The Educator's PLN

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The answer to small district PD prayers?

I've recently been thinking hard about how to get quality professional development opportunities to the teachers in my very small one-school district.  Since we are tiny and don't have a great deal of money to spend on "name brand" workshops or speakers, nor do we have an unlimited pool of staff who are comfortable leading workshops, we really struggle to make PD meaningful.  I took my Moodle course with an eye toward creating some simple courses that would get state mandated training out of the way, but I wasn't surprised to find that others are already providing it,

 

The two companies that I've come across most recently are Simple K12 and PD 360.  Both provide a big selection of material, nicely packaged and ready for consumption.  I don't know how they stack up in terms of cost, but I would think that something of this sort, combined with a PLC, would be a very effective means of furthering individual teacher learning.

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Comment by Rita Oates on April 3, 2011 at 7:55am

Look for webinars, tutorials and other content provided by vendors or by teachers who use particular products. A company that has created products for the education market may also provide some materials to help teachers use these products well.

Here are a couple of options to learn to use the free offerings of ePals. (The products for purchase, such as LearningSpace and SchoolMail365, have the online PD built into the product without extra charge.)

* Weekly one-hour webinars, ePals 101, on how to be part of the ePals Global Community (200 countries, 700,000 teachers), use free forums, free SchoolMail, free projects, free resources from Smithsonian Institution, IRA, SnagFilms, and others. Sign up at http;//epals.101.sgizmo.com

* Self-service tutorials. Work at your own pace or review some of the content in the ePals 101 webinar: how to get a SchoolMail account, how to use SchoolMail and other free offerings of ePals with students, in 18 brief tutorials, ranging from 8 to 20 slides. Included is advice from experienced teachers and in-depth information on technology options for student safety and security of student data. You can ask teachers to walk through these on their own, or you can download them and use them when you lead training sessions. Available as PPT or PDF. If you download the PPT, be sure to read all the information in the Notes field on each slide, too. http://bit.ly/learnePals

* PD materials prepared by teachers who use a particular product. ePals teachers have created videos, quick start guides, presentations and more that are posted in the Teachers tab under "Training Resources" on the right column. Elizabeth Simmons contributed a terrific PPT, six projects to teach the six NETS-S standards in upper elementary school, telling about her award-winning year working with a teacher in the UK and using ePals, as one example. http://bit.ly/learnePals  Other examples can be found searching in SchoolTube, TeacherTube, and eSchoolNews.tv.

 

To inspire your teachers or expose them to leaders in ed tech, I highly recommend the interviews posted at eSchoolNews.tv and done by Tom Lapping at various conferences. It's a great way to get 5-10 minute "appearances" by amazing people for your teachers.

 

Also look at the great resources from ALTEC at the University of Kansas:

4Teachers.org works to help teachers integrate technology into their classrooms by offering online tools and resources. This site helps teachers locate and create ready-to-use Web lessons, quizzes, rubrics and classroom calendars. There are also tools for student use. Discover valuable professional development resources addressing issues such as equity, ELL, technology planning, and at-risk or special-needs students.

 

Two other commercial companies who focus on teacher professional development are KDSi and TeachScape. Both have many strong offerings across multiple subject areas. Robert Marzano is aligned with KDSi.

Good luck in your quest to help your teachers become better educators and true professionals!

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