Digital Teacher Project

This semester, I decided to include what I’m calling the “Digital Teacher Project” in my Methods class for pre-service teachers. My goal is to have my students understand how participating in professional learning networks can give them much needed support and help at this stage in their teaching careers–and in the future. Here’s the prompt. (Note: if you’d like to follow my students on Twitter, here’s a link.)

Increasingly, teachers are creating professional learning communities online, asking each other questions, sharing ideas and resources, and giving each other encouragement. Online learning communities allow you to see education more broadly—understanding what works with kids from other communities and what teachers’ working lives are like all over the world. Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) are also great places to get and share ideas about teaching.

Step One: investigate the following PLNs:

  • Blogging
  • Tumblr
  • Pinterest
  • #engchat
  • Diigo
  • Reddit
  • the English Companion ning or similar site

Use Google or another search engine to see what you can find. Choose a PLN that is updated frequently and that shares ideas you would like to use. Part of your grade will depend on which site you choose, so be sure to make a careful choice.

Step Two: check in on the site daily for a period of three consecutive weeks. Keep a record of what kinds of ideas you find, what types of sources people share, what the protocol for the site is. For the first week, it’s fine to “lurk,” but by the second week try commenting, sharing, or participating on the site in some way. Keep a record of your interactions with others in your PLN.

Step Three: By the end of the semester, you’ll need to hand in a write up that tells me the dates you took part in the PLN, what site you focused on and why, what kinds of interactions you had, what you learned, and whether you will continue to participate in this PLN (and why/why not). Your write up needn’t be longer than 2-3 pages.

Step Four: You are required to tweet at least three times a week about the experience of learning to be a teacher. Your audience should be other students who are preparing to be teachers, though you should remember that tweets are public, thus prospective employers, your future students and their parents could conceivably see what you tweet. Try doing the following: find teachers to follow, create a list of English teachers, post a link to something others could use in their teaching, post a link to a recent article about teaching, engage with a favorite writer by tweeting at him/her, retweet something you really like, favorite a tweet you want to remember, ask a question, answer someone else’s question, share a teaching idea/experience, be playful.

At the end of the semester, you’ll create a transcript of your tweets (we’ll talk about this late in the semester) to submit for credit and a short reflection about this new form of writing. Note: KSOEHD requires that you DO NOT post any pictures of your students.


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