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10 Independent Professional Development Resources for Teachers

10 Independent Professional Development Resources for Teachers


Time to recertify but you’re just a bit short on hours?  Looking for ways to empower other teachers to take control of their own professional development?  Here are a few ways to get those CEUs (Continuing Education Units) independently.
Time to recertify but you’re just a bit short on hours?  Looking for ways to empower other teachers to take control of their own professional development?  Here are a few ways to get those CEUs (Continuing Education Units) independently.


Websites that Offer Online Courses

These sites all offer at least some if not all of their courses free of charge.  They also provide certificates or other concrete ways to record your hours.  Even if at first glance it may seem like you need to pay for documentation, don’t underestimate the value of a few well organized screenshots as your evidence of completion.


Alison

  • This platform offers courses in many disciplines, so you have to hone in on teacher specific courses.  However, everything is both self-paced and free to complete. 


Coursera 

  • Build skills with courses, certificates, and degrees online from world-class universities and companies.  They offer many subjects, so you will have to search for something relevant to you within the Social Sciences subheading.


OK2Ask 

  • Series of virtual workshops specifically for teacher professional learning.   Available in live (for credit) with professional learning certificates available, and on demand (without credit) formats.  All sessions are aligned with the ISTE Standards for Educators and include documented objectives.


Inspire Teaching & Learning 

  • Inspire offers more than 70 free, on-demand courses to support teacher training with 30- and 60-minute courses to fit into your busy schedule, certificates of completion, and a learning portal that is easily accessible on mobile or desktop.


Share My Lesson 

  • Professional development webinars and resources for teachers.  The information page for each should inform you how many hours of PD credit you can expect to earn, and a certificate of completion will be available for download at the end of your session.


Fast Forward

  • Webinars that provide you with the latest research on how the brains of struggling students learn best with Certificates of Attendance available upon request.


APA’s Center for Psychology in Schools and Education 

  • Resources for preK–12 teachers and other school personnel that are based on psychological science designed to enhance student teaching, learning, and well-being in school. All programs have been reviewed and approved by APA’s Office of Continuing Education in Psychology to offer credits for educators and/or psychologists.


TeachME 

  • This website is just for teachers and educators, offers a wide variety of practical topics, and is very well organized.  They only have one of those courses for free, however, offering the rest for a fee ($4/credit hour) or as part of a subscription.


Time to recertify but you’re just a bit short on hours?  Looking for ways to empower other teachers to take control of their own professional development?  Here are a few ways to get those CEUs (Continuing Education Units) independently.
Conferences  

These days, many conferences are either partially or fully virtual, and/or provide access to recordings of the sessions for a period of time afterwards.  Most conferences will have instructions about how to earn credits from their sessions somewhere on their website, so take a look around before you get started to make sure that the hours you’re spending are getting you the credit hours you need.

If you're a STEM Teacher, then you might like this blog post: 10 of the best upcoming STEM conferences

State Department of Education

Check around on your state’s Department of Education website.  They often have a professional development page where they have compiled on demand resources, a calendar of scheduled events that can include in-person training, live webinars, and more. 

Time to recertify but you’re just a bit short on hours?  Looking for ways to empower other teachers to take control of their own professional development?  Here are a few ways to get those CEUs (Continuing Education Units) independently.







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Brittany Washburn
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Digital Stop Motion Animation Tips and Tricks

Digital Stop Motion Animation Tips and Tricks


Stop motion animation goes digital with fun and engaging design challenges!

Stop motion animation goes digital with fun and engaging design challenges!

We all want our students to master technology tools and use them to create original works. Stop Motion STEM challenges are designed to allow students to explore presentation software while creating something using the steps of the engineering design process. 

The best part is that nearly every topic and subject area can be incorporated into these challenges, so they can be used as a part of your daily academic activities, not as an extra thing to fit into your schedule. 

What is Digital Stop Motion?

Stop motion is typically done with physical objects and a camera. Instead of getting out all of those materials, we can do it digitally. 

Using either Google Slides or Microsoft PowerPoint, students work in teams to animate a story across multiple slides and devices. 

This will require them to problem solve their way through the design process. Bonus points if you have them document their process and reflect on it at the end!

Standards Addressed with Stop Motion

ISTE Standards:

  • Innovative Designer: 4d
  • Creative Communicator: 6b
  • Global Collaborator: 7c (if working in groups)

Tips for Teachers:

Introduce students to the idea of producing an animated GIF or video using Google Slides or PowerPoint. 
They may have heard of the Red Ball Challenge and there are some great videos on YouTube demonstrating it, but I also recommend showing some of the very early cartoon animations by Walt Disney if you can. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCNvwa2Kgzc the first minute shows how animation works but the whole video is great.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhfp6Z8z1cI how animation works - maybe skip the section about the women workers, it isn't PC. 

Vocabulary to Introduce:

  • Animation
  • Aspect Ratio
  • Frame
  • Frame Rate
  • Scene
  • Script
  • Stop Motion
  • Storyboard
Stop motion animation goes digital with fun and engaging design challenges!

Student Introduction and Tips:
Stop motion animation goes digital with fun and engaging design challenges!

Stop Motion is a way of animating a story. The object on the screen is moved a tiny bit each time (on each slide) so that when you play the presentation, it looks like the object is moving as though in a movie. 

Once you have the scene drawn, the computer makes it possible to duplicate the slide, so you don't have to draw every movement by hand. A major time saver! 

All you do is duplicate the scene (slide) and move one thing. Then do that again like 50 times or more, making one small movement each time, and your end result will look like an animation!
I know 50+ times sounds like a lot, but it goes quickly once you get the hang of it. 

After completing all of the slides in the stop motion animation, you may want to share it with others. A great way to do this is to publish the slide show with custom timings so that it starts and stops automatically. This isn't technically a video, but it will show the entire stop motion animation. 

Make your process easier with these tips:
  1. Use the edges of the slides to begin and end your animation
  2. Duplicate slides
  3. Make small, equal movements by using the arrow keys
  4. Layer objects in the scene
  5. Use transparency options
  6. Use text to tell a story across multiple slides
  7. Group objects to move them together
  8. Don't forget ctrl+z= undo
The secret to working across multiple devices:
If you've heard of the Red Ball Challenge, you might be excited to try creating a stop motion animation that appears to move from one device to the next. 

The key is actually really simple: blank slides

That's right! The devices all actually have exactly the same number of slides so that they start and stop at the same time. 
To make it look like the animation is moving across devices, simple calculate how many blank slides need to play on each device before and after it's "your turn."

Example for a 150 slide animation:
Device 1: 25 animation slides, 125 blank slides
Device 2: 25 blank slides, 25 animation slides, 100 blank slides
Device 3: 50 blank slides, 25 animation slides, 75 blank slides
Etc. for the rest of the devices.

There you have it! The whole process of digital stop motion animation. 

Stop motion animation goes digital with fun and engaging design challenges!

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Brittany Washburn
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How to Host Virtual Parent/Teacher Conferences

How to Host Virtual Parent/Teacher Conferences


Are some (or even all) of your parent teacher conferences online this time around?  Here are a few tips to help you get through them!
Are some (or even all) of your parent teacher conferences online this time around?  Here are a few tips to help you get through them!


Platforms

No matter what platform you pick, get everyone at your school on board with the same one to minimize confusion for parents and teachers alike.  Some of the most popular include:


Scheduling

  •  Allow extra time for tech issues by leaving a 5-10 minute window in between each available time block.

  • Use a website like SignUp Genius

  • Make a shared Google doc or sheet.  You provide the list of times, then parents put their names beside the empty time slots.

  • You can always just schedule a parent-teacher meeting simply by making a call or sending an email too.


Are some (or even all) of your parent teacher conferences online this time around?  Here are a few tips to help you get through them!
Online Conference Recommendations

  • Send an email explaining what to expect during the conference.  Give parents an idea of what you plan to discuss, provide a step-by-step guide for signing into your virtual conference space, and include reminders to check their camera, microphone, and speakers in advance.  

  • Consider filming a video to walk parents through the steps. One video could even be used for the entire school, so talk with other teachers and you just might create a resource that can be used in perpetuity.

  • If you’re already teaching online, you might recommend that parents just use the same setup that their kids do every day for the conference. 

  • If you'd like to share student work at a virtual conference, consider these methods:

    • Use a document camera and screen-sharing to look at each piece of work.

    • Prepare a slideshow (or have older students build a slideshow) of their work. 

    • Scan student work and send it via email before the conference starts.

    • Make copies of the work you’d like parents to see, then send it home with students the day before conferences. Then you and the parents can both have copies of the work in front of you when you talk.

  • Don’t waste more than a minute or two trying to resolve technical issues during the actual conference. It's okay if you need to fall back on a regular phone call or even reschedule if you think you won't have enough time left to devote to the conversation.


General Advice

  • Before meeting with parents, gather your data and have it at your fingertips. Make sure to include assessment data, academic progress, and behavioral/social performance.  Where are my spreadsheet people?  You know you could make this awesome.

  • Use the famed “compliment sandwich” to offer feedback on how students are doing at school. First, say something specific their child has done well or shown improvement in. Then, bring up an area of concern. End with an affirmation, referencing another specific strength.

  • Form positive connections with parents by drawing them into the conversation. Ask open-ended questions like:

    • What questions do you have for me?

    • In what areas can I offer you support at home?

  • Set a timer in a place that's visible to all parties.  You can always schedule a follow-up (perhaps even with an admin sitting in) if it becomes clear one is needed.  If you do choose to go over by a minute or two, the depleted timer will help make it clear that you are devoting extra time to the conversation.


Are you a computer lab teacher who has to give grades? You might like this post: Everything you want to know about giving grades in the computer lab.
Are some (or even all) of your parent teacher conferences online this time around?  Here are a few tips to help you get through them!

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Brittany Washburn
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How Should you Spend that Technology Stipend?

How Should you Spend that Technology Stipend?


 32 of the Most-Recommended Tech Resources 

Got your hands on some much-needed money? Here’s some of the most-recommended tech to help you take your school or classroom to the next level.

Got your hands on some much-needed money? Here’s some of the most-recommended tech to help you take your school or classroom to the next level.


3D Printers

Creality CR6 

  • Super easy assembly so you can start printing straight out of the box, with a compact and reliable extruder, you know that a smoother extrusion and an easier filament feed will ultimately generate faster, quieter, and smoother prints.  Weighing only 9.2kg and with manageable dimensions (442*462*540mm), this is a 3D Printer that you can carry.

    • If you go a step lower with a Creality Ender 3 you get a solid machine for around $230, leaving you with some money to spend on printer filament.  

FlashForge Adventurer   

  • Adventurer 3 Pro is configured with upgraded Wi-Fi, 3D cloud printing, and remote management.  

  • The Adventurer 4 has a real leveling-free design of platform and a larger printing size. To integrate interest, daily life and working efficiency with intelligent printing experience for family consumers, educators and office users.

MakerBot SKETCH

  • Their Certification program gives your students the tools to build and strengthen their design thinking skills with 3D printing. Get access to a full set of interactive content, projects, quizzes and exams developed by MakerBot Certified Educators, and find lesson plans designed for grade levels and subjects applicable to your classroom and curriculum.

Ender

  • Creality Ender-3 is open-source with amazing printing precision and affordable price, making it one of the best 3d printers for beginners.

Monoprice Selects

  • Over the past couple years, the company has released a handful of printers that are not only very affordable, but they are also laden with high-end features that you normally don’t find on such inexpensive machines.


Bots

Ozobots

  • An award-winning robotic platform that makes it easy to teach coding & STEAM with all subjects (math, ELA, & more) and increase engagement anywhere.

Sphero Mini

  • Sphero Mini is the perfect entry into STEM, and they offer bundles and accessories for students of all skill levels. Control Sphero Mini, complete educational activities, and learn how to code.

Dash Robots

  • Dash, Dot, and Cue inspire in students a powerful sense of collaboration and hands-on learning. Wonder Workshop’s comprehensive solution provides educators with a concrete way to teach an abstract concept–coding.

Vex IQ

  • The VEX IQ Classroom Bundles are offered in three different ways and each contains all the STEM hardware needed while educators get professional development, curriculum, and support.  VEX IQ enables classroom & competitive robotics that inspire students with a complete STEM experience, developing creativity & innovation.

Edison Robot 

  • Edison is a programmable robot designed to be a complete STEM teaching resource for coding and robotics education for students from 4 to 16 years of age.


Gadgets

Makey Makeys 

  • Makey Makey can be used in any subject area to help students grasp new concepts through tangible, interactive, hands-on activities. We’ve developed beginner and intermediate courses to help teachers painlessly incorporate tech into their lessons. 

micro:bit

  • Develop fluency in concepts and languages of computer systems and foster digital creativity in your classroom. Students make the connections between abstract ideas and real world outcomes by working with software and hardware together: designing, building, prototyping, iterating.

Little Bits plus a 3D printer

  • An easy and accessible way to learn electronics and engineering. Snap together the easy-to-use building blocks and start inventing with a complete collection of littleBits kits, including sets for the home, classroom, and standalone Bits. 

Snap Circuits

  • Snap Circuits offer kits for future engineers from as young as five years old to learn about electronics.

3Doodler

  • With a 3D pen you can draw a raised graphic on a piece of paper or any flat surface. But what makes a 3D pen truly unique is its ability to “draw” in mid-air, allowing you to instantly form 3D structures right in front of you, which you can pick up and hold in your hand.

Merge Cube

  • The Merge Cube lets you hold digital 3D objects, enabling an entirely new way to learn and interact with the digital world.

Tello Drone

  • An impressive little drone for kids and adults that’s a blast to fly and helps users learn about drones with coding education. 

Arduinos

  • An open-source electronic prototyping platform enabling users to create interactive electronic objects.  All necessary hardware is included with each of our products, so teachers and students can focus on the learning experiences and their kits come with online learning content, aligned with the latest industry trends and international curriculum standards.

Raspberry Pi

  • Raspberry Pi seeks to enable any school to offer students the opportunity to study computing and computer science through providing the best possible curriculum, resources, and training for teachers. They make computing and digital making accessible to all through providing low-cost, high-performance single-board computers and free software.

    • A set of Pi 400 kits  would be cheaper than going 1:1 with chromebooks!

      Got your hands on some much-needed money? Here’s some of the most-recommended tech to help you take your school or classroom to the next level.


Subscriptions

Elementari.io 

  • An online platform that connects artists with writers to create and share interactive stories. We have over 10,000 illustrations and sounds with more added each week by the community to jump-start your story

Nearpod

  • Real-time insights into student understanding through the creation of interactive lessons, interactive videos, gamification, and activities — all in a single platform.

CodeMonkey

  • A fun and educational game-based environment where kids learn to code without any prior experience. 

BreakoutEDU 

  • Full access to the Breakout EDU platform includes 800+ standards-aligned digital games and 900+ Kit-Based games covering a wide array of subjects and topics, a virtual Classroom where teachers can assign games to their class, a Digital Game Builder where students and teachers can create their own games, and Student Game Design Courses to facilitate the game design process.


Programs/Curriculum

CodeHS 

  • CodeHS tries to offer all the tools, resources, and support your school needs to run a successful computer science program, all in one place.  It provides an LMS, IDE, industry-relevant computer science certification exams for high school students, as well as professional development.

KUBO  

  • KUBO is an educational coding solution providing everything you need to get to grips with coding and computational thinking designed specifically for kids aged 4 to 10+.  It provides both a hands-on and a digital solution, which delivers the perfect balance of hands-on and digital learning, encouraging a whole new generation of kids to develop 21st-century skills. 

LEGO Education

  • WeDo2.0 is based upon the latest science standards and was created to enhance students' curiosity and science skills. The set is delivered in a storage bin along with sorting trays, labels, a Smarthub, a Medium Motor, Motion Sensor, a Tilt Sensor, and enough building elements for two students.  The accompanying desktop and tablet supported software provides a programming environment and includes the WeDo 2.0 Curriculum Pack (which covers life, physical, earth, and space sciences, as well as engineering), and the accompanying eLearning program helps teachers to become confident users of the WeDo 2.0 Core Set.

  • Boost lets children create models with motors and sensors, and then bring their creations to life through simple, icon-based coding commands. The free LEGO BOOST tablet app includes easy step-by-step building instructions for creating and coding multifunctional models.

  • Spike is a STEAM learning tool for grade 6-8 students. Combining colorful LEGO building elements, easy-to-use hardware, and an intuitive drag-and-drop coding language based on Scratch, SPIKE Prime continuously engages students through playful learning activities to think critically and solve complex problems, regardless of their learning level. From easy-entry projects to limitless creative design possibilities, including the option to explore text-based coding with Python, SPIKE Prime helps students learn the essential STEAM and 21st century skills needed to become the innovative minds of tomorrow

  • Mindstorms have students build robots that walk, talk, think and do anything you can imagine.

  • First LEGO League in the classroom lets teachers make lessons interactive and exciting and convey scientific and technical content haptically and realistically to students aged 9 to 16 years.  FIRST LEGO League Challenge is an annual research and robot competition in which children and young people construct and program a LEGO robot so that it can master various tasks, called missions. Furthermore, a real problem must be scientifically developed and creatively solved in the research project. They even offer scholarships to teams!

Destination Imagination

  • Working in teams to solve STEAM Challenges, quiet children come alive. Kids who like things their way realize how much better their ideas are with input from their teammates. And if your child hasn’t found his or her niche yet? No problem. DI introduces kids to a wide range of ideas, skills, and techniques while solving Challenges their way.

Odyssey of the Mind

  • Odyssey of the Mind teaches students how to develop and use their natural creativity to become problem-solvers, bringing the classroom to life as students apply what they learn and combine it with their interests and passions to solve our unique open-ended problems. This international program also emphasizes teamwork, budgeting, time management, public speaking, and so much more. 

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Got your hands on some much-needed money? Here’s some of the most-recommended tech to help you take your school or classroom to the next level.


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Tips for Teaching Students About Software

Tips for Teaching Students About Software


Understanding the function of software as well as how it interacts with corresponding hardware are foundational skills in computer science.  Here are a few tips for teaching your students all about it!

Understanding the function of software as well as how it interacts with corresponding hardware are foundational skills in computer science.  Here are a few tips for teaching your students all about it!


Tip #1

Work on what students use in their other classrooms.

Yes technology class is the place to introduce cool tech that students may not be getting the chance to interact with elsewhere, but it’s also the place to get them from passable to proficient in their everyday tech use.  Docs, Slides & Sheets all have features your kids might not know about that can get them working smarter, not harder.


Tip #2

Help your students be creators, not just consumers.

Encourage your students to be creative in the implementation of their tech.  Go a step further and get them thinking about what needs are being met by the software they are using, then see if they can think up something better, or maybe even something for an unmet need.


Tip #3

Review vocabulary.

Computer science is a field that has a great deal of subject specific vocabulary.  Furthermore, a great deal of that vocabulary consists of words that have entirely different meanings in other contexts (cookies, run, block, loop, etc.)  Don’t assume students know the right terms for what they’re working with, or let students continue to work with technology they don't know how to refer to correctly.   Be sure to incorporate learning the definitions, as this will enable students to begin to recognize and choose between similar software (among other things).

Understanding the function of software as well as how it interacts with corresponding hardware are foundational skills in computer science.  Here are a few tips for teaching your students all about it!


Tip #4

Consult standards.

Use national computer science standards such as those put forth by CSTA or ISTE to get a clearer idea of what you should be teaching.  Many software standards involve not only knowing how to use software, but also how it works and how to learn from common computer processes to augment their own problem solving abilities.


Here are a few particularly relevant guiding standards from each to start you off on the right foot:

  • CSTA K-12 CS Standards 

  • 1B-CS-02 3-5

    Model how computer hardware and software work together as a system to accomplish tasks.

  • 2-CS-02 6-8

    Design projects that combine hardware and software components to collect and exchange data.

  • 3A-CS-02 9-10

    Compare levels of abstraction and interactions between application software, system software, and hardware layers.

  • 3B-CS-01 11-12

    Categorize the roles of operating system software.


  • ISTE Standards for Students 

  • 3 Knowledge Constructor:

    Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.

  • 5 Computational Thinker:

    5a - Students formulate problem definitions suited for technology-assisted methods such as data analysis, abstract models and algorithmic thinking in exploring and finding solutions.

    5b - Students collect data or identify relevant data sets, use digital tools to analyze them, and represent data in various ways to facilitate problem-solving and decision-making.

  • 6 Creative Communicator:

    6a - Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.

  • 7 Global Collaborator:

    7a - Students use digital tools to connect with learners from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, engaging with them in ways that broaden mutual understanding and learning.


Tip #5

Don’t do work that you don’t have to.

My shop contains lessons ready-made for you to teach.  Get everything you need in one swoop with the Software Technology Lessons Bundle For Grades 1-5, or check out a wide variety of other software lessons!

I love integrating literacy and tech lessons together. It was challenging, but I created 9 eBooks to teach students about Software programs we use regularly:




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