Dive into Summer Professional Learning – and More!

pd kid jumpWhether summer brings you time to relax, an opportunity to bolster your credentials, or some extra work to help balance your checkbook, you’ll likely want to keep at least one toe in the education pool. We have suggestions to spur your cogitation and avoid any professional “summer slide.” Plus have some fun along the way.

Here’s a quick preview:
►Find a nearby edcamp. Summer camp isn’t just for kids, anymore!
►Get Heather Wolpert-Gawron’s take on summer spent thinking like a teacher.
►Add to savings. Here’s how Mary Tarashuk spent her summer.

Books to Savor

Anticipating some deep relaxation? Ready for neural stimulation? If you’re looking for just the right professional read, don’t miss MiddleWeb’s large collection of book reviews – now nearing 350  – arranged by category (or you can just browse).

Want to be a MiddleWeb reviewer yourself? You can select a professional book from our current list and send us your review before summer’s end. Find the details here.

You may want to take on this year’s version of the Book Whisperer’s summer reading Book-a-Day Challenge for educators. “Any book qualifies,” says the Book Whisperer (aka, fifth grade teacher-author Donalyn Miller), “including picture books, nonfiction, professional books, poetry anthologies, or fiction–children’s, youth, or adult titles.”  Get the 2015 details here and check by #bookaday and #nerdybookclub.

Edutopia blogger and MiddleWeb contributor Elena Aguilar has some summer book suggestions at her Edutopia blog —for 2012 it’s a mix of professional and personal reading ideas with lots of added ideas from readers.  Her 2013 selections play into her concerns about education and society: dystopian science fiction and challenging nonfiction. In 2014 Aguilar reviewed Stuart Brown’s Play and suggested ways to incorporate play into summer PD.

Also at Edutopia, Mark Phillips describes his favorite summer reads for educators. Among them, a fresh look at bullying and possibly the next Hunger Games.

1 swimmer pdTeaching coach Lisa Dabbs provides more suggestions in a post at her blog, Teaching with Soul. Of special interest are summer reading ideas suggested by folks in the new-teachers hashtag group that Lisa facilitates (#ntchat). Teachers, coaches and consultants also share their picks for summer reading in two Choice Literacy posts.

The NYT Learning Network shares a different sort of education summer reading list: best sellers for K-16 with a very wide definition of education. You may disagree with some of the authors or want to skip the ones about life on college campuses, but browsing the list will likely spur some additions to your must-read stack.

To travel beyond the world of pedagogy, whether on vacation or on your deck, take a look at 6th grade teacher Rhonda Stewart‘s list of adolescent fiction. You can find lots of super adult fiction and nonfiction reviews at NPR’s Book page (@nprbooks). Just in: Nancy Pearl’s “under the radar” recommendations on Morning Edition. And don’t miss New York Times reviewer Janet Maslin’s stack of titles selected for the beach. With a New York Times subscription you can take The Time Machine back to 1928 for a look at attitudes toward summer reading 87 years ago. Travel around the world and through time with summer reading recommended by Washington Post foreign correspondents: current events, recent history, biography, satire, lots of fiction from abroad. A booklist with a very particular audience in mind comes from JPMorgan.

Go Beyond the Book

The next time you are online and missing your school year chats with middle graders, drop by This American Life for their audio hour on students’ perceptions of middle school life.

In the past three years  TED-Ed has posted hundreds of video lessons featuring collaborations between teachers and animators — and tens of thousands of ‘flipped’ TED (and other videos) by teachers. You can soak up ideas (be sure to take the TED-Ed Tour to see how it works) and learn how to ‘flip’ the videos into your own lessons this fall. And think about lessons you could submit for the TED-Ed animation treatment. Here’s what happens to heroes in a lesson from educator Matthew Winkler and a TED-Ed team:

And while we’re talking video: remember the multitudinous videos and blogs from the Teaching Channel just a click away, including lots of STEM resources and the site’s special series on Deeper Learning with your students.

Ready to dive into tech-augmented learning?

Summer may be a great time to review your use of web tools and connected learning sites and plan for the future. Writing for Edutopia, Nicholas Provenzano has suggestions to get you started.  Richard Byrne at Free Tech for Teachers always has great ed tech ideas to share, including this challenging post from 2012. And get a succinct overview of The Epic BYOD Toolchest (51 Tools You Can Use Now) by Vicki Davis at Edutopia.

Take a Course or Three

Considering a course from a massive online open classroom (MOOC)? To go beyond the well known  Coursera and edX,  take a look at Joseph Rauch’s article, The Essential Guide to MOOC Providers, which covers MOOCs from Australia to Germany. To read a highly detailed review of MOOCs and whether the hype matches the reality, read Audrey Watters’s take on MOOC issues at her blog, Hack Education. (June 24, 2015: Writing in The Atlantic, Derek Newton reports that research by MOOC providers Harvard and MIT found 39% who signed on for their massive free classes were teachers. In The (Accidental) Power of MOOCs Newton concludes the classes’ success may grow from their value as effective PD for teachers, perhaps improving “the quality of the country’s public education system.”)

CLMOOC returns for its third year of Connected Learning, with support from the National Writing Project’s Educator Innovator and the MacArthur Foundation: “CLMOOC is a collaborative, knowledge-building and sharing experience open to anyone interested in making, playing, and learning together about the educational framework known as Connected Learning. CLMOOC takes place June 18–August 2, 2015, and is a collaboration rather than a course.” Sign up is open now.

For more learning at home, tune in to BAM! Radio to catch helpful discussions from educators for educators, including the growing Classroom Q&A series hosted by Larry Ferlazzo and featuring many MiddleWeb contributors.

kid swimmer in pool pdJuly 1, 2015 update: Two of the 4 planned 50-minute free sessions remain in ShareMyLesson’s webinars: July 9 on STEM and July 23 on Classroom Foundation and Back to School. Participants will hear about online resources to use in classrooms and at home. Register now for access to archived sessions later. Participate to get CE.

You can find quick doses of immediately applicable PD via ASCD and Ed Week, including free new and archived webinars.  Educators can also order other ASCD courses and Ed Week courses for a fee. You’ll also find invigorating summer learning opportunities at Powerful Learning Practice  where eCourses combine digital resources with pedagogy at a range of prices. At LearningForward you can settle in anytime for a free archived webinar on the power of using video in professional development. Led by Jim Knight and filled with helpful strategies and practical guidelines for video use, the session was recently added to Learning Forward’s collection of webinars which are free to members or can be viewed for a fee.

If your search for summer PD takes you beyond your front door, 4th grade teacher Meghan Everette shares ideas for finding and funding PD and offers a brief how-to for grant searches. For really low-cost DIY-with-others PD, find a local edcamp. It’s face to face, school- or district- or region-wide, sometimes wi-fi’d, led by attendees after lots of planning by volunteers and held in the US and beyond. Educators have hosted more than 500 edcamps since the first one in 2009. Find out more about edcamp in this MiddleWeb Resource Roundup.

Have a Go at Grants

To go beyond your summer PD and augment your classroom’s resources, scout out grant opportunities during the summer months. For a quick overview of foundation grants, visit The Foundation Center’s Philanthropy News Digest which, thankfully, is searchable. Even if your school or district doesn’t participate in The School Funding Center, you can still view a list of current opportunities and get a monthly listing of who is offering education grants.  By providing your email address, you can search the site.  SFC also provides a blog and a collection of articles on grant research available through Grants4Teachers housed at Teacher Planet. And we always scan the latest grant info at the LAEP NewsBlast. Published by the Los Angeles Education Partnership (LAEP), the newsletter is packed with the latest ed news as well as links to funding sources. (May 18, 2015): Edutopia has just updated its Big List of Educational Grants and Resources.

Share Your Voice

Have an itch to write about your educational practice and learning issues that matter to you? Summer can be a good time to plan or launch a blog.  At Free Technology for TeachersRichard Byrne offers a collection of how-to videos and evaluates hosting platforms. Another way to share your thoughts is to post comments at prominent blogs and ed organization websites. For writing opportunities you can add to your vita, consider ASCD’s Educational Leadership and the ASCD Express, which solicit articles from educators by theme. And of course MiddleWeb welcomes book reviewers and proposals for guest articles about innovative classroom practice.

duo swimmers pdYou can also raise your voice by joining an online professional community. Among the many options are the large and lively ASCD Edge, and Edutopia’s special interest groups, which range from Games and Technology Tools to more general areas like Middle School, Elementary School, Social & Emotional Learning, Education Leadership, New Teacher Connections, and more. Education Week also offers opportunities to share your experience.

And what about Twitter? At her Guide to Everything Kathy Schrock has brought together everything you could possibly want to know about educational tweeting and tweeters at Twitter for Teachers: finding individual teachers and hashtag groups, what to do once you’ve found them, apps to organize your experience, blog posts about tweeting. And there’s lots for administrators, too.

Summer Income: Roll Up Your Sleeves

You can put your teacher expertise and communications skills to work in the summer. Last summer our Kids on the Cusp blogger Mary Tarashuk shared her plans for a summer reading group.  For her intense, week-long book study of Firegirl she brought together several former students. Her goals were to build her understanding of working with a small group around  critical thinking skills development — as well as to bolster her income by charging a small-group tutoring fee.

Writing a book to share ideas and increase income beckons many teachers. Get a hands-on look on what to expect as a first-time author from sixth-grade teacher and author Bill Ferriter in a post from his blog, The Tempered Radical: Five Things Busy Teachers Need to Know about Writing a Book. His insights will last long beyond the summer, but the balmy days away from the classroom can be an ideal time to actually get that book started and enter the realm of writerdom. Indeed, book writing is one suggestion in former teacher Stacy Zeiger’s  long list of summer employment possibilities posted at Help Teaching from Tribio.  And at Edutopia blogger Ben Johnson shares summer work search strategies that have worked for him.

Want to go beyond summer jobs and find a new teaching position? Elena Aguilar writes at Edutopia, “For many educators, spring brings an opportunity to consider taking new positions, changing schools, and exploring other paths in our education system. If these thoughts cross your mind like a wisp of a breeze or relentlessly swirl like a tornado, I encourage you to follow your curiosity.” She offers ten tips for launching a job search.

So many options! Which fit your interests and your calendar? We invite your comments on what makes summer fun and meaningful for you.   

Susan Curtis

Susan Curtis is co-editor of MiddleWeb.com. In a long career, she has taught middle grades students, worked in human services, edited a variety of publications and wrangled the reference desk in libraries.

3 Responses

  1. Susan, thanks for this great compendium of resources! If I may suggest one more, folks looking for good books might want to check out my “Only Good Books” blog (hopefully self-explanatory) at: http://onlygoodbooks.wordpress.com/

  2. dogtrax says:

    And can I add the Making Learning Connected MOOC (massive open online COLLABORATION – not course) into the mix?
    This is our second year of the #clmooc and we (facilitators affiliated with the National Writing Project and its partners) will once again nurture playful exploration of digital media, the conceptual tinkering of the Maker’s Movement, and exploration of Connected Learning philosophies — all rolled up into regular Make Cycles that you can enter as you wish or have time for, with no guilt for either just watching (we love lurkers) or needing to leave because it’s summer and you’d rather be away from your computer.
    Whatever you choose is fine.
    And it’s free!
    See you on the Web,

  3. Lilia Tovbin says:

    Great list of suggestions and resources. Thanks for the mention of HelpTeaching.com article on summer money-making ideas for teachers!

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