Many of those who read this will say, "Plurk? What is Plurk?" Plurk was once a happening place where educators met met online and shared ideas. It was before the days of prolific teacher pages on Facebook and #edchats on Twitter were just taking off.
Plurk allowed me to build a PLC (Professional Learning Community) with educators all across the country. We shared technology tools to use in the classroom and lesson ideas. At the time, I was teaching in rural Arkansas, and to hear so many ideas from diverse educators was invigorating and inspiring. Because of Plurk, I got to connect with people like Kevin Honeycutt @kevinhoneycutt (a sought after keynote speaker), Michael Soskil @msoskil (Pennsylvania's 2017 Teacher of the Year), Dyane Smokorowski, @mrs_Smoke (Kansas's 2013 Teacher of the Year), Kimberly Wright @kimberlywright1 a TLI Teacher Leader from El Paseo, Texas....the list could go on and on.
What happened to Plurk? Well, it began to get overrun with spam, people began to drift to Twitter, and it stopped being the "it" place for educators. I personally have never been able to make the connection that others have in Twitter. I miss the idea sharing and the support of other educators I found on Plurk. Just this week @mrs_smoke and @msoskil shared a picture on Facebook from an old ISTE and laughed because one of their badges had a Plurk ribbon. I mentioned in the thread that I missed Plurk.
I realized lately that although the PLC I created on Plurk may be gone, I have been slowly building a new one on Facebook. Many of us that met on Plurk ended up connecting on Facebook, and I'm so thankful to still have those connections. Just this morning my friend Mitch Weisburgh @weisburghm connected me to a great reading opportunity for my students this year. However, I'm starting to make other connections that are getting my creative juices going.
It began by following teacher pages. You know, other teachers, like me who were just sharing links to their blogs. I would get lots of good ideas, but communication was just one way. For the last two or three years that's all I've really done, and to be honest it really hasn't fed my teacher soul. Recently, Facebook suggested some groups that I might like to join, and that's when things began to change. To begin with they are groups that share my same interests...I'm going to be teaching fourth grade next year, and the groups centered around that age group. Also the members of the groups are active. When someone poses a question to one of the groups, the others are diligent to see that it receives some type of response. Seeing this type of collaboration and interaction between teachers has reinvigorated me. For the first time in several years, I've heard about online tools that are new to me, I've been inspired to try new things in my classroom, and I feel a confidence about starting the new school year that I haven't felt in awhile.
If you're looking to connect with other educators through Facebook Groups below are a few that I recommend.
I’ve been thinking about writing this blog since almost the first week I started plurking. Remember that book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten? I think I could write a book called All I Really Need to Know to Teach I Learned from Plurk.
There is a lot of talk right now about PLNs. Some say PLN stands for Personal Learning Networks, others say it stands for Professional Learning Networks. I like to think PLN, at least for me, stands for Plurk Learning Network. For those of you not familiar with Plurk, it is a unique social network. It is most often compared to Twitter, but in my humble opinion they are very different. Twitter is a place to talk at people. When I plurk, I’m given the opportunity to talkwith people. As I’ve stated in a previous blog, I wasn’t to sure about Plurk at first. Primarily because there was such a plethora of information, and I couldn’t figure out how to efficiently assimilate it. Believing there was value in plurking, I made the commitment to dive in and make connections. Over the last two months I have discovered ways to filter the information shared, and as a benefit, the knowledge and inspiration I’ve gained has grown exponentially.
Plurk has provided me support and encouragement as I endeavor to daily be a better teacher than I was the day before. I’m introduced to cutting edge educational resources. Already this year my students have been able to Skype with a class in Kansas. We have made connections with schools in Australia, Poland, Turkey, Russia, and a round the country through a project I learned about on Plurk called One Day, One World. This week my students enthusiasm was tangible as we located our partnering schools on Google Earth. In my Language Arts class, my 5th graders had the opportunity to brainstorm ideas (for the classroom newspaper we’re creating) with educators across the country using a website called Wall Wisher. I wish you could have heard the Oohs and Aahs as posts appeared on our Wall Wisher site, and the students realized that another teacher sitting in another state was talking to them live. These are all examples of things I was able to do in my room because I had made connections with fellow educators on Plurk.
The connections I’ve made on Plurk have inspired me to reflect on who I am as a teacher. I remember when I was completing my college career that one of my final pieces was to put in writing my philosophy of teaching. This summer, as I began pouring through the educational articles shared on plurk, I realized I hadn’t thought about what it means to be a teacher in quite sometime. The connections I’ve made through Plurk have inspired me to reevaluate my pedagogical philosophy. One of the key conclusions I made is that as a teacher, as a human being, I desire to inspire those around me. I want to teach my students to reflect, to think deeply, to believe in themselves. I want to ignite a desire within each of them to grow and to learn.
Plurk has also taught me a few other valuable lessons to take with me into my classroom. These lessons don’t have anything to do with the links posted or the instructional ideas shared. On Plurk when there is something you want to say, you create a post that is limited to 140 characters. This post is called a plurk. After I hit enter, my Plurk becomes visible to my Plurk Buddies. They then have an opportunity to comment on my Plurk. One of the things this has made me aware of is my hunger for feedback. I can’t wait to check back to see if anyone has commented on my Plurk. My desire for feedback has made me think a lot about my students. If I, a grown up, long to hear input about my thoughts and ideas, how hungry must my students be for feedback. As a teacher of writing, this realization has helped me conclude that I must provide my students with more authentic opportunities to share their writing. My students are funny, witty, insightful, and brilliant. Why should I be the only one reading their amazing pieces?
A friend of mine, when describing Plurk, called it 24/7 self directed staff development. I couldn’t agree more. I firmly believe as a teacher, we should be daily striving to do what we do, better. If I, or any other educator, loses that desire, it is probably time to find a new path to journey down. Our students deserve the very best we have to offer. I can’t give them my best if I haven’t invested the time to stay abreast of the best teaching practices currently available. With the connections provided by Plurk I know that I can continually fine tune my teaching practices, so that when my students walk in my door, they will be receiving the very best I can give them.
Just a place to share my thoughts about education, technology, and whatever else pops into my head.