Friday, April 17, 2015

Learn to Manage Online Professional Development Resources

Great Pinterest find of the week! Pinned it to my English board. (Source:

The problem is not a dearth of free professional development ideas on the Internet, but rather how to select, organize, and manage the ocean of material that is available (see previous post). It’s rather like trying to drink from a fire hydrant—in the midst of overwhelming abundance, all you end up with is wet clothes and a bad hair day. When my husband and I set out to attempt this, we knew we’d need some sort of goal, criteria, and organizing principles. Here’s what we did:

Set a goal: To increase student learning about God’s world and God’s Word by providing resources (via Pinterest) that support teacher growth at the individual, group, and schoolwide levels. 

Set criteria: We decided that we wanted resources that would help teachers grow, get empowered, use best practice, focus, and build community. To this end, we looked for…
  • A variety of sources, such as national organizations, blogs, Twitter accounts, websites, webinars, and Pinterest boards. 
  • 5 topics in particular: assessment, instruction, Biblical perspective, curriculum development, and technology for learning. 
We ended up with 3 types of boards: 

This last is truly the one board to rule them all. We went around and around before we ended up with the idea of this “master” educational practice board. Should we pin identical the contents separately on each subject board? We don’t want to give a subject area teacher the impression that he or she doesn’t need to know about differentiation or Understanding by Design. But we also don’t want to give the impression that a subject area board is overwhelmingly general, with little help targeted directly at math or industrial arts. 

So this board is a monster—boards pinned within boards! Technology for Learning, Grow: Webinars/Online Classes, Teach Biblical Perspective, Assess, Instruct, Work Smarter Not Harder, and Develop Curriculum are all boards pinned within this board, along with individual resources such as a link to a list of times and dates for regularly scheduled Twitter chats on education related subjects and a blog listing 53 formative assessments.

It's been a very recursive process with a lot of discussion and revision. And I'm sure there's more in the future. 

Now I have to go back to the Teach Better board I started with and decide how to reorganize it. Some of its pins I’ve already moved to the English board or to topical boards. Can I move all of them there? Or do I need to create more “English” boards—reading, listening, writing, speaking, and then maybe a catch-all for language in general, from word play to the fascinating history of the English language. I’ve found some great literature-specific ideas (like paired non-fiction texts) on other people’s grade-specific sites. Should I have a course-specific board? And some of the reading, listening, writing, speaking ideas are in no way limited to English class! Having long been a fan of reading/writing across the curriculum, I’m just beginning to learn about disciplinary literacy (stay tuned for future blogs…). Should that be a whole separate board? Anyway, you see the complications….

As I said, a dearth of free professional development ideas on the Internet is not the problem; how to select, organize, and manage the ocean of material that is available, is.

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