Having a Great PLN Benefits Your Students (thanks to @jacbalen)

Last week was report card week. That means high stress for students. Especially for new grade 9’s. This is their first report card and they are unsure what to expect. My Learning Strategies Class (GLS1O) was no exception. I knew that I would need to have some learning activities around mindset and resiliency planned for the day our report cards were handed out.

As i sat there pondering what would be interesting, meaningful and engaging for my class, I saw the familiar flash of light at the bottom of my screen. A great way to procrastinate… go check twitter. The following twitter conversation happened between myself and Julie Balen.

you can learn anything


Julie knew that I would enjoy reading the post she wrote for her students titled “You Can Learn Anything. Really“. Julie and I have had conversations around the idea that often before we can teach our students, we need to convince them that they CAN learn. Julie is my “go-to guru” on metacognition in secondary and in particular for writing.

In class we worked through Julie’s blog post together. First, I set the stage for my students with a few stories of how Julie and I met, where she taught and things we had in common. Then we worked through her post and watched the linked videos. My students then received their report cards and we conferenced on what they meant. As a reflection, they were to comment on Julie’s blog post about how it helped move their thinking along. My students wrote some of their most honest reflections yet. By the end of the day both of our classes had posted reflections and other people from Ontario had joined in the conversation. Our students had an audience.

People often comment on the amount of time I spend creating, supporting or developing my “professional learning network”. They are correct. I do spend a fair amount of time developing my network. I share my learning whenever I can. I spend way too much time on twitter. However, every week this benefits my students or saves me time somehow. In this case, our students automatically had an audience, who helped them push their thinking and it took very little time or technical skills. It was simple commenting on a blog. There was no learning curve for using the technology. The learning was truly focused on improving writing and reflecting on learning.

Thank you Julie for saving me the time I would have needed to put together a class activity, but more importantly, thank you for creating the rich learning opportunities for my students.

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