PLN Challenge # 4: Making Time

Last week I began the process of building my PLN and then promptly got pulled back into “real life” with all the activity of the last week of school. I feel torn between focusing on the now and thinking about all the things I want to do next year including how I will approach my own learning this summer. This time dilemma is two-fold as I have always struggled with being in the moment vs. future thoughts and while it should be easier in the summer, finding time to work on my PLN alongside my class planning and family life is one of my big challenges these days. I enjoyed reading Sarah Poling’s post about making time and I feel that so far my journey has followed a similar path to Sarah’s. A few things that stood out to me from her post were:

15 minutes: I am a big fan of the 15 min. technique. I actually first learned about this concept from The FlyLady who uses this approach to help people develop routines and habits for maintaining the organization and cleanliness of their homes. (Her scope is broader than housecleaning but I haven’t explored much more personally.) Doing something for 15 minutes works very well for me and I enjoy looking at my days in small increments of time. Often I am surprised because some tasks which seem time consuming are magically done in less than 15 min. and at other times, when I am not feeling so motivated, I find that giving myself permission to stop after 15 minutes is the push I needed to just get the work done. My PLN 15 minutes (or more) seem to be happening mostly in the evenings after the kids are in bed but next year I’d like to fit it in to my midday break at school.

Focus using own learning styles and preferences: I want to try it all – read every website, test every app, watch every video, participate in every challenge – but this often results in a quick crash and burn for me. I appreciate her tip to take it slow, choose some goals, and approach my learning with my own learning styles and preferences in mind. So far, I’ve really enjoyed Twitter and the live chats on Twitter. (#elemchat #eltchat) I’ve decided I’d really like to focus my learning on using blogs and other tech tools in my classes next year, specifically with my 9 to 10 year olds so, I’ve started following a few blogs that seem to be oriented towards this type of learning with this age group. Thanks to Sheri Edwards, I’ve started saving bookmarks with Diigo and I really appreciate how quick and easy it is to use. The next step for me is to write down some of my goals for the summer (testing out different websites, collecting lesson ideas, developing my own skills, etc.) and laying out a game plan.

Don’t force it: I think this might become a mantra for me! It is summer after all and I have two adorable children, lots of adventures planned here and there, plus my other interests such as running that require my energy and attention too. It is too easy for me to get absorbed in “the media cloud” and I need to remind myself to step back. I do have goals and a time frame in mind but it doesn’t all have to be done by next week or even the end of the summer.

As I said above, the next step for me is real goal development for the following few months and the upcoming school year including a loose timeframe of how I want to meet these goals but first I’m off to pack up my classroom for the summer!

Do you have goals and a game plan for the next few months? How do you organize your time on a daily or longer term basis?

Also, I’d love to know how you keep track of blogs. Do you use Google Reader or something similar? How do you stay alert to new posts?

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8 Responses to PLN Challenge # 4: Making Time

  1. Theresa says:

    Thanks for the comment on my blog. (: I’ve never heard of Feedly so I checked it out and it’s neat! Thanks for sharing. I know what you mean about finding a balance between time on the computer and time in real-life. I have 3 active children and possibly a new dog (we’re in the process of getting a 1yr old boxer) and life seems to fly even when you’re sitting down!

    To answer your questions, for the next few months I hope to organize my PLN and plan on what I’d like to do with my students next year. I’ve done a lot of global projects and I need to zone in on what grades and time of year I’d like to get involved. Usually when I get up, I have an hour or two to fiddle on the computer. At the end of the day, I have about the same. During the day, I’ll take a few minutes here or there to check Twitter, email, etc. to see if I need to respond or comment. I use Google Reader to follow blogs, also Twitter. I receive emails on some as well.

    Looking forward to learning and sharing more!


    • sarahwg says:

      Hi Theresa and thanks for the comment! You are adding a dog in the mix? Brave! 😉

      It is great that you’ve got time in the morning and evening. I think that will possible for me next year and I am looking forward to it!

      Thanks again! Sarah

  2. Sheri says:

    Hi Sarah, Thanks for your kind words here. I noticed you are thinking about blogging with your students. Here’s a link to my About Blogging Diigo list which includes many ideas about implementing student blogging:

    I’m having a hard time myself keeping up with blog reading. I need to add my new PLN from this challenge to the Blog Roll in my sidebar so I can read the journeys, such as this post. Your words will help new bloggers take their steps — because they will see it is do-able! Thanks again.

    • sarahwg says:

      Sheri, check out Feedly! I’ve made it my home page and it has been easy to keep track of blogs so far.

      Thanks so much for the links! I’ve starting the planning for the blog projects so I’d like to read as much as possible and I am sure your list is going to be a great resource!

  3. Tina Schmidt says:

    Hi Sarah,
    Thanks for the comment on my blog! We would love to Skype with you next year!! I need more connections outside of the US as they are so exciting to the students.

    So far, I have been signing in to Google Reader to get all of the updates to the blogs that I am following. Blogs with new posts are in dark print and they have a number next to them to tell how many new posts there are since you last checked in. You can read the new posts on the reader or click to visit the blog itself. There may be an app but I am a new ipad user and I haven’t found it yet. I think this week’s PLN post is all about that so we will both need to check that out to learn more. Have fun with the challenge!


    • sarahwg says:

      Hi Tina and thanks for the comment! Let’s try and connect next school year!

      Thanks for the feedback on Google Reader. I’ve linked mine up to feedly and it is really pleasing to the eye. 😉

  4. Mardelle says:

    I’m glad that you found me at #Kinderchat. It is beyond the kinder experience, and holds many brilliant minds. I too can be an all consumed cloud addict. I am vacationing at my Mom’s, with no access, and get to my sister’s when I can. It has taught me that your 15 minute technique can really work – you tend to prioritize, and let go. I hope to keep it up when I get back to my 24/7 access to everything : )

    • sarahwg says:

      Hi there Mardelle and thanks for stopping by! We are heading off on a camping trip in a few days so I’ll get to experience the limited or no access thing for a bit – yikes! But, really, it does feel good to have a break. I look forward to participating and learning more from all of you over at #kinderchat!

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