Friday, November 20, 2015

The Power of Online Professional Learning Communities/Networks (PLC/PLN)

As the 2015 ACTFL Convention is going on at the moment and as I am not attending this year, I am definitely finding myself longing to be there. I have been to the past two ACTFL Conventions, and I can definitely say that attending one is worth it. Aside from the great presentations and outstanding professional development, what I love most about the ACTFL Convention is that I always realize there that I am a part of something so much bigger than just my department at school - I am indeed a world language teacher and am proud of that.

Luckily, however, due to Twitter, I am able to follow this year's happenings at ACTFL, and I am so grateful, because I am able to follow many of the presentations from afar. Apparently, my blog and I have already gotten a shout out at a presentation!

As much as I hate educationese buzzwords like Professional Learning Communities (PLC) and Professional Learning Networks (PLN), these groups have been such a lifeline for me, especially for my development of CI/TPRS implementation in the classroom. As CI/TPRS world language teachers, many times we are isolated from any type of physical face-to-face community, so having an online community is vitally important both for our professional growth and communal needs.

I cannot tell you how many conferences i have attended where I have finally gotten the chance to meet folks in person whom I only know online through PLC/PLNs. It is always fun to see what these people look like in person - apparently, online in my posts to listservs and in my blog, I come across as a tall white man with a beard. I hope that folks are not disappointed to see instead a 5'5, Asian man with a partial goatee and slight southern accent...

Here are some different types of online PLC/PLNs in which I take part, along with some suggestions:


Since you are reading this blog, you are already part of this professional learning community! Blogs have played such an important part in my professional CI/TPRS development. If you look at the sidebar, I have a list of blogs which I follow. These are all wonderful, and I have used many ideas from them in my classroom. More than anything though, these blogs have encouraged me to keep pursuing implementing CI/TPRS when at times I feel like I have hit a brick wall.

  • Latin Best Practices - this is a Yahoo group dedicated to breaking away from the traditional practices found in grammar-translation Latin classes. Begun by fellow CI/TPRS Latin colleagues Bob Patrick and John Piazza, this list has over 1,300 members. I was a member of this listserv LONG before I actually began to implement CI/TPRS in my Latin classroom. 
  • MoreTPRS - this is the primary listserv for CI/TPRS users. I used a member of this group, but as there are over 7,000 members, it became too much for me to read all of the postings coming in, so I unsubscribed. That does not mean that this group does not have value - based on the number of postings, it just was not for me.  
  • Ben Slavic's Blog Community - this is a pay site, but it is full of ideas and resources, as well of supportive teachers. 
Social Media
I am not one who utilizes social media. My life is Facebook free and am more than okay with that. I rarely text, and I have no idea how Instagram or Snapchat works and personally have no desire to learn, since I never use the camera on my phone anyway.Truthfully, I thought that "taking selfies" was a reference to drug usage. 
  • Twitter - I do use Twitter though for professional purposes, and I absolutely love it! I love being able to "follow" CI/TPRS folks and to learn from them in this manner. As i said earlier, I have been reading the many Twitter posts from this ACTFL convention; following #ACTFL15 has given me the next best thing to being there. You can follow me @silvius_toda on Twitter - Silvius is my Latin name! My name Keith means "from the woods" in Welsh, so I picked the Latin equivalent.
  • IFLT/NTPRS/CI Teaching Facebook group - I suppose if I had a Facebook page, then I would be a member of this group. 
So I challenge you to increase your PLC/PLN beyond what you currently have and to check out many of these resources. Also, feel free to suggest any blogs or online resources which you have found helpful so that i can add them to my list!


  1. I couldn't have started teaching Latin with CI without Ben Slavic's PLC. There are a ton of resources and interaction with good-hearted and dedicated CI teachers.