The purpose of my Personal Learning Network (PLN) is to “learn about new methodologies and teaching techniques, locate resources, and find mentors who might not be available locally” (US Department of State, n.d., p. 1) in relation to my Science 8 classroom. I am interested in finding new activities and labs to do with my Science class as well as learn about how to use interactive notebooks. I already had a Pinterest account dedicated to Science, but it contained information for different grade levels, classroom décor and classroom management ideas as well. I have started building a more dedicated PLN for just Science 8 and the resources, techniques and mentors that are relate to making my teaching more hands on and interactive. I am also part of two Facebook groups that are related to my topic of interest and have started pinning links and resources that are suggested through the groups on my Pinterest board.
Within my PLN, I have added many different types of organizations and experts such as: 1) teacher’s blogs and websites including Amy Brown Science and Kesler Science, 2) links to their Teachers Pay Teachers account, 3) educational websites such as: BioInteractive, PHET Interactive Simulations and BrainPOP 4) Youtube channels such as: Ameoba Sisters, Kurzgesagt and TedED ,and 4) Facebook groups including: Science Digital INBs and Kesler Science Professional Learning Group.
As discussed by the US Department of State (n.d.) the amount of choice for developing a PLN can seem overwhelming when first starting and so they have developed some guidelines to help start and find success within your PLN. I believe a few of these guidelines are especially useful as I have used them myself:
- Start Small: I chose to start with Pinterest as it was already something that I was familiar with and felt comfortable using. Pick just one platform or form of engagement such as blogs or YouTube videos, and start your network there.
- Spiral: Once you are comfortable with your small network, start to branch out and make connections with teachers or organizations that are connected to your smaller network. For me, this included joining Facebook groups based on suggestions from websites and people I followed on Pinterest.
- Curate: For me this, this is what I have started to address this week. With so many different choices and resources, they can quickly spiral out of control and useful information or connections can get lost. It’s important to occasionally, reorganize your PLN and delete resources or contacts that don’t serve your purpose anymore.
Learning how to use PLNs can take time and practice but I believe that they provide invaluable resources for twenty first century teaching. I look forward to developing my PLN further, and hope to branch out to include things like Twitter and Instagram in the future.
US Department of State, The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, American English. (n.d.). Developing your virtual personal learning network (PLN). Retrieved from https://americanenglish.state.gov/resources/teachers-corner-personal-learning-networks-plns