Tag Archives: PLN

How to Build a PLN this Summer

by Hope Morley

Build a PLN this summer

Build a PLN in addition to sandcastles this summer | Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The sun is shining, the days are getting longer, and the end of the school year is fast approaching. In addition to some much-needed R&R, summer is a great time to work on building your personal learning network (PLN). Here are four things to try over the break.

1. Attend an Edcamp or summer workshop

Find a local Edcamp, a self-proclaimed “unconference” organized by local educators. Edcamps are a great place to network and learn from other teachers.

If there isn’t an Edcamp near you, search for education workshops in your area using Google or EventBrite. Local colleges and universities are often a good place to start.

If you can’t find one locally, try a virtual workshop, such as one from Google. Then join one of their communities to discuss what you learned.

2. Spend time exploring Twitter, Pinterest, or whatever social network interests you

Summer is the perfect time to devote ten minutes a day to participating in professional conversations on social media. Start slow, by finding new people to follow. Then try commenting on articles or resources you like. Set a goal, such as one comment per day (and follow through if a conversation ensues!). By the end of the summer, you could have started 50 or more conversations. Even if most of them don’t lead to anything, a few might inspire great connections!

In addition, share the posts you like or what you’re learning. Make your Twitter stream or Pinterest boards worth following.

We have lots of detailed tips about social networking here, here, and here.

3. Find new bloggers to follow

Find some new blogs that interest you. You can start from a directory such as Teach100, or try Googling your subject and grade level. If you find a blog you like, leave a comment or reach out to that person on social media. Or simply start loading those blogs into an RSS feed or reading app such as Flipboard to refer to during the school year.

4. Join a teacher community on Ning or Google+

These communities are specifically set up for conversations and sharing ideas. Join a few and see what your peers have to say. (Try starting with the wonderful and huge Classroom 2.0.) These groups can be easier to jump into than one-on-one forms of social media, especially if you’re creating a new account.


Once you have the foundation built, it’ll be much easier to keep up with your PLN when August rolls around. What are your PLN plans for the summer?

Hope bioHope Morley is a consultant and social media coordinator for Green Light Professional Development. She writes about social media, conferences, and anything else on the web that helps both students and teachers learn. Follow her @GreenlightLT


4 Tools for Integrating Social Media into Professional Development

by Hope Morley

social media professional development

Image courtesy of Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Participating in professional learning communities (PLCs) allows teachers to share ideas, resources, and strategies that support and enhance learning outside of traditional professional development seminars. Previously, we’ve talked about building an effective PLC and how to integrate technology into a PLC. Today, the focus is on four social media tools to explore for personal professional development: Edmodo, Google+ Communities, Pinterest, and Twitter.


Edmodo is an educational website that functions as a social network. Most teachers use Edmodo to communicate with students, but it also is a great space for interacting with other teachers. Think about it, with all those educators in one place, don’t you think they’d start talking to each other?

To get started, check out Edmodo’s list of Teacher PD groups. Search the list to find one that relates to you and request to join. You can also create your own group to connect with teachers within your school, district, or PLN. If you’re looking for advice surrounding a specific device or program, such as ClassDojo, search for the company’s publisher page. Many of them cultivate good communities, or at the very least provide a space to discuss with other teachers.

Google+ Communities

Google+ Communities are groups built around specific topics and interests. There are Communities for every topic you can think of, including literature, math, science, and more. Community members share information, post comments, and ask and answer questions. A moderator likely reviews all posted content and can take action to address anything that’s irrelevant or inappropriate.

If you have a Gmail or Google Apps account, then joining Google+ is easy (and possibly already done for you). Mashable has a helpful beginner’s guide for Google+ Communities. You can search by subject area, or start with this list of more than 190 education-related Communities.


Pinterest serves as a virtual bulletin board where people can “pin” images and other digital content that they want to save. You can create different Pinterest boards for different topics and follow others’ boards to see what they’re pinning.

Pinterest is a lot more than recipes and ways to repurpose mason jars. It has a very active teacher community sharing lots of great activities and tips. Find educators to follow and search your subject or grade level for new ideas.

For more, visit Edutopia for one educator’s perspective on using Pinterest and a video overview of what the site is and how educators are using it.


An executive at Twitter recently said that educators are an essential part of the network’s base. Anyone who hangs with teachers on Twitter already knew that! Twitter can be a busy place—let hashtags help you sort through all the information. (For those who don’t know, a hashtag is simply a keyword or phrase, no spaces, preceded by the # symbol.) Use hashtags to find educator chats and find people worth following. You can also create your own class or school hashtags (e.g., #leydenpride) to organize tweets and build community. If you feel overwhelmed, try a tool like TweetDeck (my favorite) or Hootsuite to organize hashtags you like into streams.

For more, check out our complete post on using Twitter to form a PLN. Also check out this comprehensive list of education-related hashtags and guide to Twitter lingo.

What social media tools do you use to connect with other educators? Leave a comment to join the discussion.

Hope bioHope Morley is a consultant and social media coordinator for Green Light Professional Development. She writes about social media, conferences, and anything else on the web that helps both students and teachers learn. Follow her @GreenlightLT

Twitter: How teachers can use it as a PLN

by Luz Chavez

Part two of our series on teachers and social media. For Part 1 on LinkedIn, click hereInfographic source

Oh Twitter. Using it can be like flipping through radio stations on an old static-y radio. How do you cut through all the crappy commercials and music to get to a song you like? Streamline the noise by using it like Pandora. Let’s start with the basics first.

Twitter for teachers educational hashtagsFollow

The beauty of Twitter is that you can follow almost anyone. Twitter is all about connecting with strangers and exchanging news and ideas—all in 140 characters or less. Follow:

 Once you complete your profile and follow some users, Twitter recommends more people to follow.


Unless you make your tweets private, which defeats the purpose of social media, anyone with an internet connection can read what you tweet. So, be wise and professional. Tweet:

  • links to new apps or websites you are using with your students
  • links to resources that worked (or didn’t)
  • questions or requests for information (“Can anyone recommend resources for online primary sources?”)
  • links to important or breaking education news
  • links to online lesson plans that worked well
  • Retweet, where you share someone else’s tweet and insert a comment

Use the @

One of the wisest things I’ve heard from a social media guru is this: “I believe in the @.”

Tweet someone directly by beginning your tweet with the @ plus the user’s handle. Doing so is the difference between using Twitter as a newsstand and using it as an opportunity to engage with the people creating the stories.

There are a lot of educators out there like you in other states and countries, struggling with similar issues. What are their solutions? What solutions do you have that can help them? Using the @ can have a direct impact on how you do things in your classroom.


Okay, so now that the basics are out of the way, let’s talk about cutting through the noise.

  • Lists. Making lists is the best way to filter and organize tweets. In Twitter, you can make a list of users on a specific topic, such as elementary reading experts, IWB users, project-based learning experts, and so on. This way, when you check Twitter, you can hone in on specific topics.
  • Hashtags.  Hashtags are conversation labels. Add one at the end of your tweet to add to that conversation or search a hashtag to check out the latest news. There are tons of hashtags for education, such as #edchat and #edtech. Check out the poster for more.
  • Search. Twitter’s search engine allows you to search specific key words and save your searches. Then you can filter by top tweets or all tweets. This way you can always find exactly what you’re looking for.

Stay tuned for the next part in this PLN series: Keep your social networks organized in Hootsuite!

Luz Chavez is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development.

LinkedIn Isn’t the Yellow Pages: How teachers can use it as a PLN

Guest post by Luz Chavez

LinkedIn has the potential to be Facebook for professionals if more people would stop using it like the yellow pages. It’s not enough to be listed. To maximize it as a PLN, you need to connect, contribute, and engage.


Connecting on LinkedIn is like exchanging business cards. Beyond connecting with colleagues, expand your digital rolodex by connecting with:

LinkedIn network

Your Home page shows your connections at a glance

  • LinkedIn group members: Once you join a group, you’ll notice who sticks out above the rest. They’re the ones who consistently share valuable insight and news.
  • Presenters: Experts who impressed you at conferences are likely to provide some of the most insightful posts on your feed.
  • Teachers at other schools: Did you exchange war stories with a teacher at a seminar? Stay connected on LinkedIn

    LinkedIn notes

    Click a connection and add notes to remind your how you met.

  • Strangers with similar interests. Don’t be afraid to connect with someone you don’t know. If you use your common sense, the connection can be fruitful.

    LinkedIn connections

    Click a connection to see how many connections you have in common.

• Familiarity: How many mutual connections do we have?

• Influence: Does the person have hundreds of connections or Twitter followers?

• Legitimacy: How well-known is the person’s place of employment?

Also, LinkedIn allows you to:

  • Follow companies, such as education organizations, professional development groups, and school districts.
  • Follow channels in Pulse, your very own personalized newspaper in LinkedIn.LinkedIn pulse
  • Join a group. There are tons of LinkedIn groups for educators that allow you to engage in discussions with fellow educators. Use specific search terms to find the perfect group for you.LinkedIn groups


What you share defines who you are, so choose wisely and keep it professional. Share:

  • lesson plans that worked well
  • new apps or websites you are using with your students
  • resources that worked (or didn’t)
  • questions or requests for information (“Can anyone recommend a great bilingual ebook for third graders?”)
  • important or breaking education news

Choose a level of engagement (either posting a few times a day or a couple of times a week) and be consistent. That way you avoid falling off people’s radar. 


  • Comment! In order to learn, you need to put yourself out there. Comment on posts and participate in group discussions. You’ll learn a lot more than if you sit back and watch others craft and exchange ideas.
  • Endorse. Is your colleague an expert in troubleshooting tech issues at your school? Show your appreciation and let the world know with a quick click of a button.
  • Recommend. Is there a colleague who’s the go-to person for formative assessment tips? Recommend her. It doesn’t have to be long. Three sincere and specific sentences suffice.

Still want to be a lurker?

Then LinkedIn can be your personalized professional library, where you get the latest news from the companies, people, and groups you connect with.

Stay tuned for the next part in this PLN series: Getting the Most Out of Twitter!

Luz Chavez is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development.