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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Professional Development Online

 In my last post I said that "...teachers in the know..." can help children of all ages connect to career awareness resources using the wealth of digital tools now available. It's that " the know" part that's tricky. How can busy classroom teachers keep up with a digital world that changes and expands every day? And it is important to keep up. We can't guide child safely through shark-infested waters if we don't know how to swim.

It's also critical for school distircts to support teachers by providing and supporting ongoing and embedded professional development. When I say embedded, I mean that it's part of the culture of the work environment and the teaching and learning environment of the school. That doesn't mean that teachers have to be gone all the time attending workshops.

There are numerous resources, good resources, available online to supplement face-to-face teacher training. One of my favorites are programs offerred by PBS: PBS TeacherLine and PBS LearningMedia. Teacher Line courses are credit-bearing college level courses covering a range of teacher education modules from teaching math to STEM education in the classroom. (Note: There are two new classes starting on PBS Teacher Line on January 25 and again on February 29, 2012.)

PBS LearningMedia is a brand-new resource for teachers offering classrom-ready curriculum content in digital media format.Their collection already includes over 16,000 digital resources in the arts and in science, for example, and professional development. The site offers a content management system, teacher and classroom accounts, student access, and the content is standards-aligned. It's all online and educators have access at their convenience.

PBS updated and expanded TeacherLine in 2009, and several of the online courses now focus on strategies and techniques for incorporating digital tools into instruction. There are close to 200 graduate-level courses, and several are designed to guide teachers in Web 2.0 collaboration skills, digital literacy skills, digital citizenship, and use of Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis, and social media networking sites.

Part of being a teacher in the know is knowing where to access resources to keep updated in order to swim along with the kids. And don't be afraid to let your students be your teachers too.

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