10 ways to revolutionize PD for the digital age

Top tips from school leaders on innovating digital professional development and putting the focus where it belongson teachers

Odigital-pdver the past 6-8 years we have seen a supersonic advancement in public schools and the way our teachers now must teach. This has hit education like a tidal wave, leaving precious little time for our teachers to process it, and especially to learn how to do it well.

The consequence, in many schools, is that teachers have begun to use technology but have forced it into all the wrong places and for all the wrong reasons. Research has consistently shown that technology used in inappropriate ways is actually worse for learning, and this is happening all around us.

At Grand Oak Elementary School in Huntersville, NC we have worked hard to create an environment where we are supporting our staff through this transition. We are only in our second year of existence and yet we have set the stage through our vision to become a school where teachers and students “Collaborate. Innovate. Achieve.” We aim to help teachers understand our goals for educating students while providing them with the tools, resources, and support culture to make those goals reality. In many ways, the focus on differentiation, risk-taking, and learn-by-doing activities we’re introducing to our teachers mirrors what we are asking from our students as well.…Read More

6 Characteristics of Great PD (And Great Classrooms)

Great and effective PD usually has these characteristics

PD-6For nearly a dozen years I’ve traveled to various schools and districts to deliver professional development workshops and presentations. Over the years, I’ve also sat in on many ed-tech workshops and presentations at schools, conferences, and “unconferences.”

These experiences have taught me that if our goal is to create fundamental change in classrooms, professional development workshops should ultimately devote less time to the “nuts and bolts” of technology and more time addressing pedagogy and best practices. Technology, in and of itself, doesn’t necessarily change learning. So, the primary focus of any workshop must be the educator’s vision of a technology, and not the technology itself.

My EdTechTeacher colleague (and HarvardX researcher) Justin Reich and I believe that if we want teachers to integrate exemplary practices and lead and inspire the next generation, then we must prepare them in exemplary learning environments.…Read More

What it takes to be a teacher

New Teacher Appreciation Week infographics visually represent the career of the 21st Century educator

teacher-appreciation-infographicMy Parisian mother was a teacher for a year, as a favor to my private school when its French teacher unexpectedly quit one summer. “Sure, I could teach,” was her casual answer.

Little did she, or I, know what was entailed in a teaching job. From late nights grading homework and designing fun, meaningful projects, to emptying the grocery store of Nutella and baguettes for ‘Fun Fridays,’ I had a hard time figuring out why all of a sudden my socks hadn’t been washed for a week and the once Julia Child-worthy dinners quickly became Lean Cuisines with a side of “there should be stuff in the fridge.” (Did I mention I’m an only child?)

Jokes aside, being a teacher is one of the most difficult, and one of the most under-appreciated, jobs in the U.S.…Read More

15 spring and summer PD opportunities

Summer PD registration is open now—which opportunity interests you most?

PD-oppsSchool may last a little longer for some districts than others, depending on how many snow days some parts of the country experienced. But as schools close for the summer, many educators use their “free” time to enroll in professional development (PD) to prepare for the next school year.

For educators who may be seeking spring or summer PD opportunities in subject areas, Common Core implementation, technology integration, and more, options are plentiful.

Here, we’ve gathered a number of PD opportunities that span the spring and summer months. This is just a sampling, though, and if you know of a great PD opportunity, leave it in the comments section below.…Read More

How to move PD forward

The fact that there are plenty of companies touting video-based PD as more efficient, individualized, cheaper, and faster should not surprise anyone who has been in the education game long enough to have suffered through Harry Wong, says Shelly Blake-Plock for EdSurge. But to suggest that video versus in-person PD is the real play here totally ignores what is happening back in reality. A reality where we merge online and real-life everyday through the act of sharing…

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The big key to success with blended learning

Principal, blended learning experts, say knowing how to analyze data huge key to success

blended-data In a national climate where schools have data, but are struggling to make it actionable, officials from a public charter school that integrates a growing nationwide practice, blended learning, say knowing how to integrate data on a regular basis is the key to student achievement.

Rocketship Si Se Puede Academy in San Jose, Calif., is a public charter K-5 elementary school in its fifth year, currently serving 630 students with a staff of about 35. The student population is mainly Latino (95 percent) with many students considered English-Language Learners (ELL). Ninety percent of the students are also on free-and-reduced lunch.

Rocketship Si Se Puede not only met and surpassed the state’s Academic Performance Index (API) and achieved a top performance rank compared to other schools with similar student demographic profiles, it also achieved success in one of the newest models of learning: blended learning.…Read More

Contemporary online PD for educators

Smithsonian debuts Online Education Conferences; offers educators PD, digital badges

educators-PD-online Educators looking for a unique professional development (PD) experience that relates textbook curriculum to real-world events and current issues now have a new, free online opportunity thanks to the Smithsonian.

The Smithsonian Online Education Conference series is an interactive online webinar presented each month by Smithsonian experts, and can be used by educators looking for an innovative PD experience.

The entire series is available for free online so educators can pick the topics they want to implement into instruction at their convenience. The conferences cover a range of cross-curricular topics from astrophotography, to civil rights and the rainforest.…Read More