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:


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


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.


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.


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.

Prepare for the New School Year with Google Drive Training

Technology is advancing at a pace so fast, it’s difficult to keep up. What was efficient 5 years ago, or even 5 months ago, may be entirely antiquated when newer, faster technologies are introduced. Even technological behemoths like Microsoft Office®️ are subject to the changing tides, and Google Drive is proving to be a major player in Microsoft’s dethroning.

Google Drive – The Next Revolution in Productivity Software

Google’s work-productivity, cloud-based storage platform, dubbed Google Drive, is finding a new home in Pennsylvania’s schools and businesses. With three core programs — Google Docs (compare to Microsoft Word®️), Google Sheets (compare to Microsoft Excel®️), and Google Slides (compare to Microsoft Powerpoint®️) — teachers will find that Google Drive functions very similarly to the Microsoft Office suite of programs, except for two major differences:

  1. Google Drive is completely free, whereas Microsoft Office 365 is a paid subscription-based program.
  2. Google Drive is cloud-based, so all of the information is saved in real-time on Google’s servers, and is immediately sharable to all those who are granted access. Microsoft Office defaults to saving on your computer’s hard drive.

What does this mean for teachers, educators, and school boards who are considering a change in their school’s productivity software? Besides major cost reductions to their bottom line, educators will find themselves working with the easiest and most efficient file sharing platform ever created. For these reasons, The Teacher’s Academy is excited to offer Act 48 certified courses in all three of the major Google Drive applications to help educators make the transition to the cloud.

Google Drive for Educators

The only prerequisites for these trainings are an internet connected device with one of the major internet browsers installed (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer/Microsoft Edge) and basic computer skills. Here’s an overview of each of the courses:


  • Google Docs for Educators
    • 15 credit hours. Professional learning objectives include designing tests, parent letters, certificates, written assessments, and evaluations.



  • Google Sheets for Educators
    • 15 credit hours. Professional learning objectives include creating a personal budget, grade sheet, address, mail merge (labels), and assessment.



  • Google Slides for Educators
    • 15 credit hours. Professional learning objectives include research using multimedia in the classroom/Google Slide Assessment (1A-D), a linear presentation (lecture notes), menu driven presentation (book report), and interactive presentation (review game).


Comprehensive Course Offerings at The Teacher’s Academy

The Teacher’s Academy offers certified Act 48 courses for PA educators wishing to continue their professional development. See all the ways we can help you reach your teaching potential by exploring our course portal. For those local teachers seeking Act 48 hours online in Philadelphia, The Teacher’s Academy’s robust course offerings satisfy many of the state’s professional development requirements for teachers continuing their education.

We look forward to welcoming you into our teaching community, where the learning never ends! Contact us at 800-713-1841 or enroll for classes online today.

Garden, Move, and Be Mindful: Three Great Lessons for Your Classroom This Spring

Sometimes, it can be tough to keep students in the classroom during beautiful spring days. With a little creativity, though, you can keep your class excited and engaged. At the Teacher’s Academy, we offer great Act 48 approved courses for teachers in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania. If you’re looking for a little springtime inspiration, try one of these online professional development courses: Continue Reading Garden, Move, and Be Mindful: Three Great Lessons for Your Classroom This Spring

Hearts, Snowflakes, and Heroes: Five Hands-On February Activities For Your Classroom

Are you looking for crafts that will inspire the unique learners in your classroom? Our team at The Teacher’s Academy believes that students benefit when teachers get creative. That’s why we offer Act 48 online courses in PA that teach you how to bring STEAM principles to your school.

Here are some great hands-on learning activities to promote creativity among your students–perfect for the month of February!

Valentines Day Beaded Hearts

Your students will practice literacy, math, and fine motor skills by making beaded name hearts for Valentines Day. For this activity, students string beads onto pipe cleaners to create their names and colored patterns. Once the beads are on, you simply form a V, gently curve the pipe cleaner’s sides, and twist the ends together to make a heart.

Black History Month Collaboration Poster

A great way to celebrate Black History Month is for your students to work together while creating colorful posters of heroes like Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King, Jr. Each student receives one section of the mosaic to color in and cut out. These pieces are then assembled into a vibrant poster. Older students can also enjoy a more difficult version, where they create their section based on a reference.

Snowflake Tinker Tray

This activity begins with a brief science lesson on snowflakes and the creation of a sample snowflake. You provide students with construction paper to build on and a variety of materials in a muffin tin or small bowls. Then, you let their creativity flow.

100th Day of School Station Activities

Perfect for younger students to build their number fluency, to celebrate their 100th day of school, students get to move between several differentiated learning stations. Activities include counting, estimating, building, and art projects. Here are a few suggestions for your classroom:

  • Sight word readers
  • Building with legos
  • Tallying how many licks it takes to reach the center of a lollipop
  • Beading necklaces
  • Stacking dixie cups
  • Making number lines

Winter Games Ski-Jumping STEM Activity

Just in time for the Olympics, students will learn about Ski Jumping and compete in their own Winter STEM Games with this clever activity. They will develop critical thinking and engineering skills as they build a ski jumper with only bendy straws, pipe cleaners, construction paper, and washers. Then, let the games begin!

Looking for More Ideas?

Do you want to bring more creativity into your classroom? The Teacher’s Academy provides online courses that will help you enhance your daily lesson plan while you earn Act 48 hours online in Philadelphia or elsewhere across the state. Find out more by contacting us online or giving us a call at 215-660-4926.