Posts tagged ‘PD’

10 Professional Development Opportunities for the Summer

“Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching.” Unknown

Summer is here for some of us or very close for others. Here is a list of ten professional development opportunities you can take advantage of to help improve your practice. Most are free, some do cost money but see if your school can pay for you.

  1. Sophia: Sophia provides free and affordable online courses (you can earn college credit too) that offer a great way to accelerate educational success. I take the courses for free and don’t get college credit (that’s the part that costs money). Here is a list of courses. They also have free PD modules that also allow you to earn certificates that I have taken as well…actually I have taken all of them. ūüôā
  2. Book Study: Create a book study group by getting teachers together or join one. Need a book suggestion? Here is my previous post on summer reads for 2016.
  3. Ted Talks: Search the site by topic to see what interests you to push your thinking.
  4. Code Academy: I am no expert coder but I know enough to be dangerous and I learned at code academy.
  5. Lynda: Learn something new on Lynda, an online video tutorial website.
  6. STEAM Integration Online Conference: I have not attend this but have heard great things.
  7. Webinars: There a lot of free teacher webinars that you can take advantage of by simply googling. Here is a list of ASCD webinars that can get you started.
  8. Ed Tech Teacher Worshop: Ed Tech Teacher and Google have partnered to offer PD around the country on supporting technology integration.
  9. Edcamps: A fun, free, unconference PD with other educators from different places. See where one is happening in your state.
  10. Twitter: There are tons of chats that you can join, here is a list. I, of course, think one of the best is #21stedchat (Sundays 8:00 PM EST) as I am the co-creator along with David Prindle.


Awesome PD in 30 Seconds = #eduin30

“Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know.” by Daniel J Boorstin

I was at an educator event this week and I learned about #eduin30 and was so excited about it. George Couros is the creator and wrote a blog post you can find here on #eduin30. In a snapshot, I think it is the BEST PD in 30 Seconds and Couros tagline says it all: Bite-size Learning For Hungry Educators.

Course also asks a different question each week to guide the videos too. He posts them on Friday giving educators ‘time’ to reflect and post. ¬†Here are the different weeks Tweeter feeds with the question that was asked.

Week 1. What is one practice in your classroom that you would like to share? #eduin30w1 (March 6th, 2015)

Week 2.  What do you look for in a principal? #eduin30w2 (March 13th, 2015)

I learned some great ideas from following #eduin30. Will you be adding to the hashtag? I will be. ūüôā

Revolutionize PD and Your Classroom for the Digital Age

‚ÄúProfessional learning does not advance‚Ķ through the inexorable confirmation of previous certainties, but through a systematic challenge to our present conceptions‚ÄĚ By¬†Douglass B. Reeves

Two of my favorite educators in the world are Jen Sieracki and Ray Giovanelli and I have had the pleasure to work with both of them. I was ecstatic that their article, 10 ways to revolutionize PD for the digital age,  was published in eSchool News this week! eSchool news is a great resource you should not only check out but also subscribe too. Below I adapted the 10 ways they shared about revolutionizing PD and added how you can use these same ideas to revolutionize your classroom!

1. Technology Tuesdays. These are volunteer sessions for additional technology tool support. This is an opportunity for teachers to get additional tech support on new tools that can be integrated in to the classroom. This is done each month by school or district experts. —Classroom Take-Away:¬†Introduce a new digital tool to your class on Tuesdays so they have a toolkit of different apps/sites they can use when creating. Take it a step further and let the students present to each other the educational ones they like.

2. Flipped PD. Rethink professional development and begin to differentiate by allowing teachers to pick areas they want to learn about, create collaborative action plans, and then learn about their focus area. Simulate an EdCamp model, focus on more engaging and longer term PD that is more in-depth rather than isolated shorter sessions. —Classroom Take-Away: Allow the students to pick what they want to learn and how through choice menus.

3. Model and Celebrate. Model technology use with staff any chance you can (in professional development, staff meetings, student groups, model lessons, etc.).¬† Make sure that facilitators and administrators are using different tools as they present to show teachers how they work ‚Äúin action‚ÄĚ. Celebrate the risk-takers on your staff!¬†–Classroom Take-Away:¬†Model technology with your students. Don’t say this is how you use this (fill in app) but use it fluently so they can see how one uses it seamlessly.

4. Be Flexible. Allow flexibility with what is used by both teachers and students. Don‚Äôt focus on one platform or one app. Teachers should be able to use what they are comfortable with and what works for their kids. —Classroom Take-Away:¬†Don’t tell the students what app/site to use for a project but allow students to have choice in apps/sites they want to us.

5. Tap into Student Resources. Use students to be a catalyst for what they want in their learning (Genius Hour, Genius Bar).¬† Make sure to get student feedback, allow for them to work on passion projects, and work on characteristics of collaboration, communication, and life-long learning. Have students share their learning with teachers and a global audience! —Classroom Take-Away: Have experts in your class that are technology helpers.

6. Innovate. Create time during the day to try new things! Have administration cover teacher classes so they can focus on planning and preparation for new strategies and ideas. Empower teachers with the gift of ‚Äútime.‚Ä̬†–Classroom Take-Away: Let your students participate in genius hour so they can choose what they want to learn more about and be given the time.

7. Build Professional Learning Networks. Encourage teachers to broaden their knowledge base and connections with others inside and outside of your building and establish collaborative teams (utilizing Twitter, PLCs, Google+, etc.). Use opportunities to teach staff how to best use Twitter and other tools to learn about areas of interest, and building their learning network beyond the schoolhouse.¬†—Classroom Take-Away: Let the students network and collaborate with each other when they need an idea or help. You can use tools such as TodaysMeet, Padlet¬†or Chatzy.

8. Ask the Tough Questions. Compare/Contrast an iPad, Laptop, or Chromebook to a pencil.¬† Is this used because students are engaged or is it truly being used as a tool for learning? Is the technology an add-on or a non-negotiable for this task?¬† Which tool works best? As with anything, children must use the right tool for the right situation. —Classroom Take-Away:¬†When the students are creating for project/activity, have them ask themselves these questions.

9. Categorize. Just like using a media center, children need to be taught and begin to learn when to use the appropriate application to meet the expectations of the activity they are working on. For example, creation tools:¬† iMovie, Google Docs, PicCollage; or organizational tools: Google Drive, Evernote, Padlet. Every tool is not appropriate for every task. —Classroom Take-Away: Have students create lists in their notebook or as a class for how they use the app. Ex. presentation (Haiku Deck) verse brainstorming (Popplet).

10. Let Teachers Visit Teachers. Allow time for teachers to watch model tech use in action. This not only strengthens the learning culture of a school, but it also allows teachers to see how their colleagues may be using a technology tool or management of technology in a creative way. —Classroom Take-Away: Let students visit other classes to work with other teachers and students that are masters at certain apps as we all can know it all.

Make sure to also read their original article, 10 ways to revolutionize PD for the digital age,  published in eSchool News!

My Learnings Digested from #ISTE2014

“Actions speak louder than buzzwords. ” Adam Bellows

ISTE2014 Bound

ISTE2014 Bound

It is hard to believe a week ago I was at #ISTE2014 with 16,039 conference goers, from all 50 states along with 67 nations! It has taken me some time to process and digest what I learned from the conference that is now a check off my bucket list!

Top 3 Takeaways:

1. I want to be like Kevin Carroll! Why? He believed in himself, he was a change agent and a catalyst. By far ¬†Kevin’s keynote was the most inspirational and best session I attended. His keynote speech has not been released yet but when it does, if you have not seen it, you need too. Here is a quick interview with him:¬†Kevin Carroll at ISTE 2014¬†and his book:¬†Rules of the Red Rubber Ball

2. Relationships and collaboration of ideas are the most important part of learning. My second favorite part about ISTE was the people, sharing ideas in lines, at meals and at events. I loved meeting my virtual PLN face to face and collaborating with educators from my own district that I don’t get to see so often and ones that I do!

3.  There is a lot of misconceptions about what Personalized Learning is. Personalized Learning encompasses many best practices that teachers already do such as conferring/conferencing with students, build relationships and allowing students to own their learning. What it is NOT: Personalized Learning does not mean technology. Technology is a tool to help the instructional shift that needs to be made in the classroom. There is no one Learning Management System (LMS), web tool, app or device that is the magic bullet for personalized leaning.

Top 3 Websites to check out:

1.¬†Tackk¬†:¬†is a simple way to create beautiful pages on the web. It’s your very own page, flyer, blog post, or poster.

2. Graphite: Is a great site by Common Sense Media  that make it easier for educators to find the best apps, games, and websites for the classroom, making sure they are common core aligned and the rigor and relevance is there.

3. ¬†Tammy Wocester¬†: I used to visit Tammy’s site often a few years ago as I loved her ideas. I am glad I went to her session and was reminded how great it is.

Top 3 ideas to implement: 

1.¬†#youmatter: I have heard about you matter by watching the TED talk but going to the session helped me realize it’s¬†about personalizing the students learning through whole child approach. It is a movement. Here are more sites to add to your #youmatter resources: ¬†,¬†¬†¬† and you matter day using #mattergrams

2. App Speed Dating: Is where students teach educators about apps they like to use in the classroom.  A great way to offer PD to teachers and allow student leadership.

3. Edtechwomen: One of the events I went to at ISTE was the #edtechwomen dinner. It was a favorite for me as I was inspired by so many amazing women; learning about their stories and journeys. I also learned the most about myself during this event as I never realized how much I ‘downgrade’ things I have accomplished in my life, such as when I introduced myself, I stated what my job was but I neglected to also state that I own my own company. That is something that is apart of me that I don’t share often enough, yet it is a huge accomplishment. I am slowly learning that I need to be proud of all that I have done. I’m in the process of starting a chapter of #edtechwomen for the charlotte area. Once I learn more I will be sure to share as I hope you will be involved and yes, men are welcome as they are our ‘malallies’ – male + allies.

Other great reflections and posts from ISTE2014:

Anibal Pacheco’s – Interviews w/ Presenters and Special Guests

Erin Klein’s: Reflections from #iste2014

Rafranz Davis: Passion Fueled Connection

Lisa Pagano’s: Beginning to Process #iste2014

ISTE 2014 Sessions with Published Handout Links

Google Doc: ISTE 2014 Session Notes

Melissa  Edwards Reflections

If you would like to experience #iste2015 in Philly you can start checking out ISTE’s site.

Takeaways From #edcampusa From Afar

‚ÄúLearning is not attained by chance. It must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.‚ÄĚ By Abigail Adams

On June 6th, #edcampUSA¬†took place in Washington, DC at the Department of Education. I’m sure like me most of us couldn’t attend as I was busy working but that didn’t stop me from learning from it as I read the archives¬†later. Below are my three takeaways from #edcampUSA from the tweets and Gdocs of the participants.

1. Voxer is a walkie-talkie like app where you can hold discussions with many people. It is great to hear voices of people you have been tweeting with. Voxer can be used many different ways in the classroom and in education. Check out the list that was started at a session during #edcampUSA. I have joined many voxer chats in the past few days such as an ASCD Emerging Leader one where we are discussing the importance of education needing to change. I am also excited to do a book study using this app this summer as well. My voxer id is: jthomp56629

2. Our schools, more than ever, need to be redesigned to fit the learners needs. You can tell from the #edcampUSA session board as 4 of the 20 topics were about it. We need to change our classroom and libraries to include spaces such as makerspaces. You would think this is an easy fix but I have learned that there are a lot of furniture regulations from not only districts but the state as well but this is a topic that needs to continue to be pursued. I know I will continue to try to push the envelope.

3. We are the change makers! Edcamp was started four years ago by a group of educators and now look at what has happened. Professional development is changing, educators are becoming more connected and issues that were not always discussed are being talked about. Together change can happen!

Other articles and blogs from #edcampUSA I liked:

The Positive Power of #Edcamp Hits The US Department of Education

#edcampuse Tagboard

How EdCamps Break the Rules of Professional Development

Tom Murray: 5 Take aways for #edcampUSA

Edulum’s 2nd Annual Conference

‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not about ideas. It‚Äôs about making ideas happen.‚ÄĚ -Scott Belsky


It is hard to believe that Edulum‘s¬†2nd Annual Conference registration has begun! This years conference theme is:¬†Get Personal! Cultivating Ownership Through Personalization.¬†We have amazing presenters from all around the Carolinas! The conference is at UNCC in the College of Education Building on August 1st from 8:30-4:00 and it is only $30.00!

Eventbrite - Edulum's 2nd Annual Educators Conference

How can a Principal not send you, as usually education conferences are hundreds of dollars! Bring a friend and make this your summer professional development! Check out our Google document with the session schedule, descriptions and names of our presenters.

Our keynote speaker is, Deborah Brown, who holds a BA in English from Regis College and an Ed. M from Harvard University. Currently, Deborah teaches high school students in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system. Deborah, a NC Teaching Fellow, has recently presented a collaborative teaching idea at a TEDx Charlotte ED event. She has worked with The Girl Scouts as a troop leader, an adjunct writing professor at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, a freshman evening advisor for the STEM program at Johnson C. Smith University and a Parent University presenter with Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools. She is also an author of the book, 6 HABITS of Success: A Practical Guide for Girls. Her keynote is titled: Positive Discipline: The 2/10 Theory.


You can like and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Hope to see you at #edulum14!

Mini #edcamps for School Level PD

‚ÄúAnyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.‚ÄĚ By¬†Henry Ford

Edcamps¬†are free unconferences where educators lead/facilitate the discussions based on topics they are interested. Edcamps started about five years ago and are modeled after bar camps (it has nothing to do with liquor). Now there are parent, student and leadership edcamps! Edcamp’s vision and mission is:

Vision: We are all self-directed learners, developing and sharing our expertise with the world.

Mission: We build and support a community of empowered learners.

Check out this great Edcamp 101 Video to learn more in just a few minutes.

The first edcamp I attended was edcampsc.¬†I later attended Charlotte’s Bar Camp¬†and both were well worth my time! Because of these great learning experiences; I have been replicating “mini” edcamp style PD sessions at schools. (I will also be hosting a full edcampcms in the Fall of 2014) ¬†These mini edcamp PD session have been very successful and I think more schools should do them as it builds school culture, teacher leadership and is differentiated based on teachers needs.

How I set up a “mini” edcamp PD is I send the¬†Edcamp 101 Video prior the PD session. This allows teachers ¬†to have background knowledge on what it is going to kind of look like plus they start thinking about topics. When they walk into the PD session, on tables I have sticky notes where teachers can write down topics they want to learn/discuss (just like a real edcamp) and they place them on a large white board or chart paper. As they are writing and posting them on he board, I move the topics into session sections. Each session section has three to four topics per session depending on the size of the group. If I get topics that are similar, I put them together and give them a category name. For example, if one teacher writes conferring and one writes guided reading – I might put them together and call it balanced literacy.

What makes them “mini”are the edcamps sessions are only 20 mins because after school PD is usually only ¬†an hour or an hour and fifteen minutes. (Typical edcamp sessions are 50-60 mins)

Schedule Template for Mini “Edcamp” if you had an hour and fifteen minute PD:¬†

8 mins introduction reviewing rules and giving input

20 min session

2 min rotation

20 min session

2 min rotation

20 session

3 minute wrap up/closing

Here are more resources that can help you start your own edcamp or “mini” edcamp:

Edcamp Foundation

Why Edcamp?

An Elementary Edcamp- An Unconference for Students

ParentCamp and A Guide to Hosting Your Own ParentCamp

Edcamp Leadership

Introduction to Edcamp: A New Conference Model Built on Collaboration

The power of ‚Äėedcamps‚Äô and ‚Äėunconferencing‚Äô

Unconference: Revolutionary professional learning


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