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Monday, February 16, 2009

Valuing a PLN through age-old philosophies

Looking at a PLN from a traditional philosophy based point of view puts it into perspective for me. Bloom’s Taxonomy, Vygotsky, I think for most of these terms draw up memories of college or licensure. How does my PLN influence what I do every day in the classroom? Every day I am learning, sharing, collaborating, and engaging with peers around the globe for the purposes of becoming a better teacher. Vygotsky (1978, p56) provides the example of pointing a finger. Initially, this behavior begins as a meaningless grasping motion; however, as people react to the gesture, it becomes a movement that has meaning. In particular, the pointing gesture represents an interpersonal connection between individuals.

Yesterday I was able to participate via twitter to the ITSC keynote thanks to teach42 microblogging. I felt engaged, challenged and provoked into thought. These 140 character posts sparked a conversation with my wife (also a teacher) a text message to a friend in St. Louis (also a teacher) and so on. I am just one man, teach42’s PLN is HUGE, imagine the debates, conversations, thought provoking interpersonal dialogue going on around the globe! If that is not supporting Vygotsky and his social learning philosophy, I do not know what is. Most of us are engaging our students and challenging them through the use of technology, web 2.0 tools and a 21st century approach to their learning. Each day I ask my students to understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create. I expect them to ask questions to guide their thinking and then critically share, collaborate and learn form each other.

Many of my ideas come from my PLN; what works, what doesn’t, what is new, what’s tired, etc. So when I am working and my tweet deck whirrs a message to me sometimes I get excited, because I know there’s a chance that those H.O.T.S that I strive for my students to reach each day is about to begin for me…again and again throughout the day. I read my PLN’s posts; I try to understand what they are saying, then I analyze how that could work in my classroom or school. I apply what I know and what has worked and hasn’t in the past, I evaluate the pedagogy and implementation into a stringent curriculum, then I create lesson plans, units of study, or discussions to take them through and above the knowledge goal. A great example of this is as I’m typing this Bill Grazaiadei has posted a link to a site on Digital Fluency Model and I can’t wait to read it more closely. I want to look at whether or not I’m meeting these needs in my classroom and if my digital natives are becoming as fluent as they should be in a 21st century classroom. My point in all of this is that the more we learn, the more we grow as teachers some of the same age-old philosophies that have withstood time are gaining momentum and meaning to me. They mean just as much today as they did when I was sitting in that 20th century lecture hall in college wondering; why I should care about this Bloom guy’s pyramid or Vygotsky’s hippie philosophy of “social learning”? Thank you to my PLN for challenging me and inspiring me each day to be a better teacher and thinker.

"That I learn of others, I replied, is quite true; but that I am ungrateful I wholly deny. Money I have none, and therefore I pay in praise, which is all I have: and how ready I am to praise any one who appears to me to speak well you will very soon find out when you answer; for I expect that you will answer well." Socrates in response to Thrasymachus -The Republic
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