PLN Challenge #’s 1, 2, & 3

I’ve been craving professional development. I guess this craving was fueled by my recent entry into the world of running. I find running incredibly motivating because 1) it challenges me, 2) it provides a continually growing list of new goals to reach, and 3) it has an encouraging and fun community. I would lie awake at night and think about running. I would fill my iPod with running podcasts. I was excited to share my experiences with those around me. And I realized that when I’ve been active in growing professionally I’ve also hit this moment of flow and real enjoyment.

I see a PLN as providing exactly the same benefits for me as running. Growing as a teacher means pushing yourself to stay active and on top of opportunities that allow you to learn new things. It takes time and commitment but, exactly like running, when it is something you enjoy it is easy to find the time and commitment becomes second nature. Still, the challenge is there because it does take work to get the ball rolling and to find ways to fit it into our lives amongst all the other priorities.

Being part of a PLN provides an incredible amount of inspiration. There is a lot of information being shared. So much information that I can’t even begin to keep track. Everything from articles, videos, websites, chats, conferences, books, webinars, tweets, podcasts, hash tags and so much more. And in amongst all this information are ideas. New things to try with your students such as blogs, movies, crafts, games as well as new ways to talk to students, involve students, understand, and inspire them.

There are so many people doing amazing things in their classes. Pushing themselves to try new things, to go with their instincts, and really connect with their students. And, at the same time, many of these people are also sharing their experience and expertise with the rest of us. Participating in an online community allows you to connect with great minds all over the world and in real time. Plus, in my very short time participating in a PLN, I’ve found them to be some of the nicest and most supportive people. A lot of them are pretty funny, too, and I’ve been caught laughing out loud at my computer screen a few times.

So, What do I hope to learn more about with respect to my PLN in the coming weeks?

I shared the same hopes as many people in the comments on PLN Challenge #2.

Barbara D’Elia says:

What I want to know is, well, a few things:

1) What is the best free stuff I can find and use to support making the online teaching environment come alive and connect our students. Not bells and whistles, but enlivenment and education.

2)How can I best organize the tools I come across? Would an eportfolio be the ticket, or a site about sites, or an ongoing blog with organized links, or…?

Yes, me too! I need a lot of help with organization. Not only in my digital world but also in my classroom. And I too want to use the resources available to us to enhance the learning experiences of my students and I think being part of a PLN will provide lots of ideas and tools for both these challenges.

Syd (@EduNut)

How do some of the online edu-rock-stars DO the amazing things they do (Tweeting, blogging, meeting-up, webinar-ing, conference-attending, book-writing, curating, etc.)while maintaining balance in their personal lives?

This is a big one for me. I am coming late to the PLN scene too so I am quite impressed at how some people really seem to be doing it all and surviving! I have young children and as they grow things definitely get easier and easier but I still struggle with finding time for it all.

And Tech Teacher 803 sums it up well:

Tech Teacher 803 says:

Hi, I am looking for ways to share what I know with others. I also am looking for ways to improve my teaching skills.

I, too, want to share my experiences. I want to hear the experiences of others and I want to go grow and learn as part of a community while improving my teaching skills.

So, my desire for professional development is what led me to start working on developing my PLN. I stumbled on the PLN Challenge at just the right time and I look forward to learning with and from all of you! Already I’ve tracked down podcasts, reactivated my Twitter account (PLN Challenge #3), and jumped in on webinars at the last minute and it has only been a little over a week. Go PLN!


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13 Responses to PLN Challenge #’s 1, 2, & 3

  1. Hi Sarah, I love your analogy to your passion for running — once we get hooked, we live it. I do think that is why you are a teacher, too. Teachers are passionate about what they do and about helping others discover their passions.

    You asked about organizing, and so I wrote a blog post about one of my favorite tools, Diigo. I just started using it again — I do love how it works. I also created a group for our new PLN.

    Read about it here: PLN Challenge: How Do I Organize?

    The Diigo Group here:
    ebchallenge group

    Thanks for your great ideas and writing! Sheri

    • sarahwg says:

      Hi Sheri! Thanks for coming over to comment. I’ve got a nice cup of coffee and I am child free so I am going to hop over to your blog and check out your post about organization. Thanks so much for that! Creating the Diigo group was a great idea since I have no clue what Diigo is and I learn well by just diving in!

  2. tasteach says:

    G’day Sarah,
    Back in 2008 I joined twitter and it took me nearly six months before I felt comfortable adding something to the twitterverse.

    Most of my tweets now are about education and the student blogging challenge I run but many people also add tweets about happenings in their daily life.

    As a single person with no family to have to worry about, I find I spend a lot of time on the computer both at school and at home.

    I know many teachers at schools use the excuse of not enough time to get onto the technology bandwagon, but if you want to make a difference in student’s lives, then somehow you need to make the time to always be keeping up with technology in your own life as well. Otherwise with kids using technology at home, they tend to have to dumb down when they get to school where teachers are less likely to use technology in class.

    • sarahwg says:

      I’m the youngest and newest member to the staff at our school and I am constantly surprised by how uncomfortable the staff is with technology. We’ve got 4 new computers this year (a mini lab) but except for myself and a parent volunteer who runs a workshop for the kids, no one is using the computers! I see that teachers all around the world but especially in Australia, NZ, the UK, and the US are using technology in really interesting ways but I don’t see that happening in France. The French in general are quite behind in all things internet. But what you said is right, the students at our school are all digital natives and I can see that my colleagues realize this but they do not know how to keep up. So, I guess that motivates me even more.

      Thanks for the comment, testeach. I’d like to check out your student blogging challenge! I’m hoping that I can get my students blogging next year!

  3. Hi Sarah,

    I am encouraged by your enthusiasm to grow and learn. It’s fabulous to think that you are in Paris and I am currently in Philadelphia and we can connect about that passion.

    Looking forward to learning more with you,
    Tracy Watanabe

    • sarahwg says:

      Hi Tracy and thanks for the comment! You must be attending ISTE next week?! I didn’t even know what ISTE was a week ago and now, thanks, to the PLN I do. I look forward to reading more of your blog!

  4. Ms K Irwin says:

    Sounds like you have done much more than I have so far. What kind of webinars are you jumping in on and how have you been finding them? I have no experience with podcasts and am trying to figure out how to better use Twitter. So much to do. It’s like an avalanche sometimes and at others like dominoes. Start with one thing and it leads to so much more, sometimes overwhelming! I’m happy to see so many people wondering how to balance it all. I struggle with this also.

    • sarahwg says:

      Hi Ms. K! It is so overwhelming! Hopefully through this process we will learn how to organize and keep track of it all. It looks likes Sheri has some great ideas. I’m guessing that we’ve got to try out one of the many organizing tools out there and give it a fair shot once that initial learning phase passes. I found a few webinars through my local chapter of TESOL and mostly because some very helpful members made me aware of the opportunities through Twitter. So far every webinar/econference I’ve learned of has been via Twitter. We come back to building a good Twitter network again! The ISTE is have a conference next week and they have a website devoted to free talks that you can listen to/watch online. You might be interested in checking out the Reform Symposium #RSCON3. This conference is entirely online and is completely free! I’ve looked through their growing list of presenters and there is a wide range of topics, it looks great!

  5. I’m not sure my comment went through:

    I’d like to share my ways to find webinars to learn and to connect. These two have so helped me, along with the Edublogs Challenge
    and Sue Waters, to keep up with transforming my classroom into a learning community that develops daily learners.
    Learn Central Join for many connections, including CR Live 20 —
    Classroom Live Edu Webinars (except July)
    Teachers First Many reviewed apps with lesson – an excellent site, also with webinars — ( @teachersfirst twitter))–
    OK2Ask Webinars

    I hope you can join the PLN there too.

  6. Hello Sarah and Mrs K Irwin, I wrote a post on how I have kept up with the changing edu technology and its use in the classroom: 3 Easy Ways to Learn Transforming EDU tech I hope to see you at some of these.

  7. Anna Bring says:

    Hi Sarah,
    you have really written an inspiring blog post. I hope to be learning and sharing with you soon. As I am living in Norway, at least we are in the same part of the world. Maybe we could try out doing a global project together soon?
    Best regards

    • sarahwg says:

      Hi Anna! Thanks for stopping by! I am just starting to think about all my projects for next year and I think we may be able to find a way to work together….though I think my students are much younger than yours? Either way, let’s see what develops over the summer!

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