Sunday, June 21, 2009

PLN - Not Just My Initials Anymore

Letter P L letter N

What does PLN mean? I used to just think of these letters as my initials (Paula L. Naugle), but now they have taken on a whole new meaning. I started a classroom blog for the '08-09 school year and learned a lot about the blogging process. It was great to "grow" that blog. My students and the parents of my students enjoyed visiting it. Then in January I learned about PLN's (personal learning networks) and put a few posts on my classroom blog that didn't really belong there. I toyed with the idea of starting another blog - my PLN blog - but was just too caught up in school activities to do so. Well now I'm on summer vacation and realize more each day that I need a professional blog - so viola'.

How does one get a PLN? I followed the advice on Sue Water's wiki. She took me through the steps that helped me successfully get started. I started out slowly and worked on it a little each week. I already had a blog, so I began to add comments to others' blogs. I set up Google Reader and subscribed to blogs by educators. I joined Classroom 2.0 and several other Nings. I started a Ning for the fourth grade teachers in my school district. I set up a Delicious account and started social bookmarking. Finally, I joined Twitter.

How does your PLN grow? Mine started out on a local level with the 25 members that joined the Ning I started. I had some conversations and exchanged ideas with them. I kept checking out my Twitter account but just didn't get it. I had selected a lot of top educators to follow and could see their "tweets" but wasn't part of the conversation yet. Then I started attending the free Classroom 2.0 Live webinars every Saturday. In the chat room someone would ask the attendees to put our Twitter names in the chat stream so I listed mine. When I opened my email I would have several requests for "follows" on Twitter. Each week my list of followers increased. I finally took the leap of faith and began posting "tweets" usually including a link to a site I had found that I thought other educators might want to check out.

What does my PLN do for me? They share links, answer questions, give advice, make suggestions, make me laugh, make me think, make me question, make me grow. I am extremely thankful to the members of my PLN for all they have done for me. Start growing your PLN today.