My Amazing PLN

pln-rbq0qdThis is a post I have been wanting to write for a number of months, as I want to share the incredible influence Twitter has had on my teaching and my pupils learning. I know a lot of teachers that are still sceptical about Twitter and don’t understand how it can influence their teaching, I want to destroy that myth. I am not going to be able to do it with just a blog post, but it will be a start. One of my aims next year is to get more staff from my own school using Twitter and I am hoping this post will be read by them as a place to start.

The purpose of this post is to highlight what I have gained from Twitter and as a result other social media tools. What I have found the hardest is that there are so many people/resources out there, which ones do you follow/read/like etc? Well the best answer to that is, follow/read/like the ones that strike a chord with you, the ones that seem to talk about topics that interest you.

Looking at the list of people I follow on Twitter, there is a very heavy slant on technology for learning, that would make sense given my role in school but delve a little deeper and you will see a lot of ‘tweeters’ that are more general or even have literacy links. Recently I have been broadening my horizons and looking for more outrageous ‘tweeters’ that can inspire me further.

‘Inspire Me’, that has been the driving force behind all this. It would be honest of me to say that before last year, the previous few years had seen me get into a rut with my teaching and loose the spark I had at the beginning. That spark has definitely returned, partly because of my PLN and partly because of the opportunities I have been given in school during the last 12 months. All I am looking for with all my social media tools and PLN is ways to help me inspire the pupils I teach and improve their learning from my teaching.

CPD has changed a lot in the last few years, I remember a time when I would go on a number of courses a year. Last year I don’t think I went on a single traditional course. Nowadays you have to be pro-active with your CPD and the easiest way to do that is using Twitter. All the CPD I had last year and there was a huge amount, ranging from trips to Scotland and Swansea, conferences in Cardiff and Oxford, TeachMeets in Clevedon, Cardiff and Chepstow and numerous other events were all organised by myself from tweets I had read. Done, there you have it, the number one reason to use Twitter. I have already lined up a few events in the next few months from tweets I have read already.

The next best reason for using Twitter (and Pinterest), is IDEAS. My classroom has been transformed, and is about to undergo more transformation in the next few days as a results of tweets I have read that have linked to blogs and images. The biggest example is the learning wall at the back of my classroom that gives each pupil their own space to display work they are proud of and then others can comment on it using post it notes – it has been a great success. If you follow the right people and read their blogs you will soon be overrun with a mass of ideas that will leave you struggling to fit them into your classroom. But select carefully the ideas that enhance your classroom and you will see the difference.

This summer I have started using Pinterest, had an account for years (just like Twitter) but never used until now, what a great tool, I now have even more ideas I want to start using. Over the summer I have also tried to bring all my different channels together so I used a great web site called ‘about.me’ to create a profile that has links to all my different areas, link on the right (http://about.me/mdavies24) – take a look.

I have also setup a Facebook page separate to my profile with the aim of getting some of the staff from school on Facebook to ‘like’ it and start getting into Twitter etc. Any tweets I write are automatically shown on this page, we’ll see how this works.

So now I have written a lot about the why, here’s the how.

1. Get yourself a Twitter account, follow these people (this is only a start, there are hundreds more you could follow but you need to start small), look at their followers and so on.

@TeachToolkit
@ICTEvangelist
@ICTMagic
@MsFindlater
@rlj1981

2. Read these websites/blogs (you can ‘subscribe’ to these sites so you don’t miss a thing using tools like Feedly or Flipboard)

Edudemic
Teaching News
Teacher Toolkit

3. Sign up to Pinterest and follow these boards.

Teachers on Pinterest
We are teachers
TES Resources
Rachel Jones

4. Search for these #hashtags and follow them.

#ukedchat
#sltchat

These are just for starters, there are so many more I could list.

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