Getting to Know Your Students - Michael Zimmer
For this issue of ProjectPLN the discussion is on Best Practices for the start of school.  I don't currently teach, but several ideas do come to mind to help with classroom management and "getting to know" your students.  Below are several ideas for the start of the school year.  

1.) Have students create a Word Cloud of words that express their personality, values, and beliefs.  If using Wordle, have them put the most important words in their more then once so that they appear larger.  Then hang them up or keep to yourself...that will depend on the personality of your class!

2.) Many classroom management books suggest putting kids in alphabetical order, and I agree.  Makes it easy to learn names.  For a teacher at my school he made it into a competition.  He drew the class layout on the board and told the kids to find their seat according to their last name.  The class that did it the fastest won a prize.  He also did not allow them to talk.  Talk about a interesting first day.

3.) I would give my kids a challenge of building the tallest tower out of straws and only provide a certain length of tape.  They would work in groups.  The could not talk so they had to communicate in other ways.  It really helps develop team work in the first week of school and shows that talking does not necessarily help with an assignment. :)

4.) Bellringers are a huge deal.  Our school recently purchased large TV's for the classrooms and hooked those to the computer.  Several teachers have created PowerPoint's to display their bellringer.  Therefore they can save them for future use and it is easy for the kids to always know where to look when they come to the classroom to have something to work on.

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Learning Beyond Walls- Games and Wikis- Shelly Terrell
Many of you have started school already and are integrating new technology in your curriculum. Wikis are one of my favorite tools for encouraging learning beyond the classroom walls. I’m sharing with you this post I originally wrote for one of my favorite blogs,ELT Digital Play, back in May. I hope you find the tips useful when creating your class wiki!

Extending Learning Beyond the Classroom Walls

Did you know that the average time spent playing video games per week is 18 hours? Imagine if your students spent 18 hours a week practicing their English or studying your subject voluntarily. Perhaps, you won’t be able to persuade your students to practice English for this amount of time, but you can get them to practice their English outside the classroom in a fun way! Many of the free games online are fantastic for language learning. My class time is highly focused on having students speak English, therefore, we rarely spend a lot of class time playing online games. Instead, the games are put on my class wiki for students and parents to enjoy at home. These games are optional, but I find that most of the children will play them at home with their parents guidance.

#ProjectPLN Mission
You've seen the crazy videos, you've heard the chatter on Twitter, you might be asking yourself, what is this Project PLN and why are we doing it?  Teaching can be a lonely profession in some schools.  You teach all day in your classroom and enjoy brief encounters with colleagues in the teachers lounge or passing quickly in the hallway.  There isn't a lot of time to have a meaningful conversation about education and learning.  Project PLN aims to connect educators.

He Said:
One day I woke up and thought it would be a cool idea to have a collection of posts in one spot to send to other teachers. I contacted Kelly about the idea of creating a magazine that would collect posts from educators around the world in one spot. After a few DMs on Twitter, we created Project PLN.

The goal of Project PLN is to provide a collection of posts on a specific topic that can easily be shared with educators all over the world. Kelly and I will select from submitted posts and compile them into a monthly issue. We want to give teachers a place to write and think about various topics related to education and learning, a digital magazine seemed like a great way to do this. The magazine can be saved as a PDF and shared with your school through email or even printed and placed in teacher mailboxes. We want Project PLN to be another tool to educate and connect teachers.
-Nick  @TheNerdyTeacher
Project PLN Contributers
Thank you for your contributions!

Michael Zimmer
Jerrid Kruse
Troy Seyfert
Matt Scott
Dierdre Shetler
Peggy James
Jen Clevette
Paula Montrie
Shelly Terrell
Kelly Tenkely
Nick Provenzano
This Issue of Project PLN
The start of the school year can be crazy for teachers.  This month, we asked teachers to share how they manage the start of the school year.  We got some great best practices to share for the start of the school year.  In the next issue, we want to hear from Administrators.  If you have a post about best practices in administration or advice to teachers, parents, or other administrators to share, you can tweet out your post using the hashtag #ProjectPLN, you can email it to us directly at or you can post the link on our Facebook page.  The deadline for the November issue is Saturday, October 30th.
Speech Craft Class-Class Alpha- Paula Montrie
Today we finished our third group of SpeechCraft student introductory speeches.  We name our class sessions (there are 26 total) after the Radio Alphabet, so this was “Class Alpha.”  
For this class, we do the following activity:
Chairs are set up in a big circle, with about 30 “objects” positioned on the floor in the center.  The students first have to get into the circle and take a seat – but it’s not as simple as that!  They can’t talk, touch each other or any of the objects – they just get into the circle and sit down.  If they break any of the conditions, they start over.  Sometimes this alone takes a while.
Then, again without talking or touching anything or anyone, they choose an object that they can use to relate a story about themselves.  It has to be a true story.  This takes another few tries!  When all have an object, one at a time they move into the center of the circle, introduce themselves, and tell their story.  I ask that they try to make eye contact with everyone at some point during their speech.
I do this for a few reasons:
I get to know the kids and see what interests them.
I get to hear them pronounce their names.
I see what the “class culture” is – whether they are generally chatty or quiet, if they relate easily to each other, if they respect each other while they are speaking, etc.
I see whether they are good at following directions.
I see whether they are competitive to the point that they will battle someone over an object.
I can see resilience in some students who do not get their first choice of object, but are able to connect to another object.

Paula Montrie

Building Rapport From Day 1- Matt Scott
Imagine it from their perspective. Worn bag slung over the shoulder walking into a new classroom, sights and sounds unfamiliar and there at the front of the room is a new teacher towering over the class.

What is this year going to be like? Who is this teacher? What do I know? Can I trust this person? These thoughts may be echoed in the minds of millions of children across the world as they sit down and prepare for the new school year with a new teacher.

One of the most essential elements I believe to creating a successful, engaging and safe learning environment for your students is one of the simplest. Build relationships and rapport with your students. 

Clasroom Management Thoughts- Jerrid Kruse
In order to set up a classroom environment where students feel safe to share ideas, and on-task behavior exceeds 90%, a teacher must consider classroom management issues.  Many of the aspects of the central core of effective teaching (CCET) promotes effective classroom management.  By asking good questions, and looking expectantly at all students, the teacher is also monitoring all students.  The teacher is not focused on their notes or on the board, but is instead focused on the classroom.  By focusing on the class, a teacher is able to see and deal with classroom management issues quickly.  Also, by providing meaningful activities students are actively engaged with content, and have less inclination to participate in off-task behavior.
Dealing with classroom management is better done proactively than reactively.  “The way in which teachers structure the first part of the year has consequences for their classroom management throughout the year” (Emmer and Evertson, 1981).  With this in mind, a teacher must begin classroom management on the first day of school!  Setting up expectations congruent with student goals is important, but is pointless if consequences are not set up and enforced strictly.
The structure necessary to maximize student engaged time needs to be constructive to student thinking.