PLN and Blog Instructions

Personal Learning Network 
and Blog Assignment


This is an ongoing assignment that will be developed over the course of this year. We are breaking new ground in an effort to tear down classroom walls and establish global connections. Consequently, we will no longer rely on the teacher to be the sole distributor and filter of information, but rather will use the tools at our disposal to create a learning environment where we can relate what is happening in the “real world” to the material we discuss in class. The diagram below helps to explain the goal of this assignment. 

In the past, students have been given assignments, which were completed, turned in, graded, and returned with feedback from the teacher. The result of this traditional approach is that you only see your work and only receive feedback on your work from your teacher. In this assignment, you are going to create a public blog that relates the material we are exploring in class to what is currently taking place in our world. You will be expected to read and comment on the blog posts that your classmates write as well. People outside of our school district will also have the ability to read and comment on your blog. Some of them might be people in the field, others might be people who are just interested in the topic you choose to write about. The number of people outside of class that read what you write will depend on how effectively you use your personal learning network.  In this model, you will not only have the opportunity to see the work of your fellow classmates but will also see the work of bloggers from around the world. Your teacher will not be the only one offering feedback on your work, you will also receive feedback from your classmates and others outside our school district. 

This is your chance to shine! Use the skills you have learned in your classes at HPSD, on the computer, and in life in general, to show the public that you have a voice, that you care about important issues, and that your opinion matters. Every topic we discuss in environmental science can relate to one of the major environmental issues of today. Throughout the year, you may find an issue that interests you. Feel free to allow this issue to direct your writing.  Global warming, energy, famine, and many of the other major environmental issues we discuss could easily serve as the direction of your blog. 

Create Your Blog

You will be using Google's Blogger to maintain your student blog. Make sure you are signed into your Google Apps account at Hanover. You then need to go to and create a new account. 

Students are required to create a student blog using Blogger. Every two weeks students are required to post at least 1 new blog entry. Be sure to complete your blog entry by Friday's class at the end of each two week period. Every other Friday we will set aside time to read, comment, discuss, and grade each other's blogs as a class. 

Your first blog post should tell us about yourself. What you like or dislike, what you would like to learn in environmental, or anything else you would like us to know. Please remember not to post any identifying information to your blog. The public should not be able to determine who you are or where you live!  

The rest of your blog entries should deal with current events that relate to class. You will have two weeks to locate articles, websites, video clips, or other forms of media and compose a blog post. Link to the information you discovered in your post and explain how it is relevant to what we are studying. Make sure to include personal opinions and feelings.

Watch the videos below for help in creating your blog. The first word in your blog's title must be your last name followed by a unique title. Do NOT just call it Environmental Blog. Use your school username to create your blog address. For example mine would 

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

Set Up Your Personal Learning Network

This first part of this assignment is to begin building your personal learning network or PLN. This network will use online tools to connect you with experience people all over the world who are writing and sharing information about current environmental issues. I have included many resources below to aid you in setting up your PLN. We are going to begin the year by focusing our efforts on two fundamentals of any PLN. Feedly and Twitter. 

Setting up Feedly:

You can create and sign into your feedly account using your Google Apps for Education account.

The following video will aid you in learning to use Feedly. You will then need to find ten blogs that you would like to follow. As the year progresses, feel free to change the blogs that you follow to meet your interests. I have provided links to some great environmental sites with RSS feeds as part of this tutorial information. I believe it is important for you to look at these and follow the ones you find interesting. You are required to follow a minimum of 10 blogs throughout the course of the year. 

YouTube Video

Environmental Blogs:

Blog Suggestions:

The following blogs are just suggestions I gathered a few years ago. There might be new blogs out there to follow, do some looking around! 

Tree Hugger:
RSS Feed - feed://

RSS Feed - feed://

Real Climate:
RSS Feed -

Other Blog Resources:
Some of the blogs listed above can be found in the following blog posts.  What I have provided is just a sampling of what is out there. All of the blog posts below list what they consider the top environmental blogs.  You might find some here that are more specific to your interests.  


How are we going to assign a grade to this?  There are two parts to this question really.  Let's look at the hard part first.  How am I going to grade your PLN?  This is a bit difficult!  As you know, PLN stands for personal learning network.  I think it is difficult to assign a grade for your personal learning network itself.  However, your PLN is what is going to provide you with a wealth of information to draw upon to aid you in class discussions, projects, homework, and writing your blog.  If you participate in your PLN and take full advantage of its resources it will be very apparent in the other work you do.  As the year progresses we will have projects that incorporate the tools in your PLN.  Your grades for your PLN will come from these projects. Grading your blog is a little more straightforward. Although I won't be grading it necessarily, your peers will! See the rubric below:

Student Blog Rubric