I have to be honest. My initial reaction to Andrew Marcinek’s article was “Oh gosh, not another article talking to me about how we can use social media to promote ourselves.” THEN, he asked a glorious question! “… what are we doing to promote critical thinking, questioning, and constructive criticism during these lessons?” I can get on board with that! Establishing a PLN is an area that I hope to improve on this year. Reading the article was (and is) a true learning experience for me. I almost feel as if Andrew Marcinek wrote his article specifically for me! Or, at least our instructors knew I was going to be in the cohort, and chose this article for me to read.

The-Social-Media-Guide-to-Growing-Your-Personal-Learning-Network image source

I’m beginning to truly see the importance of having a PLN- and I got to experience the positives of having one for the first time. I was fortunate enough to attend Learning2 in Bangkok last weekend, and asked Rebekah Madrid (she was lending her time and expertise to help during one of the extended sessions) if she knew of any schools who were using tablets that were NOT iPads, and she tweeted it out. Her PLN is much larger than mine, so she had a bigger pool to work with. From her tweet, at least 3 others retweeted it to their followers and from there, I was in contact with someone! AMAZING!

Back to the article, Andrew discusses a conversation he had with a graduate student. I started thinking about the kinds of people I wanted in my PLN (specifically thinking about Twitter- I need to take baby steps here) and a light bulb went off in my head. I think the main reason why I was so put off by Twitter in the first place is because of the little that I knew about it: people tweeting every minute of their lives “Just had pizza for dinner.” “Look at this cat video on YouTube.” “I have the best boyfriend in the world.” These kinds of tweets, not to mention the bullying that happens, turned me off. However, I’m slowly seeing the light- thanks to COETAIL and my very patient husband. Twitter is so much more than what I initially thought. There are resources and information that people share- people share so someone like me can find it. People, like me, sharing information with others, so others can find it. I’m completely blowing my own mind by brainstorming ways that I can use Twitter in the classroom. I know so many educators are already doing this, and I’m probably the last one to arrive the party- but, at least I made it!

I did a quick YouTube search on using social media in the classroom, and found a plethora of teacher videos out there. I really enjoyed this video of Kathy Cassidy, a teacher in Saskatchewan, who uses twitter and blogging with students in grades one and two.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riZStaz8Rno[/youtube]

When Kathy said “They have grown up with the Internet their entire lives. Their parents have iPhones, they have iPads, they have digital tools. They use those tools at home. So for me to ask them to come to school and power down, would make school seem like a different place that was not in touch with what their real lives were like… Blogs reflect learning from their entire school year.” This resonated with me because it supports the shift that I’ve gone through in this short amount of time since our first course has started (or, perhaps this shift is something that was a long time coming, and I was too afraid to let it take its course so I kept stifling it). The students who I am so fortunate to teach are growing up and learning in a time where we’re all surrounded by technology. It only makes sense that the classroom is an extension of this. I want my students to think critically, ask questions, and know how to receive and give constructive criticism.