Introducing my PLN to the next gen

So this has been a good week.

We had a fully functioning kitchen lab working to produce a healthy version of the iconic Shamrock Shake.

We had a team of students designing a gaming arcade that will ultimately fundraise for an organization set up by Rob Johnson, the father of our student, Aaron Johnson, who lost a valiant battle with leukemia this winter.

The Sphero obstacle course plans continue to move forward, especially after a visit from our friend Nick Torgerson, who also helped lead lessons on precision and accuracy, and design thinking with Sphero. He also hosted an impromptu guidance session about college and savings, and the pride he has for MIT, and he shared just a bit about his robotics work on that amazing cheetah.

Parents and families had a chance to meet the Sphero interactive toy, and parent-teacher conferences were all the more interesting because of it!

In addition, I attended a fantastic SAMR/Google Apps training seminar led by the imcomparable Naomi Harm.

Throw in a professional development/Personal Learning Community conversation conducted entirely via text messages, lunch with two fantastic colleagues, and a chance to spend some social time with a fabulous bunch of educators, and things really rounded out nicely.

One of the coolest small-mighty moments of the week for a Twitter fanatic like myself was my conversation with our mathematics volunteer, Jacob Rice. As we worked with students on Friday, our conversation turned to the power of connected environments for learning as an educator. I explained that Twitter was fundamental to my practice.

Jacob gave me that skeptical smile that most people offer when I begin to Twitter evangelize. They usually follow up with, “I’m not really into that whole Twitter thing,” or something similar to this. And I can honestly say that I was not “into” the “whole social media thing” a few short years ago.

He went on to explain how it is used by his peers, and I acknowledged that it can be a space fraught with all kinds of awful extremes and examples of human behavior that we try to avoid in our real world environments.

But you know I didn’t leave it there. (WISE Scholar friends, I’m talking to you.)

I shared how my Twitter Personal Learning Network (PLN) has been a lifeline for me in this work. How it has rescued me from feeling that the fundamentals of my practice, conversation and connection–often with some of the most forward-thinking and wonderful minds in our world–can be lost in the day to day rhythms of schoolosis.

I told him to get into the conversation about mathematics education because he has a voice in it and there are so many great ones in the space there to engage with. Now.

Good things come in threes (or whatever) so I should also say that I shared the Twitter Sermon with Nick Torgerson and with a friend of Jacob’s, Charles Labuzzetta, to whom I was introduced to when I ran into his fantastic mother Carol at the bookstore Saturday evening. Carol was one of the first parents I met in my new district, and I have been so grateful for her welcome. Charles is working on something very interesting with DNA and computer programming at Iowa State University. We hope to connect him with my students to learn more.

All three young educators are now listening and conversing in the Twittersphere. My students will have the opportunity to learn even more from these leaders in from our community. I can’t wait to read their words.

You should definitely come join us there.

And, for the record, all three gentlemen are YOUNGER than I am. Yes. That’s right. I introduced a social media tool for education, learning, and exceptional conversation to members of the NEXT GENERATION. Feeling kind of good about that. But I promise that’s the last time I’ll mention it. 😉

Follow Nick @teknickMIT

Follow Jacob @Jacob_R_Rice

Follow Charles @clabuzze

Coming soon: A heart-swelling phone conversation with a college-bound former student who ventured with me six long years ago in our middle school classroom into Google Apps for Educators.

See you at #WEMTA14 and in the Twittersphere, friends. I’ll be back on the road to my learning labs bright and early Wednesday morning. And I’ll see parents at Evergreen on Thursday night. Better catch some sleep while I can.