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 even after another year of teaching impacted by the pandemic.

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:
Get the most out of summer with tips from Vicki Davis.
► Find free online PD including lots of webinars and podcasts to fill the summer with Curtis Chandler.

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 over 1000.

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.

Coaching expert and author of Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators (2018) Elena Aguilar  offered summer book suggestions at her Edutopia blog including books to cultivate empathy and hope. In 2014 Aguilar reviewed Stuart Brown’s Play and suggested ways to incorporate play into summer PD. Also at Edutopia, Marissa King and Robin Harris in 2020 wrote For Teachers: Summer Reading During Turbulent Times.

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The NYT Learning Network shares a different sort of education summer reading list: 2014’s 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.

ASCD’s Empower19 conference presenters described books that were important in their growth as educators.

To travel beyond the world of pedagogy, whether on vacation or on your deck, find lots of super adult fiction and nonfiction reviews at NPR’s Book page (@nprbooks). You can find book reviews by category at Sarah Tantillo‘s Only Good Books blog.

Zora Magazine (at Medium, named for Zora Neale Hurston) has compiled the first-ever comprehensive list “specifically featuring 100 of the finest literary works produced by African American women authors.” An amazing resource and a good reference for summer reading.

Looking at recent and to-be-published books, the New York Times offers fiction and nonfiction options in a ‘if you liked/watch for’ format in What Should I Read This Summer? For example if you liked Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine about Native American families, you may want to read Morgan Talty’s Night of the Living Rex: Stories. With a New York Times subscription you can take The Time Machine back to 1928 for a look at attitudes toward summer reading 93 years ago.

Over at the Washington Post the book editors share their picks for summer reading, a mix of recent nonfiction and fiction. The Post also made the case for the special need for escaping into books and offers suggestions.

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 2011 audio hour on students’ perceptions of middle school life.

In recent 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.

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. Richard Byrne at Free Tech for Teachers always has great ed tech ideas to share. And Cool Cat teacher Vicki Davis includes tech among her 10 Ways to Rejuvenate and Learn This Summer.

Take a Course or Three

Considering a course from a massive online open classroom (MOOC)? This 2017 post from MakeUseOf targets college students but contains an up-to-date list of MOOC providers and other online learning opportunities.

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.”

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

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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.

The Corwin Connect blog is a good place to learn and to start the hunt for upcoming and archived webinars hosted by their authors, including several by global educator John Hattie, author of Visible Learning. We also recommend regular check-ins at the Stenhouse Blog and the Heinemann Blog where you’ll find lots of insight and summer activity across the curriculum.

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 Candid, a merger of the Foundation Center and GuideStar, which, thankfully, is searchable. You can check THE Journal weekly for updates on grants as well as tech events. To recruit donors, teachers can post needs at DonorsChoose.

Share Your Voice

Already have a To Be Read list of books for summer break? Beth Moore at Two Writing Teachers offers a To Be Written graphic to get you started on what you would like to write over summer.  Summer can also 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. Edutopia also invites submissions. And of course MiddleWeb welcomes book reviewers and proposals for guest articles about innovative middle grades classroom practice.

duo swimmers pdYou can also raise your voice by joining an online professional community. Among the many options is Education Week.

And what about Twitter? Many educators are writing about their “discovery” of Twitter’s PD value during the pandemic. TeachThought offers lots of teacher friendly hashtags here.

Summer Income: Roll Up Your Sleeves

You can put your teacher expertise and communications skills to work in the summer. In her MiddleWeb blog, Kids on the Cusp, 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. This series from Larry Ferlazzo’s EdWeek column zeroes in on teachers writing books and is another good source.

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. Teach.com, which partners with USC Rossiter Online, spotlights where to look in this article.

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.

5 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!

  4. Dalton Gray says:

    Hi Susan! Great list of resources and ideas for how to make the most out of the summer! If I could add – TeacherQuest summer PD from Institute of Play to your list of professional learning opportunities. TeacherQuest workshops are hands-on, transformative & playful introductions to Design Thinking, Project Based Learning, and Game Based Learning. Worth looking into!

  5. Mary Langer Thompson says:

    Susan, thank you for these resources. I’ve already signed up for some of the blogs and am looking into Ed Camps!

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