The Power of a PLN

Hi I’m Shaileigh and I teach at Flinders University in South Australia. I have been teaching since 2007 and am primary / elementary trained although have been lecturing and researching at the uni in most recent years.  I am passionate about mathematics education, education philosophy and most recently I have found a passion for ICT.  Next year I am heading back into the classroom and will be teaching in Whyalla – very exciting times ahead for 2013.

This post was published on my personal blog back in July and I hope it encourages you and inspires you to continue to grow your PLN and get connected!! 🙂

Thanks to The Global Classroom for the opportunity to post on their site – keep up the good work!!

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Today I’m writing about an awesome experience I had recently thanks to Twitter which has not only grown my professional learning network (PLN) but has also enriched my life and the lives of the pre-service teachers I work with in Adelaide, South Australia .

So, let’s go back in time about 3 weeks…. I had just joined Twitter and felt a bit overwhelmed by the amount of “stuff” there was to read, YouTube clips to watch and teaching practices to investigate. Although I felt overwhelmed, there was also a sense of feeling inspired and sudden motivation to experiment as tools like Weebly, Moodle, Google Docs, Edmodo, Wikkis and blogging jumped off the page and into my grand visions for my preferred classroom and ideal student learning. I then found myself spending a great deal of time reading blogs and asking questions on Twitter to find out more.

In amongst the jumble of all these new ideas, one idea caught my attention, stopped me in my tracks and compelled me to take action. The following tweet signified the beginning of an amazing learning journey, a journey that I believe will never end and for the sake of my students it MUST never end:

“Have you signed your classroom up? Doing #mysteryskype is a great way to engage ALL students in your classroom! http://mysteryskypes1213.weebly.com/”

Craig Badura (@MrBadura) 1st August 2012

I was immediately interested in the idea of a Mystery Skype but hadn’t actually used Skype before so…..I felt scared BUT I didn’t hesitate in tweeting Craig (@Mr Badura) to find out more:

@mrbadura … what is the process of setting one up? I’m interested in doing this with my preservice teachers at Flinders University 🙂

Craig was very generous, replied promptly and offered to Skype my class to explain what Mystery Skype is all about! I was SO excited that I had the opportunity to connect with an educator overseas AND share this with my students. I also felt very nervous leading up to the big event but had the wonderful support of Selena (@Teachertechnol teachertechnologies.com) who calmed my nerves greatly and after we had a test run with Craig and discovered all of the technology was working – I was ready to introduce my Master of Teaching students to my new friend Craig and the world of Skype and Mystery Skype as a pedagogical tool!

If you haven’t heard about Mystery Skype – head to Craig Badura’s blog: http://comfortably20.blogspot.com.au/  and his Mystery Skype website.  Very simply put, it is where two classes Skype and they use problem solving skills and closed ended questions to investigate, gather clues and find out where the other class is located.

Here is a list of jobs, compiled by Silvia Tolisano (Twitter – @langwitches) that need filling for Mystery Skype to work effectively in your classroom. Every student has a role and is responsible for something – each role seems to have links to other curriculum areas!! See if you can spot them!

Mystery Skype is a fun, fast paced activity that is jam packed full of cross curricular perspectives. For example (this is not an extensive list but explores only a few of the curriculum areas): Geography- mapping skills, locations; English communication, closed ended questioning, effective questioning techniques; Maths- problem solving, lateral thinking, data collecting and analysing; Social Studies- finding out how others live by following up on any similarities and differences between the locations of both classes; and of course Technology and ICT- use of Google Earth, Google Maps, IPads, blogging, capturing movie clips of the Skype session and using digital cameras to capture moments of learning and the connection between the classes. It also seems that the seven thinking hats are covered nicely.

Overall, it seems that Mystery Skype has potential to help develop numeracy, literacy and ICT skills and capabilities which are very important within an Australian context as these areas are called “General Capabilities” within our new Australian Curriculum (ACARA) document and are expected to be developed in ALL learning areas across the whole curriculum and across ALL year levels!!

To find out more about using Skype in the classroom and Mystery Skype check out the following links:

Using Skype in your classroom:

http://comfortably20.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/connect-your-classroom.html

Mystery Skype:

http://mysteryskypes1213.weebly.com/mystery-skype-jobs.html

http://mysteryskypes1213.weebly.com/resources.html

The Skype with Craig was engaging, fun, super inspiring and encouraged my students to think outside of the four walls of their classroom and to think globally! Craig gave us so much to think about and changed how we view technology in the classroom!

Mystery Skype with Craig – Thanks to Selena (@teachertechnol) for taking the picture!

Never before has it been this easy to gain a global perspective on learning or to connect with educators in other countries and to hear about their teaching practice! Twitter empowers us as teachers to develop a PLN where the extent of our personal learning and the new ideas are endless!

This amazing experience is all thanks to Twitter….. if you’re not part of the Twitterverse yet – sign up today www.twitter.com and develop your own PLN. Many of my students have joined Twitter since this event and they too are amazed the at the power of a PLN through twitter! Make sure you follow Craig (@MrBadura) George Couros (@gcouros) and Selena Woodward (@teachertechnol) just to name a few! 🙂

Keep an eye out for future blogs and for the launch of Mystery Skype in Australia! Exciting times ahead!!

I would love to hear from you and connect with you…… you can find me using:

email: shaileigh.page@gmail.com

about.me: about.me/shaileighpage

Twitter @DrShaileighPage

Instagram: shaileighpage

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2 thoughts on “The Power of a PLN

  1. In my blog commenting journey, I have come across classes using Mystery Skype. With students knowing their roles within the class, I have seen the level of activity of the children involved, especially as the search narrowed. I think this would be a great experience for classes.
    @RossMannel

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