Education

Online Professional Development Resources

April 09, 2008 7 min read
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Online professional development resources for new and prospective teachers.

AllThingsPLC
As its name suggests, AllThingsPLC provides extensive resources, including research articles and implementation tools, for educators seeking information about professional learning communities. Along with data and information on existing school PLCs, the site includes presentations and blog entries by Rick DuFour, who is considered one of the leading experts on teacher learning communities.

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
ASCD is a nonprofit membership organization that develops and disseminates information on effective teaching and learning practices. The organization offers a number of professional development products, including online courses, multimedia inquiry kits, books and videos. The site also includes summaries and analyses of important teaching topics, such as differentiated instruction and performance assessment.

Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement
The CCSREI has developed a searchable database of more than 4,600 articles and abstracts on school reform and improvement. Other features include an “ask the expert” e-mail service for help with school-improvement strategies, and a collection of research and issue briefs on school best practices.

Curriculum Associates: Topics in Education
The curriculum and test-prep publisher Curriculum Associates hosts a free professional development site for teachers. Offerings include award-winning online course modules on key education topics, including differentiated instruction and integrating the curriculum, as well as podcasts on teacher-learning news and developments.

Education Reform Network
Edform.net, part of the National Institute for Community Innovations, collects “exemplary, free, and inexpensive professional development materials” on school-reform initiatives identified by networks of expert education communities. Topics include classroom instruction, classroom management, and data-driven reform.

Federal Resources for Educational Excellence
The government’s nicely designed education site compiles teaching and learning resources from dozens of federal agencies. Materials are available in core subjects and others, and include primary source materials, lesson activities, and professional development tutorials. Users can set up an RSS feed to receive regular updates of new resources on the site.

4Teachers
4Teachers specializes in the development of instructional Web-based and professional development resources that address issues such as ELL and at-risk or special-needs students. The site provides ready-made Web lessons, quizzes, rubrics, and classroom calendars so that educators can integrate virtual resources into their classrooms. Teachers can also use the site to create quizzes in foreign languages, compile online lessons, and study classroom teaching techniques for a more productive learning environment. The site is also available in Spanish. Use of some resources may require a subscription.

Inspiring Teachers
Professional development resources for teachers (student, new, and veteran), mentors, administrators, and teacher educators are available on this site. Courses can be customized for interactive school and district staff development workshops. Webinars provide practical strategies for improving student classroom learning. Other tools include book recommendations, classroom resources, Web sites, blogs, and an “Ask a Mentor” feature.

North Central Regional Education Laboratory: Professional Development Best Practices
As part of a “Pathways to School Improvement” series, NCREL provides analyses of critical issues in teacher professional development. Topics include creating time for professional development, rethinking teachers’ learning traits, effective use of technology, and evaluation of outcomes. Each discussion includes an overview, a list of goals and “action options,” as well as resource links and contacts.

National School Boards Association: Professional Development Tips
Part of NSBA’s “Education Leadership Toolkit,” this feature provides checklists for planning and evaluating professional development efforts, as well as guiding principles for effective teacher training.

National Staff Development Council
The NSDC is a national nonprofit organization that provides research and resources on professional development and student improvement. The NSDC’s site includes its official standards for staff developments, along with related discussion and links to supporting resources. The site also provides an extensive library of articles and reports on key issues in professional development, from staff-development basics to policy and advocacy.

PBS TeacherLine
PBS TeacherLine offers a wealth of professional development resources for K-12 educators on core-subject instruction, in addition to accredited graduate-level courses. The site’s TeacherLine Peer Connection enables instructional coaches to search and save resources and collaborate online with other educators. Additionally, TeacherLine gives educators access to a variety of PBS’ educator-friendly multimedia tools, some of which coincide with the broadcaster’s programs.

PD 360
PD 360, a School Improvement Network product, is an online professional development tool where educators can access hundreds of indexed and searchable video segments on topical issues such as improving minority achievement, differentiated instruction, and classroom management. The video segments are presented by experts in the field and provide examples of best practices from more than 1,000 schools. These online resources can be used by mentors, coaches, administrators, and content specialists. Educators can tailor PD 360 to meet the needs of their state or school system’s standards.

SERVE Center: Tools Educator Quality
The SERVE Center, an education-research organization based at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, has developed models for professional learning, teacher research, and educator growth and assessment. The site includes links to tools and resources in these areas.

Teacher-to-Teacher Initiative
The U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher-to-Teacher Initiative is designed to provide instructional assistance and professional development opportunities to teachers at a time of heightened academic pressure. The site includes a schedule of workshops provided by the department’s officially sanctioned Teacher Training Corp, and e-mail updates of resources and activities. Perhaps most valuable are the archived presentations and handouts from previous workshops in core subjects.

Tapped In
An online-community service designed specifically for teachers, Tapped In allows educators to collaborate on learning projects, participate in or lead topical discussions and groups, and engage in one-to-one mentoring sessions. The site, which is modeled as a virtual campus, also hosts online courses offered by professional development providers. A calendar of events is provided.

TeachAde
TeachAde is an interactive Web site for creating and sharing teaching resources. Educators can use the site to find and share lesson plans, related Web sites and search engines, and to join discussion threads on any education-related topic. Teachers can also build professional networks by forming subject-based groups around their specific needs.

Teacher Leaders Network
The Teacher Leaders Network, an initiative of the Center for Teaching Quality, is a professional community of accomplished educators dedicated to sharing ideas and expanding the influence of teachers. The group’s Web site includes blogs on instructional and teaching-policy issues, as well as excerpts from members’ daily e-mail discussions on current classroom topics.

The Teachers Network: Action Research Projects
The Teachers Network, a nonprofit effort to connect exemplary teachers, posts research studies conducted by classroom teachers on a variety of professional development and student-improvement initiatives. Issues addressed in current projects include teacher collaborative study, interdisciplinary team teaching, supporting new teachers, and the impact of NCLB on instruction.

UTeach
Out of the University of Texas at Austin, UTeach has created a valuable online data base for their students and novice teachers, but it is useful for educators at any stage of their career who are seeking professional support. UTeach provides multiple links to lesson plans, collaboration resources, classroom management advice, even inspiration and humor pages. Counsel on school culture, tips for mentors, and federal guidelines for student discipline are available directly on the UTeach site. Mentors and novices may find the discussion on career stages interesting.

—Anthony Rebora & Danielle Woods

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