Friday, August 12, 2011

Building Student PLNs

PLN -- Professional....Personal...Passionate...choose your adjective....Learning Network.  I have been actively building my PLN for about five months, and as I have repeatedly twittered, it has changed my professional life!  I have learned more than I can even put into words from the amazing educational minds I encounter in the twittosphere.  That said, I have been trying to figure out a way to bring the power of Twitter to my students next year, and help them build their own PLNs.  I created a page on my "brainstorming wiki" that I use to park all of my ideas in progress, but hadn't really come up with a whole lot after several weeks.
Lucky me!!  the 8/2 noon #edchat topic was regarding SM and student PLNs.  Sadly, I could only participate for about 10 minutes before having to rush my DDs off to band camp...which is why archives and summaries are such a blessing!
Lucky me again!!  Last night's #langchat touched on the topic as I noted in the summary since I missed the actual chat (end of band camp....FINALLY!!)

All that said, here are my thoughts going forward:

1.  The most appropriate starting point is to connect students with their classmates.  It seems to be a no-brainer for students who forget to write down homework, or who are struggling with something and may be able to connect outside of school.  They do this anyway, why not encourage it!  By having them create twitter accounts for class, they will also have access to classmates they may not normally socialize with, but from whom they may be able to learn.

2.  The PLN should be expanded to included students from other classes -- including other levels.  This provides an opportunity for students in upper levels to informally tutor/mentor students in lower levels, in a flexible way and a format that is comfortable for students.

3,  The next step might be to try to connect with classes outside your district.  For example, my students will be collaborating with classes in Paris.  We will be doing formal activities in class, but I hope to encourage them to continue their relationships on their own, choosing to focus their communication on students with interests common to theirs.

4.  The #langchat summary provided me with this gem -- the #parlons hashtag (#charlando for Spanish). Other French teachers will have their students tweeting here in French, and hopefully students will make their own connections, further expanding their PLN.

I think the overriding theme here, is that we guide students in the initial establishment of their PLN, but as it grows and develops, they need to own it, and control who they choose to learn from, in the same way we do -- personal, and passionate.

Stay tuned for updates as the year begins!


Google + is  one of the most frequently brought up SM tools for PLNs.  I am not leaving it out for any reason other than I'm just not comfortable enough with it myself at this point, to introduce it to students.

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