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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Expanding Your PLN

If there's anything I've learned from the 21st Century Pilot, Professional Learning Networks are essential to anyone's (especially anyone in a quickly changing field's) growth. Here are three things I learned about growing my professional learning network.
The SAMR model is a good way to approach this idea. Dr. Puentedura in his website provides examples of how technology looks when we simply substitute up to when we use it to have students do something they would never be able to do without it to create new knowledge. Although there's a lot of discussion about this topic, I think most of us have to go through substitution and augmentation before we can start truly transforming what we do. Fascinating mind candy. Ask questions of others who have done similar things, and start the conversation with others locally and elsewhere who are transforming their teaching.
Other educators went through what you're going through as you're navigating virtual waters. You can't blow anything up, no one will think you're stupid (really, they won't), and you'll be amazed at what wonderful people you'll meet when you start tweeting and posting and Skyping and hanging out. Play, experiment, and don't be afraid to fail. Learn from the things you do that don't work out so well, and learn from others.
Keep your brain turned on. You're going to make some mistakes, but make sure to keep your professionalism. There was a great article in Edutopia on my Twitter feed this week about that very thing. When you're connected, you're opening yourself to learning all the time. The more comfortable you are with being connected, the easier it will be to start helping your students find their voice in many new formats.