Connecting in PLNs

The Edublogs PLN Teacher Challenge #2 gives me an opportunity to ask what questions I have about PLNs and share some insight.


I want to connect with innovative educators who are passionate about learning-centered classrooms. I am rewarded when I learn and can help others grow, because of the impact it makes on the students.

Developing PLNs are like developing friendships. It takes time. It's easier when I have similar goals and common things to discuss, or can respectfully challenge each other with new ideas. I need to contribute as much as I take, otherwise it's an unbalanced relationship, which won't last.

My One-to-One PLN Needs

My job title is "Technology Integration Specialist" for AJUSD. I spend over half my time in K-12 classrooms working with students and teachers. The other half of my time is spent helping teachers with resources, project based learning, creating/facilitating professional development, and setting goals for future implementation.

I am the only Technology Integration Specialist in the district, which is why it's so important that I have a PLN to help me process ideas and grow.

Last year we took all 7th graders (Class of 2016) in the district to a one-to-one environment. Next year, it will be 7th (Class of 2017) & 8th graders (Class of 2016). As the Class of 2016 goes through the grades, they will continue with the one-to-one environment and so will the classes who succeed them.

Where do I connect with other ed techs, leaders, and teachers who are in one-to-one environments and/or starting the process of going to one?

My Blended Learning PLN Needs

At the High School level, we are looking at blended learning. Our thoughts are to have Bloom's lower level (lecture/content) delivered digitally, whereas class time would capitalize on Bloom's higher levels and PBL. I am interested in knowing if our vision is more like that of the Flipped Classroom?

Outside of one person, I have not connected with ed techs, leaders, and teachers who are on this same path (at least I don't think I have). It seems like everything I've found is already established, however we are in the early stages of planning and preparing. I would like my PLN to reflect this.

Grow your PLN

I primarily connect with my PLN via blogs, Twitter, and even Diigo. I've heard much about the Educator's PLN on Ning, and even found The Flipped Class Network on Ning, but I don't know where to start. Do you have any tips for me?

Final Thoughts

Even though this post is about my PLN goals and insight, I'd like to hear about yours.

  • How do you connect with your PLN?
  • What would you like to learn about PLNs, or what insight can you share from having one?
  • Are you involved in the Edublog PLN Teacher Challenge?
  • Are there any thoughts or feedback you'd like to share about this post/PLNs?
Thanks Edublogs for once again catering to my needs by bringing people together who also want to develop their PLNs!


  1. Hi Tracey,

    Thanks for the clip on the flipped mastery classroom.

    I would like to look into and find out more about it.

    I am in the Edublogs PLN challenge and hope to learn how to make more connections without spending all my time in front of the computer!

    Cheers, Bill

  2. Hi,
    I am also out trying to build my PLN. This fall I will start working at a school where they started out building 1-to-1 this schoolyear. I am new to this (I haven't been working for a few years) and I am also new to things like interactive whiteboards. I would really like to be part of a network to be able to get help and also to share ideas and reflections.
    Best regards

  3. Hi Bill,

    I love the idea of the flipped classroom! I still need to explore it further as a viable option, or a starting point for what I'm envisioning.

    I have made connecting with my PLN part of my daily routine so it's not too much, but creating boundaries and limits are a good thing.

    I look forward to learning with you.

    Kind regards,
    Tracy Watanabe

  4. Hi Anna,

    Thanks so much for commenting on my post. I would like to hear more about how your new school utilizes the 1:1 environment. Nick Sauers writes great posts on the 1 to 1 Schools blog found at One of the things I appreciate about his posts are his focus on the student learning.

    It looks like you'll be teaching a few different subjects in different grades, so networking will be extremely important for you. I look forward to connecting more with you especially about 1:1.

    Kind regards,
    Tracy Watanabe

  5. Hi Tracy, and thanks for the visit to my blog. I will be teaching Science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics are taught (and graded I think) as on subject) to 8th graders. German to 8th (beginners level) and 9th graders. English and math to 10th graders. But I didn't get my timeplan for the fall yet so I don't know if it will hold up ;) I would love to continue connecting and I would also appreciate if you can help me make some other connections as well!
    Best regards

  6. Great thoughts! What a wonderful job you have! It must be a challenge meeting the needs of the students and teachers, but one that you're not afraid to take on. I am responsible for only one school, but I teach students, fix computers, find resources, and teach the teachers PD classes after school. We will be moving to a 1:1 with 6th and 7th next Fall (2012). We have a mobile lab where the teachers and students can use them in their rooms instead of finding an opening in the computer lab.
    Chat soon!

  7. @Anna - I love collaborating and look forward to setting up those connections!

    @Theresa - After reading your blog, I realized that our roles do have a lot in common. I look forward to connecting more on shifting to 1:1.

    By any chance, are you going to ISTE?

    Kind regards,
    Tracy Watanabe

  8. Tracy, your response is so clear and detailed; your school should appreciate all that you do. Looks like this challenge has connected you to people who are starting 1:1 also. What a great journey for you, your staff, and your students.

    There are a couple 1:1 teachers mentioned here:
    after a search here:

    I am also an Educator's PLN ning member. I am focused on Language Arts in the Middle School. We are not 1:1, but I do have computers in my classroom so we can participate more easily with other classes.

    I look forward to more of your sharing.

  9. Thanks, Sheri!

    I have grown so much from connecting with bloggers such as yourself, Linda Yollis, Kathleen Morris, etc. You all are the innovative educators who are passionate about learning-centered classrooms that I referred to. I learn so much from you all and it shows in my daily life & habits (i.e. I might not read everything in my reader, and might even click "Mark all as read" with the exceptions of several of you whom I've learned the most from).

    Since I am the only person in my role in my district, I absolutely need a PLN to help me grow, learn, & reflect, especially the areas mentioned above because it's what I'm asked the most about... Hence, the excitement about this Edublog PLN Challenge -- an opportunity to make new connections.

    Kind regards,

  10. Hi Tracey,

    I was just going through the video again.

    It made me think of the individualised maths learning programs for Years 7 to 10 that were used at Knox Tech (Victoria, Australia) in 1974 when I was a student teacher.

    Similar claims were made about the teacher being freed up and students learning at their own pace.

    What we got (IMHO) was a system that still only catered for students that could read and write reasonably well and that raced through the modules to only get a pass and have little understanding of the topic if asked about it the next week.

    Students that learned using other multiple intelligences were not really catered for.

    I still worry that with all the technology being used in the classroom, we are still producing accredited electricians that frequently do not know how to connect the wires to a plug correctly. This was due to competency based testing being thrown out for a computer based test.

    This is my dilemma. My delight in using new technology but the fear that it will be regarded as a replacement for teachers.

    Oh well, there is my whinge for this week. Back to student reports!

    Cheers, Bill

  11. Hi Tracy!

    I followed you here from the PLN Challenge page! I agree with so much of what you said and while we are not in the same position, because I am the only the English language teacher at my school (covering all classes from preschool to 5th grade) and because I am the only English speaker, I relate to your sense of being isolated. And you are so right that a PLN provides a community and helps to fill that need to connect and share with others doing the same work as you.

    I also agree that it is about finding a balance between learning and contributing. I think that is one thing I would like to learn more about, how to reach the point where there is real collaboration with give and take from all members in a PLN.

    I am really intrigued by the flipped classroom. I can't imagine achieving something like that in my current position but I want to learn more for the future. I look forward to following you as you discover more!


  12. Hi Bill,

    Thank you for the quality and time spent in processing the Flipped Classroom and the implications it might have. I agree that information/knowledge needs to be connected to the learner, processed, and reflected on. I also agree that something heavily text-based caters to learning preferences and learning styles and not others.

    So the question is, can we find a balance? My answer to that is yes, but it requires a different mind set from the teacher. I ponder if it requires a different skill set? I don't know.

    I want to continue this discussion, but I believe I'll start a new post.

    Thank you so much for pushing me to think through these things!

    Kind regards,

  13. Hi Sarah!

    I just added you on Twitter. Thanks for encouraging me to seek out PLN and to continue to look more into the Flipped Classroom. I will post more about it as I've been processing it quite a bit.

    I am intrigued by your experience and will return to your blog to learn more.

    Kind regards,

  14. Hi Tracy! I understand your concern about giving back to your network as much as you take. Right now, I have a whole lot of ideas but very little experience implementing them. This makes me feel like I don't have much to offer to my PLN, and it also means I don't have a place to put into practice all the cool ideas my PLN gives me. I hope to learn a way to save these up and still have them available when they'd be useful, as well as how I can make my unattempted ideas viable suggestions for others.

  15. Hi Kimberly,

    Great insight and questions!

    Contributing doesn't mean we need to have the answers. It can be a sincere discussion on something that causes each of us to think more deeply about it. Sometimes it's best to paraphrase to show what we understood, and then follow with clarifying or probing questions. Those questions continue the conversation
    and provides an opportunity to think more about it.

    I think your comment here gave back to me because it helped me see it through your eyes, and your questions push me to think through it more. So, thank you! You have created a learning opportunity for me too.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to write such a quality comment.

    Kind regards,


Post a Comment

Directions for posting:

1) Choose "Comment As" first. If you don't have a Google/Blogger account, you can choose Name/URL and type in your name, then place the web site that best describes you in the URL (i.e. Or, you can choose "Anonymous".

2) You may need to press "Post Comment" more than one time.

It is always wise to copy your comment before pressing "Post Comment" just in case something happens.

3) Type in the word verification.

4) If you did everything correctly, it will state, "Your comment has been saved and will be visible after blog owner approval." If you do not get that message, please try again.

Click here for a tutorial on how to comment.

Thank you!

Popular posts from this blog

Striving for Higher-Order Thinking and Depth of Knowledge

Craft and Structure, Deeper Thinking, and Tech Integration

Quality Blogging and Commenting Audit Meme