Thursday, October 3, 2013

When the Government Shuts You Down, Your PLN Can Lift You Back Up

My little family is fortunate this week because we are all still working.  Even though the 94% "non-essential" federal workers are furloughed, everyone we know personally who works for the federal government is considered "essential" and is still working and earning a paycheck.  That doesn't mean, however, that I'm not feeling the far-reaching effects of this giant Congressional tantrum.

Day 1 of Shutdown
First, on Monday, October 1 I tried to get onto the Library of Congress website to do some research for an upcoming lesson.  When I was faced with a government shutdown message, I tweeted out my frustrations.

To my delight, I got a few retweets from sympathizing teachers and a new follower.  Darin Johnston (@AnIowaTeacher) certainly isn't anyone I've ever met, but we seem to both be educators with a love of political drama.  So, I followed him back and got this tweet.

At the end of the day I was frustrated, but at least I'd met a kindred spirit and expanded my PLN.

Day 2 of Shutdown
On Tuesday, October 2 I was explaining to my sophomores about the parameters of an upcoming blog post assignment on the Lowell Mill Girls' experiences.  They were going to write, analyze text primary sources, and include at least one piece of visual media as well.  As I was talking I attempted to show them the Lowell National Historical Park website.  Foiled again!  The National Park Service website system is down and I got another frustrating message on screen.  Again, I tweeted out my frustrations.

This time I also went to Facebook.  To my surprise, as my friends added their comments to my post, one specific comment stood out.


So a very good friend from my college days works for National Park Service IT!  He's considered essential and he's working! I sent him a private message via Facebook and he sent back some really fascinating stuff: 2 .pdf files with images and documents from 1985 that made up the original application to categorize the Boott and other mills in Lowell as 'The Lowell National Historical Park.'  My students will be able to use some of the photos of the mill buildings in their assignments.

Things were looking up!  To add to my good mood, a clicked on a link to an article on the Onion someone in my PLN had tweeted. After reading it and chuckling a bit, I decided I should send it along to my new friend.

His response:


So by the end of Day 2 of the federal government shutdown, I was feeling better.  I had been able to acquire at least some of the resources I needed and I'd gotten a good laugh at Congress's expense.

Lesson Learned: When the government shuts you down, your PLN can lift you back up!