Intellectual stimulation is an exciting concept, which most, if not all of us as educators have eagerly engaged in the past, however, we may find it increasingly difficult to maintain regular interaction with applied research on teaching and learning. Marzano defines this as “learning about learning and inspiring the organization to grow, which allow educators to experiment and implement new effective instructional strategies.” I would predict that most of us recall times in our lives, when we were able to engage in exciting conversations about teaching and learning, especially aligned with direct interaction with our students. I have observed many of these moments of ‘saving the world’ when teaching large Introduction to Education courses for preservice teachers. A combination of reality, over-worked, politics, red-tape bureaucracy, etc., etc., etc. can quickly help us forget why we selected education as our passion and quest. We certainly do not have all of the answers, however one way to remind ourselves of our passion is to find ways to talk about the art and science of teaching and learning with our colleagues.
To help, there are many Research and Reference Tools that we can incorporate into our PLN. These tools range from ways to organize and share to connecting resources and thoughts with colleagues. Some useful and free tools include:
- Thinkature, offers real-time collaboration online for creating PLNs;
- PBwiki will create an easy-to-update digital footprint;
- del.icio.us allows us to save favorite sites and share with your PLN;
- Gliffy creates and shares flowcharts, diagrams and infographics;
- Exploratorium Digital library offers digital collections; and
- SONIC is Library of Congress’s Sound Online Inventory & Catalog.