A group of educators has gathered to redesign the District’s middle school (sixth grade) computer education course. I am a member of that group leading the module on Personal Learning Communities (PLC). Each Module will be allowed 220 contact minutes a week (four 55-minute class sessions).

As I think of Personal Learning Communities (PLC) they don’t fit within four 55-minute classes. To me developing a PLC is and ongoing and continuous process – something that you strive to strengthen and develop over time. Can anyone give me some advice on what to tell the school district about this module? They are looking for the traditional, “learning objectives,” “Exemplar / student samples,” “activities.” What do others think?

I am hoping that by using the Classroom 2.0 community I can demonstrate how connective learning works… so give me feedback and I will incorporate this discussion into our district meetings as we develop these modules. Thank you in advance for your time...

The other modules being developed for the course are…
Module 1: Personal Learning Communities
Module 2: Digital Photography
Module 3: Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship
Module 4: Web Site Design
Module 5: Online Research and Using Online Databases
Module 6: Data Analysis
Module 7: Introduction to Programming
Module 8: Digital Video Production
Module 9: Google Earth and GPS

Tags: PLC

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Hmmm...this is a hard one! I think if I were to do a module on this, I would start out with the basics...how do I find a network of people that I admire and respect that I want to be in my community and affect me, how do I reach out to mentors that can help me along the way and find good mentors, and how do I go about doing this?

Here are some great posts from a favorite business blogger of mine that I think apply to any level:
posts on finding great mentors: http://www.escapefromcubiclenation.com/get_a_life_blog/2006/06/how_...

things to avoid when building relationships with people you admire: http://www.escapefromcubiclenation.com/get_a_life_blog/networking_a...

set up your own "board of personal directors": http://www.escapefromcubiclenation.com/get_a_life_blog/podcast/

So, maybe outline it like this:

Session One: find out what types of networks/communities you would want to be in...what are your interests? how do you find out what your interests are? whats skills are you good at? etc.

Session Two: talk about the best way to contact mentors or people in your network, the pc way. how to have a good reciprocal relationship, how to approach them, how to define who they are

Session Three: talk about available tools to help you do this..search professional organizations, education sites, social networking sites, blogs of people you admire, etc.

Session Four: talk about a starting point for these relationships-what should you say? how often to keep in contact? what types of things should you do? what do do after you find a network and are ready to do something!

etc. etc.????
Lesley,

This is great! I agree that a starting point should be to understand yourself and your interests. My concern is that students will not know this and without the "drive" - or without being driven by a passion - I don't know if they will have the energy to keep their network going. Do you have any ideas on how to help students identify that passion (I know another difficult question)? This has always been a stumbling block for me with PLC...

I am not a teacher in K-12 so I don't know if kids in 6th grade typically know what they are passionate about. From what I have read... and from my experience kids don't know - it seems that we have driven their passions right out of them. I love Ken Robinson's stuff on this... his TED video is very entertaining and I think somewhat true.

Thanks again!

Jim
...and remember, you have to be 13 years old to use ning.
Thank you for the reminder.
I was too tired last night to respond--I agree that schools drive the passion right out of kids or don't encourage finding it! I just finished Gladwell's Outliers. He has a great chapter Rice Paddies and Math Tests about why Asians do so much better in math than American kids. It boils down to TIME. We don't give kids time is school to 'work hard' to solve a problem--I agree, grade level curriculum is often a mile wide and an inch deep. Teachers rush kids through to the next skill. I guess that's one reason some see the KIPP schools as successful, they give the kids TIME. N.
Nancy,

I have read about 1/2 of Gladwell's book - must return to that chapter. Currently reading Robinson's book The Element. I plan to learn more about KIPP - can you recommend a good source?

Best regards,

Jim
The chapter about KIPP is right after the Rice Paddies and Math Tests chapter! Search the internet, I bet there is tons of stuff.
Thank you for sharing.
I just finished the book myself and found that chapter very interesting. I wonder though, just giving more time in itself was a factor, but it seems the KIPP school changed the culture as well. I've become more aware of when Gladwell speaks of the agricultural society where we work hard then take long rests. I see so much of that in school environment. This is definitely not an easy fix.
Agree, we are discussing the book over at Fireside Teaching. Probably a much deeper dive that you want (and I want for that matter). N.
Hey Jim-
sorry for not replying back on this sooner. For my ideas on identifying your passion, i would say have them think about the things that they like. do they have a favorite type of music, book, or movie that they are drawn to over and over? what draws you to these things? etc. etc. I also found this great set of questions that I heard on a podcast from Cheryl Richardson (she has written several books on finding your passion for adults). Maybe start here? Not all apply but you get the gist of it.

Find out your Passion, top tips:

1. if you could only have one section of a bookstore that you could visit, which one would it be?

2. when you pick up a newspaper or magazine, what kinds of stories are you drawn to first?

3. which catalogs do you have a really hard time letting go of? how come? what in those catalogs do you feel most drawn to?

4. name the first 3 books that come to mind that strike you as your favorite books

5. name your 3 favorite movies (first ones that come to mind)

6. who do you envy? who in your life do you envy or feel jealous of? why? what is it about them that you envy?

7. who's life would you love to have? could be someone you know or don't know

8. if you were allowed to make one powerful, positive change in the world, what would it be?

9. what interests, hobbies, or careers, would you like to see your kids go into?

10. recall one time during the past week that you felt strongly about something.

as you look at the answers, do you notice any themes or patterns? common interests? circle the things that have to do with each other? this should start to cover what things you need to pay more attention to or explore further.

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