Just a month or two ago, you were knee-deep in the cycle of planning, lesson delivery, and assessment. It was tough to find a free moment to learn something to improve your practice. Maybe summers are just as busy—but hopefully you’re carving out a little time for beaches, barbecue, baseball… and some professional learning.
Here are five simple ways to make the most of your summer weeks so that you're rested and inspired when the start of the 2013-14 school year rolls around…
Tune in to Teaching Channel
I've yet to find a Teaching Channel video that didn't help me in some way. Their vault of hundreds of videos is rich with thought-provoking ideas and strategies that cover all grades and subjects. (Confession: when I plan to browse videos for twenty minutes or so on a lazy summer Sunday, I often wind up exploring for a couple of hours.) Here are a few great ones to get you started:
- Writing Higher Order Questions—Great two minute clip about pushing students' thinking about texts in English Language Arts class.
- Think Alouds: Unpacking the Standards—The Common Core will make more sense after checking out this video.
- Learn by Leading—Check out how this teacher empowers students to own their learning.
Join the CTQ Collaboratory
Do you love taking part in meaningful discussions about education? Are you looking to connect with like-minded educators from around the world? If so, the Center for Teaching Quality's Collaboratory is for you.
Launched this spring, the Collaboratory is more than just a free online network of teachers. It's a place to learn about what's important to you and your work. Featuring "labs" for learning about and discussing topics ranging from the Common Core to school redesign, this network is growing by the day and poised to make an impact on our profession. Join today—you'll be glad you did.
Attend an epic event (from the comfort of your own home)
Education Week features regular online events, including webinars and chats, that are sure to get you thinking. You're sure to find something to pique your interest here: leadership, technology, assessment, and more. Missed an online event? Recordings are available on-demand for a period of time afterward.
Learn a new tool
Summer is a great time to look at tools that can help your students (and you) in the next school year. One of the most user-friendly and multi-purpose (it's free, too!) web applications is Edmodo. Edmodo is a safe and secure online network for your students.
I've used Edmodo with great success as a way for students to turn in virtual assignments, respond to writing prompts, and interact with each other during after-school hours. I also used it to set up online book club discussion groups where my students connected with students in other parts of the country to discuss books we were reading together.
There's far more to it than that, of course. Check out the Edmodo help center for webinars, tips, and advice on how to get the most out of this amazing and engaging site.
Get connected with Twitter chats
Twitter is catching on with educators like never before. But some still find it a bit intimidating. That's understandable. But I honestly believe that Twitter is the best PD available for teachers.
I'll prove it. Search the hashtag #edchat by clicking here. (Don't worry, you don't need an account to search Twitter.) I guarantee when you scroll through the tweets and click on some links that you'll be sure to find something of interest. The #edchat hashtag is used round-the-clock by educators all over the world. This hashtag, like every other, is used so that tweets are easier for others to find. (Learn more about hashtags on this Twitter support page.)
However, #edchat is more than a tag, it's a live event, too. #edchat is one of hundreds of regular Twitter chats. It takes place twice every Tuesday, at noon and 7:00 PM Eastern time.
You will find a chat for every educational interest. #5thchat for fifth grade teachers, #engchat for English teachers, #tlchat for teacher librarians and so many more. One recent trend involves state-based Twitter chats, including Michigan, Ohio, Nebraska, Rhode Island, Texas, and many others. Check out this handy schedule of chats as well as my friend Cybraryman's guide to participating in a Twitter chat.
These five ideas are sure to keep you inspired all summer long. Have any other summer learning opportunities on your radar? Please leave a comment and share your ideas with us all!
Ben Curran is a K-5 instructional coach at a charter school in Detroit, Michigan. He is also co-founder of Engaging Educators, co-author of Learning in the 21st Century and a member of the Center for Teaching Quality’s Collaboratory. Follow him on Twitter @engaginged.