Why My PLN is Like a Haystack


photo credit: ClifB via photopin cc

In the novel Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012), the main character, Clay Jannon has discovered an ancient organization that may hold the secret to eternal life. During this process, Clay ends up at a small art exhibit currently hosting a 1st grade classroom on a field trip. In his desperation for any lead, he asks one of the students, “How would you find a needle in a haystack?” She thinks, then replies, “I would ask the hays to find it.”

Brilliant! This is one of my favorite quotes from the book, described in a review on Goodreads as “a love letter for books, bibliophiles, but also for technology.” So why do I like this line? Because it so aptly and succinctly describes my feeling about my personal learning network (PLN). If I have questions, or need support in an area, I know where to turn. No longer do I have to float around online, hoping to strike it lucky with a web-based resource I need. Each person in my PLN is like a piece of hay, and one of them is bound to know where to locate the needle that I seek.

Or, as Clay Jannon reflects on that 1st grader’s wise words:

It’s easy to find a needle in a haystack! Ask the hays to find it!

Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is an 18-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th-grade teacher in Rudolph, WI. He now serves as an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District (http://mineralpointschools.org/). Matt also teaches online graduate courses in curriculum design and instructional leadership for the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD (www.ascd.org) and Lead Literacy (www.leadliteracy.com).

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