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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

30 Free Teacher PD Courses

Earlier this week I wrote a post about places to search for free online courses. One resource that I neglected to mention and subsequently had many people on Google+ remind me of is Coursera. Earlier this spring Coursera announced a new category of courses, Teacher Professional Development. Currently, thirty courses are scheduled in the new Teacher PD category. The next course begins in July.


Applications for Education
Coursera's new teacher PD courses include topics like First Year Teaching, Virtual Instruction, Assessment, and Developing Relationships. You will also find courses that are content specific. For example, there are courses on Genetics and Society, Introductory Physics, and Art.

Free, Open Source, Portable Atlas

PAT is a free, open source, collection of maps developed by Ian Macky. The collection includes maps of every country in the world. Regional maps were recently added to the collection. You can download any and all of these detailed maps for free.

Applications for Education
PAT is an excellent resource for geography and history teachers in need of some free, printable maps to use in their classrooms.

Play Thingdom and Learn About Genetics

Thingdom is a fun and challenging game through which students can learn about genetics. The game, produced by the London Science Museum, asks players to select a "thing" then try to find a make for that "thing" based on various traits. Players move through a progression of challenges in which they try to create "thing" offspring that have certain traits.

Applications for Education
Thingdom is part of a larger online exhibit called Who Am I? Who Am I? uses animations, videos, and text to help students learn about genetics and the human body. Playing Thingdom could be a good way for students to informally test the knowledge they gained from using the other resources in Who Am I?

Protecting Devices in 1:1 Programs

One of the causes of device damage in 1:1 programs is often simple neglect by students. If your students don't think that they devices are necessary for all of their classes, they will leave them behind when changing classrooms, put them in lockers, or leave them laying on a cafeteria table. Make bringing their laptops or iPads to every class a requirement, not an option.

I saw this first-hand when my school first rolled-out a 1:1 netbook program. Some teachers didn't make using the netbooks important in their classrooms. In fact, some didn't have students using them at all. In my classroom they were a priority and students knew that they had to have them with them for every class meeting. At the end of my classes I would often see a netbook or two left behind. When I later asked those students why they left them behind they would say things like, "I have Mrs. X's class next, we never use them there."

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