PLN/PLC Lesson

I am happy to report that my Google Hangout to discuss David’s Problem of Practice was a major success! It was a productive half hour of rich discussion about how I can support David in solving his 2nd grade math Problem of Practice (see my previous blogpost for more information).

Aside from gaining a lot of knowledge on how I can best support David, I gained knowledge in an areas I did not expect.

1.) Reach out to your PLN (Professional Learning Network) and PLC (Professional Learning Community) when you are in need. They will help you in more ways than you would expect. I was so worried to reach out to people and interrupt their schedules–but every colleague I asked to join made a point to be there (even one who was on a lunch break). Not only did they show up, but they took the time to read David’s analysis of his problem ahead of time and then provide useful resources and insight. I am so thankful to be surrounded by equally selfless and knowledgeable educators. Shout out, again, to: Debbie SchuitemaHeather VernonStefanie CairnsRachelle GalangPiotr Buniewicz, and Stephanie Raezler.

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2.) Always reach back to someone who reaches out to you. I am usually pretty good at responding to colleagues when they come to me for help–but experiences like this remind me how prompt, professional and resourceful I need to be, no matter how small or large the request. Everybody needs help at one point or another–and it is our job as educators to support each other and be good models.

3.) Google Hangouts are a GREAT way to bring people from all over together to collaborate. I have participated in a couple Google Hangouts before, but with no more than 2 people! It was great to introduce my MAET buddies to my school district buddies–and then watch them collaborate with their wealth of knowledge.

It’s time for me to continue my research and put my new knowledge to work. I have a great start thanks to these fine educators. I’m looking forward to sharing with David (and all of you) the awesome things I have learned! Have a great weekend!

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What’s your Problem of Practice? #PofP

One of the projects we are working on this summer through our Masters courses is revolved around a Problem of Practice one of our peers has identified. Our job is to act as a consultant to help our peer improve  a “unit”  his or her students are struggling to fully grasp an understanding of. We all began the process by first identifying and analyzing one of our Problems of Practice, and then we were buddied up with someone else in class and passed our problem of practice on! Then the technological consulting began!

Right now, it is my job to work as a technology integration consultant to identify and develop a transformed learning experience for my friend, David Mattie. I am carefully analyzing his problem and using the TPACK Framework (Technological, Pedagogical and Content Knowledge) as a critical tool in my instructional design.  David is a fantastic 2nd grade teacher from Ypsilanti, Michigan. His problem of practice occurs during his math instruction. His students are struggling to count and add money. You can read more about the problem and David’s context, here.

My journey to help David began with a Q&A to help clarify any misunderstandings I had after reading his analysis of his problem. The next step is reaching out to my PLN & PLC (Professional Learning Network and Professional Learning Community) via social media. I have contacted six educators who teach similar content in a similar context to David to participate in a Google Hangout. Participants will have read about David’s problem ahead of time and come prepared to discuss/offer insight to his problem. David is not the only educator who has this problem, so it will be interesting to hear how others have tackled instructional issues in their own classrooms. I cannot say thank you enough to these amazing educators who are taking time out of their summers to have a discussion with me and on such short notice! Here they are:

Debbie Schuitema – ELL Math Coach at Godfrey Lee Public Schools

Heather Vernon – 2nd Grade Teacher at Godfrey Lee Early Childhood Center

Stefanie Cairns – Technology Integration Specialist of Oakland Schools, former second grade teacher, former MAET student

Rachelle Galang – Technology Integration Specialist of Oakland Schools, former Technology teacher, former Kindergarten teacher, former MAET student

Piotr Buniewicz – Teacher at Mackinac Island Public School, current MAET student

Stephanie Raezler – Teacher of Elementary Education at Utica Community Schools, current MAET student

Aside from a Google Hangout with these rockstar educators, I will be reaching out to other educators on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I am looking forward to this process and hoping I can come up with some awesome solutions for David!

 

Professional Learning Network (PLN)

We began the second day of MAET class with a quick fire that required us to visually represent our Professional Learning Networks (PLN). Your PLN is essentially all of the people you connect and collaborate with whether it be professional or personal. We were provided with a list of online organizational tools to choose from to create in 40 minutes. I decided to try a tool I have never used before: MindMeister. It was easy to use and visually appealing!

mind meister

My PLN was divided into four parts that encompassed all of the people I’m connected with : family, work, social networking and friends. I chose these groups because all of the people included helped me get where I am today. When I started completing the mind map, I was shocked at how many connections I had! There are many ways to expand your PLN. Social media plays a huge role in that for me–I use various outlets such as Twitter, Instagram, Google+, WordPress, Pinterest, Weebly and LinkedIn. These sites help me to connect with educators across the country and world. I have to admit, when I first started to become active on social media, I did not really know what I was doing! Following other educators blogs and Twitters really helped to give me an idea of how the whole PLN platform worked. I also started setting aside time each night to be active on my social media accounts–it is very easy to feel like you are missing something when you are not active. My course instructor, Alison, made a great comparison in regards to Twitter: it is a lot like the radio. You will miss things…and that is ok. If you are like me, that might give you some anxiety 🙂 So setting aside the time to be active on your sites helps with that.

My PLN also had me thinking about a reading we had for class this week. According to Too Cool For School by Punya Mishra and Matthew Koehler, “The fact that a technology is innovative and popular does not make it an educational technology.” I think an interesting text-to-world connection to make is that most social media sites were not intended to be professional development platforms for teachers. If you were to have asked me five years ago what Twitter or Facebook or Instagram had to do with teaching, I would not have been able to tell you! We as teachers chose to take these tools and turn them into something more.

Finally, seeing how many people I connected with made me realize how significant it is to have a professional presence online. My professional accounts are public to allow other professionals in my field who do not know me to collaborate. However, that does not mean that they are the only ones viewing my sites–I could have students or parents looking at my posts. If that is the case, I need to be setting a good example and promoting a positive presence!

References:

Koehler, M.J., & Mishra, P. (2009). Too cool for school? No way! Learning and leading with technology. Link to

article: “Too Cool for School” EJ839143