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Friday, April 4, 2014

Professional Development For School & Life

Being an educator today is not only about preparing lessons for your next class; it is also about staying in-tune with what tools might excite your students and prepare them for the future. As this may seem like an overwhelming task, the question becomes how do you keep up to date with all of the latest ideas, innovations, and tools to use in your classroom?

Building a personal learning network (PLN) can help educators stay in-tune with new ideas and tools to use in school and in their personal lives. A personal learning network is a community of people and organizations that help you learn about the latest and greatest news in your profession. Below I have listed my top 5 PLN recommendations for teachers and for life.

#5. Common Sense Media has so many great resources for school and personal use. The organization's mission is to improve the lives of kids and their families by educating learners of all ages about what it means to be in a world with an abundance of information and technology. Common Sense posts many articles about internet safety, new media ideas, and has a large database of  reviews for apps (iOS and Android), websites, and games.

#4. EduSlam is a great website where users can listen to what best teaching practices educators are doing around the world in just under five minutes. These videos as short and sweet, helping educators think outside the classroom.

#3. EdTechTeacher & Edutopia Blogs are my go to places for inspiration. Whether I am reading about social/emotional lessons, integrating technology into the classroom,  or lessons that lead educators to change the way we teach, I am never disappointed.

#2. Twitter is a great way to get an assortment of links if you follow fellow educators. I like to think of Twitter as the community bulletin board. If you find a great link, article, or idea you pin it up on the board for your teacher friends to see. You can get a variety of information just by following 3-5 people. Below I have listed 5 "movers and shakers" in the education field I recommend following on Twitter.
1. Edutopia (@edutopia)
2. Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne)
3. Kristen Wideen (@mrswideen)
4. Beth Holland (@brholland)
5. Edudemic (@edudemic)

#1. TED Radio Hour (Podcast) is a great way to listen to "ideas that are worth spreading." Each week the show has a theme, and NPR will collect a few TED Talks that relate to the theme. The TED speakers' do an amazing job storytelling different ideas and opinions. For someone who looses interest quickly, I find it very enjoyable because each story is about 15 minutes long. I really enjoyed listening to January 17th's theme Disruptive Leadership.  As an educator it helped me process new ideas, take risks, and reflect on my practice. I would recommend TED Radio Hour to anyone as a personal or professional development resource. This podcast can be found through the Apple Podcast app or through