Refresh and #C4C15



Refreshing this blog after stumbling on the fact that one of my PLN friends, Matthew Brewer, is a Teacher of the Year for Washington State! That’s awesome!  But what’s more important is what that means: it means he has important things to share about teaching and learning.  Please read his blog here: Learning by the Lake.

In Customers or Products, he reminds us that education is about the student — and the passions and talents that are their potentials for our futures as well as theirs.

Schools exist as a means to give students the opportunity to experience a myriad of different opinions and points of view as they discover their own natural passions and abilities.

Think about that. I know those in my PLN who live this — their #geniushour programs promote it.

And how about this idea from the same post:

…build a generation of careful and critical thinkers who have tried and failed just enough to know what they can and cannot do and aren’t afraid to push their mental and physical limits. We need students who can identify in themselves their own passions and convictions and can pursue those passions and voice their convictions with energy and enthusiasm.”

I agree completely, and hope that in our work together, that my students find their interests and strengths, passions and talents. I offer choice and team projects based on focus statements that allow students to ask their own questions.

And this idea is something I’m working on

Education is individualized as much as possible

and assessment is a conversation,

not a spreadsheet.

It is the conversations that encourage students to improve, when our class work is valuable enough that students want to improve.

Our Google Apps allow that conversation to continue online through peer and teacher comments on student work, offering feedback on what is done well and suggestions for what could be better. The focus is on the work, not a grade. I’ve also changed my rubric, which I’ve blogged about here [ Ideas for Rubrics: Feedback ].  I think of above and meeting standards as an “I see” comment and below standards as “I suggest” comments. From the comments and conversations, students understand exactly how to improve and revise. My assessment is conversation, not spreadsheets, and my students learn by doing, not “getting done.” My students and their learning is not finding facts, but is finding focus. And it is through that focus that students discover not just a “how to,” but also “how I believe.”


Congratulations, again, Matthew, on your work and the recognition of that work as “Teacher of the Year.” I’m thankful to be inspired by you.


This post is part of

Ben Wilkoff‘s #C4C15 Comments for Community Project

Passion: PassiTon: Pass it On

bridgeInspired once again by my PLN, I have begun a thirty day challenge sponsored at Edublogs by Michael Graffin.  I hope to complete most of the challenge activities as a model of learning for my students and community. Our first task is to comment on the Real People, Real Teachers VoiceThread on what is a PLN and how it has affected me.

Next, we post about building and engaging in a PLN.

First of all —

What is it– a PLN?




new ideas
new friends
new colleagues

As shown in the video “We Connect Video” by Shelly Terrel on Real People, Real Teachers VoiceThread by Michael Graffin

Passion –> Pass It On

in a global connection, a global community, a united world:

A PLN passes the passion on and on….

In a PLN,
people connect
to learn and share
to become better
personally and professionally;

people create
lessons, blogs, posts
to share and revise with other educators
to engage student learning;

people collaborate
on blogs, wikis, Google Apps
to add more, create more, connect more
for improving student learning;

people curate resources
and their revisions to
pass on

PLN is for everyone…

PLN = Passion Living Network

By sharing and following our passions through connections and collaboration with others around the world, we demonstrate life-long learning for our students.

How has my PLN helped me?

My students and I have met people all over the world through Skype, blogs, wikis, Edmodo, Google Apps for Education, and VoiceThread. We found the people and learned the tools through my PLN.

I am helping other teachers at my school learn the tools, thanks to my PLN.

Several of our staff started blogs, and my PLN commented on their new blogs after a tweet from me asking for help.

How have I helped my PLN?
I have offered suggestions to queries, answered polls and surveys, blogged about needed changes or to support needed programs as requested by my PLN.

My students shared a Native American dance through Skype in a cultural sharing. They debated in an international debate through VoiceThread. They shared cyber safety with schools far away.

All of these projects and activities occurred only because the world is globally connected now, and the social media of twitter, blogs, wikis, Skype, Nings provide the networking of relationships and ideas to allow the opportunities to happen.

How did I start?

I started with Twitter. I linked to blogs. I commented. I emailed the blog authors for more information. I connected with the authors and then Skyped for the conversation and developmet of class projects. I linked from Twitter and blogs to tech tools like Edmodo, VoiceThread, and nings. I joined LearnCentral,  Classroom 2.0, and Educators PLN. I attended webinars in Elluminate to further relationships and knowledge of “how to” use and apply the tools in the classroom. Now, I’m sharing what I’ve learned so others can plan their paths to follow their passions.

What does this mean?

The world is filled with people to help and reciprocate. We are life-long learners. We are thankful that “geeks” share.

What could you do?

Start small. Cross the bridge one step at a time.

1. Join Twitter. Listen to the conversation, retweet, and reply.

2. Link from Twitter to blogs; comment.

3. Start a blog. Here are Six Summer Blogging Ideas

4. Join one of the networks above and participate — create your profile and page.

5. Build your online identity:

a. Make sure you create your profile on Twitter or any place you join — you don’t need to share everything, but do acknowledge who you are, what you do, and your interests. Think of yourself at a conference or a get-together. You want people to know about your ideas and work, but not necessarily your personal information. Most often, you can leave your email private, yet followers can still email you to contact you.

b. You are setting your online identity — every area is a path back to you.  Three links that may help you with online conversations: Comment Considerations Netiquette Simply Said . I believe in being transparent — showing who I am and basic information about my work and ideas. It’s a courtesy.

What step will you take to build your bridge to the 21st Century?

Photo Credit:

Bridge: By Sheri Edwards