What would you call a student PLN?

Next step. The world.

Throughout  this COETAIL Course One we have been doing a lot of reflecting on the impact of technology. We’ve looked at how our students are communicating with each other in new ways, and that they may (or may not be) digital natives with tech skills far superior to ours (cough cough). Teachers are collaborating with the world via hashtags and Skype chats and we are all very quickly becoming obsessed with being better than we were yesterday. It is both an exciting and daunting time to be a teacher. With so much information at our fingertips, so many new tools and easy access to information we are constantly reminded that it’s not ok to do the same thing every day, every month, every year. Our kids are changing so much faster and we need to as well. But the big take away from Course One is that we are far from being alone. This isn’t a solo journey that we have to navigate. The very thing that we are trying to keep up with (technology) is the same monster that will carry us through it all.

We have our twitter handles and hashtags, our tweet deck lists and feedly feeders and a growing group of Google+ friends. The teachers are connected and communicating in massive numbers. Finding time zones that bring together educators from all over the world we are sharing ideas about project based learning, assessment strategies and technology redefinition – we are learning a lot, and we are learning it fast.

Well, I am learning a lot. I am learning it fast. I am inspired and motivated by the educators who I know only by their avatar. So why aren’t I sharing this experience with my students? If I am learning so much, why aren’t I finding opportunities for my students to learn through Google+ and Twitter and Skype chats?

Next step. The world.

I have focused all semester on trying to redefine my classes, projects and units with technology but I didn’t look very far outside the classroom. Alastair and I actually had very similar final projects, next year we could enhance the projects by connecting our students. My 11th grade students are engaged in polarising debates about the size of infinity – why limit their debate to the nine of them? Actually, why limit the debate to maths students? It really is time to open the doors for our students and let them harness their natural ability to socialise online and create opportunities for them to do it while meeting our standards for learning.

The global collaboration idea might not be new (I remember getting a Singaporean pen pal in 1988 that mum made me write letters to so that I could learn about her and her country) but it has never been quite so easy. Teachers have PLNs so maybe our kids should have them too? Edna Sackson agrees and made a “10 ways to get started list” I want to continue working on #8 – Blogging and then maybe my #10 could be a Wiki? A wiki page might look old school and bare bones but there is something about the collaborative aspect of the wiki that is really special. It’s a no fuss depository of information. Imagine having your students build a wiki to record their thinking in your class? And then finding students around the world to contribute to it? Could it work? Audrey Watters said it would back in 2011 – I wonder if she still thinks so? Or maybe Google+ is a nicer looking more user friendly option – probably makes sense in a Google Apps school. But the result is very different. More thinking needed on this.

Screenshot 2014-03-15 18.50.55

I need to get a tick in box #1

Another collaborative goal of mine is Mathlete Blogs. In fact it has has been holding the #1 spot on my Google Tasks list for about 4 months. There is nothing impressive about that. Literally 100s of other tasks have come and gone while this perfect opportunity for global collaboration just stares at me. So does the Twitter DM request from a teacher in Chicago to have my students to work with her 6th graders. I guess there is an element of time that can get in the way, but if I’ve learned anything from the COETAIL experience the time consuming aspect is step one. Everything after that is easy. 

 Let’s clean up my task and get this ball rolling.

ps. What would you call a student PLN?

7 comments to “What would you call a student PLN?”
7 comments to “What would you call a student PLN?”
  1. I’ve seen some great wikis created by students/classes/schools connecting (locally and globally). If the project is meaningful and authentic, then go for it – see what happens. I love both blogs and wikis and have always felt that they are quite different in the way they connect others – different as in their purpose.
    I think it’s fantastic that you and Alastair are already thinking of ways to “kick your projects up a notch” and adding that “redefinition” element to your very successful Course 1 plan!

  2. Hi Ange

    I think kids nowadays would just call their PLN “friends”. I don’t find that they differentiate their offline friends from their online friends. One soon becomes the other. 🙂

    I bet you can incorporate your personal professional goals into your Coetail studies. During course 5, we are “set free” to do so. Maybe you can incorporate your Mathlete blog idea into your course 5 final project? This would be added incentive for you to get a head-start on it.

  3. Hi Ange,

    Those days of pen pals…weren’t they grand. Through school, I started a pen pal friendship with a girl in Japan when I was younger…and low and behold, we have continued that friendship on for years, with her visiting Canada and me meeting her in Japan. Each time I head to Japan I always try and make it a point to see if she can meet up. It’s funny how things that start small can take on a life of themselves and become much bigger then you ever dreamed.

    Collaboration is a perfect example of that. I’m sure once you get the ball rolling, be it through a wiki, blog or global classroom initiative, it will really take off and you’ll wonder why you left it so long on your list. I know I do.


    ps – nice use of Canva! I did share that site at the SIS Create 2.0 workshop a few weeks back. Many thanks!

    • For sure. I think when I was writing this post I was reflecting on the fact that I’d never really thought to mirror the PLN experience for/with my students. I’ve some really eager Juniors who could definitely benefit from linking with other students about their learning in maths. I think that it would be challenging and perhaps even daunting for them, but I think that they need it. Sometimes they get a little too comfortable.

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