Ed Tech Ideas

Tech Integration for Busy Teachers

Category Archives: PLN

Twitter for Teachers

Are you a teacher thinking about expanding your PLN? Have you tried Twitter in the past and just “didn’t get it?” Are you looking for quick and easy ideas for integrating technology into your classroom? If so, here’s a Prezi just for you.


Top 3 Paragons of the Week – Episode 12

Paragons of the Week is a reoccurring post highlighting resources that I find to be worth mentioning. I come across 100s of useful tools for educators each week. Below are the top 3 “paragons” that I found this week that I feel teachers might dig. To view previous Paragons, click here.

1. E-Learning For Kids

e-Learning For Kids is a great site with some wonderful interactive learning games that are engaging and fun. Students click on their grade and then a list of games divided into subjects comes up. Thanks to @Ariellah for the find.

2. Rhymes.net

Rhymes.net is a simple search site that returns rhyming words to whatever you enter in the search field. The rhyming words are divided into syllables for ease of use and there is a list of photos of whichever word you search for. Even better, Rhymes.net automatically generates citations for bibliographies.

3. NeoK12

NeoK12 is a fantastic collection of videos arranged by subject that have been individually reviewed by K-12 teachers. The videos are all (at least the ones I’ve seen) via YouTube and all the adds have been stripped and related videos removed which, as an educator, is a great thing! There are also quizzes, games and puzzles as well as a cool presentation creator that helps teachers or students create presentations within the site. Also cool is the How it Works Section. Thanks to Kelly Tenkely for the find!

Twitter and Blogging from a Newbie Perspective – Part 2

Part II of a 2-Part Post(click here for part I)

Hello? Is Anybody There?

On December 21, I created a Twitter account with my first real tweet being a link to my blog post “Did you Know” which was merely a quick sentence about the video being a great reminder. I didn’t receive any replies; no re-tweets; no direct messages… In fact, I think I heard a faint chirping sound of distant crickets. I quickly realized that there was no one following me, and I was following no one. I decided to spend the mornings of my winter break finding quality educators to follow.

Making Progress

My plan was as follows:

  1. I began the hunt at my co-worker Susan Sedro’s Blog and clicked through her blogroll, reading as much as I could during those quiet mornings before the world awoke. When I found one’s I liked, I would add them to my Google Reader.
  2. I would then search the about sections of the blogs to see if the writer was on Twitter, and if so, I began following them (The first few people to follow me back reads like a list of “who’s who in the educational Twtterverse” and includes such great educators as: @langwitches, @rmbyrne, @jenwagner, @coolcatteacher, @kjarrett, @courosa, @betchaboy, and many, many others). If you are new to Twitter, I’d recommend following them.
  3. After following about 50 or so people, I started looking at who they were following, and who was following them. It felt a little like stalking, but that’s kind of the way things work out at first. I would look at the basic Twitter bio, link to their blog, and scan through their last 20 or so tweets. If they were interesting (ie, tweeting about educational sites, useful practices in the classroom and not what they ate for lunch), I would follow them. I found amazing people like @cybraryman1, @shannonmmiller, @shellterrell, @ktenkely, @AngelaMaiers@Ginaschreck, @Larryferlazzo, @bjnichols, @web20classroom, @tomwhitby, and many, many more who I learn so much from every day.
  4. I signed up for The Educator’s PLN and Classroom 2.0 and “met” some great educators (@cspiezio, @GiseldaSantos, @vickyloras) from discussion groups and began to follow them.
  5. From the beginning, I shared things I came across, re-tweeted interesting tweets and tried to be as lurk-less as possible.
  6. I “tweeted” people as I wanted to be “tweeted.” I tried to thank people for a follow, reply to all direct messages and tweeted only things that I found interesting and useful.

Not All Addictions Are Bad

So after I reached the 100 follower mark, Twitter started becoming very useful. I began using TweetDeck so that I could stay more up to date on the action. I could send out questions and have them answered, I was gathering and bookmarking tons of new sites and resources that I never would have found BT (Before Twitter), and I found several different educators from around the world willing to embark on collaborative projects with my students. Very exciting!

Other teachers from my school began asking asking why Twitter, and wanting to know more about how I use it to enhance my educational repertoire.  The best single answer I could come up with to the question, “Why Twitter?” was, Twitter is like a focused Facebook without all the noise. If you spend time from the beginning following quality people who have something to add, Twitter will become an indispensable resource that you may find yourself asking how you lived without it for so long.

100 Days and Counting

Since 11/11/09 I’ve produced 40 posts, 276 tweets, I follow 562 educators, 396 are following me, and over 20,000 visitors have stopped by my blog. More importantly, I’ve found amazing resources, sites and ideas and have developed an amazing PLN that will continue to help, challenge, and expand my horizons in ways never before possible. I started out with very low expectations (not really the “shoot for the moon” way to go), and wasn’t really expecting to get anything in return for my time spent. When trying something new, I always try to follow the century rule: give anything 100 units (100 pages for a book, 100 days for a new exercise regime, etc) and step back and reflect after that time has passed. I would encourage new users to do the same when building a PLN.  It doesn’t happen overnight, but once cultivated, a quality network of professional learners will be an asset to be cherished.

Useful Resources

I found the following sites and posts to be über-helpful in building my PLN through Twitter and blogging:

Twitter and Blogging from a Newbie Perspective

Part I of a 2-Part Post

I tried Twitter twice before. Once in 2007 and once in 2008. Unsuccessfully. I couldn’t get my mind wrapped around the idea.  “Why would anyone want to use Twitter? Facebook is so much more interesting and visual. Why would I want to be limited to 140 characters? I don’t want strange people following me!” The idea was just too strange. Have you felt this way? I think many have.

Blogging was also a strange concept to me, although not as bizarre as Twitter. I’ve always thought I was an adequate writer at best, and I felt my classroom ideas  and lessons were intuitive and perhaps engaging, but not ground-breaking enough to share with the entire world. Why would anyone in their right mind want to read anything I wrote?

In the Beginning…

On November 11, 2009, with the new year approaching I decided to get an early start on my new year’s resolution: “To build a PLN” and I signed up for a WordPress account and immediately saw my first post, “Hello World!” (which I quickly changed to offer this disclaimer). Almost immediately, I found that once I began posting, my life became a continuous reflection of what I learned from this, and, could I blog about that. I wrote 12 posts in my first 1/2 month, added a Clustr Map and a hit counter and didn’t really care that I was averaging about 11 visits per day (hey, that’s 11 more people reading my thoughts than last month!).

The Epiphany

On December 29th I wrote a short post titled, Are We Adapting for the Future? which wasn’t much more than a cool video, a question, and a quote from Will Richardson. The very next day, to my shock and surprise, I received a comment from Mr. Richardson:

Hey Keith,
Thanks for reading. I think you ask a good question, the larger one being can we continue to adapt piecemeal, one at a time, or do we need some real vision and leadership on a higher level to move things forward?
Have a happy new year!

I was star-struck. I couldn’t believe it. This was the author, keynote speaker, stellar edublogger, member of the George Lucas Education Foundation… He said, “Hey Keith.” Like we were old pals! The world really is flattening! This was a great moment for me in the realization of the power of blogging. Two personal transformations had occurred because of this newly adopted tool:

  1. Personal and professional reflections in most everything I do.
  2. Connecting, communicating, and learning with educators from around the world in ways never before experienced.

I was hooked – but the best to come was still yet to happen…

Check back later this week for part II with the following topics:

  • Hello? Is Anybody There? (Finding followers on Twitter)
  • Making Progress (The 6 Steps I used to build my PLN)
  • Not All Addictions Are Bad (Getting my Twitter Groove on)
  • 100 Days and Counting (Where I’m at now)
  • Useful Resources (The top 9 resources I found to help build a PLN)
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