I spoke to Donalyn Miller this week as well. She is part of several different PLNs including our #bookaday group and our #bproots collaboration. The issue that prompted the discussion was nonfiction. However as always happens, the focus broadened to the general topic of "categorizing" books. What do we do with books like EL DEAFO, FEYNMAN, BORROWED NAMES? Where do we shelve them for most access? How do we explain any categories or genre labels to kids and to fellow teachers? Now, please understand that we do not have "solutions." What we are doing is talking to one another, raising points, asking questions, making recommendations. Will we come to A solution? Doubtful. And this is the real benefit of PLNs, at least in my case: coming to understand that there are potentially MANY solutions and not just ONE; that MANY voices need to be included, respected, considered.
This is what is missing from so much of the discourse in journalism, especially educational journalism these days. Too many writers and reformers are looking for A solution, ONE answer. They assert there is ONE problem (witness Arne Duncan's latest attack on teacher ed programs) and ONE solution (VAM). Test scores low? Set new standards and make new tests. This is the type of thinking that suggests there is A fix. It fails to examine all the facets of the issue. And it fails to take time and include many voices and perspectives.
Back o the title of this post: EVERYBODY'S TALKING AT ME. That is how I feel about much of the talk in education. However, in the PLN, the difference is EVERYBODY'S TALKING WITH ME. It makes a world of difference, that one little word.