Monday, March 31, 2008

Who Made You Think Today?

It's become my nightly ritual to open my laptop, log in to my Bloglines account and read through the new postings for the day. Sometimes, I even sneak a look during a few minutes break at work. And, I believe I'm addicted because it sure is hard not to see what's going on every day.

It's not just that I want to see if anything at all new is posted. It's that I'm looking for new thinking all the time, new ways of looking at the issues that I deal with, new ways of approaching common themes that come up about technology and instruction. Sometimes, I store what I find in my brain's memory, sometimes I use my Diigo account to bookmark what I've found with a note to help me remember my thinking later. Other times, I comment on a blog or I send a link to that blog posting on to someone else who I know will enjoy the reading.

So...who made me think today? Well, it started with Miguel Guhlin who wrote in reaction to Ryan Bretag's article on the Techlearning blog. Here's what I'm thinking...

Yes! I can raise my hand. I spend time every day trying to enhance my professional practice, trying to learn something new. Does this take place in "a collaborative context with other professionals?" If you count reading the blog, commenting, or posting my own reaction on my blog then...yes! I can raise my other hand. But, I wish I were raising that other hand because those "other professionals" were the colleagues with whom I work each day. This is not always the case and it's where I struggle each day on the job.

Maybe instead of holding on to what I've learned or passing on those links to only a few people, I should instead borrow a little wisdom from Ryan's action items. So, here's what that might look like:

1. Dedicate a portion of each day to send out messages to teachers about what's going on in the web 2.0 world. Providing little tidbits of what's out there and what I've learned from my own involvement in my personal learning network might inspire more of my colleagues to ask questions and begin to raise their awareness of the possibilities that exist.

2. Encourage others to establish a professional learning network. By following step #1, this is possible. By helping teachers to connect to the best resources this is possible.

3. Establish and maintain a virtual professional learning space that fosters shared knowledge and resources. Just creating another blog space to feature what others are writing about or to point to good examples of what teachers are doing with web 2.0 tools could help to establish that space in the professional learning practices of others. Last week, I spent some time with a small group of teachers who learned a little bit about Diigo, Google Docs, and wikis. That was just a quick introduction. The professional learning space can be the follow up to that conversation and many others.

4. Make professional reflection and scholarly work a priority and make it public. We already have some instances of teachers using wikis (mostly in collaboration with their library media specialists) and we have some teachers who have started blogs with their students. Through our professional learning space teachers could engage in conversations about the use of these tools for instruction.

5. Model professional learning for colleagues. There are about 125 teachers with whom I can share what I've been exploring and learning about. Time to get busy and open the doors to a learning network!

Thanks to Miguel for pointing to Ryan's article and thanks to Ryan for making some very bold statements that we should all take to heart.

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