Learning Together

You can scroll the shelf using and keys

Project PLN Feb/March 2012 Call for Contributions

January 1, 2012

Project PLN 2012!  Happy New Year to all of you!

Project PLN is moving to a bi-monthly posting schedule in 2012 to keep the editors (us) and the contributors (you) sane. So, what is first up in 2012?

We want to know what books/reading has had the most impact for you as an educator.  These could be books about education specifically, or books that have given you a new outlook on education, learning or teaching.  If you are anything like me, everything you read, see, encounter is filtered through your education lens and adds something.  We want to hear about all of those things!

When I pitched the idea of this month’s issue to Nick, his first response was “awww not a book report” in a super whiny, high-pitched voice….okay I made that part up, we were actually texting and the whining was implied.  Book report is not exactly what I had in mind (although if that jives your jets, by all means be our guest).  One of the things I have been particularly bad about is keeping track of the books and recommended readings from those in my PLN. They fly through my Twitter stream, get favorited in my Reeder or scribbled on a nearby piece of scratch paper.  The result: very few of them ever see the light of day again and I forget.  I also know that books (and blogs) have had a profound impact on me as an educator.  If not for Seth Godin encouraging me to “Ship it”, I might not have taken the leap to start a school.  If not for Sir Ken Robinson, I might not have had such conviction to help every child realize their “Element”.  For this issue, your posts can be in the form of top 10 lists of your must reads.  A bucket list of things you want to do as a result of books you have read (with reference back to the original inspiration).  A blog post you have written as a reflection on something you have read. A link to your bookshelf in Shelfari.  For those of you who are feeling really ambitious, a book trailer.  Really it can be ANYTHING, we just want to know what you are reading/have read that has impacted the way you think about or do education.

As always, feel free to email posts to, check in on us at Twitter @ProjectPLN or say hello on Facebook.  Please get us your posts in February so we can work on publishing them for the March issue!

The December and January Issue

December 27, 2011

Hello PLN,

We hope you will enjoy this month’s issue. We have collected posts from all over the world on what students think a dream school would look like. We would like to thank all of the teachers that were able to have their students work on this project and we are excited to share their thoughts with you. We have grades 1 and 4 – 12. Please take a look at these posts and leave a comment the teachers can share with their students. It would mean the world to them to hear what educators thought of their ideas. Please pass this to all of your friends and share your ideas of the perfect dream school in the comments sections of each post.

Due to time constraints of the editors and the writers (You!) we have decided to start publishing a bi-monthly magazine. One of the hardest parts of ProjectPLN is getting all of the posts together in time to share with all of you. We are prefer quality over quantity and figured that every other month would be easier on all of the teachers out there who really want to share a story, but have trouble finding the time in a month to write something they cold share.

Look forward to a new post in the new year announcing the topic for the February/March Issue of Project PLN.

Wishing everyone in the world a happy New Year,

Nick and Kelly

Project PLN

Grade 1

December 26, 2011

I decided to have the first graders design their dream school. I knew they would have some creative ideas about this. I was also able to address two of our first grade computer standards at the same time (bonus!): working collaboratively and using graphic organizers. The students brainstormed at home and wrote, typed, or drew a picture to share their ideas when we met for Computers. Then they worked together in small groups to create a web of all their ideas in a program called Kidspiration. The first graders picked up the basics of this program very quickly and were creating and collaborating like professionals!

I created a Voicethread with the Kidspiration webs that the students created and the pictures they drew. View our Voicethread at (I did not edit their writing.) It was interesting to see what a dream school designed by First Graders would look like. There were several aspects that came across loud and clear.
Their dream school would be FUN! (Ex.: desks made of candy, rope swings, t.v. in the lunchroom, etc…)
Their design would have the best technology for the students and teachers to use. (Ex.: books with tv screens, mind-reading/lunch-making machines)
Our first graders are good problem solvers. (Ex.: They’ve figured out how to make sure they have recess everyday!)
Our first graders are financially savvy. (Ex.: They would include a bank in their dream school. They would use Scrip to buy tickets to ride the school train.)

This was a fun project to work on with the first graders.They seemed to enjoy it too. Our school is already a pretty great place. I hope that the students have fun at school learning new things and playing with friends. They are lucky to attend a school that has a lot of great technology available to them in every classroom, but it is always fun to DREAM!

Melissa Schur
PK-8 Computer Teacher
Follow me on Twitter: @uwlalum
My blog:

4th and 5th Grade

December 26, 2011

Here are a series of posts from Mrs. Peters 4th and 5th Grade student! Click the picture to be taken to their Kidblog.

Grade 6

December 26, 2011

Here is a video from Janice Haraz’s 6th Grade class.

Grade 7

December 26, 2011

Greetings, Project PLN, from Ann Arbor, MI! These 5 sketches are what my 7th graders came up with for their dream school. I shared with them the information you put out, and encouraged them to discuss what types of things they would include in their dream schools, and not just the layout of the building(s), and to use things like video, voicethread, etc. Ultimately, though, this was a completely extension assignment, for those who were finished with their lit circle projects that we were also working on. Some students were excited about the dream school idea but never put anything together. Others did put some things together, but without much passion behind them. This is what we have, though – a glimpse into the mind of some 7th graders, and how they picture their dream schools. Enjoy!

–Mr. Wyzlic’s 7th grade classroom

Grade 7 Part 2

December 26, 2011

Here are some thoughts from students in Kristen Breck’s class.

My idea of a perfect learning environment would be awesome. Instead of having regular sized rooms the class rooms would be huge with tall ceilings. All classes would start at 10:30 and school would end at 6:30. All homework would be short and due on Friday so that people would not have to stress over it. Lunch would also start a lot earlier and last for sixty minutes. Also in all class rooms music would be playing at all times. School would be an exiting place for me with these ideas.

To start off I would rather have school start at six-thirty and go to one or one-thirty. The reason I would like this time schedule is because I’m a morning person, I’d rather get up early and have extra time than sleep in late and be rushed. My ideal classroom would be a classroom for about twenty-five students, because with a small group of students its not as crowded and loud. Also when there’s a small group of people and it isn’t every loud its easy to concentrate and get your work done. In the classroom there should be five computers and books and dictionary’s. The reason I would rather have books and old fashion ways or reading and looking up words is because yes it’s easier but also there easier to break. With a book or a dictionary you can put it in your backpack and bring it to and from, but with a high-tec item (such as nook, IPad, or a tab) that cost a lot of money it could be dangerous because it could break. One thing i think could change is the lunch time. What they should do is take away some time from our break and make it four minutes and then add to our lunch. The last thing I would change is not being able to be on your phone. I agree during classes and assembles there shouldn’t be any phones but during break, at lunch, free time in classes students should be allowed to use there cell phones.

My Ideal Learning Envirement

My ideal school day would start at 7:00 AM and end at 1:30 PM because I would like to get school done early in the day to have time to have fun and spend time with friends. I would like to have no homework and instead have classwork to do instead. I would like the locatation to be up in the mountains by a lake because it would be relaxing. Every time I would look out a window I could see a lake or a mountian veiw. Up in the mountians you could also escape the hot summers. There would be fun P.E. units. For example, water skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, canoeing, and swimming in the summer, and snow-boarding, skiing, and sledding in the winter.I also would like to be ablt to choose my P.E. unit so I don’t get stuck with some unit I don’t want. Lunch would be the usual 30 minuites long, however, there would be 2 snack breaks to make sure you are not distracted by hunger during the periods close to lunch. Every 2 months there would be a week of break to do fun things with your friends and to take a break of learning. The electives there would be art, home economics, manufecturing technology, many different languages, and animals,where you would learn about animals and interact with them. For example, horse-back riding, walking dogs, etc. The languages you could learn would be French, Spanish, and Japenese. As for core classes, they would be math, history, english, and science. If the teacher was teaching something you already knew and proved it on a practice test, you could spend the time doing AR or studing for other classes. I would like to also choose the people that would be in my class. I also think it would be important to have a small number of people in my class, like ten people or so, so we could concentrate better.

No homework
Indoor and outdoor activity’s during lunch
4 days a week
Indoor swimming pool
Eat in class
Chew gum in class
Pick the people you want to be in your class Have same grade P.E.
No P.E in afternoon
Have snack and lunch whenever you want Can have pets on campus
Have 1 hour lunch

My ideal learning environment would be small class sizes with a big class room because it would be easier to learn and you would have a lot of space to work. I would like to have school start at 10:00 a.m and end at 4:40. I would like to have a longer lunch Becuase then you could leave to go eat out and go shopping. I would like a pool and a ice ring because it would be fun and you would be able to go swimming and ice skating for P.E. I would like to have to wear whatever to P.E. without school colors. I would like to have the school indoor because if its cold or hot you would be just right. The ideal classrooms would be hard wood floors and higher up desks and chairs with cushions and have an Ipad or a Mac laptop depending the one you chose. The floors would be heated and so would be the chairs or cooled depending how you feel that day.The lunch’s would be from restaurant food depending on the day. For our electives it would be Cooking class from the top chefs, fashion from famous people, make up class using make up artists,Workshop like wood and photo class, voice couches from famous people, Paint balling, and gun class, and any thing we would like. There would be real stores from the mall so you could go shopping. For field trips you be able to travel for half the price. There would be a health class for P.E. on Friday and Thursday. There would be classes for you to be prepared for college such as doctors, lawyers, and anything you want to be come.

My idea of a learning enviornment so to start for the sports we would like soccer, softball (fastpich), baseball, swim , ect. For the education help we could have laptobs in different classes or ipods. For your elective you could have photography , drama , ect. We could also take fridays off and at the end of every month you could have a allday project thing were everyone stays at school for a day and dose some projects. Finally you could provide something other than A.R goals and quizzes that would be fun.

My ideal learning environment would be technology because it will help me with all of my subjects. If their were computers and IPads in every classroom it would help a lot of students and teachers with their work. Teachers would be able to grade the students homework, tests,and classwork by the touch of a button. Students would be done with their work easily. If they had homework and they were done with it they would simply turn it in through an email. It would also be useful for gym teachers because they could grade your performance and effort simply. Technology would also help kids with their projects. They could outline their project on the computer and finish it on a poster board. Technology will also help the school’s budget on tools and paper products. Without technology people would not be organized and life would probably be a mess.

My Ideal School :

  • ●  Calm Teachers that Never get mad .
  • ●  Start school at 10:00 and get out at 2:30
  • ●  Ipads instead of paper and pens
  • ●  “Real Food” instead of “School Food”
  • ●  You can wear your slippers to school
  • ●  Bigger lockers
  • ●  No homework , Just classwork
  • ●  We would get to choose our teacher
  • ●  Aloud to Chew gum
  • ●  Text at certain times

My ideal learning environment would be a small class but a with big classroom. I would have school start at 9am and then end at 3pm. I would have a longer lunch (1 hour) and a variety of food, and there could be an off campus lunch. At this school, you could choose what you want to do in P.E. instead of doing the unit your teacher tells you to, and you could also chose to dress in a P.E. uniform or not. For technology, the students could use iPads or laptops or more high-tech sources. Students could also listen to music in class. Instead of desks, some students could just sit on the floor or some students could choose to sit in desks. For electives, you could have cooking class, photography, and there would be more than five electives. The first class would start at 9:05am, the second class would start at 9:45am, and there would be a break that ends at 9:55am. The third class would start at 10:00am, the fourth class would start at 10:40am. Lunch would start at 10:45am and end at 11:15am. The fifth class would start at 11:20am and the sixth class would start at 12:00pm, and the seventh class would start at 12:40pm. Students could then go to P.E. at 12:45pm and it would end at 1:15pm. Students could go to their elective starting at 1:20 and ending at 2:00pm. For the last hour of school, students could choose to go home, or go to a class that helps them with their future or with other subjects they are having trouble with.

  • ●  no homework
  • ●  flexible times that you get to choose
  • ●  school in Paris
  • ●  swimming pools-indoors and out
  • ●  we should get to choose what electives we get
  • ●  we should be able to pick what friends we want in our classes
  • ●  we should choose when we have break or eat with our friends
  • ●  we should get laptops for each students to own for the school year
  • ●  we should be able to use our phones at school
  • ●  we should get better hot lunches to choose from

My ideal learning environment would include several adjustments. * A day that starts at 5:00 A.M. and end at 1:10 P.M.
* An hour long lunch that includes activities everyday
*A forty minute video game period every day.
*Candy at the end of each period, including lunch
*Less students in each class to decrease teacher stress
*A twenty minute break between periods 4 and 5
*Limos to take kids home instead of buses.
*The option to choose what order classes go in (EX: 4 per. math instead of 4 per. English) *Free school supplies in every class.
*No library late fees

These explain my ideal learning environment and how I think school should be like.

  • ●  iPads/ Tablets instead of binder
  • ●  Flexible start times- (5-6 AM)
  • ●  End at 12:30
  • ●  A 20 minute break after every period
  • ●  Choose which subject you want to go to but have to go to all the required classes by end of day
  • ●  Nap time after lunch
  • ●  Able to eat and drink in classroom (gum allowed)
  • ●  Order what you want (like a fast food place) and they will buy it
  • ●  Comfortable chairs….. Leather Recliners
  • ●  Flat screen T.V.s
  • ●  phones/ electronics are allowed in class
  • ●  Lot’s of trees and nature all around the school.( Planting sessions for extra credit) name your own plant
  • ●  biology labs for dissecting only
  • ●  Each child has 1 laptop for all classes
  • ●  Teachers have Apple computers
  • ●  Football, Soccer, Baseball stadium at the school ( Terf)

Freedom to choose your schedule. Scholarship program to kids who have no money to get into college. Five minute break in between all classes. We can eat in class. Free sitting in classes. iPads for each student. Better Hot lunches. Pot-Luck every Friday. Station Extreme Dances. Pay students for the answers the get correct. Pay teachers more. NO Homework.

I think this should be schools everywhere…
Starting with school starting at 10:30 and ending at 4:30 pm. Classrooms should have no rules against gum and flavored drinks inside.
There should be a unicorn in every room-to support imagination talking should be allowed with NO end.
Lunch should be 1 hour should have flat screen TVS and sofas instead of chairs that spin! Classrooms should not have more than 2 tests in a day. Homework should be lessened to three pages max for each class. After school activities are more and more available.
PE is a whole hour
The other classes 45 minutes.
Eating is allowed.
Schools need to have better structures like this one! THEY SHOULD ALSO have nap time.

Grade 8

December 26, 2011

Here are some great videos from Kristen Lizzio’s 8th grade class.

Grade 9

December 26, 2011

I teach a course called Digital Literacy to two freshman classes. Formerly called Computer Applications, this course aims to teach students the skills they will need to successfully participate in a digital environment in the 21st century.  We focus on topics such as digital citizenship, digital footprints, tech savvy, and media. Students have developed their skills with software such as PowerPoint, Prezi, Photoshop, GarageBand, and iMovie, as well as various social media sites and web 2.0 tools.

When I saw Project PLN’s call for student submissions, I knew this was an excellent opportunity for my students to practice what we’ve been working on all semester, as well as other important skills like teamwork, leadership, and time management. Inspired by this post by Andrew Marcinek, I put together this assignment sheet. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. This was the first time I gave this much freedom to my students, but I trusted them to do great work. They did not disappoint.

After a slightly chaotic start, students got themselves organized into groups. They spent the next four classes working in small groups and occasionally reconvening as a class to complete their dream school web site. Each group made its own contribution to the site. Here is what they created:

A day: Diverse National Academy (DNA)

B day: North Star Institute

Please spend some time looking at their sites; they are excited to hear what people around the country (and hopefully the world!) think about their work. They would love it if you tweeted me or left a comment so they can get some feedback.

The best part of this project for me was reading their reflections at the end. I was excited to see that they understood the value of working as a team, completing a project that has real-world applications, and developing a product for a broad, authentic audience. Here are some highlights:

When asked if they enjoyed the project and why they replied…

  • “I did enjoy this project. It was interesting, thought provoking, and forced us to look at school in a different way.”
  • “I enjoyed the project because it was like a real world situation which actually has benefits.”
  • “I did enjoy this project because it encompassed everything we learned. This project included everyone, leaving no one out.”
  • “I did enjoy this project because we had a lot of freedom to do what we wanted, and our final product will be viewed by many people, so it isn’t just for a grade.”
  • “The project was somewhat enjoyable because the project was frustrating for a while until the class was able to come to a consensus, but the final product came out really well, and it was exciting to see that our class created a great product.”

When asked what they could do to improve in the future they said…

  • “We need to listen better to other people.  We should also try to be open to criticism and be flexible with our opinions instead of being hard-headed.”
  • “I think we should break up into groups of 4-6 and do the brainstorming.  Then, we should share our ideas as a whole class.  I think this will make the planning stages less frustrating.  Then, we can figure out who is doing what and begin working on the actual project sooner.”
  • “We should be able to do the same thing we did: break up into groups, while also collaborating between the groups to create one large outcome. I think we would work better now that we understand how we need to work. Originally, there were problems because we had no idea what to do. But now that we know what to do, doing another project would be easier.”

All in all, my students and I agree that this project was a success. Thank you, Project PLN, for creating this opportunity for us!

Michelle Lampinen


Biotechnology High School

Freehold, NJ

Michelle Lampinen is a National Board Certified English teacher who lives in New Jersey, has two cats, and loves chocolate. She has been teaching English I, IB Language & Literature HL, and Digital Literacy at Biotechnology High School in Freehold, NJ for seven years. The school is a great fit for her because it’s full of nerds, and she’s pretty much the biggest nerd ever. While she loves technology, and I mean REALLY loves technology, she also understands the importance of unplugging and enjoying nature every once in a while.

Grade 10

December 26, 2011

Here are some great ideas from Rick Jackson’s Grade 10 class.

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,227 other followers