Could Twitter Be Your Next PLN?

Ryan Hanna is an initiate of Zeta Chapter at the University of Cincinnati and a current fifth-grade teacher in Cincinnati. He has been teaching for ten years. He served as a Scholastic Book Clubs Teacher Advisor for two years and was named his school’s Teacher of the Year in 2012. Ryan is a fortunate member of the Nerdy Book Club and is a fanatic about reading (and recycling). You can find him on Twitter @rantryan and on his blog. Check out the Nerdy Book Club blog!

Happy Teen Read Week 2014! I come to you to share a piece of advice – if you are a pre-service or professional classroom teacher WITHOUT a Twitter account, pick a creative handle and sign up as soon as you can! What are you waiting for?

The professional development provided by our school districts can sometimes be lacking. While these trainings may be planned with good intentions, teacher professional development is often “one-size fits all” and instructs us in a way that we would never instruct our own students. One of the most prevalent “buzz” words in education today is differentiation, but I often wonder why teacher professional development isn’t also differentiated.

Twitter Chats for Teachers

So, as teachers, we must seek out our own opportunities to learn from others and gather knowledge about our craft. This is where Twitter, the best professional learning network I have ever been a part of, comes in. Connecting with educators across the country is a benefit of the online Twitter community. Professional development through the use of Twitter is real-time – resources and great ideas are simply a click away, day or night. Not only are there individuals to connect with and learn from, Twitter chats occur weekly that cover different grade levels, subject areas, different regions of the country, and educational topics (such as diversity or technology use). These chats are organized and held frequently, and you can either contribute to the conversation or just observe and take notes as wonderful ideas fly across your screen. Check out this map of all of the education-related chats that occur (generously developed by Sean Junkins). You can also check out this even larger list of Twitter chats, created by Jerry Blumengarten.

The professional learning network, or PLN, on Twitter has changed my teaching for the better, and I wholeheartedly believe it can change yours, too! Not only have I been able to improve my classroom instruction, I have found an online world where authors, books, and readers are celebrated – through the Nerdy Book Club blog and its members. Anyone can join this amazing club! I feel that I am more successful at encouraging and teaching reading because of my connection to this wonderful group. Every day, an inspiring post is shared on the Nerdy Book Club blog. Nerdy Book Club Chats are held frequently – my favorite being “Title Talk,” hosted by teacher and writer Donalyn Miller and teacher Colby Sharp.

If it weren’t for the Nerdy Book Club and my Twitter PLN, I would never have discovered the book The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller, which profoundly changed how I taught reading in the classroom. I also would never have been able to connect with authors such as R.J. Palacio, author of Wonder, and directly share with her my students’ feelings about her book. There’s no other place where students and teachers can connect so easily with their author heroes! Without Twitter, I would never have read The Only and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, heard about The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, experienced the beauty of Rainbow Rowell’s writing, or discovered my new favorite writer Andrew Smith (author of Winger, Grasshopper Jungle, and 100 Sideways Miles).

Please don’t wait any longer – get on Twitter and join in on the learning fun!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s