Beyond 4 Walls -- Building PLN

I'm filled with excitement as we move beyond the four walls of our classroom to build our Personal Learning Network (PLN).

What is a PLN?

Watch this fabulous 2 minute interview of Steven Anderson explaining the difference between a PLC and PLN, and its power.

Our Growth

In the past year, almost 70 AJUSD educators joined Diigo to start sharing resources. Approximately 100 AJUSDers subscribed to blogs in Google Reader, and roughly 30 educators started Twitter accounts, including me.


We started moving to a one-to-one environment at Cactus Canyon Junior High (CCJH). Our professional development (PD) throughout the year focused on pedagogy, which naturally included differentiating instruction with technology. Therefore our PD modeled our beliefs.

Skype Beyond 4 Walls

When we focused on engaging students with authentic purpose, we discussed blogs. There were three PD options for our CCJH educators tiered to their needs. Since this is so new to us, our "advanced" option focused mainly on global awareness and commenting on blogs.

Mr. Salsich's Class Blog
We were fortunate to have Jonah Salsich as our expert guest via Skype to answer questions and provide resources. This was our first Skype experience for PD, and Salsich's expertise was incredible. It opened our eyes to the power of moving beyond the four walls of our classroom with our learners, in addition to the power of PLN.

Final Remarks

As I reflect on this past year, I'm encouraged by our progress and look forward to seeing where we will be this time next year!
  • How has your experience with growing in a PLN made an impact?
  • How do you move beyond the four walls of the classroom?
  • What else would you like to add to this discussion?

Special thanks to Nick Sauers for coming out for 1:1 training and getting AJUSD teachers hooked up on Twitter & RSS in Google Reader amongst all the other things you did. Special thanks to Jonah Salsich for going above and beyond to help others out!


  1. I'm glad I was able to work with you and others in your district! It will be exciting to see how your school and educators keep moving forward.

  2. Thank you for your post summarizing the growth of our PLN. It made me think about how Twitter and Diigo opened up a whole new world to me this year. I've gotten lots of great teaching ideas from teachers all over the world, but more importantly it's made me feel connected to a whole community whose goals are the same as mine.

  3. Hi Nick,

    I continue to hear about the impact made on those from at 1:1 training last week. Some HS teachers are sending ideas for PBL lessons to get feedback... and admin are talking about RSS... Many are realizing that the same message about building PLN is talked about globally.

    Thanks for making a difference!

    Kind regards,

  4. Hi Shauna,

    It is so true about the power in feeling connected to others who are passionate about student-centered classrooms.

    I also want to thank you for being one of the first people to refer me to a blog to follow to get ideas for apps (Tony Vincent).

    Kind regards,

  5. Once those doors are opened, so many opportunities flood in! It sounds like you are having a great experience growing from your PLN. I've had a similar experience this past school year. My students were involved in many global, collaborative projects and it was nice to include many grade levels. I'm looking forward to the coming year and this summer!

  6. Hi Theresa,

    Thanks so much for coming to my blog and commenting! I agree, there are so many opportunities and the people are so generous and kind especially to us newbies!

    The resources on your blog for collaborative opportunities are absolutely fabulous! I look forward to sharing your insight and resources with the teachers in my district... And, I look forward to learning with you through the Edublogs PLN Teacher Challenge.

    Kind regards,
    Tracy Watanabe

  7. Wowser to you and your district for taking this step by step journey into today's learning strategies. Thanks for sharing Steven Anderson's video -- I'll share it next year with our staff. It's so true how kids today already have a PLN, and teachers are just learning how powerful it is -- and when they do -- don't you think their teaching changes too? They see what the kids already do -- find answers and resources from their network -- as Steven said, "I don't need to know everything." That's scarey at first for traditional teachers, but so liberating and transforming when they take that first step because of the support that develops with it. I appreciate your ideas and all your encouragement. Sheri

  8. Tracey
    I am from New Zealand and I have enjoyed reading your post and also your latest post and your experiences with the webinar.
    I have been working on building my PLN to some extent! When you get busy it can be hard to keep up with everything. Isn't Jonah Salsich fabulous. I came across his classroom blog a few years ago through the Edublogs Class challenges. A wonderful model.I look forward to keeping an eye on what you are up to.

  9. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Tracy! I'd love to hear more about what you're doing with Diigo. I know it's very powerful but I've only just begun to use it.

  10. Hi Sheri,

    Thanks for applauding our district! It is so exciting to see these steps being made.

    I agree, isn't Steven Anderson's video super?! And it's so true that the students understand the power of PLN! To them, web2.0 and networking for learning is just normal. I hear my son often recommend that I Google it, look for a YouTube, or post on a forum to teach me how to do something I don't know how to do.

    Thanks so much, Sheri, for commenting and encouraging me!

    Kind regards,

  11. Hi Kathryn,

    Thanks so much for coming to my blog and leaving me a comment! Yes, Jonah Salsich is amazing! I had a principal in the room the day we did our video conference, and I watched how he absorbed everything Jonah said, and the impact was phenomenal! Now that principal is on Twitter building his PLN and so is most his staff.

    I look forward to learning with you!

    Kind regards,

  12. Hi Kimberly,

    Great question! Since PLN and PLC is so new in our district, I have found that sharing resources through Diigo Groups have helped us start those connections. Plus, in Diigo, you can leave comments for each other. So, it's more than just a place to store bookmarks, it's also a place to connect. is an example. So, the elementary schools can connect. Then for 7th-12th, we have department groups...

    Kind regards,

  13. Hi Tracy,
    We are looking at PLN as a system of curriculum officers ATM and discovered this through the teacher challenge. Thanks for your enthusiasm, look forward to sharing. Kind Regards

  14. Thanks for the comment, Steve! The Teacher Challenges have been superb. I hope you get as much out of it as I have.



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