interactive and supportive as YOU allow it to be. 

So, rather than asking an "expert" from your school IF you can get hold of them and IF they can assist you- ask YOUR PLN -you now have all these wonderful tweeple to call upon!  24/7 -statistically there is always someone that can help. If they cannot, a simple RT (retweet) puts your request in touch with all their followers and so forth. Of course, this works both ways. A retweet can also assist many others as they may find a resource, idea or concept one to capture.  Below  you can see a simple screenshot of my interactions screen on Twitter (one very effective way to develop your extended PLN):

Web 2.0 tools used to grow my PLN:
  • Twitter (THE absolute main source of building my PLN)
  • Instagram (sharing images with others and commenting; building relationship; conversation)
  • Skype (real time audio and visual building relationship; sharing ideas, wisdom & knowledge)
  • Edmodo (sharing resources, ideas, conversation about all things educational)
  • Blogging (reflecting, sharing ideas and knowledge; exploring and expanding ideas)

My Twitter PLN looks something like this:

Below is a Twitter mosaic of some of the people I follow on Twitter; they form part of my PLN.

A simple message:  
I am me, myself and I. You, TOGETHER with your PLN; can be one of the billions of people worldwide that may have the most pertinant bit of information, or support or help that is need at that minute.Visualising where your connections and their reach can be viewed at

How have I benefitted from my PLN? 
  • As illustrated above; Accessibility –drawing on others expertise and passions.
  • Plethora of ideas, resources, connections, tools.
  • I have been inspired to teach myself how to set up and maintain blogs.
  • Via Twitter I stumbled across a conversation on #teachmeets- you know the rest and how much I  love and have become involved in this f2f extension of PLN! 
  • Via my PLN I have been introduced to authentic and meaningful PD- the best last year was #ravoties- a highlight of my year! (click here for more info)
  • I manage files, communicate and gather data more effectively via google docs, google forms, google alerts, drop box, Skype, Edmodo, QR codes and Twitter. 
  • I have been inspired and encouraged to start and maintain groups for others (see below).
  • I have become involved and presented at international teachmeets. (click here for more info)
  • Through these global connections I was able to organise a sykpe session for the Oakhill Teachmeet 2011 and World record teachmeet at Eveleigh Sydney, 2012.
  • Pearltrees has asked if they could use my presentation from international teachmeet on their website.
  • My passion of educating others on the benefits of wholesome eating and cooking has been reignited via #foodrev (@jamieoliver@FoodRev stand up for #realfood and our @foodatoakhill instagram and twitter account.
  • I became involved with #ccglobal - (click here for more info)
  • I get a BUZZ out of helping others connect or providing info that is helpful to them.
  • Sense of achievement when someone you don't know believes in your message enough to retweet or a compliment from your PLN...

...and those you do know, affirm your input.

  • At the time of writing I am yet to meet virtual Food technology buddies @jgeorgejulie@s_harper3 and @willo23 but it will happen! (Since drafting this post way back in Term 1/2 holiday break, I was able to catch up with talented @s_harper3 at a Teacheat/edu-catch up and with @willo023 at Signature-fine-dining: Balla with fellow Twitter foodie and educator @acoure)
  • Pass it on- sharing of cool stuff! One person shares, retweets and so on.  So many people come in contact with some amazing and handy resources very quickly...and effectively. Imagine calling a staff meeting to impart info you can read about at your pace, when you like, where ever you like.

  • Even whilst writing this post a form of affirmation arrives in a tweet by @mesterman after sending him a link that I felt he may find useful.
  • Apart from the professional aspects of my PLN; it has been fun receiving responses back from  "well knowns" such as Julie Goodwin, Wendy Harmer, Melissa Doyle and Jamie Oliver amongst others.
IN short:
  • A PLN allows me a tremendous sense of belonging. A belonging much more epic than my staffroom.
  • A PLN allows me to challenge thinking,  keep learning/not stagnate, be challenged, and assist me in keeping up to date with current thinking as well as providing me with a never ending tap to a global wealth of knowledge.  
  • A PLN allows me to better assist the students entrusted to my care.
A PLN is there- you just need to open the door.

How do you know what is available if you keep within your own very localised work environment?  

I acknowledge there are many effective educators that are not part of an extended PLN. (Wouldn't it be great for those educators to share their tips and wisdom with others) I also acknowledge any organisation needs to evolve; so why not education? We are getting there and I am excited about the subtle changes, especially for the next generation. After all, it is their future!

Some examples of PLN groups that I have created (and hopefully benefit others) :-

  1. Click here to visit the Catholic educators ning
  2. Click here for link to join Edmodo Food Educators group
  3. Click here for link to join the Edmodo Religious educators group
  4. Edmodo Health nutriton 4 us (USA) this is a group that I am co teaching with another teacher Mrs Susan Nicholas and her PDHPE classes in Illinious.  Classes have connected this term and next term they will create a small project together. What an awesome and exciting experience for all concerned!
  5. A blog for my Year 11 Food Technology class where we share our learning journey with the world. (click here to visit)
To help build your PLN, regularly participate in hashtagged converstations such as:

#ozengchat          (English-but great for general ideas!)
#ozscichat           (science)
#ozprimschchat  (primaryschool)
  • Also, be active in your tweeting, replying, sharing and commenting on other blogs.  This forms part of the conversation and challenges thoughts on your own practice and the practice of others.
  • Join in projects: in 2011 #ccglobal (connected classrooms ran an Advent card exchange using QR codes, the good old fashioned postal service and tools such as Vimeo or voice thread to send Christmas messages to each to each other.) You can read more about this here and see some of the great products of the kids creations. Kids enjoyed sending AND RECEIVING messages around the globe! This was a great initiative by @LiamDunphy and @pammoran. Here I met tremendous educators such as @vickyloras@lizarmenio and @corriekelly.

As I was writing this blog post I came across Caine's arcade. If you haven't seen this wonderful, feel good documentary, click here or bookmark to watch later. It is worthwhile! (9minutes)

Inspirational quotes:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do." 
-Mark Twain

It's a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.  
-W. Somerset Maugham

The guy who takes a chance, who walks the line between the known and unknown, who is unafraid of failure, will succeed.
-Gordon Parks

Take heed: you do not find what you do not seek. 
-English Proverb

You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore. 
-Christopher Columbus

In response to asking my Twitter connections about their PLN:
(I asked the question Why connect? Why a PLN?)

In response to asking my Edmodo connections about their PLN:

An example of PLN support:

Even tonight as I finish off this post, someone retweeted this:

Returning to car analogy from the beginning of the post; a PLN helps fuels my drive.
It provides me with additional energy and motivation to be as an effective educator as I think I ought to be.

To assist developing your PLN via twitter:

Extra reading and viewing:

-Primary Pride blog: I thought I appreciated twitter and then...
-Tech support of a different kind comes in a time of need (social media for good)
-Getting started with a Twitter PLN- by @milesmac TERRIFIC poster!
-A 2001 (yes!  2001 article on COMPUTERS as social networks! Interesting to read through)
-Twittermap-see a pin drop of your tweets or hashtag

With my PLN; I am more supported, more able, better inspired, affirmed, engaged and connected.
I value my PLN immensely. I am enriched because of my PLN. Having known a PLN; I don't think I could continue working effectively without one!  What about you?

Continuing the conversation and forever addicted to learning,
Kind regards Jeannette James

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Using Google forms in the classroom

Below is my 7 minute PK (presentation) from the Australian Catholic University #teachmeet,
3rd May, 2012.
A cu google presentation
View more presentations from 7mrsjames.

This is the 2minute version for the Kellyville High #teachmeet Tuesday 8th May, 2012.