Free Online Professional Development to Meet Teachers' Needs

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Online professional development courses from Curriculum Pathways meet the requirements research says teachers need and want!

The all-new online professional development offerings from Curriculum Pathways enable teachers to learn about new ideas and resources specific to their discipline areas and grade levels. Equally important, teachers focus on resources that model effective technology integration. This model fills a vital need identified by teachers, the National Schools Boards Association, the Center for Public Education, and the Learning Policy Institute: focusing professional development on the classroom and student learning

What research says about professional development

In a powerful 2013 study, Teaching the Teachers: Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability, the National School Boards Association and the Center for Public Education affirmed what classroom teachers have said for years, that “most professional development misses the mark” by failing to focus on content: "In this ... era of higher standards and teacher evaluations based in part on student achievement, professional development has to have a laser-light focus on one thing— student learning.” The same study found that “professional development needs to emphasize practices that will turn students into critical thinkers and problem solvers.”

The Gates Foundation reached a similar conclusion in their 2014 study, Teachers Know Best: Teachers’ Views on Professional Development: “Large majorities of teachers do not believe that professional development is helping them prepare for the changing nature of their jobs, including using technology and digital learning tools, analyzing student data to differentiate instruction, and implementing the Common Core State Standards and other standards.”

A 2017 study from the Learning Policy Institute, Effective Teacher Professional Development, makes the same point: “Professional development that focuses on teaching strategies associated with specific curriculum content supports teacher learning within their classroom contexts.”

These studies all make concrete professional development recommendations in terms of curriculum relevance, emphasize active over passive learning experiences, and call for “significant and ongoing” support that doesn’t halt at the end of a few hours of training. Boiled down to their core, the findings assert that the age-old model of spending days in one-size-fits-all professional development no longer meets the needs of teachers.

“Professional development that focuses on teaching strategies associated with specific curriculum content supports teacher learning within their classroom contexts.”
                                                                              -- The Learning Policy Institute 2017

What teachers need

Of course teachers have already figured this out. Their challenge is finding new ideas and resources, making the best use of the time they have. Just look at the explosion of Twitter chats and EdCamps. Many teachers spend valuable time searching sites such as YouTube, Edmodo, and countless others, looking for that spark of a lesson to engage their students and accomplish their curriculum goals.

What are these new professional learning options?

Developed specifically with classroom teachers in mind, Curriculum Pathways now offers online professional development opportunities that include individual learning modules and full courses. The options provide both quick overviews and deep dives into discipline-specific learning. Using an easy to navigate learning platform developed by leading universities, these courses provide teachers with individualized and asynchronous options. Through a mix of video and subject-focused readings and exercises, teachers can explore new resources and methods, all the while keeping a focus on how to integrate these new ideas in their own classroom – be it blended or virtual.

Here are the current learning options. Remember, these are all provided at no-cost, and many include a renewal credit option!

Exploring Curriculum Pathways

This short online activity is designed for new users interested in a quick overview of Curriculum Pathways. Participants explore features, navigation, and functionality, focusing on the available resources in their own discipline and grade level.

Getting Started with Curriculum Pathways

In these asynchronous, self-paced courses, participants progress from learning about Curriculum Pathways resources that support learning in elementary, middle, and high school, to developing lesson plans that incorporate its resources to meet specific instructional and curricular goals.

Each free course supports a specific curriculum content area.

Current Getting Started course offerings include the following:

  • Getting Started with Curriculum Pathways: Elementary
  • Getting Started with Curriculum Pathways: English Language Arts
  • Getting Started with Curriculum Pathways: Math
  • Getting Started with Curriculum Pathways: Science
  • Getting Started with Curriculum Pathways: Social Studies
  • Getting Started with Curriculum Pathways: Spanish

Teaching Writing in the Digital Age

This asynchronous, 12-session course examines the student writing process – from prewriting activities such as brainstorming through research, drafting, revision, and publishing. Using the free Writing Navigator as a guide and tool, the course provides instruction and a review of key components of student writing while highlighting examples of digital resources that support effective writing instruction.

So don't wait! Sign up for one of these free courses today – and get started on the road to improving your edtech skills with the free resources from Curriculum Pathways!

And don't hesitate to tell us what you think! Feedback from teachers and students is a critical element of our development process, both with the free student resources from Curriculum Pathways and with these new online learning opportunities for educators!

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About Author

Mimi Stapleton

Curriculum Development Specialist

Mimi Stapleton is a curriculum development specialist with Curriculum Pathways. She creates standards-based content for Spanish language learners and ESL, drawing on her experiences in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Virginia Tech and her teaching assignments at both the secondary and university levels. Mimi also facilitates online professional development courses that prepare educators to integrate digital content into instruction. She is an ACTFL/CAEP program reviewer and EdCamper. You can connect with her on Twitter @MimiStapleton.

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