When looking through the myriad of examples of the PLE diagrams of others I found myself quickly overwhelmed. I am not, in any way, a designing genius when it comes to graphics on the computer nor am I a skilled illustrator. Examples of my classmates such as Tim Rocco who fashioned his diagram to replicate the water cycle and Joanna Lieberman who’s visual depicted the categories of: curating, creating, and sharing as three different interchangeable clouds of her PLE vision gave me some amazing visual direction as to intricate diagrams that could be fashioned for this product. I found Tim’s water cycle that replaced the science terms of the water cycle with the verbiage of his PLE to be very clever and appreciated the personal connection he made to the subject when creating his diagram. Additionally I found the spin that Joanna placed on her collection being “in the cloud” to be quite witty and again, specific to her learning.
Then there was Sofian Ahtchi’s soccer related diagram with the 4-4-2 connection to Martin’s gathering, processing, acting model; the same model I chose to use for my product. I found his ability to group these resources into the positions of defense, midfield, and attack and link them to the three categories of Martin’s model to prove a deep level of synthesis in creating the product. As an avid lifelong basketball player and lover I couldn’t help but be smitten with Natalie Burr’s diagram representing an athletic bracket. I immediately thought about March Madness, underdogs with Cinderella stories, and powerhouses that suffer heartbreaking losses. However, the powerful thing about Natalie’s bracket is that there are no losers. Instead, collectively all the resources listed pool together to create a PLC winner. I admired Natalie’s reflection upon her use of the various tools and found her narrative to be authentic, which I used as a model for my own reflection.
Another game themed model I found to be captivating was Kathleen Johnson’s in which she uses a theme of connect four to demonstrate the levels of collecting, reflecting, connecting and publishing in her PLC. What I found the most useful when exploring Kathleen’s reflecting was her realization that she started the project with the idea that she would have four main categories but realized as she completed the project that a lot of the categories were interchangeable. This helped me to validate my own thinking in regards to the maneuverability of many PLC resources. There were numerous other classmate’s PLE Diagrams that allowed for me to mull over how I wanted to approach this task but in the end I found myself a bit lost and abandoned the task for some time to reflect upon what I wanted to include in my diagram and knowing that eventually the how would work itself out.
Finally, upon perusing through the work of my peers one last time I found the diagram that spurred my creative genius. It was Scott Fledderjohan’s hand drawn highway diagram that set the stage for my move from the slow lane of completing this project to the fast track of the commuter lane, or better yet the autobahn. In my district we have been working tirelessly on making learning visible for the students and thinking maps have taken center stage in my classroom. However, in an effort to make learning fun, because life is fun and I enjoy teaching when it is enjoyed by the students, I’ve worked to make sure my learning maps are not only user friendly and purposeful but also have an element of novelty to them that increase motivation for their use. My latest creation for this came to me at a summer PD when the need for novelty side of me connected with the slightly competitive side of me that wanted to have the best thinking map of the conference and thus the “treasure map thinking map” was born! I had kept this map in the forefront of my mind for incorporation of my upcoming school year but it wasn’t until I explored Scott’s PLE diagram that I realized I had a ringer of an idea sitting in my teacher tool belt and I hadn’t even given any thought to using it. Reading Scott’s reflection about moving and how these experiences shaped who he was and then seeing the connection he made between these events and his PLE journey provided me the path to my how that I had struggled with at the start of this project.
For my PLE diagram I decided to use the Martin model of gathering, processing, acting. I feel like these three steps most accurately represent my use of the resources I’ve included which begin with my gathering of what turns out to usually be an overwhelming amount of ideas through avenues such as: Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google and YouTube. I then set out on the seas to my next destination, Processing. When processing I begin to mentally and internally organize my resources from the gathering phase. I know that I am a person who likes to “talk through things” so in this phase I use various written modalities such as WordPress and Google Docs to begin to make sense of my resources. Next, with my written ideas and plans in hand I travel to the destination of action in which I implement the inclusion of Google Docs, Google Forms, Google Slides, Skype, and YouTube to create products that I implement in my classroom and/or use to collaborate with other educators. Ultimately from the phase of action I sail into the sunset of my personal PLE paradise, a place in which I like to believe the work through my three previous phases will lead to an authentic and successful learning environment for my students.