Taken from a painting of Kapiti Island at Sunset.
by Sonia Savage.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Making Time to build Your PLN.

When we are starting out to build a PLN the idea and task can be a little daunting.  It did to me at the beginning.  And really I still am at the beginning!  It does take time, but it doesn't need to be a lot of time.

In the most recent Edublogs PLN challenge Sarah Poling mentions the idea of spending 15 minutes a day, which will over a period of time make you very competent at what you are learning. For myself I then take this and say well I will spend some time most days.  Sometimes it will be more and sometimes less.

Brick Layer BrickLayerphoto © 2010 Eric Lockheart | more info (via: Wylio)
I started out in a small way and joined the classroom Edublogs blogging challenges run by Sue Wyatt, for the last few years.  I didn't realise at the time that I was beginning to build a PLN.  I thought I was just getting into the world of classroom blogging and it was away to connect with other teachers and classes. My eyes were opened to the learning going on in other classrooms and I wanted that for my class too.  At this time I was introduced to the use of Google reader, firstly to follow blogs in the challenge, then my student blogs and finally I now use it to follow teachers who I want to learn along with.

Earlier this year I joined the Edublogs Teacher blogging challenge and through that I found more teachers, learned along with them, or was amazed at what some of them were doing far beyond where I was.  Through that I became aware of some of the webinars that were available from such sources as Techtalk Tuesdays and I have joined in occasionally with those.  Recently I could not be at the live webinar but I connected in later to listen to an Evernote webinar.  Afterwards I spent some time setting up Evernote to track my students, as I had seen suggested my Richard Lambert on his blog.  He had presented a webinar on Digital Storytelling, I attended that, have since bought his book and want to start out on that particular journey.

During the Teacher Blogging challenge I decided to join Twitter.  This came as a result of seeing how teachers in the blogging challenge were using it.  I have started very small.  I usually link into it quickly a couple of times per day.  I am still learning the conventions of Twitter.  I was working with a student recently, and was having to remind her about putting in full stops.  During our last session she said, "Right now I put in a full stop." Then  had to be reminded again later.  I thought to myself why can't she do this all the time.  However I was reminded of that little thought later in the evening when I sent off a tweet without the hash-tags it needed. I had used them properly in another tweet, but forgot again.  I then understood where we both were in our learning steps!  It helped me be far more compassionate towards both of us.  Today I have been learning about the Structured Overview of Learning Outcomes (SOLO) and the experience made even more sense to me.

As you may be able to see, I think I am building a PLN in a way that is particular to me.  I am finding that as I  participate in something I am meeting up with people I have met up before so I am deepening links with some people.  It is then leading to something new, joining up with something new.  And so the journey goes on.  One thing leads to another. I want quality rather than quantity. So my goals for building my PLN are:

1.   Spend some time on it each day.
2.   Comment on people's blogs that I follow.
3.   Spend a little time surfing through the latest updates on Twitter.
4.   Click on links that interest me in a tweet.
5.   Connect with others on Twitter as I see the opportunity.
6.   Each day spend time with one idea gleaned.  Explore it and decide it I am going to depth it.
7.   Recognise when I have a sense of fullness, small bites will be enough.
9.   Track how gradually my PLN and my own skills and knowledge is growing.
      (For example my New Zealand contacts have grown as I have consciously set about to develop this.)

Time Fliesphoto © 2010 Hartwig HKD | more info (via: Wylio)

So what about actual time?  Sometimes in the morning I spend a little time glancing at my Google reader or Twitter. In the afternoon/evening  I might read on Twitter or engage in blogging. The weekend sometimes gives me some time as does school holidays as well. However I have less time for reading, watching TV, chores, and in person people time. It’s rather like budgeting with money, if you buy this then you can’t buy that..

To some extent what I choose is governed by what is going on around me or within me.  However I find that whatever I am passionate about time isn't a big factor.  I just need to remember I can't have it all.  We are time bound creatures!  However we have the gift of choice.   

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Do you ever stop to reflect and be amazed at the ICT  that we have available to us today?  I do!  I was reminded of it again this weekend as I introduced my 86 year old Dad to the Ipod Nano, 6th generation.  I am not sure who was more stressed, him or me.  Dad because this was so new and amazing to him, me because I had bought it for him and I wasn't sure if he would love it as much as I do! Dad said his Grandmother would roll over in her grave at the thought of such a thing!

iPod Nano 6th Genphoto © 2011 Jason Bache | more info (via: Wylio)
It is so small, and there it was dangling at the end of his headphones.  No ear buds for him!  He was worried he was going to lose it, because of its size.  I thought, keep an eye on the headphones and there at the end will be the iPod.  He loves to listen to music and was amazed that we could put a whole lot of his CD's on it and still have huge space left.  I have put a few audio books on as well hoping he will get hooked into them.  We shall see.  He wakes in the night a lot and I am hoping that the iPod will be good company.  I think he is getting the hang of it, I will check in for the next few days.  I laugh at my own experience with this iPod, last year my 5th generation made awful noises and never went again.  I got the 6th generation.  For awhile I couldn't work out that I had to take the sticker of the front that showed the apps! And Dad is worried!!

I think back to the early and mid nineties when we had Apple Macs in my classroom and the one next door.  The teacher next door, Vanessa and I, attended a course in Multimedia in Education at Wellington College of Education.  Towards the end we had to present our own multimedia work.  The two of us were using Hyperstudio, I had spent hours putting my presentation together, with cords everywhere linking to the TV etc. I finally finished it.  But how were we to show it to the others?  We had no way of getting it there.  Think today of all the ways, there would be so  many easy ways.  We had to bundle up the monitor and hard drive and take the whole Mac Performa into Wellington.  Believe me it was heavy. I think too of our school intranet.  It rarely worked and I often ran down the corridor to jiggle a connection.  The internet?  Well that was very odd and I believed I'd need to be highly educated to understand how to log on to it!  How technology has moved on!

I enjoyed watching a recent TV series, Downton Abbey.  In the last episode the telephone had just arrived at the Abbey in England.  The butler was practising answering it, and he wasn't very sure of it. It was very humorous. A little like Dad and the iPod Nano.  I've told him about the iPad and I must show it to him some time.  In another twenty years I wonder what the world will be using for ICT.  Probably something not even imaged as yet.

What memories do you have of the early days?!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Twitter! Why Not?

A man checks Twitter on an iPhone.photo © 2010 Steve Garfield | more info (via: Wylio)
When I mention to others around me that Twitter is great for teachers they say, "No way!" and to some extent I can understand that.  We already have very busy lives, get caught up in Twitter and there goes more time.  I held out against Twitter for quite awhile.  Turned a deaf ear.

However in January when I participated in the Edublogs Teacher Blogging Challenge I decided to dip my tootsies in.  It wasn't that bad!  Actually it was very good. A Twitter user only uses it as it suits them.  You might just follow others and pick up ideas.  That's one thing I do, I now have a number of people I follow who share great websites and ideas.  I test the ones I like the sound of.  Sometimes I click further onto the web site they are sharing.  Imagine my surprise today when I clicked on a website and found a face staring up at me that I knew. I couldn't believe my eyes.  I had taught with this Principal back in the days when he was a Deputy Principal at our school and I have a lot of respect for him.  So now I have the link to his blog on my blogroll.

One of the reasons I followed the link was because I follow mainly Australian and American educationalists.  They are great, yet I need a little more New Zealand in my diet, for the very reasons that TraintheTeacher shares.

Occasionally I share my own comments and thoughts on Twitter.  Not often, I am still getting used to it.  I occasionally retweet. Tweeting is like mini blogging.  Ideas are shared very succinctly.  You call in when you have time.  Learn a little more about it when you have time.  At present I am learning about #tags.  I haven't got into any of the'live' chats because the overseas ones are on at a time when I am working or asleep.  If you read this and have ideas on any good New Zealand Twitter people to follow let me know.  Maybe if I Twitter about it I may get a response as well.

If you are not a Twitter user I encourage you to try it.  Just small.  Don't even tell others you are trying it. Find a few people to follow.  See who they follow. Follow them. Start here and read Kathleen Morris' post about Twitter.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I Deleted my PLN!

(140/365) Computer magicphoto © 2009 Sarah | more info (via: Wylio)
With one swipe of my finger (accidental you understand) I deleted a number of blogs that I follow.  These blogs I discovered while doing the Teacher Blogging Challenge earlier in the year.  All I intended to do was some tidying up, as I begin a new challenge about PLN's.  Memo to self, do not use my ipad2 to work on my blog. I can end up doing something I don't want!!

However it isn't as bad as it seems. You see I have other links to a number of these educators.  I have some of them in my Google Reader, where I quickly can see there latest posts.  On my iGoogle home page I have some more.  And my final port of call will be Twitter.  Well, actually there is one more.  I can go to the Edublogs Teacher Challenges and pick up some there.  So all is not lost.  I can probably restore the ones I want to keep over the weekend.  However one swipe of my finger on the ipad2 will take a little more time restoring on my laptop.

I want to continue developing my PLN.  I like the idea of small is good.  I find if I get too large I can't interact.  How does  a busy teacher get the time to follow what's happening on Twitter?  There is so much excellent material being shared.  I think this is a place I need to work on.  I still haven't got a handle on the hashtags so that needs to be mastered.  I don't use Tweetdeck and I am not sure that it would be of extra value to me.  However I am prepared to be open about that.  I don't use a mobile phone much. However soon I will need to upgrade because I have quite an old phone.  I am thinking maybe wait to the iphone5 comes out. That may keep me more connected.

I enjoy learning from teachers around the globe.  I can learn things that otherwise may never cross my path. I am a person who gets easily lulled to a state of boredom attending professional development that is not engaging for me.  Yes I do attend engaging PD as well, but not all the time.  What I like about a PLN is that I can engage with the ideas and learning that are relevant to me at the time. I may not know I want to learn about it until I see someone share about it.  I love that I don't have to 'leave home' to do it.  No travel!  Now that's a bonus.  I am presented with a lot of quality information, guidance, and good practice.  It makes me want to strive to lift my teaching practice, it opens up doors and possibilities.  Through the blogging challenge I began to keep an eye out for webinars that might give me new ways of seeing things.

So, blogging, Twitter, Google reader and iGoogle have been my main ways of developing my PLN.  I look forward to this challenge as a way of becoming more active within it.  I need to be realistic.  I only have a little time and so I want to build the most effective PLN for me.  I am also aware that I need to make time to contribute as well as learn.

Image from the Daring Librarian.
Image: 'PLN_DimSum
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