Friday, June 17, 2011

PLN's and The Amazing Transformation

I have an amazing teaching partner who pushes my thinking! I have observed her teach, listened to her thoughts and watched her develop her professional learning network (PLN) through blogs, Twitter and Nings. Seeing the growth the PLN offered Cathy, her colleagues the kids of her classroom, I decided to explore this fascinating world of professional learning networks. I began by following Cathy's blog, Reflect and Refine.  Reading Cathy's blog gave me the wonderful opportunity to hear the thoughts behind her instructional decisions, her perspectives on teaching and learning, and build my thinking.

Reading Cathy's blog also provided me with a network of bloggers to follow which has been a great opportunity, jump-starting my PLN. After spending some time reading Cathy's blogs and the blogs of other educators I decided to take the plunge and begin my own blog,  Primary Perspective. Blogging has given me the opportunity to reflect on my professional learning and my teaching, this has  transformed me into the teacher I am today. As a member of this blogging community I began to develop a group of bloggers I could rely on to push my thinking and ease my fears! Thank you to Mandy Robek at Enjoy and Embrace, Julie Johnson at Raising Readers and Writers, Cathy at Reflect and Refine for all of your encouraging words.   

As my comfort level began to increase I took the next step and began to explore twitter. I started slow, following people, reading tweets, following links on twitter and finally… I ventured to comment on a tweet by @jillfisch. Jill had tweeted a link to a VoiceThread her class had created. Because our class also used VoiceThread I saw this as the perfect opportunity to expand our learning beyond our classroom walls.

Jill FischMy 1st graders are climbing the walls- literally. Here is a Voice Thread (without voices) of their climbing experiences
This step was a defining moment for my personal and professional learning, I was hooked! I saw the power and possibility of my PLN! My class loved chatting with Miss Jill's crew. The kids were eager to revisit the VT, hoping for new comments, the kids felt empowered! From here I began to build my PLN by exploring more blogs and twitter connections, looking for ways to expand the learning beyond the walls of our classroom.

Our next opportunity came from my connection with Mandy Robek at Enjoy and Embrace Learning. On her blog, Mandy shares great picture books, many of which I would quickly read to my class. Having experienced the benefits of the classroom connections with Miss Jill's crew, I shared Mrs. Robek's blog, on our latest read aloud I Must Have Bobo. The kids were amazed to see the same book we just enjoyed. It wasn't long until the request was made and the VoiceThread was created AND shared with Mrs. Robek and her friends! Now, not only were Mrs. Robek and I connected, but also our classes were sharing in the connection, extending the learning for both of our classrooms once again!

I have always said the third time is a charm and that certainly proves to be true here! Our third opportunity expanded our learning globally! The Global Classroom 2011 would not have been possible without the support and dedication of my PLN. The Global Classroom began with an idea, "Wouldn't it be really cool if our class, right here in Ohio could connect and chat with classrooms all over the world!" So I asked my PLN (via twitter) to help spread the idea and request for classrooms to join (to read more about the Global Classroom and the classrooms involved visit The Global Classroom Wiki~ organized by Michael Graffin).
Connecting with educators and classrooms all over the world has been an amazing experience. The kids were engaged and excited through the entire experience. From posing questions, listening to comments, asking new questions, and waiting for new replies we were expanding our learning and OUR PLN globally!
It was at this point that I realized not only did I have a PLN, but my kids also had a PLN!

Our final project of the year, Poetry Tag was also made possible by the support of our PLN. The idea of Poetry Tag was sparked by Franki Sibberson's and Mary Lee Hahn's blog, A Year of Reading. After reading the post I tweeted my PLN and asked if they'd like to join our Poetry Tag. Our PLN accepted the invitation and we were sharing poems, exchanging comments and connecting classrooms from Colorado to Maine!
Our PLN made it possible for us to expand our learning and our classroom beyond the walls. Expanding our learning was possible, it was amazing and we are forever more transformed! Much thanks to our PLN and Cathy for giving me the gentle touch to start it all.

This week my PLN took a new turn, Cathy and I led a session, What's All the Tweeting About? the design of this session was to help others see the power of Twitter in building a PLN. While I am still a novice I was surprised at the growth I have experienced in such a short time!  You can see the presentation at Reflect and Refine.
Our (my class' and mine) PLN made it possible for us to expand our learning and our classroom beyond the walls. Expanding our learning was possible, it was amazing and we are forever more transformed! Much thanks to our PLN and Cathy for giving me the gentle touch to start it all.
I hope this is just the start…



Jill Fisch said...

What a nice reflection on the beginning of your transformation. Thanks for bringing me along for the ride. It was a great year. I hope we can continue to learn and experience more together next year.

debf said...

I would be remiss to not personnlay thank @mgraffin who was instrumental in spurring the growth of the Global Classroom participants! I would also like to thank all the global classroom teachers for an AMAZING experience! @mgraffin. @bjacketsfan, @surreallyno,@Judykmck,@claudRu,@coatsea, & @jessicadubois~
Hope to continue next year and make our classroom even BIGGER!

Elizabeth G. said...

How inspiring! I am only at the beginning stages of my PLN (have blog and am reading others tweets). I am eager to have my class blog with other have set a great ground work. Thank you so much for sharing. I can't wait to see/read what next year brings.

debf said...

First, Michael- I meant- PERSONALLY to thank you~lol

Jill~ I am looking forward to working together again, my kids were thrilled to get to know your crew! I am just imagining all we can do next year! We should start a google doc now to share plans for next year as they come to mind!

Elizabeth~ Congratulations on starting your journey! It is a journey worth taking! I regret NOTHING and I am looking forward to even MORE! Enjoyed your post and can so relate!

Thanks for reading this LONG post!

Cathy said...

What an informative reflection of your journey. I always enjoy learning beside you, but know it is YOUR eagerness to learn that moves you forward. You are always ready to learn something new. I am fortunate to be pushed forward by your drive to improve the work we do with kids everyday. I learn so much from you, your questions, your reflections, and all you do with kids. Thanks for pushing me every day. Looking forward to a summer of new learning! Voicethread?


debf said...

I am eager to help you find your place with Voicethread...

Julie said...

Deb, What a wonderful reflection. Your enthusiasm shines through in all you do! Your kids are very lucky to have you leading them on this journey. I'm hoping to learn more about VT with you (I'll tag along with Cathy). Julie

debf said...

Thank you for your kind words! That is quite the compliment coming from such an accomplished and an inspiring teacher!
I would love to have you "tag along" with Cathy, I could use the support...she been a reluctant VT student. LOL

teacher trainee said...

These sort of posts make me feel excited when I get a classroom of my own to experiment in next year!

debf said...

Good Luck teacher trainee the possibilities are ENDLESS! Happy teaching and thanks for reading!

Kimberly said...

Deb, it's inspiring to read about your students' enthusiasm. Great job!