What I’ve Learned from My PLN (August 22, 2009)

Showing is better than telling. So, for teachers trying to decide whether having an online personal learning network (PLN) is worth the effort, I thought it might be useful to show some of what I learned this week from mine.

The discussions on the Young Learners Yahoo group always make me think. This week, one of the most interesting revolved around the value of extensive reading in language acquisition, and whether it’s more important for language to be engaging or comprehensible. As you might imagine, Andrew Wright provided strong support for the idea that student engagement encourages comprehension, and Stephen Krashen argued persuasively for the importance of non-targeted comprehensible input. Both concepts seem to work together by allowing students to forget that they’re “learning” a language as they enjoy using it (to follow an interesting story, for example).

Thanks to my PLN I now have more goodies for my virtual library. Stephen Krashen has made many of his books and articles available on his homepage. From Ken Wilson, I learned that a lot of  Andrew Wright’s articles and stories are also available on Andrew’s blog.

Twitter is the source for most of my best teaching resources. This week, Diana Dell introduced an online activity for students to practice writing pattern sentences (words “speak” as students drag them, so great for even young learners). Even better, that activity was part of a larger collection of freebies for teachers from Room 108. I learned about Kids Web Japan from Melissa Techman. The website has an amazing collection of games, information, activities and stories for learning about Japanese culture. While the site is geared toward young native English speakers, there’s plenty there for both young learner and adult EFL classes.

The resource that will most excite my adult learners is Famous People Lessons. This website provides EFL/ESL lessons created around biographies of famous people. My students will enjoy this for self-access learning because the can listen to the recordings while reading along, and then do the exercises online. Russell Stannard shared this site with me on Twitter.

The resource that will most excite the parents of my young learners came by way of myLinkedIn Edubloggers group. Sylvan Dell Publishing has made a large library of their beautiful picture books available online until October. You can choose the language for both text and voice recording, whether you want the pages to turn automatically (with the recording) or prefer to turn them yourself (if you’re reading the story aloud). The website also includes some nice ideas for using picture books in class.

I’ve signed up for the English Language Teaching Contacts Scheme (ELTeCS), an information-sharing and professional development network for teachers around the world (sponsored by the British Council). Part of the free membership includes a newsletter about English education in my region (Asia). I learned about ELTeCS on Issues Concerning Teacher Education, which I discovered when Victor Hugo Rojas (the author) left a comment on my blog and I popped over to take a look at his.

Finally, I’m going to be taking an open access graduate course–Social Media and Open Education–from September. The course is offerred by the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina. I’ll be a non-credit student, but am excited that I’ll actually be able to listen to the lectures live (they’ll be broadcast at 7 pm CT on Tuesdays, which is Wednesday morning for me). How did I learn about the course? Alec Couros, the instructor, shared the details on Twitter.

If you’d like to see what else I considered interesting this week, you are welcome to browse through my bookmarks on Delicious!

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  1. nice post barbara. great idea – sharing specifics. i signed up for alec’s course as well – look forward to more insight from you there.

    thank you for all you are doing for ed.

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Monika. Hard to believe that I just met you in an Edublogger Webinar and already we’re going to attend college together! Even more amazing when you consider that you’re in the US, I’m in Japan, the Webinar hosts were in Australia, and “our” college is in Canada! I love it!

  3. I got a good one from this posting, Stephen Krashen’s books and articles. Apart from that we’re sort of following the same Twitter feeds most likely. I like the way you’ve tracked the best of the week. Keep on learning!

  4. Thanks, Vance. Dr. Krashen also shared a draft of his new paper updating the i+1 hypothesis with Young Learner group members. I’ve rarely met a scholar who so enthusiastically embraces the sharing culture of web 2.0. (And, of course, I’ve been a fan since my graduate school days!)

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  6. Great list Barb,

    Am so glad I favorited the link this morning so could come over when I had more time to read it!

    From you I’ve just learned about the English Language Teaching Contacts Scheme, the library of picture books, the Krashen articles – am so glad to be a part of your PLN!!!

    xxKarenne

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  8. Thanks for this brilliant post.
    It shows the diversity, depth and uniqueness of every individual’s learning experience.
    This week I learn more about diapers and prams than Web 2.0 in the classroom. Your post reminded me of why I can and have to find those extra two hours a day to indulge myself with pleasures like reading your blog or trying to figure out why I can’t get sound in SL.
    Thanks for the Krashen link, subscribed. I’m looking forward to the Curous course even more now that I know that Vance and you are going to be there too.
    Oh, and I shamelessly claimed to be your friend on LinkedIn ;-)
    Thanks again for this great post.

  9. @Karenne: I’m amazed to have found something you didn’t already know about (but glad to be on the sharing end for a change!)

    @Tamas: I’m glad you found me on LinkedIn–proud to claim you as a friend, anywhere!

    Thrilled to have both of you in my PLN :)

  10. Here by way of Chuck Sandy and Curtis Kelly Facebook page.

    Twitter is *the* #1 source of information and support for me as a teacher. I have learned so much from the other teachers and non-teachers, via Twitter, through sharing and collaborating. Blogging is my other main source of information and support.

    Great ideas!

  11. I agree, Marcy. Twitter has quickly become my primary source of links and great discussions. So of course, I’ve sent you a request to be added as a follower :)

  12. Hi Barb,

    Thank you for sharing all of this!

    Twitter moves so fast much of the time that a lot of useful and interesting stuff whizzes past me without even registering. There are some brilliant links here that I’d completely missed! Am so glad to have you in my PLN :-)

    best wishes,

    Sue

  13. Thanks for the wonderful resources. I will be looking into them more as my school year moves along.
    Just one formatting note. Your delicious link is broken. I still found your account and linked to it. Love the resources you have there!

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  15. Thanks for the kind words–I’m glad you think the resources will be useful. Thanks also for the heads up about my delicious link. Fixed it :)

  16. Thanks Barbara for the great links. I totally missed the Social Media and Online Education course. It is a nice gem. I think I’ll join you for the lectures. I might not be able to see them live though.

    Twitter is truly a great source for such amazing links and resources as well as discussions and exchanges of ideas. It’s definitely where I hear about a lot of cool new resources.

    Thanks again Barbara!

    • I look forward to being students together! I think it will be a great course. Glad to have you as a Twitter friend and part of my PLN :)

  17. Your welcoming presence on Twitter has made me see the true value of being on twitter. Thank you.

    This piece of writing reveals your journey this week and with it leads us all on more journeys. As a teacher it reminds me of the beauty of teaching – the dandelion seed metaphor – you are sending us out into the world to find our little niche.

    The knowledge I have gained through Twitter has been eclectic but fun!
    Hope to meet up at JALT in Shizuoka!

    • I like your metaphor–I’ll have to remember that! I look forward to meeting you in person in Shizuoka, too :)