“Branching Out” With PLN’s

23724712586_8543d072b2_n Photo CC- By Paul Davis

We all know that there are many ways to expand your PLN. But according to Howard Rheingold there are eight simple steps to cultivating your PLN. The first step is about being open to new ideas.When searching on the internet, you have to be open to new ideas and be careful to not get stuck in your ways. Being open to new things expands our learning and that is especially important when having your own PLN. The second step talked about what tools to use to cultivate your PLN and what tools work best for certain things.

One of my favorite steps Rheingold talked about was step 4: Always keep tuning your network, dropping people who don’t gain sufficiently high interest; adding new candidates. This is one thing I love about Twitter. If one of your followers is sharing “junk” or sharing too much of something, you can unfollow them. Another thing I like about Twitter is that when a follower retweets someone else’s tweet that you aren’t following, you have access to their tweets and profile (sometimes these profiles are locked/private). I’ve experienced this this past week when following some people I added to my PLN. As I was scrolling through my timeline I noticed retweets from people that I do not follow and some of their stuff was super interesting so I just clicked on their profile and followed them. It was that easy!

Another thing that I liked about this article is that Rheingold focuses on being kind to one another. Even though we can’t see our followers face to face, it is still important to show them gratitude and kindness over the computer screen. People are willing to share their experiences and ideas so we should show them how thankful we are for doing that. Another thing that he brought up was watching our tone while conversing with people. I am a pretty sarcastic person and sometimes I don’t think about what I say when talking with people who don’t understand my sense of humor. When talking with people online, it is hard to show your sarcasm without seeming rude. So I think it is best to keep sarcasm away from social media unless your are really good at sarcastic typing!

I really enjoyed reading this article and learning more about how to cultivate my PLN. I will take these tips and hopefully expand my network and connect with more people!



Becoming a “Yogi”

After contemplating for hours last week on what my ILP should be, I decided to try yoga. I’ve tried yoga before by watching dvd’s but I wanted to attend an actual yoga class. My work schedule conflicted with yoga class on Monday night so I was not able to go.

Instead, I busied myself with researching about what yoga is and its history. Wikipedia defines yoga as “a physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline which originated in ancient India.” It is uncertain to how old Yoga actually is but there is evidence that it existed as early as 3000 B.C. Yoga’s main goal was to focus on understanding the world but the goal later changed. It is now used for self-enlightenment. Swami Sivananda created five basic yoga principles; proper relation, proper exercise, proper breathing, proper diet, positive thinking and meditation. I think a professional yogi has mastered all of these concepts and I strive to someday be like them!

9117978909_3a5bb648fc_c.jpg Photo CC-By Patrick Savalle

Another thing I was not aware of before learning more about yoga was that there are many different types of yoga. There is yoga for weightloss, stress, flexibility, and the list goes on and on! It’s crazy to me that something that has been around for so long still helps so many people today.

Like I said before, I was not able to make it to the Monday night yoga session but I was able to attend the one on Wednesday night. There was a total of three people there; the instructor, a lady from my church, and myself. It was really nice to have a small group because I get super nervous when there are a lot of people at an event. We started the hour off with some stretching and relaxation. The instructor was very helpful with making sure I was doing the poses right and answered any questions I had. One thing that is very crucial in yoga is making sure you are breathing correctly. I had some trouble with this but I think with more practice I will eventually master it. For the next hour, we worked on balance, flexibility, and strength. For the last ten minutes of the session we stretched and relaxed. We laid completely still for a full five minutes and I almost fell asleep!

I absolutely loved this yoga class. I felt rejuvenated and relaxed all at the same time when it was over. As for the second part of my ILP, I did not get to it this week but stay tuned because I plan on spending more time in the kitchen this upcoming week! I am so excited to attend my yoga class again and share what I have learned!

Personal Learning Networks- What Is It?

5205995052_16b1c1df91_n Photo CC- By  atspyjamasnz


PLN’s are totally new to me. I had no idea what it even meant before this week. But as I began reading what they are and how to create them, I realized that it’s exactly what we are doing in this class; we are creating our own PLN’s!

So what is a PLN? A PLN stands for Personal Learning Network. The main objective of a PLN is to make connections and relationships with fellow educators and experts anywhere in the world. Making these connections can give you access to many different educator’s ideas, advice, expertise, and so much more. Just as you can soak up other people’s expertise, you can share your own as well. Sharing each other’s ideas is what PLN’s are all about.

So how do you create your own PLN? First, you should make a list of your interests as a teacher. Maybe you are interested in Special Education or Early Childhood or maybe you are more interested in teaching HighSchool and want to learn more about Health, English, sports, etc. (The best part about PLN’s is that they are all online. They come in many different forms; Twitter, WordPress, Webinars, etc. The classroom is so technological now days and it is very easy for any teacher to create an account and get starting on creating their own PLN.) So the next step is to create an account using any of the social media websites mentioned above. Find people on Twitter and WordPress that have the same interests as you and check daily for new tweets and blogs. Contact them and create relationships with them so you can feed off each other’s ideas. There’s really endless possibilities when it comes to PLN’s and you can’t really go wrong.

I am VERY happy I learned about this great resource. I know without a doubt that I am going to use it as soon as I become a teacher. Honestly, I am very nervous to graduate and be in charge of a classroom at such a young age but this resource gives me more confidence that I will be prepared when that day comes!

I found this great article/tweet about why every teacher should have a PLN. Check it out here:

Here’s a video that explains what a PLN is. It’s pretty fun to watch and makes it easy to understand!



Failure Isn’t Always A Bad Thing

Failure is something that everyone experiences. We all have failures, big and small. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t welcome failure as acceptable. Most people don’t go out of their way to applaud you for failing at something like they do when you succeed. Society puts such a horrible connotation on the word failure. It’s almost as if it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth once you say it.

But why is failure seen as such a bad thing? We live in a society where success is acceptable and failure is not. Personally, my failures have been something I have learned from. If one thing didn’t work I’m going to try another way at doing something. Maybe a subject in school just wasn’t for me so I’m going to try something different. But if it is something I am super passionate about, I am going to try and try until I succeed at it.

27554690005_95dcfe8d01_n.jpg Photo CC- By Kyle Pearce

“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”-Denis Waitley

For this week’s assignment, I chose the TedTalk “Learning to Fail” by Tara Suri and Niha Jain. I really enjoyed watching this video because they explained that even when we fail, we should always be willing to talk about it. Society wants us to push failure under the rug and that isn’t right. I completely agree with Suri and Niha. When we do fail, we need to be open about it. There’s people in the world that may be skeptical and ashamed of their failures but by setting an example and talking about personal failures, it may teach them to open up about their own failures.

As a future educator, I think it is crucial for my students to learn that failure isn’t always a bad thing. Most importantly, when you do fail you should always be willing to talk about it and share your experiences. If we teach students this at a young age, they will hopefully take failure with a grain of salt and never give up on their passions.

So Many Passions, So Little Time

7320447784_5f33714a67_n  Photo CC- By Caitlin ‘Caity’ Tobias

Like many other people, I have many passions. I enjoy stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things. I’m always willing to learn something new and weirdly, it makes me feel more complete when I do learn something new. I love doing so many different things but have yet to master most of them. The list includes sewing, cooking, photography, crocheting, a new language, etc.

As I was thinking about what to choose for my independent learning project, I made a list of what I could fit into my schedule without overloading myself. Working two part time jobs and taking three online summer classes isn’t the most ideal situation so I wanted  to pick something I enjoyed but something I had never tried before.

Upon moving back to my hometown for the summer, I joined a gym right down the street from my apartment. I try to make it a priority to workout five days a week but with my busy schedule it isn’t always easy. Fortunately, the gym that I joined offers fun cardio/fitness classes a few times a week. The best part is that the first time you try each class it’s FREE! This broke college girl is happy. As I was looking through the list of classes, I saw YOGA. This immediately stuck out to me because I have always wanted to try yoga and learn more about it. I have done some yoga DVD’s but I think I would learn more with an actual instructor.

Yoga class is offered two nights a week for an hour each night. So what am I going to do with my other two hours? Another thing I struggle with is eating healthy. You can workout seven days a week and do as many extra physical activities as possible but none of that matters if you don’t take it serious in the kitchen. So for the next two hours I am going to spend 2-3 nights a week in the kitchen trying new healthy and delicious recipes. Since I am so busy they will most likely be quick and easy recipes.

I am excited for this independent learning project because I am choosing things that I have wanted to try a long time ago. I am ready to get my life back on track to a healthy lifestyle and have fun doing it!


Characteristics of a Good Learner

16846023595_cabe7fa6d6_z photo cc-by GotCredit

I really enjoyed reading this blog post written by Bud Hunt. He really put it into perspective about what it takes to be a good learner and made it simple to understand. One thing I really enjoyed about this post is that Hunt compared learning to camera lenses. I am a pretty avid photographer so this helped me make sense of what he meant when he talked about “lenses.” Hunt focused on three different “lenses” that help us become better learners.


There are several types of learners out there. Some people are visual learners, auditory learners, etc. In my opinion, I believe everyone learns better when they have a visual representation of what they are studying. I think more students would learn better if teachers incorporated this type of learning into the everyday curriculum. When students get to interact with each other instead of sitting at a desk all day homework, they thrive.


I think teaching this term to our students is very important. Our students need to understand that when something isn’t working or going the way they would like it to go, they can hack it and make it better. So many of students, and people in general, tend to give up when a situation gets tough. By teaching our students how to make something better can help them in any situation in life, even beyond school. I think it is important to teach our students the term “hacking” because it can benefit them in many ways.


As teachers, I think the term “playing” relates to the way we should be teaching our students. The way we teach out students is crucial to how they learn. To be an effective teacher, if our students are not understanding a concept it is our duty to change our teaching method to ensure that they are understanding and learning the material. By trying new methods, we can explore the different ways our students learn and in return help them become the best students that they can be.



The Goal is Always Happiness

2333277924_37a066fba1_m Photo CC- By sciondriver

Happiness: it holds a different meaning for everyone. Some people may find their happiness in work, school, travel, family, etc. There are endless possibilities! But sometimes this world makes it hard to be happy. There are so many expectations to be met and so much pressure to be what the world wants a person to be. Some people follow the crowd and do what is expected of them, but there are some people who choose the path less traveled and break away from society’s norms.

Logan LaPlante is one of those people. At such a young age, he has understood that the world’s expectations aren’t something he wants to be apart of and has his own definition of happiness. I applaud this kid because he mastered a concept that takes most people a lifetime to realize. And sadly, it starts with students and classroom expectations. LaPlante brings up a valid point in his TEDTALK that “we don’t seem to make learning how to be happy and healthy a priority in our schools.” How true is this statement? Schools focus on the main subjects such as math, history, science, reading/writing. Sure they include P.E. and art and music but how creative can a student really be in those classes? Those classes still follow the curriculum and there is always a cut off point for what a student can and can’t do.

LaPlante focuses on eight major concepts that keep him happy. They are exercise, diet and nutrition, time in nature, contribution and service, relationships, recreation, relaxation and stress management, and religious and spiritual. Why are we not incorporating these topics into our everyday curriculum at school? Many people argue that it is time and resources but I honestly think it is because some people just don’t have an interest in teaching their students these values.

“Education is important but why is being happy and healthy not considered education?”

I believe that teaching students this type of curriculum is crucial. I do believe that students learning the main subjects is important as well but the 8 things that LaPlante talks about will help get them through life. It will help them survive and be the best version of themselves that they can be. Students may not have the privilege to experience these 8 concepts at home, but by incorporating these into the daily curriculum they will be introduced to so many new things and develop new interests.

I really enjoyed watching this TEDTALK because it opened my eyes to new things. It made me realize how important it is to teach my students how to be happy and healthy and to not just focus on the main stream curriculum in today’s schools. I believe that if everyone lived like Logan LaPlante the world would be a much happier place!