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3 Common Misconceptions About Students with Down Syndrome

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that can cause developmental delays and impaired cognitive abilities. Though teaching children with Down syndrome can be a truly rewarding experience, many parents and even teachers fall prey to misunderstandings and myths about students with Down syndrome. If you have a student with Down syndrome in your classroom, understanding and acknowledging some common misconceptions about the condition can help you become a better educator—and can help your student make the most out of his or her time in your classroom.

● Misunderstanding #1: Students with Down syndrome can’t handle group work. Some teachers assume that children with Down syndrome will become frustrated or distraught at the idea of working directly alongside their neurotypical peers. However, children with Down syndrome usually show strong social skills, and can make an excellent addition to most group activities. Professional development courses for teachers in Harrisburg and throughout PA that focus on inclusivity can help you integrate more group activities into your blended classroom.

● Misunderstanding #2: Students with Down syndrome can’t follow classroom rules. Many people assume that if a child has Down syndrome, he or she should get a “free pass” when it comes to breaking classroom rules. Though some students with Down syndrome may need a little extra instruction and encouragement, high expectations within the classroom can actually help the student grow and develop better social skills. Speak directly to the student when explaining rules and use short, concise sentences for higher success rates.

● Misunderstanding #3: Students with Down syndrome need constant one-on-one attention. Though it’s true that students with Down syndrome often need a bit more instruction than other students, excessive one-on-one attention can cause the student to become overly dependent upon the instructor. Allow the student plenty of time to problem-solve on his or her own before helping—you might be surprised at the fresh perspectives and creativity children with Down syndrome are capable of all on their own.

When you complete your professional development hours in Harrisburg or anywhere else in PA through The Teacher’s Academy, you can fulfill your Act 48 requirements by learning fun and innovative strategies for creating an inclusive classroom. Give our team a call today at 800-713-1841 to learn more!

3 Examples of Tech-Based Learning Teachers Can Employ

Technology and the internet have invaded every area of life and every profession on the planet. Helping students understand how to use technology and computers to their advantage can boost their education and help make learning more fun and exciting at every age. Some ways that teachers across the country are incorporating technology into their students’ learning include: Continue Reading 3 Examples of Tech-Based Learning Teachers Can Employ

5 Tips for Teaching Young Children With Autism

Children on the autism spectrum require special teaching methods, additional guidance, and general support from their teachers to reach their full potential. If you teach a child on the autism spectrum, consider implementing one or more of these tips for a more inclusive and supportive learning experience.

  • Help other children understand that “different” does not mean “worse.” If you are teaching in an inclusive classroom, other children may not understand what autism is or why one student is being taught differently. When introducing a student with autism, stress that he or she wants the same things as all other students: to be accepted, to make friends, and to learn alongside their peers.
  • Use visual aids. Children with autism often have trouble understanding abstract concepts. Using visual aids, pictures, and models to communicate classroom rules or lessons can help children with autism more clearly understand what they are expected to do or say in certain situations.
  • Communicate clearly. Young children with autism may have trouble grasping figurative language or tasks with multiple steps. When working with a child with autism, avoid using figurative language, instead favoring short sentences with concrete terms.
  • Keep learning spaces the same. If you’ve ever been a substitute teacher in a different classroom, you probably remember how nerve-racking, anxiety-inducing, or even downright scary entering a new environment can be. Children with autism are often resistant to change, and unexpected changes in environment can amplify anxiety. Keeping your learning environment the same can help children with autism focus on their lessons instead of becoming distracted.
  • Be aware of sensory issues. Many children with autism have sensitivity issues concerning certain colors, scents, and sounds. Using neutral hues and keeping your classroom free of excessive perfumes and other odors can help keep children with autism from experiencing sensory overload.

Are you interested in learning more about teaching in an inclusive classroom? The Teacher’s Academy offers online professional development for teachers in Philadelphia that is Act 48 compliant. Our professional development for teachers in Pittsburgh can help you better serve children with special needs and those who are comfortable in a standard learning environment alike. To view our complete catalog of courses, pay us a visit online at https://www.theteachersacademy.com.

3 Easy Ways to Encourage Teamwork in the Classroom

Working together as a team is an essential skill that students of all ages can master. Teamwork allows students to grow and learn from one another’s ideas, gives introverted students the opportunity to come out of their shells, and introduces students to new perspectives and experiences that are different from their own. Educators who are looking to introduce more teamwork in their classroom are encouraged to try out one of these three easy strategies!

  • Add an incentive. Students can be more engaged with the idea of teamwork if they are incentivized to work alongside their peers. From offering stickers to young students who write and present a story with a friend to offering extra credit for team presentations, there is an endless number of ways to incentivize students to brainstorm as a team.
  • Use team projects instead of group work. Many teachers confuse and conflate the ideas of group work and teamwork. Group work is largely independent, even when students are grouped with their peers. For example, if students are all assigned a single problem but they are each required to turn in their own work or paper, this group work will not engage students with their fellow classmates. Instead, introduce an activity in which students turn in a single project that they worked together on. Students who create a group PowerPoint presentation on a history subject or a collaborative art piece receive more exposure to the thoughts and ideas of their peers.
  • Try out a blended classroom. If you are able, embrace the blended classroom strategy for a day. Blended classrooms use a series of “labs” centered around different subjects to introduce students to a number of concepts in a single day. Students at each lab work together to solve a communal problem under the leadership of the teacher, who knows each student on an individual level. If you’d like to learn more about introducing your students to the blended classroom model, The Teacher’s Academy offers a blended classroom instructional course as part of their professional development for teachers in Pittsburgh.

Teachers who want to learn more about building a dynamic classroom and who still need to complete their Act 48 hours are encouraged to check out The Teacher’s Academy’s professional development courses for teachers in Harrisburg. Our course catalog includes instruction for teachers of all grades and skill levels and can be found online at https://www.theteachersacademy.com.

3 Ways Teachers Can Cultivate a More Inviting Classroom for Students with Special Needs

Students with special needs may require a bit more assistance in the classroom, but these students have the same hopes and aspirations when they come to school as any other student — they want to be respected, they want to make friends, and they want to move towards a bright future through education. Teachers can help create a more welcoming environment for students with special needs by taking the following three simple steps:

Dispel myths and misunderstandings about students with special needs

If you are teaching in an inclusive classroom, some students may hold negative preconceived notions about students with special needs. Students may believe that students with special needs do not have feelings, are “brave” just for existing, or that students with special needs live vastly different lives from able-bodied students. Dispel some of these common myths by reminding students that having special needs does not make someone less intelligent or capable, that there are some disabilities that cannot be seen, and that students with special needs are people with fears, aspirations, and friends just like able-bodied students.  

Promote ownership of the classroom space

Promoting ownership of a classroom can help students with special needs feel more connected with his or her peers and welcome in their space. Invite students to work together to create a seasonal bulletin board or organize a section of the classroom.

Take a course on inclusivity and diversity

PA Act 48 requirements dictate that teachers need to complete at least 180 hours of approved courses every five calendar years to maintain their certification and keep up-to-date in their field. Why not use this time to learn more about inclusivity and diversity in the classroom? The Teacher’s Academy offers a host of Act 48 approved courses that can help teachers build a more inclusive and welcoming classroom for students with special needs. Consider signing up for our course on teaching strategies for the student with special needs or our workshop on activities for the inclusive classroom to earn your hours and gain useful skills in guiding students with special needs.

Online professional development for teachers in Montgomery County is made easy with The Teacher’s Academy. To learn more about our Act 48 approved courses or our courses on classroom accessibility, give our team a call today at 800-713-1841.

Help Students Expand Their Imagination This Holiday Season by Encouraging Storymaking

As adults, we recall memories of storytime with our parents and teachers. From the lessons of nonfiction biographies to the power of creative, eye-widening fiction tales, we were intrigued. This holiday season, The Teacher’s Academy encourages teachers to use the Story Maker course to help students develop stories about their favorite upcoming holiday. Taking this course will help teachers implement strategies into the classroom to assist students to build reading comprehension and vocabulary through storytelling.

Benefits of Story Writing

Storytelling and writing opens a child’s mind to endless possibilities. When students write stories, they are encouraged to think outside the box and think freely. Here are additional reasons why story writing is essential:

Self-Expression

Children sometimes have a difficult time expressing their thoughts and feelings. When they’re encouraged to write stories, they enter a safe space to voice their ideas

Self-Confidence

Writing allows students to explore their own opinions and develop their “voice.” By doing this, they become comfortable expressing their own thoughts, and, in turn, strengthening self-confidence.

Vocabulary

When students write stories, they are encouraged to use a variety of words to get their point across. Reading stories regularly allows them to become comfortable with new vocabulary. By reading regularly, not only are they more likely to become lifelong readers, but they will also become more comfortable using new words in their own writing.

Engagement

Not all students are inclined to participate in the classroom. Some students are shy, and others need a little extra motivation. Writing something they can personally relate to helps them to engage in classroom activities. Students are more likely to participate when they share their own work and are proud of it.

Incorporating the Story Maker strategies into the classroom will help teachers to enhance their students’ vocabularies while sparking their interest in literature. To learn more about storymaking and storytelling, take the Story Maker course offered by The Teacher’s Academy. If you are seeking online professional development for teachers in Montgomery County, The Teacher’s Academy is available for various courses in education. Transferring your online education to the classroom has never been easier and more effective. If you’re a teacher in Montgomery County looking to get professional development hours in on your own time, browse our online catalog.

Let’s Play a Game — And Learn, Too!

The school year is just getting underway, and you’re still getting to know all of your new students. However, you’ve probably already met a few students who you know will need a little extra effort to help them stay engaged and on-task. The squirmers. The chatterboxes. Even the most well-behaved students in your class probably aren’t thrilled about spending the entire day at their desks. So, how do you make sure that you’re getting everyone involved in your lessons?

We know that you’ve probably already got more than a few tools in your kit to keep everyone involved and add some variety to your lesson plans. But if the usual tactics aren’t working, we’ve got a course just for you: Game-Based Learning.

Why Do Games Work?

If there’s one thing that is guaranteed to get just about everyone involved in your lesson, it’s a game. Here’s why games are a great motivational strategy:

  • Foster Friendly Competition: You might be surprised how much even some of the quietest members of your group will want to get involved. While not everyone is enthusiastic about scoring well on a test, many people like to be able to show off their knowledge and skills in front of the group.
  • Create a Sense of Achievement: There’s a certain undeniable rush that you get from being able to stand in front of your peers and proclaim, “I win!” To sweeten the deal, you can also throw in small prizes.
  • Improve Classroom Management: When students are engaged, they are less likely to be off-task or cause disruptions, which translates into a better learning environment for everyone.
  • Increase Memory Retention: The more involved that students are in your lesson, the more likely they are to retain what you taught them.

Game-Based Learning Basics

  • 18 hours of professional development for Philadelphia and PA teachers
  • Prerequisites: basic file management, computing, word processing, and internet skills — and a desire to bring a little fun into your classroom!
  • Materials: a computer, internet access, Adobe Reader, and Microsoft Word

When you complete the course, you’ll have more than just the knowledge of how to use games in your own classroom. During the course, you’ll be creating your own games that you can use in your classroom, tailored to your specific curriculum, as well as your students’ ages and ability levels.

Can’t wait to get started? You can enroll in the course here, or browse the rest of our catalog for more courses that help Philadelphia teachers get the professional development that they need to continue to be successful.

The Importance of Keeping Children Safe During Online Research

With every new school year comes a wave of students who will be tasked with their first research assignment. This will require them to do extensive research outside of their normal class time, and for modern students, that time will rarely be spent at the library foraging through shelves of books; it will be spent online, the new frontier for research.

Here at The Teacher’s Academy, we know the importance of teaching safe methods for using the Internet for research while also educating teachers and instructors on how to curate a safe browsing environment for their students. To satisfy this educational need for our teachers and our students, we offer a course titled “Internet Research, Cyber Safety, and Social Media” that details all the different aspects related to Internet safety while conducting research.

It all starts with learning how to safely and properly navigate the Internet’s search engines and research portals. Like with any source of information, there are more reputable ones than others, and our course is designed to instruct teachers on how to ensure students are remaining safe during their online research.

Because there is a significant amount of dangerous content on the web, it’s increasingly important to relay critical thinking skills to students that translate to safe online research. The following projects will be completed as apart of our learning objectives for the course:

  1. Internet Research and Cyber Safety
  2. Developing an Acceptable Use Policy
  3. Creating a Web Search
  4. Mini Lesson Plan on Plagiarism
  5. Website Citations and Reviews
  6. The Creation of an EduBlog for the Classroom
  7. Internet Research, Cyber Safety, and Social Media Choice Project
  8. Online Participant Survey

If you are a teacher seeking professional development hours in Pittsburgh and you wish to take the “Internet Research, Cyber Safety, and Social Media” class, you can easily sign up online here. The class is a 15-credit hours course. For topics and courses beyond cyber safety, The Teacher’s Academy offers professional development courses for teachers in Pittsburgh who need credit hours in Pennsylvania to reach their continued education requirement. If you have any additional questions or concerns, or you wish to learn about all the other courses offered by The Teacher’s Academy, please continue exploring our website and be sure to fill out our contact form.

Tips to Help You Turn Your Classroom into a Positive Learning Environment

If you’re anything like us, then as the school year steadily approaches, plans for your classroom are constantly popping in and out of your mind. What decorations will you use? How will you make the room into a space that feels safe for all of your students? How can you build your space to effectively inspire your students?

Creating a classroom with a positive environment that is built for children to learn is essential to helping your students grow. When students walk into a classroom that is comfortable, there is something that many people call, “the living room effect.” This effect is the feeling that students get when they enter a space in which they are more comfortable in, such as their living room at home. When your classroom is built with this effect in mind, students are at ease and more willing to engage with the activities and learning exercises that you plan for them.

As a companion to our professional development courses for teachers in Pittsburgh, The Teacher’s Academy has compiled a list of tips to help you with turning your classroom into a positive learning space for your students:

Keep it Clean

Keeping your classroom clean will maintain order and offer a sense of peace for many students. For a lot of people, working in a dirty or unorganized space is distracting and a cause of stress. If you keep your classroom in order for yourself, you’ll find yourself more prepared for the day and less flustered in the morning as you begin to sort out your lesson plans. This allows for more structure and direction for your students, as they won’t find themselves getting distracted while you get yourself organized.

Be Flexible and Stay Positive

Creating a classroom that positively encourages learning ultimately starts with you. Your students can feel when you’re stressed or not your usual self, so you need to do your best to create a sense of ease and enthusiasm. If you find yourself having a particularly stressful day, find a moment for yourself to take inventory and see what you could change to eliminate those negative feelings.

Positivity also means helping students feel better about the environment they are in. We offer a course on cyberbullying that enables you to understand how to prevent this from happening. We encourage teachers to take any number of our Act 48 approved courses for insight on the ever-changing educational environment.

Add Some Color

Many teachers like to have art on the walls that is a personal favorite or a compilation of the work of their students. Relevant artwork is a fun way to connect with students and offer something that is engaging, yet unfamiliar to them — this way, they are encouraged to ask questions and inspire their own ideas.

For more information on classes designed around professional development for teachers in Philadelphia, PA, browse our course catalog today.