I created my Personal Learning Network (PLN) during my first year teaching in Waller ISD in August of 2015. My principal asked us, the faculty, to sign up for a social studies project where we would create a PLN specifically on Twitter and post four (4) tweets every month, two of which had to be technology-related and integrated in our lessons in the classroom. “Why?” I asked myself. The outcome or end-product of this social studies project was never clearly addressed; we just knew we had to complete it. I had already anticipated a tough year as a first-year teacher in a first grade bilingual self-contained classroom. I did not need more on my plate. Well, turns out, it was not as difficult as I thought.
The first step was creating the account— “easy-peasy” as my students say. It was a professional account, so it had to have a professional or at least appropriate profile picture. I wrote “I teach 1st grade bilingual at RRE. What is your superpower?” as my short biographical statement. And that was that.
The second step was following my PLN buddies, in other words, my principal and other administrators and colleagues and other staff members. These were the people that were going to “witness” my fulfillment of the project. At this point, I was still in a mindset where it was more work rather than personal and professional development. I didn’t know many people, but eventually, my number in followers began to expand to not only my school, but also the school district, including other school principals. This was more of a natural process.
The third step was following professional peers, organizations, and companies related to education, especially, those that encouraged technology-related education practices. This is where I became a member in several learning communities.
Microsoft in Education
As many know, Microsoft is one of the leading companies in technology products, innovations, and practices. They are also one of the leaders in education technology in the classroom. I follow their Twitter page because of their tips and resources that they provide for students and educators. A lot of their tweets show and explain diverse and fascinating ways of using their applications in schools and classrooms. For example, their latest tweet explains eight (8) strategies for English Language Learner (ELL) and Special Education (SPED) students using one of their applications, OneNote.
— @OneNoteEDU (@OneNoteEDU) May 5, 2016
EdSurge is an information resource and community for everyone involved in education technology. They provide learning strategies, research, tips, summits, podcasts and other valuable information regarding practices in education and education technology. I follow their Twitter page because of the input they receive and share from not only educators, but also from students. One of the best ways to transform and revolutionize our instructional practices using technology is by taking into account student opinions and experiences. EdSurge gives us that. This article gives us, educators, a little hint: https://goo.gl/rC7G99
https://twitter.com/EdSurge and https://www.edsurge.com/
EdTech K-12 Magazine
EdTech K-12 Magazine explores technology and education issues that IT leaders and educators face. They provide insight on topics on business intelligence, classroom, cloud, collaboration, data center, hardware, internet, management, mobility, networking, security, and software. This is a more technology-centered company where experienced IT leaders and educators can benefit from. This article, http://goo.gl/JSdGgE, for example, explains how we can use Google applications without them being a distraction to our students.
https://twitter.com/EdTech_K12 and http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/
Teachers 21 is an organization that provides their professional approach for “improved and inspired learning.” You can view their interactive framework here: http://www.teachers21.org/approach. Although Teachers 21 is not as centered on technology as the others, it does provide an insightful view on instructional practices that will guide the educator towards a proactive classroom full of eager students. They target areas such as district planning, content, leadership, culture, teaching and learning (pedagogy), professional development, and supporting specialists.
https://twitter.com/21stCenturyTch and https://twitter.com/Teachers21 and http://www.teachers21.org/
Edutopia is an organization that looks to improve public schools with resources, tools, and solutions for teachers, administrators, and parents. I follow this learning community because it enables me to become a better teacher to my students, teammate to my colleagues, and employee to my principal and superintendent. It also promotes learning practices that have been tested and approved, encourages the integration of technology in the classroom, and provides students with enjoyable and applicable learning experiences. Of all the learning communities I have mentioned, I believe this one to be the most teacher-friendly without an overwhelming amount of information.
https://twitter.com/edutopia and http://www.edutopia.org/
After almost a year, I am still in the beginning stages of being a member in my professional learning communities. Being a member not only constitutes joining communities, but also sharing and creating within them. So far, I can say that I have joined and shared a lot of what these learning communities have shared with me. My next step is becoming active and creating within my professional learning communities. This might take a while…
This blog is also available at http://isauraherrera19.blogspot.com/
Updated June 5, 2016.
Herrera, Isaura. (2015). Twitter. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/IsauraHerrera92
Madda, M. J. & Levitt, M. (2016). What Students Really Think of Their Teachers When It Comes to Edtech and Learning. EdSurge. Retrieved from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-05-05-what-students-really-think-of-their-teachers-when-it-comes-to-edtech-and-learning?utm_content=buffer61697&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
Sheninger, E. & Kieschnick, W. (2016). How to Integrate Google Apps with the Rigor Relevance Framework. EdTech K-12 Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2016/05/how-integrate-google-apps-rigor-relevance-framework