Growing my PLN – Part 2

magnolia-2106238_1920
Image by moni quayle from Pixabay 

In my previous blog post, I discussed my reasons and motivations for beginning my Personal Learning Network (PLN) journey.  One month later, inspired by a creative make task, as part of a Master’s unit in Connected Learning, I am reflecting on what my PLN looks like and how it has grown and evolved.  Through this process, an image of a flower blooming came to mind.  A flower bud slowly starting to unfurl its petals, is symbolic of how I see my PLN slowly starting to develop into something beautiful.

During the last month, my PLN on Twitter has started to bloom with an increased number of followers resulting in greater interactivity on my posted tweets. I have worked hard to become a participatory member of my PLN, through the sharing of useful articles and information mainly focused on my targeted area of interest – the promotion of a reading culture in school. This targeted focus has assisted me in narrowing my focus, in order to filter information and connect with people who have similar learning interests to myself.  My connections with people have also increased through liking, commenting and participating in conversations with my PLN. The image below shows how the visibility of my tweets in the PLN has grown.

Screen Shot 2019-05-09 at 10.04.02 am
Screenshot of my Twitter Monthly Activity

A critical incident that occurred during this time also assisted with increased interactivity and engagement with my PLN. In early May, I shared a blog post on the promotion of a reading culture which included tips and useful resources for educators. This tweet resulted in the highest engagement level with any of my tweets so far. I was both surprised and delighted to receive likes, retweets and comments on both my tweet and personal blogging. Since then I have also gained new followers and noticed continued interactivity with subsequent tweets. Comments on the blog tweet, regarding the role of the teacher librarian in the promotion of a reading culture in schools has also caused me to further reflect and has sparked ideas for a new blog post.  Suddenly it seemed, the petals of the flower were beginning to open.

Screen Shot 2019-05-09 at 10.14.03 am
Screenshot of  Blog Tweet –  13.4% engagement rate with 382 impressions and 51 engagements.

Feeling an increased sense of confidence, I have expanded my PLN through establishing an Instagram account. The use of this social media platform has seen a different side of my professional identity emerge. I have used Instagram to further engage in creative and amplifying practices through sharing images and tips from my daily practise as a classroom teacher, as well as new found knowledge from my teacher-librarian studies. I find I am remixing and distributing the information gleaned through Twitter and my own research in a different way to meet the expectations of an Instagram audience. As a result, I am enjoying experiencing how Twitter and Instagram support my PLN and learning needs in both different and complementary ways.

As my PLN begins to bloom, a challenge I am facing is managing my time in order to further develop my PLN, as well as effectively deal with the vast amount of information appearing in my social media feeds. Currently, I identify with the practices of a self-directed sharer in my interactions with my PLN.  I enjoy self-directed learning and sharing my knowledge with my PLN, colleagues and students. However, due to my busy lifestyle as a part-time teacher, Masters student and mother to four sons, I need to become more of a time manager and implement effective strategies to manage the flow of information and the time needed to further develop my PLN. This is something I look forward to exploring in order to see my PLN bloom into the beautiful flower it has the potential to be.

Promotion of a Reading Culture

people-2595510_1920

 Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Many of us can fondly recall reading for pleasure in our childhoods. I can remember being excited and looking forward to silent reading time in the classroom.  However, recent studies have found a decline in the number of students reading for pleasure.  With reading for pleasure linked to many academic benefits and overall achievement, a focus on promoting a reading culture in schools is more important than ever before.

School leadership plays an important role in establishing and fostering a reading culture. Without the support of principals and administrators, teachers can feel pressured to drop reading practices that support reading for pleasure in order to focus on increased curriculum demands and standardised testing. Often, independent student reading can be one of the first things to go.  Unfortunately, a qualified school librarian is usually next with funding for the position at the discretion of the school leaders.

Where to from here? Educators need to take a stand and reclaim reading for pleasure in their schools and classrooms. A holistic approach to reading needs to be front and centre in every classroom. Fortunately, there are some simple and easy ways for every teacher to create a reading community in their class.

TIPS FOR CREATING A (2)

Reading for pleasure not only builds academic skills, it helps develop important personal attributes and life skills such as empathy, resilience, problem-solving and the ability to experience life through the perspective of others.  Good stories can change a young person’s life. The right book at the right time can have a profound impact and many of us can remember a story that changed our perspective or helped us deal with a difficult time in our lives. Therefore, it is essential that educators foster and pass on this gift to the students in their care. We need to make reading for pleasure a priority in our classrooms rather than an optional extra. Our students deserve this.

Useful Resources

Raising Readers by Megan Daley is a must read for all educators and parents. Great tips, ideas and booklists for raising readers in your life.

Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller shares the keys to cultivating life-long reading habits in your students.

Promotion of reading Pinterest board –  I have curated a collection of useful articles with tips on how to create a reading culture in your school.

Pernille Ripp – an excellent blog from experienced teacher and author Pernille Ripp. Lots of useful articles on the importance and promotion of reading for pleasure.

500 Hats – a useful teacher-librarian blog by Barbara Braxton, with practical ideas, information and insights to support a culture of reading in your school.