Community in the Classroom
Personal Learning Networks: What are they and why you should get involved

My first year teaching was like many educators' -- all about survival. In the beginning, we do what we must to keep our heads above water while establishing classroom systems, behavior management, building relationships with our students, and I almost forget - teaching. But early on in my career I was fortunate enough to meet a group of educators at a conference that saved me. It was at this conference that I discovered Personal Learning Networks and the power of social media to connect with professionals all over the world.

Personal Learning Networks, or PLNs, stem from some key principles of the connectivism theory, which include:

  • Learning and knowledge rest in diversity of opinions.
  • Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
  • Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
  • Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known
  • Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
  • Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.
  • Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.
  • Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality.

(Siemens, G. & Downes, S., 2005)

What makes your Personal Learning Network great is that it is a mindset, enabling you to create a group of educators to learn from and share information. As a READ 180 teacher, I know personally how difficult it can be to create connections with educators when you are the only teacher in the district. There are several options available to READ 180 teachers to help enable you to gain the tools to build your own personal learning network:

1.  The Educator Community is an ever-growing wealth of resources at your disposal from blog posts to teacher created resources. I wish I had known about this community when I first started teaching READ 180.

2.  Use #READ180 on social media! Hashtags are a great way to reach out to other READ 180 teachers across multiple platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

3.  Check out weekly PLN Twitter chats. If you have an interest in UDL, Special Education, ILA, there is a weekly twitter chat available for you to connect with educators across the globe. Here is a list of the updated educator chats that are available to educators: https://sites.google.com/site/twittereducationchats/education-chat-calendar

I am proud to announce that starting this fall @READ180 will be launching a weekly Twitter chat for READ 180 educators every Monday night at 8:00pm! Each week we will be discussing a different topic so that you can connect with other READ 180 educators and share your own insight. Be sure to join us September 25th for our first chat where we will be discussing Back-to-School. I want to hear from you --- what topics would you like to see in our weekly @READ180 twitter chats?

Follow READ 180 on Twitter! https://twitter.com/read180


Siemens, G. (2005, December). Connectivism:  A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved August 04, 2017, from http://itdl.org/Journal/Jan_05/article01.htm

Tiffin, OH

"If you do not like to read, you haven't found the right book" - JK Rowling.