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From Nick Romero:
I got involved with PLP without really knowing what I was getting into, and I have to say I am so glad I did. What is PLP? In a nutshell, it is a network of teachers focused on the teaching, learning and skills our students will need to thrive in the 21st century (for more information see enGauge 21st Century Skills and P21 framework).

I'm used to a lot of structure when learning with a well-defined goal in mind – I enjoy linear learning. This learning is not at all like that. At first I felt like I was spinning my wheels with no idea of where I was headed (which was true), and so I thought I was not learning much at all. I have slowly come to realize that even though there was not a regimented structure in place, I was learning an incredible amount because I was the one directing it and all throughout I was building a personal network of people to learn from.

That is another benefit of my PLP experience – developing a personal learning network. We have a Ning that we use to help develop our network. Through it I have access to experts in 21st century teaching and learning as well as others who are learning and experimenting like I am. It’s a great thing to be able to offer ideas, ask questions and seek knowledge in a networked way. I am not constrained by having to meet face to face at a certain time with others. This means my learning is only constrained by the time I make available to it and how deeply I pursue it.

How has this changed my approach to teaching? Hard to say. I know I am much more focused on collaborative learning, authentic assessments and providing opportunities for students to provide feedback on their experience and on each other’s work. I am still wrapping my head around how best to implement these and that has been the goal of my recent learning.

It’s been difficult to find the right balance between PLP, teaching, family and actually having a social life. However, it has been so invigorating and professionally rewarding to be part of this group. Thanks to Lisa for roping me in!

From Dennis Arms:
I’m going to try not to repeat anything Lisa or Nick have said:
When I was approached with the opportunity to work as a team with Megan, Lisa, Nick, Mark, and Dru I was thrilled. I wasn’t even that interested in what the actual “work” was. However, the fact that I would be surrounded by these 5 people for a year was enough to draw me in. It gets even better! We get to work with a bunch of other teams from the ADVIS cohort AND our leaders are Will Richardson, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, and Karl Fisch. How much better could this get?!
I can’t even remember when our first f2f (face to face) meeting occurred. However, it was pretty dynamic. Here we are, a group of 100+ people sitting at Springside School coming together for the same purpose…TO LEARN.
We learn via a Ning very similar to this. We call it a Virtual Learning Community (VLC). Our VLC is driven by the community. We share links, videos, and tweet. I read the posts of my fellow learners, occasionally I will respond to them, other times I will create my own posts.

What the heck is a tweet? A tweet, which is done through Twitter allows you to send text based updates and can only be 140 characters or less…I see the potential in using Twitter as a way to engage students in discussions instead of writing longer essays, following professionals, or use it to start a story…one person starts the story, the next person would continue it, etc.
Our Virtual Learning Community gives us the ability to communicate with one another in a public space. So if I start a discussion related such as “Effective Uses of Twitter in the Classroom” my fellow community members can respond. Some will respond with their experiences of using Twitter in the classroom. Others will respond and “cheer me on.” Others will respond and give me great resources that they have found on their journey.
Meanwhile everyone else who isn’t participating in the discussion is watching. Eventually someone else might join in. Everyone is participating, they may not respond to the discussion. However, they are participating because they are learning via the post and replies.
I have really enjoyed my experience with PLP thus far. While I value the experience of interacting with all of the other teams my favorite part of this process has been the interactions with Team Haverford. We meet regularly for about 30-45 minutes and discuss where we are in the process and to support each other while learning all of these new tools.
I can keep going but I’ll save it for another time. Ponder how our Deciding to Learn Ning can be used here at Haverford in order to learn from one another.