Review of the Best Online Professional Development for Educators and Teachers

Professional Development for Educators

Professional development is an essential way for teachers to refine their strategies, methods, and understanding of their work. In order to provide educators with the tools they need, a market in professional development (also known simply as “PD”) has developed around online and offline tools built for teacher training.

This list is a guide of the major and minor players in the PD field. Our analysis of each competitor shows PD 360 from School Improvement Network to have the most tools and training videos in the industry, and they are also one of the most inexpensive. Teachers can buy individual licenses to PD 360 for $125, but the most inexpensive method is to purchase a license for an entire school or district, which often drives the price well under $100 per license.

Each school and district must determine what their needs are and what is most effective. We hope to have been as open and objective as possible in the following analysis.

PD 360 – School Improvement Network

PD 360 has 1,500+ videos, training from 120 experts, 97 topics, a community of 700,000, new content added daily, and a year’s complete access costs around $100 or less per teacher. The platform also integrates with an observation tool equipped with prescriptive technology, Common Core Standards training, and a unique product for Title I schools. PD 360’s community is closed to the public.

Pros: You get the most bang for your buck. PD 360’s entire platform costs less per teacher than one course from any of the competitors.

Cons: The platform is currently built in Flash.

Bottom line: School Improvement Network provides a true tour de force that is unstoppably effective and cost efficient.

EdWeb

EdWeb has a K12 Educator Store that sells eBooks and teacher aid materials, but it is not presented as a focused resource for teacher improvement. The store and its products are open and available to anyone, though the main product seems to be the online teacher community. The number of users is unpublished.

Pros: EdWeb sends out weekly emails to help subscribers stay up-to-date.

Cons: The community is open access, meaning that one does not have to be a teacher to participate in the forums. The user interface is very difficult to navigate and participation in the community is small.

Bottom line: EdWeb’s site only provides forum capabilities-no professional development is connect to the community. EdWeb sends helpful emails, but the community is difficult to navigate.

Schoolnet

Schoolnet focuses on improving education through data analysis and positions itself as “the leader in data-driven education for K-12 school systems.” They have an open-access community, and their website seems to provide professional development solutions la carte. The number of experts, users, and community participants is unpublished. Pearson Education purchased Schoolnet in April 2011.

Pros: Pearson Education will likely be able to expand Schoolnet’s resources.

Cons: The community is open access. Their products are not one comprehensive whole.

Bottom line: Schoolnet provides free resources on their website to assist educators as much as possible. They have connected tools to their community, and Pearson Education will probably be able to expand Schoolnet’s resources.

Edutopia

Edutopia is backed by the George Lucas Educational Foundation. Edutopia provides 150 free videos that average four minutes each, a community of over 100,000 members, and other free resources for educational professional development. The community is open access, so the public can and does participate in the forums.

Pros: The free materials are high quality and the community has good participation.

Cons: The materials and resources are limited, the community is open to the public, and the community is relatively small.

Bottom line: Edutopia may be one of the best free resources available to teachers, but the resources are very limited.

SimpleK12

SimpleK12 offers a community as the main professional development solution. The community does not have free registration as all other communities have in this competitive analysis; a registration fee of $297 per year will give a person access to the community. SimpleK12 claims to serve 500,000 worldwide and offer 500 hours of classroom technology how-to videos on the community.

Pros: If the community serves 500,000, then there could potentially be good participation.

Cons: There is no way to test the product without buying it, and it is quite expensive.

Bottom line: SimpleK12 is expensive and veiled.

Knowledge Delivery Systems

Knowledge Delivery Systems (KDS) has eClassroom, mVal, eWalk, and custom PD programs for some of its main products. KDS does not provide a community, but it does provide a way for educators who are following the same course to communicate with each other. The product eClassroom is the platform on which educators follow courses which they buy one at a time. The mVal product is an evaluation tool, and eWalk is a classroom walkthrough tool. KDS offers approximately 760 hours of training videos from 55 experts.

Pros: Educators have up to 760 hours of content from which to choose and evaluation tools that work effectively.

Cons: The observation and evaluation tools are not integrated with a professional development platform, KDS offers no community, and districts and teachers buy one course at a time.

Bottom line: KDS offers primarily specialty courses from which educators can gain college credit, but they are not meant to be a district-wide solution.

Teachscape

Teachscape offers courses that a school or district must buy one at a time. They offer 108 courses from 12 experts as of July 2011. Teachscape’s tour de force is the 360-degree camera technology they employ with their classroom observation platform.

Pros: Teachscape boasts a 360-degree camera for their observation technology.

Cons: Teachscape’s professional development, much like many other companies in the industry, is only available one course at a time from only twelve experts. They also do not offer an online professional learning community.

Bottom line: Teachscape provides extensive training, and any training must be universally applied.

ASCD

ASCD is a nonprofit organization that serves 160,000 educators in 148 countries with myriad products. ASCD offers several levels of membership, from a $25 student membership to a $219 premium membership (as of July 2011). ASCD offers several professional development solutions, including PD in Focus, a professional development platform with 90 hours of video and 49 experts. The community is theoretically open to all, but the group facilitator must approve each member.

Pros: ASCD has many resources at their disposal, meaning that users have the opportunity to access many resources in one place.

Cons: The resources are spread thin, and the actual PD training is minimal at only 90 hours, 55 hours, and a small community.

Bottom line: ASCD is affordable due to their membership breakdown. There are good resources, but those resources are spread thin.

PBS Teacherline

PBS Teacherline provides 130 graduate-level courses for teachers. They have recently added Peer Connection, their own online community. The courses and trainings are available one at a time, and separate licenses are purchased for each user.

Pros: The number of graduate courses available is tempting for anyone looking to advance in school while in his or her career.

Cons: The community is not free, and educators must pay for each resource that they use rather than having an open library. The licenses make providing specific training to multiple educators a logistical challenge.

Bottom line: PBS Teacherline is a good option if educators want to work toward a higher degree.

Learner.org

Annenberg Foundation has created Learner.org to provide free educational resources online. Learner.org has great resources for the average learner, but the site is not built for professional development on a district- or school-wide scale.

Pros: It’s all quality, and it’s all free.

Cons: Learner.org is not a viable resource for specific training as its PD content is limited.

Bottom line: Learner.org is the professional learner’s dream, but it is not a source of training for classroom management or teaching techniques.

Staff Development for Educators

Staff Development for Educators (SDE) coordinates both traditional and online professional development. SDE does not provide a community on which to collaborate, and online courses are only available with individual licenses. Educators can choose any one of 54 courses to buy and follow online.

Pros: It is simple and straight-forward: each teacher buys a course and finishes it.

Cons: SDE does not provide a library, a community, or a true PD platform.

Bottom line: SDE started as a traditional PD company, and they have retained that model even in their online endeavors.

Please feel free to leave comments about aspects we may have missed, companies you have seen or used, and your honest-and respectful-opinion about what has worked for you.

Ranger Rick Magazine – For Kids Who Love Nature

What magazine should you get for your kids that they can enjoy the entire year? Like most kids, mine love nature. So after looking into things, I found that Ranger Rick Magazine might be areally good choice. The number one rated nature magazine for kids, Ranger Rick Magazine has garnered many awards. In addition, it is affordable and fun.

Dating back to 1988, Ranger Rick Magazine has received many awards and honors for their work as a nature magazine aimed at kids. In 1988 the magazine took home the EdPress Golden Lamp Award as the best overall educational magazine. In 1991, Ranger Rick Magazine was recognized as a National Magazine Award finalize for their special issue on frogs. EdPress awarded Ranger Rick again in 1992 with its Distinguished Achievement Award then with their Golden Lamp Honor Award in 1993; EdPress also honored the magazine in 1998, 2001, 2002, and 2003. In 1996 Ranger Rick Magazine got the Parents’ Choice Gold Award, and then did so again in 1999 and 2003. All of these are based on the work Ranger Rick Magazine has done for children and for nature.

Many parents will tell you that if you buy your child a $20 toy, he or she will likely have lost, broken, or grown tired of it within a month. However, for that same price, you can get a one year subscription to Ranger Rick Magazine, which is a monthly publication. Children will look forward to its arrival every month and if you have more than one kid, there will be competition to get to it first. It is better than a $20 in that they will play with it for a year, plus it is an educational publication. There are fun nature facts, activities and articles in each edition that children can appreciate and enjoy.

Ranger Rick Magazine is also a fantastic resource for improving reading skills. The children will enjoy reading it and the text is targeted at elementary children. They will grow their vocabulary with nature words and definitions that they can use. When students know something is useful to them, they are much more likely to retain the information.

If you have children who love animals and nature, then you may want to consider Ranger Rick Magazine as a gift for them. They can learn from it, improve their reading skills, and will actually enjoy it every month of the year. It will be the best $20 you have spent for them in terms of education [http://www.exeterdaily.com/category/home-news] and entertainment all wrapped into one.

Generation Dead Review

Background on the Author

Daniel Waters is the author of three books that are all in the same series. The books are called Generation Dead, Kiss of Life, and Passing Strange.

Setting

The book is set in an average size town. The plot mainly takes place in a high school, in a haunted house where the differently biotic live, and the woods where the differently biotic kids hang out, and the football field.

Conflict

The conflict is that teenagers are rising from the dead throughout the United States. Not everyone likes this. The undead teenagers moves to a town where Karen, her friend Adam, and the later antagonist Pete lives. The differently biotic go there because the school has more oppurtunities for them. The undead people face discrimination such as being bullied and even killed. The antagonist Pete doesn’t like, what he calls names such as wormburgers, moving into the school.

Suspense

The suspense is what the anatagonist Pete will try to do next to the undead kids. Will he just bully them…hurt them…or kill them?

Protagonist

The two main protagonists are Karen and her friend Adam. They support the undead teenagers moving into their school and even befriend some of them.

Antagonist

The main antagonist is Pete who would love nothing more than for all of the zombies to die again.

Theme

The theme of the novel is discrimination. The discrimination is like what groups of people have faced and still faced. The differently biotic are taunted, joked about, and even killed.

Symbols

The symbol in this book is the undead. They are going through what real life people have went through because of discrimination.

Plot Structure

The exposition is the first few chapters that explain the main plot. The rising action is when the differently biotic teenager Tommy joins the football team and no one except for two people on the team are happy about it. The climax is when Pete and his friends attack Karen, Adam, and the differently biotic kid Tommy. The falling action is Adam jumping in front of Karen to protect her from being shot. The resolution is Adam dying and then coming back to life as a differently biotic person.

Reaction

I enjoyed this book and I liked how it wasn’t even close to the typical zombie story. I also liked that the differently biotic people faced types of discrimination that real life miniorities have faced.

Dolls: The Most Consistent Toy Trend

Children’s relationship with toys

No heart is so naive and innocent as that of a child. Yes, children are unpredictable and complex to understand but their love for toys is hidden from no one and is understood by all. You all at some point of your life must have tried pampering a child by giving incentive of a toy. Children’s attachment towards toys is beyond measure. It is natural. Is not quite strange how children so easily attach themselves to fun toys? For a child, ta oy is the meaning of love. You cannot make any child give up on its love for beautiful toys. Is it not amazing how children build so strong and pure love for lifeless things? I myself as a child was so attached to a bunny-face pillow that I used to carry it everywhere. I remember once persuading and coaxing my parents to let me carry it to a party. Toys are always the best gifts for a child.

Why do children need toys?

Children need toys for fun and recreation. A child is always longing to play with other children of their age group. It is not always possible to surround them with other kids so it is best to give them toys to play with. Children are best engaged with a toy. They inculcate a feeling of love, sharing, teamwork etc when they play with their lifeless toys. There are many toys in the market, which also help with basic education of a child. Children have a friend when they have a toy. They do not feel lonely when given toys. A child’s happiness really lies in its toys.

Dolls continue being the favorite toy

For kids too young it has mostly been found that they have some special love for dolls. Toy trends keep changing, but one toy which has been consistent over the years are the dolls. Obviously all young girls love the doll the most in their toys, but even male tiny tots are captured in love for dolls. Children relate a lot to dolls. They love playing fiction games with them based on their self made story. For a child the doll is not lifeless, in fact, to them it seems like another child who is a friend. Dolls are realistic toys which children use in plays having various imaginary roles. Dolls are beautiful. This is one of the major factors which binds a child with a doll. After all, children are naive and have no understanding of abstract meaning of beauty. Whatever they find pleasing to eyes, they just want it. Young girls even try dressing up their doll according to their taste and sometimes themselves dress up like a doll. There are different types of dolls available for children of different age groups and gender like Baby dolls, Rag dolls, Fashion dolls etc. Children play and grow better when they are given right toys. No toy box is complete without dolls of your baby’s choice.

5 Questions To Ask A Potential Online Tutor

The education systems are evolving across the world. An increasing number of people are hiring tutors in order to help their kids study more easily. Irrespective of the objective that you may have, we suggest that you look for a tutor who can teach your kids in the right style. Given below are a few questions that you may want to ask the tutor before hiring him.

What is your teaching style?

Not all students learn the same way. Therefore, it’s important for a teacher to structure the lessons based on the learning style of the student. So, before you hire a tutor, we suggest that you find out if they can format the lessons according to the learning style of your kid.

Do you have a plan?

Answering this question will be difficult, especially if the tutor has not taken a look at the schoolwork of a kid. Once the tutor goes through a kid’s schoolwork, they can have a pretty good idea of the needs of the kid and then they can put together a plan for the achievement of desired results. Actually, the tutor should have specific methods and strategies in order to identify the problems and understand the learning behavior of the kid.

Why do you tutor?

The purpose of tutoring is to develop a productive relationship between a student and a tutor. As a matter of fact, good tutors are passionate and want their students succeed. As a matter of fact, best tutors have a keen interest in the progress of the student. Moreover, they do whatever they can in order to help their student get the highest score.

Do you have any references?

Although reliable references are a source of information, you will find it hard to get them. On good online tutoring sites, you can find written reviews and lesson ratings from students who worked with good tutors. As a matter of fact, reading reviews from students and parents can give you a great insight into the personality and subject proficiency of the tutor. So, if you are going to hire a tutor, it’s a good idea to get references. Aside from this, make sure that the references are genuine.

Can the tutor help your kid become an independent learner?

Actually, there should be a valuable and effective relationship between a student and a teacher. As a matter of fact, mastering and memorizing specific skills and topics may give results, but this won’t be a long-term solution to your kid’s educational needs. Some lessons may revolve around a certain topic, but it’s important that the tutor understands and likes the logic and theory behind the concepts. The reason is that it will help the student deal with the obstacles and avoid frustration down the road.

So, if you have been looking for an online tutor for your kid, we suggest that you ask the above questions to a potential tutor. This way it will be easier for you to choose the best tutor based on the needs of your kid.