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Establishing a personal learning network is one of the most important tasks for an educator. The technology available in the classroom moves along at a dizzying pace, and it is quite simply impossible to keep on top of it all. With a personal learning network, you can draw from the wisdom of others. I present here my own PLN, full of people and resources that I have found invaluable both as a teacher and an instructional coach.
The first level is comprised of those I can interact with on a personal level. Janetta Garton, long a technology guru for the Willard school district, is a treasure trove of tech ideas. She maintains a fantastic blog called Fusion Finds. Matt Rosebrough, a fellow instructional coach, is extremely talented and always willing to share his knowledge. My partner in coaching grades 5-8 is Carolyn Nixon, and she has been invaluable to me. Her experience with instructional methods and curriculum is vast and our skill sets complement each other nicely.
Beyond those who I can call up anytime for help are my favorite authors, bloggers, and presenters. I’ve found Ron Clark’s books extremely useful for me as a teacher and also as a parent. I recommend his first book, The Essential 55, to anyone who interacts with children. The rest of his books are excellent, too. On the technology end, Leslie Fisher (who presented at Willard’s Tiger Tech conference last year) is excellent for finding cool new apps, websites, and gadgets and most importantly finding ways to integrate them into instruction. Her website has links to her presentation handouts and other great resources. Steve Dembo is another leader in the field of technology in education, and also maintains a website.
I use Twitter and Google Reader, my RSS viewer of choice, to stay current with the latest trends. Several of the folks mentioned above are on Twitter, and you can find their usernames at their websites. Here are three more great education and technology tweeters:
@angelamaiers Author of The Passion Driven Classroom, very thought provoking
@fetc feed for the Florida Educational Technology Conference, lots of great stuff year round
@ascd Shares lots of great links for educational leadership
I read the following blogs, among many others, on a daily basis.
I am always looking for more to learn to make me a better instructional coach. One area of interest for me using iPads and iPods in the classroom, since that is a focus for my building. Another would be SMART boards and the clicker response system, to support the district push for these tools. I also think the next big thing for our building will be a bring your own device or 1:1 project, so I am always on the lookout for resources in this area as well. Generally speaking, though, as long as it’s technology in education, I am interested!
Hopefully, looking through my PLN has been beneficial to you. I encourage all educators to develop their own network to glean ideas from. If you find a great new resource, whether it’s on Twitter, a blog, or even just a useful new app, let me know!