-->

What to Look Forward to from The Teacher’s Academy at the PETE&C

The Teacher’s Academy will be hosting a booth at the annual PETE&C in Hershey, Pennsylvania this February. At the conference, educators from across the state come together to learn from each other.PETE&C

Participants will walk away with a deeper understanding of the importance of technology in education — and, if they’re lucky, they might even leave with some great prizes and a few professional development hours under their belt.

Here are some details about the PETE&C (Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference):

  • Date: February 11th-14th, 2017
  • Location: Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in Hershey, PA
  • Provides programs based on technology in the educational field
  • Consists of keynote speakers, concurrent sessions, students showcases, and more
  • Educators can take a course, apply to enter their students in showcases, host a booth, volunteer, and more

To learn more or register, visit the conference’s website.

TTA

 

At The Teacher’s Academy, we offer a variety of Act 48-approved courses in hopes that teachers can learn relevant and advanced material to pass on to their students. As a website that offers professional development, we understand just how important technology is in the education field. To display our offerings and give teachers more information about our services, we will be exhibiting and giving away a few prizes at the PETE&C.

Here’s what to expect from our booth 116 in the Great American Lobby:

  • 4 Fun Best-Selling Teacher Books Giveaway
  • 3 $50 Visa Gift Cards Giveaway
  • Healthy snacks (and not so healthy snacks!)
  • Free Books for Teachers! (Our crowd favorite is back! Stop by booth 116 to take any gently used book donated by teachers from around Pennsylvania!)

Stop by our booth to ask about our courses, find out how to fulfill Act 48 requirements, learn about our affordable and convenient services, and win some fun prizes along the way!

Our online courses, which are Act 48 approved in PA, are creThe Teacher's Academyated by teachers, for teachers. Teachers can select courses based on the grade level they teach, their subject and interests, and more.

Browse our website or call us at 215-660-4926 today to complete your professional development hours in PA and learn more about The Teacher’s Academy: where teachers go to learn.

Integrating the Arts in the Classroom: 5 Fun Activities for Busy Teachers

The Teacher’s Academy has just released their newest course, Integrating the Arts in the Classroom. This fun 18-hour course is designed to help teachers “spice-up” their current lesson plans with some outside-the-box art projects. The course starts off with a little inspirational music (by Metallica of course) and then progresses through the importance of art in education. Teachers will develop their own definition of the arts, learn about the value of the arts in education, understand how the standards support the arts, and even create a few of their own art-inspired projects! We understand how busy teachers are so we took 5 quick, fun integration activities from the course to share in this blog… Enjoy!

Guitar#5: Music Integration Activity

Activity: Add music to enrich your read aloud books, fiction or non-fiction literature, poetry and teach literary devices.

Skills: Literary devices, critical thinking, memory

Applied in the classroom: Students studying the social, economic and political events of the 1920s were exposed to music, rare video and artwork to further bring the era to life. Students got to listen to the music of the times while writing their own stories!

 

Group Of Children Enjoying Drama Class Together#4: Theater Integration Activity

Activity: Improvisation – give students a setting and let them react without a script.

Skills: Connect to characters, core-content comprehension, communication, language, vocabulary and presentation, public speaking and listening

Applied in the Classroom: In a circle, students are given a story starter. The teacher chooses one student to begin the story and the students point to their peers to continue the story when cued by the teacher. Add parameters to the game to increase the challenge and encourage critical thinking and problem solving…Must use a new vocabulary word, must incorporate certain parts of speech, must speak from a historical person’s point of view, etc.

Ballet#3: Dance Integration Activity

Activity: Interpretive Dance – Students use movement to teach letters, language or math concepts. Students form letters or actions with their bodies and display knowledge of math concepts like symmetry. To incorporate higher-level academic concepts, students can perform interpretive dance to “act out” events in history or scientific theories.

Skills: Communication, core content, language, vocabulary, and presentation skills

Applied in the Classroom: Students were asked to show understanding of symmetry through dance movements. One student chooses a position, a partner student must replicate that position. If one student moves, the other must move. Students take turns choosing positions to show symmetry, parallel lines, intersecting lines, angles, etc.

Kids art#2: Visual Arts Integration Activities

Activity: Drawing Poetry

Skills: Listening, language, poetry, drawing, motor skills, connection to poetry, critical thinking

Applied in the classroom: Students were read a poem and asked to sketch or draw what they heard in the poem. Students could make their own interpretations of the author’s message and articulate how they connected with the poem. The activity could be altered by selecting a passage from a novel or content area.

Art Hands#1 Fine Arts Integration Activities

 Activity: Sculpture and Writing

Skills: Writing, observation, communication, memory, descriptive language

Applied in the classroom: Students were asked to create a sculpture based on a profession then write an opinion piece about the profession. This activity could be altered to use paints or digital photography. The subject could be a core content topic, book review, word problem. For example, students could create 3-D models of plant and animal cells or dioramas of important events.

A few more integration activities…

  • Playing/ Making Instruments
  • Chanting, Rapping
  • Listening to Music / Poetry
  • Composing Music, Songs
  • Drama Games / Charades
  • Pantomime, Puppets
  • Move to Words, Poetry or Ideas
  • Popular and Creative Dances
  • Clay / Sculpture
  • Photography
  • Textiles
  • Research Artists
  • Research Works of Art

This is just a small sampling of what teachers will receive when they open the  Integrating the Arts in the Classroom course. Teachers, you do not have to be an expert in the arts to deliver an effective, integrated art activity! Have fun with your students and enjoy teaching with the arts.

The Teacher's AcademyNeed Professional Development? Now is the Time…

The summer is not only a great time for teachers to catch up on reading, but also to get started (or finish up) those pesky professional development requirements. It does not matter if teachers live in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Houston, Bloomington, Detroit, Green Bay or Nashville, our courses are downloaded to computers so teachers can work from anywhere in the United States!

Check out our Online Course Catalog for the most relevant, affordable and convenient professional development courses, created by teachers for teachers.

Click, Find Your State for specific details on professional development from your department of education.

Have a great summer, teachers!

4 Reasons Teachers Mix up their Lessons with Mix!

A Teacher’s Review of Microsoft Mix

Microsoft just released a new add-in for PowerPoint. This free downloadable feature Mixencompasses the familiar PowerPoint presentation design tools with the technology to create real interactive presentations for your students that can be viewed online. As my own teaching has evolved to include a class web page with tons of resources for students, this new app brings that page to life with interactive presentations and opens the door to the flipped classroom. To be honest, it’s mixed up my lesson planning; It’s mixed up my presentations; it’s mixed up my assessments; And I love it!

Here’s my disclaimer:  I am not a paid representative for Microsoft or Mix. But I am beholden to the greatest, most important industry on earth- teaching! I love sharing what I’ve learned with fellow teachers. This one is worth it! Plus, if you already know PowerPoint, there’s not much of a learning curve. Did I mention this feature is free? Sill not sure if Mix is worth it? Here are four good reasons I recommend teachers mix up their lessons with Mix.

#1: You can Record your Presentations!

kidscomp1

Ever prepare that crucial lesson and notice two or three students were out that day and missed it? Or maybe you wish

 you could be in two places at one time when students are moving through centers in your room.  With Mix, you can record your presentations, post them to your web page, or send a link to view them on the Internet. Presentation recordings can be done “on the fly” or in a controlled setting. I, personally, love the raw and real experience I capture in a live slide recording. And I can quickly post it to the class web page for my absent students. Even parents have appreciated these presentation recordings as a window to what was being taught that day. Regardless of the subject area you teach, if you use PowerPoint to present information, this tool will add a few valuable features that are sure to mix up how you deliver lessons in the future!

How I use it:Parents and students replay presentations to review solving an algebraic equation; rewind the explanation of the law of diminishing marginal utility; share their class poetry reading.

 #2: You can add Quizzes to your Presentations!

Mix_Quiz

You might be reading this and thinking, my presentations already have quizzes… I know mine do! I use the animation features in PowerPoint to create what I thought was an interactive quiz. But the reality was, if students didn’t click on the right object or they clicked objects in the wrong order, the quiz might not work properly! Or, if it did work properly, it was a result of hours of planning and design in PowerPoint. Mix allows me to quickly insert multiple choice, true/ false, short answer and even polling questions. The result looks and functions like an online survey. And get this… as the creator of the Mix, I can view the analytics of the quiz takers. These analytics don’t only show how well the students did on the quiz, they also show (1) How long they spent on each slide; (2) If they skipped to the end or; (3) If they had to revisit certain slides. It’s all that behind the scenes stuff that teachers need to determine the effectiveness of their lessons.

How I use it: Using slide recording, I create a mini lecture followed by a quiz that I have used in class “centers.” These centers are student-driven. They seem to like it because they get to wear headphones, but also, they can complete the exercise at their own pace! Some quiz questions have “hints” that students can choose to show. Some questions may allow second or third chances. Some don’t! It’s all up to me. Plus,  I see what students need help on  and in what areas, thanks to the analytics. I also observed a Science teacher use a Mix he created that contained polling questions about an experiment they were conducting. Students were given a link to this Mix before the experiment began. As they went through the different stages of the experiment, he would ask the students to open the Mix and answer the polling questions. Again, the analytics gave him instant feedback of student comprehension.

 #3: You can Screen Cast!

Mix_ScreenCastI’ve always shied away from attempting a flipped classroom experience because each flipped lesson I attempted needed some sort of specific tutorial. After the flipped experience, I would hear students say, “The directions didn’t make sense!” “I couldn’t find that web page!” “I don’t know how to write a formula for that in Excel!” So, I found Screen Recording in Mix. Using the familiar workspace and tools in PowerPoint, recording my clicks and clacks on the computer was so simple. The video automatically inserts in the presentation, so it’s easy for my students to view it! No more excuses for not completing the work at home! (Well, at least no more of those excuses!)

How I use it: As I mentioned, I would record myself doing any type of tutorial from how to conduct a web search, to how to save a file, to how to write a formula, to how to post a blog. Anything my students need to know how to do on the computer, I hit record!

#4: You can Publish your Presentations!

This means the viewer of your presentation does not need PowerPoint to view Mix Publishthe presentation. You know how you can send YouTube links to friends? Now you can send your PowerPoint presentation using a similar format. When viewed, it doesn’t open PowerPoint, it uses the Internet browser to view the Mix like a video. And yes, if there is a quiz in there, they can view and take the quiz! How convenient!

How I use it: Rather than uploading large PowerPoint files to my class web page, I just post a link to the Mix. Usually the Mix is the class presentation, a quiz, a tutorial- or a combination of all three!

Sounds great, but I don’t have time to learn Mix. I’m a teacher, remember?

You do now! The Teacher’s Academy recently released a new course called, Microsoft Mix for Educators and it’s worth 18 hours of professional development. Like all The Teacher’s Academy courses, this one is approved for professional development hours, continuing education units, PDUs, or whatever your state calls them!The Teacher's Academy

In Pennsylvania, we are Approved Providers of Act 48 hours. In Texas, our Continuing Professional Education (CPE) number is 902185. The Teacher’s Academy is also approved to offer the IACET CEU. (International Association of Continuing Education and Training).


The Teacher’s Academy has a variety of courses in
technology, health and even resourceful teaching methods. Check out our course catalog for a complete listing of courses. The Teacher’s Academy was started by teachers, for teachers… like you!

 

The FAQs of Professional Development for Teachers

Move over in-service days, The Teacher’s Academy is here!

Teachers are voicing their concern over wasting time in a lecture or workshop that doesn’t

TTA

relate to their craft, and schools are listening and adapting to their needs. The full-day in-service model is slowly being phased out in many schools. Some schools are offering a menu of workshop options for the day. Even so, it’s difficult to develop an instructional day that meets every teacher’s needs. We all have different areas of expertise, teach different subjects and have different struggles with our students. Administrators are catching on and allowing many teachers to find their own outlet for professional development. The Teacher’s Academy was born from these concerns. We are the fastest growing professional development company in the nation and have recently taken our accreditation international! Thanks for supporting us, and feel free to share this information with any teacher looking to have more control over their professional development experience!

How does customized Professional Development work?

Recently, many teachers have been contacting us and asking how they can get their professional development requirements through The Teacher’s Academy. We hear questions like…

Are you approved in my state?

A: Most likely! Check your state page. If your state requires an approved provider, we are likely on that list! If it doesn’t, it’s usually up to the district or administrator of the school. In that case, you can complete the Request for Approval form.

Do I get a certificate when I’m finished?  

A: Yes! And a Projects Feedback form for your records!Certificate

How do I submit my hours to the state?

A: In PA, we submit the hours for you! In other states, just print and submit your certificate (Certificates are customized to include all required criteria requested by your state).

How long does it take to complete a course?

A: It depends on two things: 1) The length of the course you chose (3, 6, 15, or 18 hour courses usually take close to the time specified, and 2) Your expertise in the subject matter. If you are a whiz at Microsoft Word, that 15-hour course may not take you the entire 15 hours. (Rest assured, you still get 15 hours of PD for taking it!)

Why does it take 5-7 business days to get my results?

A: Teachers are sometimes surprised to hear that real teachers (Yes, live humans!) are reviewing your course work and responding to questions. You will notice that the course projects are not easily assessed with a computer-generated multiple choice quiz. Teacher’s Academy course projects and assessments are varied for a variety of learners. (We practice what we preach!) Therefore, teachers, not computers, are the MOST effective tool we have for providing excellent service and support to our clients.

 What is the process of completing a course through The Teacher’s Academy?

A: It’s simple and we will spell it out for you in five simple steps!

 1.      Create an account at The Teacher’s Academy

Our teachers will use their accounts to upload coursework and maintain their records of completed courses.

 2.      Choose a Course

We offer courses in 3, 6, 15 and 18 hour increments. If you need just a few hours or all 180, we can help you! The Teacher’s Academy has a wide variety of topics ranging from technology to trends in teaching strategies to nutrition and mindfulness. Every course is designed by teachers for teachers!  Keep checking back, the Teacher’s Academy posts 3-5 new courses every year!

Roasted Thanksgiving TurkeyIMG_7716paint handsmindfulness pic

3.      Purchase the course and get started right away!

Once a payment has been processed, the course is sent to your email inbox immediately! You can start and finish your course at your own pace. J

The course text and most accompanying files are send in PDF format. Files are named in numerical order so you know where to begin. You will notice that you are not tied to your computer to complete the course! Teacher’s love that they can even print the course if they want! It’s also comforting to know that live support is a simple phone call or email away! We are here to help. J

 4.      Upload the Coursework

Once you have finished ALL projects required in the course, you are ready to submit them for review. Every course has specific instructions on uploading projects to your Teacher’s Academy account.

 5.      Final Project: Participant Evaluation Survey

The final step in completing your coursework is to complete the online Participant Evaluation Survey. This survey alerts the Teacher’s Academy Review Team that you have finished your course and it is ready to be reviewed. Within 5-7 business days (and usually earlier), you will receive a certificate of completion and Projects Feedback form from The Teacher’s Academy.

The Participant Survey might be the end of the course process for our teachers, but it is the beginning of the process for The Teacher’s Academy!

How does the Teacher’s Academy keep their courses innovative and relevant?

Every single idea, piece of advice, criticism and compliment is read and reviewed by the teachers at The Teacher’s Academy. Our team takes that feedback and uses it to create new courses or edit our current catalog. Many of our courses like, Nutrition, Mindfulness and our suite of Google and Microsoft courses came from teachers who gave us the idea on the Participant Evaluation Survey. As a matter of fact, we have tons of artists to add to our Rock History course when that gets edited later this year. We also have some cool updates for our Web Review and Tech courses, thanks again to the feedback and suggestions from our teachers.

I want to learn more about The Teacher’s Academy!

Teachers can find most of the answers to these and other questions on our About Us or FAQs pages. We take great pride in how we can help teachers earn professional development hours quickly with relevant content, so they can get back to providing excellent instruction to their students.

The Teacher’s Academy is always looking for creative ideas to develop new courses. Our professional development courses are relevant, affordable and created by teachers like you! Have an idea for a course? Fill out a Contact Form! Or check out our course catalog to find a course that inspires your next great idea.

The Best Teacher-Generated Ideas of 2016

The Best Teacher-Generated Ideas of 2016

The teachers at The Teacher’s Academy are lucky enough to meet hundreds of teachers every week from all over the country.  Even if we don’t actually have the pleasure of getting to know all the teachers in person, reviewing their coursework gives us a window into their creative minds.

Each week, projects are uploaded for our Review Team to assess and award professional development hours.  Our professional development courses emphasize teacher creativity and customization of the projects so that teachers get a chance to develop something functional. As a result, we get to see fantastic lesson plans, design projects, video creations, hands-on activities and countless other completed assignments from some extremely talented teachers. Not only do we get to see what these teachers can create for their own professional use, we also get a peek inside classrooms all over the country.

We’ve gathered a few of these amazing ideas for you to check out:

 New York Teachers Emphasize the Arts!

Leave it to New York teachers to incorporate the arts into their classrooms! The Common Core Standards have allowed teachers the freedom to choose the medium in which to deliver instruction. Music happens to be the choice of many New York teachers.music note

These high-interest activities are designed to engage students in learning and developing critical analysis and writing skills. They also lend themselves to teaching literary devices such as rhyme, personification, metaphors, similes and more. See for yourself which ones you may like to try in your own classroom:

Critique Writing – Students are able to choose a song to critique. After careful examination of the lyrics, students read other critiques of the song. The final project is an in-depth, written critique of the song.

Song Development – Students are given the opportunity to craft their own lyrics to music. They are able to listen to several samples of instrumentals and poetry. Students are responsible for a written reflection of the symbolism of the lyrics, and their connection to the song, as well as the completed song. Presentation of song could be optional!

Album Cover Design Students are given samples of albums. They are asked to pick a theme for the album and then create 12-16 original song titles that fit the theme. The final project is a completed (front and back) album cover and a written essay that explains the design and song titles and how they are connected to the students’ life and/or other current events being studied.

Oregon Teachers Create Future Engineers!

A few Oregon teachers have figured out a cool way to emphasize “Engineering” in their K-kids computer5 curriculum. STEM is becoming more commonplace in many classrooms around the country. Much of the activities students are doing are focused on Science, Technology and Math concepts. Even engineering strategies are ideal for young learners. See if you can imagine your students turning into creative engineers with these activities:

 Bridge Building – Oregon students are super engaged when their job is to solve a problem by building a bridge. Students are given a scenario where a bridge needs to be built to connect two important things. They could be asked to connect a mama duck to her baby ducks, kids to their tree forts or villages to each other. Real world problems could be introduced as scenarios too! After analyzing different types of bridge structures, students work in small groups to design and test their own bridges. Students learn about forces, motion and balance and how bridges redirect those forces. Pretty soon you’ll have some really smart civil engineers in your classroom! Check out Engineering is Elementary for more cool engineering ideas.

 Engineer Exploration –Free access to the Engineering Go for it website allows students to discover the many different engineering careers. After exploring the different types of engineers, students choose one to write about and present the information to the class. Real-world connections with engineering careers make dream jobs like working on a movie set or exploring shipwrecks a real possibility for students!

Colorado Teachers Encourage Problem-Solving!

Curiosity is the name of the game for these lucky students. The many benefits of Inquiry-based learning have not gone unnoticed in this state.  By starting a lesson with a question or a problem, students become engulfed in the process of finding a solution. See if you can expand a few of your lessons to include these Inquiry-based approaches:

Town Improvement –Young learners in Colorado were asked the question: How would you make your town better? Each student was given a variety of picture books to reference helpful places in a community, such as schools, hospitals, post offices, police colorado signstations, farm land, restaurants, stores, housing, etc. They were also given books that depict fun activities like playing at a play ground, gardening, fishing, playing sports, doing arts and crafts, etc. A teacher-led discussion using the picture books helped to guide students to answer the question.  The conversation naturally turned to focus on what things might need to be fixed in their towns such as empty lots, damaged streets, broken streetlights, dangerous intersections, etc. The teacher listed the “good” and “bad” items on a chart for students to use as a reference. Students were then asked to draw their towns and all of the things they believed would make their town better.

Heroic Traits – Colorado students in the middle grades were asked the question: What makes a hero? Students used characters in the books as well as real people to develop a list of traits. Each student was asked to design a hero by listing physical, mental and emotional traits. Afterwards, students developed a presentation for an audience of teachers and parents to present their results. Every student had a completely different idea of what made someone a hero. Some heroes wore uniforms while others were in wheelchairs. Some heroes were very old, some were very young, but all contained the traits of what these students believe makes a hero.

Not all inquiry-based questions need to involve math or science! Check out these great resources for inquiry-based lessons: Edutopia.org and Teachthought.com.

 For even more ideas…

Look for more great ideas from across the nation in our next blog! We will include ideas from Texas, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and more!

The Teacher’s Academy is always looking for creative ideas to develop new courses. Our professional development courses are relevant, affordable and created by teachers like you! Have an idea for a course? Fill out a Contact Form! Or check out our course catalog to find a course that inspires your next great idea.

 

3 Strategies that Engage Students

(That You Probably Haven’t Tried!)

Finally summer is here! With this school year safely in the rear-view mirror, teachers will have plenty of time to reflect on what worked and what will need to be improved upon for the coming year. Keeping students engaged in learning can be a struggle at any point during the year. Having a variety of ways to reengage students can be the difference between a good year and a frustrating one. (This applies to both you and your students.)

Luckily, student engagement is a problem with a wide range of solutions to choose from and fairly easy methods of implementation. Do you already employ these strategies? Take a moment and see if you are doing what some experts recommend and if not, take advantage of the insight from experienced teachers…These strategies work to get and keep students engaged- and their teachers too!boy with a lantern

1. Project-Based Learning (PBL)

In a PBL classroom, the students create projects as a way of demonstrating knowledge. Students are given a real-world problem or question and then given the tools and support to find a solution or answer. The students are responsible for the research, design and presenting the solution to the audience. The teacher acts as a facilitator, guiding the processes and using embedded assessment practices to monitor progress.  In many cases, an expert in the field will come in to help guide the students as well. The expert acts as another resource for students as well as a strong connection to the real world problems that need solving. Solutions are often presented to an audience with the intent to implement. Students get an extra boost of motivation when they know their hard work is for more than just a grade!

In other words, take the subject matter and apply the lesson to real-world problems. For example, my second graders this year were learning about recycling. In the old days, we would read about recycling in a book and then take a class on what we read. In my class, however, we take a trip through our school to go through the class trash cans at school! (Ewe…Gross! And the kids love it, and they talk about it at lunch, and eventually it becomes “one of those projects you get to do in 2nd grade!”) After collecting some interesting things, we examine and determine what can be reused, recycled, or replaced with a better option.

Of course a lesson like this comes with a little extra preparation, like getting gloves for the kids, asking teachers for cooperation in advance and reminding the students to wash hands afterwards! But the lasting effects of a project-based learning experience is worth it!

Here are a few resources to help you find more information on how you can implement project-based learning activities in your classroom: EdutopiaThe Teaching ChannelLesson PlanetTeach Thought

2. Genius Hour

This strategy, brought to our attention by Genius Hour.com, is a great example of how Young man using laptopeducation can look to industry for engaging. Employees at Google® get to spend 20% of their time, working on a project of their choice. The results have been impressive. During this “free time,” employees use their interest and expertise to solve problems, make processes more efficient or develop new software. It’s where Gmail was born! You might be thinking, “Yeah, well, those are professionals with a secure set of expertise. I’ve got a room full of silly 6th graders!” Even Google had to put a few parameters on the 20% time and you will too. Even so, it’s proven to be incredibly successful.

Many middle level and high school teachers have already adopted this philosophy, and their students are able to spend 20% of their class time working on solutions that are of interest to them. Genius Hour starts with a driving question or problem. The question or problem, although chosen by the student, must have a level of complexity that would require research. Once the teacher and student agree on the question or problem, the student uses a variety of different resources to try to answer the question or solve the problem.  Finally, the solution is shared with an audience. Many times, these solutions are posted on a shared site for anyone to view. This strategy develops independent learning skills, fosters creative thinking and brings fun back into learning.

Here are a few resources to help you find more information on how you can implement Genius Hour activities in your classroom: Mind in BloomTeach Thought

3. Makerspaces

Makerspaces are small, dedicated spaces in a common location, usually a library or an empty classroom. In a makerspace, students can tinker around with almost anything of interest: Legos®, Kinex®, clay, blocks, circuit boards, craft items, gardening, health, etc. These spaces do not require any type of technology and can be tied to the curriculum. Students can learn about a math or science concept and then create something that represents what they’ve learned. Some Makerspaces have 3-D printers on hand for transferring the concept into a tangible item. Of course, students can share their creations with teachers, other students or the rest of the world. Expect to see an increase in student engagement, determination and creativity after a Makerspace has been implemented in your school.F

Makerspaces can be found in New York, Colorado, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Ohio classrooms to name a few! Hopefully, some of these strategies will find their way into many more classrooms across the country.

Here are a few resources to help you find more information on how you can implement Genius Hour activities in your classroom: Makerspaces.comEdutopia, How the Maker Movement Connects Students to Engineering and TechYou Tube, What is a Makerspace?

Where to get even more great resources for professional development:

Check out The Teacher’s Academy website for some more great ways to keep teachers and students engaged all year long. Need to get caught up on those professional development requirements? Get them done this summer! The Teacher’s Academy is the place most teachers look to help maintain their certifications or fulfill teaching license renewals. Not sure if your district will accept TTA courses? Check out the Find your State Page and see if we can help. (We probably can!)

The Teachers at The Teacher’s Academy want to wish all of our amazing teachers and fun, safe and happy summer!

10 Ways Your Class Can Help Save the Earth

Make room for environmental education!sunflower

Environmental concerns will have a huge impact on our students’ futures.  And, yet, with so many mandated assessments and time constraints, teachers often feel forced to focus most of the school day on reading and math lessons. Remember, administration wants us to teach our students how to read, write, and do math but generally, there is room for creative content. Environmental awareness is a theme that can easily be integrated into the day’s lessons and still meet performance objectives of even the strictest standards.

Studies have shown that a lack of environmental education comes at a detriment to our students.  Learning about the environment is not only important on a global scale, it can have a profound effect on the future of each child.  The No Child Left Inside Organization has found that Environmental Education (1) Increases student success across the curriculum by integrating literature and math into meaningful lessons; (2) Improves the overall health of students by getting them outside and moving, and (3) Provides them with critical tools for the 21st century workplace.

Earth Day is the perfect time to start making environmental education an integral part of your classroom curriculum.  Here are 10 creative, fun ideas that will get your class excited about this amazing planet of ours.

Celebrate and protect our earth with these incredible resources!

1. Have a party! Cookouts are a great way to celebrate the springtime warming of the earth.  Even better if you can make them a learning experience for your students.  Scholastic’s “Host a Solar Cookout” Lesson combines math, science, and community involvement to give kids an in-depth understanding of solar energy.  Students will learn about the importance of renewable energy, sun safety, and engineering, all while creating tasty treats to be enjoyed with their friends and community members.

2. Start a compost pile! School lunches and snacks generate a ton of waste.  Allow students to witness firsthand how “garbage” can be turned into valuable organic soil which can then be used in school gardens, or even sold to raise money for class projects.  Organic Lesson provides a clear, colorful guide to composting to help you get you started.farmer

3. Host a swap! We all have things that we don’t need or use anymore.  Holding a classroom swap shows kids how what might seem like trash to them, can be treasure to someone else…. And it’s a ton of fun!  Planet Pals has some good tips on how you can use a swap to teach kids about conservation and upcycling.

4. Take the Catalog Cancel Challenge! Over 19 billion catalogs are sent out yearly and less than 2% are used.  This unnecessary waste results in the destruction of thousands of trees, the use of billions of gallons of water, and an enormous amount of pollution.  The Catalog Cancel Challenge has already saved 1,400 trees and 1.4 billion gallons of water.  Check out their website to see how your classroom or school can join and do your part to save the earth.

5. Conduct a role play! Role plays create an opportunity for students to do research and have meaningful conversations about environmental issues.  They help build communication skills and encourage out-of-the-box thinking.  Asia Society offers two excellent lesson plans to help you bring environmental role-play into your classroom.

turtle6. Adopt a Species! We are experiencing the worst species extinction rate since the time of dinosaurs.  Up to 99% of these extinctions are caused by human activity.  If nothing is done to stop this, as many as 30-50% of all species could be extinct by mid-century. These are alarming statistics.  Fortunately, there are things we can do to slow down this mass extinction. Learning to Give provides a lesson plan that shows how you can make adopting an endangered species a meaningful class project.

7. Make something interesting!  Science teachers add the extra challenge of creating the rube Goldberg with items found in nature! Nature is full of beautiful and unique items. A simple hike outside can get your creative juices flowing to revamp a lesson to include flowerMother Nature’s gifts. Want specific ideas? Tinker Labs has collected an incredible list of online resources you can use to create a wide variety of things using objects found in nature.

8. Cut down on packaging! Packaging accounts for a large amount of the waste that we create. Doing a self-audit can really help students become aware of excessive packaging and ultimately empower them to purchase without such waste. These are the types of lessons that trickle home and have the greatest impact. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has created a lesson plan that helps kids understand the dangers of excessive packaging and some key waste reduction techniques that they can employ in their own homes.

9. Learn about sustainability! Population growth is a crucial component to many of the environmental issues we face today.  Population Education provides a wealth of resources to help your students understand how we can create a sustainable living environment for our growing world.  Their website offers comprehensive packets of lesson plans for various age groups that can be used on Earth Day or any day!Garden 2

10. Grow a garden! Whether you have a big or small, indoor or outdoor, space available… School gardens offer an interactive, authentic way to get your students involved in nature.  The Teacher’s Academy offers an online course that will show the basics of creating a classroom garden, as well as how to use gardening to create meaningful, interdisciplinary lessons.

The Creating a School Garden Course is only one of the many valuable courses that the Teacher’s Academy offers.  All of our course fulfill Pennsylvania Act 48 requirements and can provide you an economical, convenient way to earn professional development courses from home.  Sign up for your first class today!

A New Angle on Teaching Math with Ms. Zakuto

Teacher Feature, March 2016: Ms. Tammy Zakuto

What does it take to be a teacher today?

We expect a lot from our teachers these days. We want them to be… kind, but structured; Caring, but firm; Funny and smart. And a vibrant personality is only one Zakutocomponent of great teaching. We also expect our teachers to teach with passion and differentiate their lessons; Address different learning styles and teach the whole child; Teach, but guide students to make their own discoveries; and do this all for every child in the class.  Add to these great expectations a dash of never-ending curriculum content, and the ever-present standardized testing and you’ve got a recipe for a high-pressure, demanding public service. Teaching is not for everybody. It takes patience, self-discipline, personal drive, creative thought and a little sense of adventure. This month’s Teacher Feature, Ms. Tammy Zakuto, embodies these qualities of a great teacher and more…Just ask her third grade class!

zakuto quoteMs. Zakuto was nominated for a Teacher Feature by a peer that claims Tammy’s innovative teaching style, ability to differentiate lessons and desire to constantly challenge her students are what makes her worthy of celebration. By the end of my visit to Ms. Zakuto’s beach-themed classroom, I wholeheartedly agreed!

Is it possible to make math fun? Tammy thinks so! (And so do her kids!)

Measuring angles was today’s topic. Since I’m a Social Studies geek at heart, admittedly, I was a little worried that I might not find a good “angle” for this blog. I was skeptical that a lesson about teaching angles could showcase all of the wonderful things I had heard about Tammy and her teaching methods. I imagined I’d spend most of my time watching students breaking out protractors and measuring lines- the way that I was taught all those years ago. Simply put…things have changed. Math is cool. Measuring angles is fun. And I was wrong!

zakuto raise handsUsing Applied Learning to Tackle New Concepts

The students know it’s time for math when they see the three color-coded questions on the SMART® board. The green question indicates a review of their 3rd grade knowledge. Today’s question simply asks the students to identify the degree of the angle shown (90). The room is abuzz…everyone can do this one! They move on to the yellow question which is a bit harder and requires the students to apply what they already know (90 degree angles) to determine the size of another angle- one they haven’t seen yet. Ms. Zakuto remains encouraging, but does not reveal how to solve it. Most of her students have it and she still hasn’t given any instruction on how to do it. Next, everyone tackles the red question: Find the outside angle. Students are applying their knowledge to new situations- a few have the answer (without protractors) and their teacher still hasn’t told them how!

protractorAssociate and connect, and then associate some more, and then connect again…

Now, she will finally break out the protractors and tell them how to measure the angles- even those tricky outside angles, right? Wrong. Next is a lesson in understanding the degrees of the circle…without a protractor. Students understand the math right away. They pick up that 90 plus 90 is 180. But to bring it home, she takes it outside of math. With a little prodding, students start identifying elsewhere they hear these degrees. One sweet voice chimes in, “In my dance class, if we only turn half way around, we call it a 180.” Then another, “If I go all the way around on the bars in gymnastics, they call it a 360.” Then Tammy starts to jump and do ¼ turns and half turns so the students can see the degrees of a circle in a physical sense. “Who skateboards?” Ms. Zakuto asks. One boy raises his hand. “What do you call some of your tricks?”

“Well, on a skateboard, we do a 360. And if you can do it twice, it’s a 720.”

I could practically see the little neurons bouncing and connecting in these brains. She wasn’t really giving any answers. She was instead constantly building on previous knowledge, helping them connect the concepts to the world around them and watching them come to their own conclusions. It was beautiful! With this new understanding, the kids were able to figure out all sorts of angles now…and still no protractors!

Guide. Facilitate. Explore. Repeat

With a few more class examples, something special was happening. Students were beginning to see patterns. “Look! Every other one ends in a 5.” And, “I think it looks like a clock.” Or, “It looks like that thing we used in Art…a compass!” Finally, it was time. They were ready…Ms. Zakuto brought out the protractors. No longer a mysterious tool, or “rounded ruler thingy.” These guys understood the lines and the little numbers before she had to explain it. But to really get it and to go further with measuring different angles, a small-group instructional on the topic would’ve been ideal.


zakuto kidsSeparating into groups of 3 or 4, students spent the next 15 minutes in their math centers. Some were working on their choice of carpet-friendly math games, others explored an zakuto studentsintuitive math program on the Ipad. Another group worked playing Angle Kung Fu on the computer, and the rest were huddled around their teacher with protractors in hand in that coveted small-group instructional session. So this is how she does it! Differentiated instruction, addressing multiple intelligences and small group instruction were all rolled up into one lesson.zakuto laptop

What it takes to make the difference and affect student learning…

Great teachers have strong intuition. They need to read their students’ needs in that moment and make adjustments when situations change. I think it’s Ms. Zakuto’s passion for thrills, pushing limits and sense of adventure that foster her unique teaching methodologies. Students in Ms. Zakuto’s class are regularly pushed to challenge their minds and often given work that they may not see until next year. “If I sense they can go further, then I push them. I mean, why not?”

It takes a lot of prezakuto quote2paration to pull off this kind of learning experience and she does it…every day. It’s why her students love her classes, the parents see growth in their children, and her peers think she should be recognized by The Teacher’s Academy. Her daily lessons look seamless, and to the zakuto pickids it’s just another day at the beach. But to those who understand the depth of this craft and what it takes to make a difference in today’s education world, Ms. Zakuto is teaching at its best. Bravo, Tammy Zakuto. And thank you for surpassing today’s expectations of what every parent, child, administrator and colleague want in a teacher.

The Teacher’s Academy provides continuing education courses that meet Pennsylvania Act 48 requirements for busy teachers. Our online professional development courses are written by teachers so the content is relevant and the process is convenient.

 

High-tech Teachers from PETE & C Share their Best Tech Tools

We Celebrate Teachers
Last month we collected some amazing techy ideas from the teachers at the PETE & C. But, before we share these ideas with you, we wanted to tell you about all the incredible, hard-working teachers that we met while at the conference. The Teacher’s Academy was delighted to be able to recognize some of those teachers with well-deserved gifts. amazon winnerCongratulations to Wendy Evans, Jennifer Kling and Rosemary Kennedy – each winners of the $50 Amazon gift card giveaway! The Teacher’s Academy also gave away 30 copies of A Tribute to Teachers by Richard Lederer to some very deserving teachers.

The Teacher’s Academy Pays it Forward
Throughout the year we’ve collected gently used books from teachers’ libraries across the state. Our hope was to give these treasures away to teachers needing to expand their libraries. We are happy to report that we were able to find new homes for every single book! Thanks again to all of the great teachers who made this conference super fun and educational for us.

If you did not get a chance to go to the PETE & C this year, no worries! We will bring the BEST of the PETE & C to you! Every year, we are lucky enough to meet hundreds of teachers at this high-tech conference in Hershey, PA. This year, we decided to tap into their techy brains, find out what technologies are actually working in the classroom and share them with teachers across the country. If you stopped by our booth and filled out a card with a cool tech idea, check out your contribution below!

Useful Website Recommendations from Real Teachers

Holy smokes! So many cards had Nearpod listed as one of the best tech tools for the classroom! This tech tool is a simple way to create interactive lessons for your students. Easily grab pictures from your computer, videos from the Internet, or use the activity slides to allow your students to draw or respond to questions. You can create your own interactive lessons or pick from thousands of pre-made standards-based lessons. Sign up for a free 30-day account. I promise it won’t take 30 seconds for you to decide that this is a must have!
Altoona Teacher comment: “I’ve been using Nearpod a lot. The students love it!”

This was the next most popular tech tool that teachers love! Kahoot allows teachers to easily create interactive assessments (Kahoots) for their students. Choose from multiple-choice quizzes, discussion responses and surveys, then add videos or pictures to spice up the assessment. Assign a pin number and any student with a device can log in and play (I mean learn) from anywhere! The fun part is that it is delivered like a game. Students are engaged, learning and having lots of fun!
Paoli Teacher comment: “Kahoot-it! and Discovery Education are indispensable.” Which leads us to our next website…

Discovery education has one of the largest no-cost vaults of current information accessible to teachers. They offer lesson plan ideas, puzzle makers and activities for students of all ages. But, perhaps, most amazing are the virtual field trips. Teachers can virtually take students to places around the world to meet scientists and learn first-hand about animals, environment or the people who share our planet. In just a few clicks, your students can view the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro or swim with sharks! Discovery Education is a fantastic resource for STEM programs or cross-curricular integration.
Harrisburg Teacher comment: “My students love to research ideas using Discovery Education.”

Plickers is an older website, but one that many teachers still find indispensable. This is a cool tech tool for formative assessment. Students hold up “Plickers” cards to answer questions and an app on the teachers’ phone reads their answers instantly. Teachers can then adjust instruction immediately to reach students who need extra help or move on! This tool alleviates guesswork for teachers and prevents embarrassment for students. A fantastic teacher from Prospect Park recommends Plickers!
Scranton Teacher comment: “Great tool for a formative assess & kids think it’s a game.”

Remind (formerly Remind101) is a safe, simple and free way for teachers to chat with students and parents. Teachers can send a last minute update or a quick reminder about events happening at school. Parents and students can alert teachers about being sick or needing extra help. This tech-tool opens the door for lots of communication, without exchanging phone numbers. Thank you to some incredible teachers from Williamsport and Penn Foster for introducing us to this website. (Penn Foster is an online high school where communication is key!)

Are you looking for a complete Physics curriculum or just a few demonstration videos? The Physics Classroom website gives teachers everything they need to create an interactive physics learning environment. This website uses downloadable lessons and game-like, interactive activities to make learning physics fun and easy! It also offers a lab, a teacher tool kit, ACT test info and much more!
As parents and teachers we are always concerned about our children’s health. Teens are of special concern since they tend to be less communicative. Teen Health.org allows teenagers to access good advice from experts when they may not be comfortable asking a parent or a teacher. This free website invites teens to click on interactive buttons to find out about topics like: Meningitis, prescription drug abuse, fighting depression, healthy eating, or helping friends with issues like cutting. It is a fantastic resource to empower teenagers to help each other! And it’s not only for teens… Younger kids can click on interactive buttons to learn about fun topics like the digestive system and why feet stink. There is also a tab for parents with buttons linked to kids’ health topics. These are only a few of the helpful resources available on this website. Please take a few minutes and check it out!
A great idea from a tech savvy-health-conscious teacher in Gettysburg!

“Creativity is essential to particle physics, cosmology, and to mathematics, and to other fields of science, just as it is to its more widely acknowledged beneficiaries – the arts and humanities.” – Lisa Randall
Yes! We absolutely need to make math fun for students and Minecraft can be used for such a purpose. Students can create or destroy bridges, walls, fortresses, hallways, secret rooms, stairs and so much more, using the digital blocks as their materials. As they build and reconstruct, they are learning about height, width, area, perimeter, size and space. They are also thinking about design, structure, architecture and, most likely, other art concepts. Connecting art and mathematics goes back thousands of years. Math concepts come to life with art! Art can be key to making math fun and accessible to students. “Use Minecraft to teach perimeter.” Thank you, awesome teacher from Central Fulton!

Google Slides is a website that we, at the Teacher’s Academy, love so much that we created a course about using it effectively in the classroom. Slides is Google’s answer to MS PowerPoint. It is not as flashy as PowerPoint but it is free and you can attach pictures, video and text in the presentations, just like the Microsoft product. Google also has Docs (similar to MS Word) and Sheets (similar to MS Excel). “Kids can use Google Slides for presentations and short reports.” They sure can! Thanks again, awesome teacher from Central Fulton! Check out our course Google Slides.

Central Fulton is becoming our favorite place! They’ve offered another fantastic recommendation for a great teacher tool – Go Noodle. Go Noodle provides teachers with quick video clips that get students dancing, stretching, running or even winding down. Most importantly, it releases good energy so students can focus in class. These quick “brain breaks” are beneficial to everyone involved, including the teacher. Check out Go Noodle and get your students focused.
“Go Noodle for brain break awesomeness.” Thanks Central Fulton teachers! We think you are all filled with awesomeness!

Want to connect with your students?
Students were eager to tell us their favorite tech websites as well. Here are the top 5:

  • Plickers!– Turns out kids like Plickers just as much as teachers! This app lets kids answer questions anonymously to avoid fear of getting the answer wrong in front of their friends!  Plus, “It’s cool!”
  • Notability– Kids appreciate the new approach to note-taking with the Notability app. Their notes come to life with their handwriting, photos and typing options.
  • ITunes U– This app provides resources for any subject right on the ipod. Teachers can generate lesson plans and deliver them via recommended apps. Students can connect with each other and the entire lesson can be done using just the ipad!
  • Showbie– For the paperless classroom, this app helps teachers and students collaborate, give feedback and grade assignments.
  • Google Expeditions– Google has photographed the world and they are giving it to us- for free! Students can travel to the top of the Himalayas or to the bottom of the oceans. No wonder this is a favorite for students!

Thanks and see you next year!

The PETE & C is a great place to learn about the development of new educational technologies but, it is also the one time of year that we get the chance to thank the fun, energetic teachers making a real difference in education. So, again, thank you for all that you do and make sure you stop by our booth next year!

*Most of our business comes from teachers who have taken a course and shared their experience with other teachers. We really appreciate the honesty, loyalty and excitement that these teachers possess when talking about The Teacher’s Academy. So, please feel free to share our blogs, Facebook posts and links to our website with anyone you feel may benefit from our services. It’s because of all of you wonderful teachers that we are able to provide the great resources that we do! Thank you!!

The Teacher’s Academy is Heading to Hershey!

Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference Welcomes The Teacher’s Academy

Hey, Teachers!  It is that time of year again!  The Teacher’s Academy is super excited to attend the Pennsylvania Educational Technology and Expo ConferenceThe Teacher's Academy! We love learning about the new educational technologies available (or soon to be available) and getting inspired by motivational speakers!  The exhibits, workshops and keynote speakers give us an opportunity to recharge and gather new ideas for the following year.   It’s also the perfect chance to celebrate all you hard-working teachers. This year we will be giving away several inspirational prizes and promoting our Teacher Feature opportunities.

 Free books for your class library- Booth 122!

As part of our out-reach program, The Teacher’s Academy will be handing out free books to teachers who stop by our booth.  We have gathered gently used books from classrooms that have gone digital, teachers who stacked bookshave left the industry and other donations.  Our hope is that these lovely treasures find new homes in the hands of curious readers all across the tri-state area.  We have a limited number of books so visit booth #122 as soon as you can on Monday!

30+ Winners in The Teacher’s Academy Drawing!

PETE & C is the place for sharing ideas, getting inspired and putting what works for others into your own practice. That’s why this year we are rewarding teachers for their ideas!

To celebrate teachers, we will be giving away three (3) $50 Amazon Gift Cards and thirty (30) light-hearted, inspirational copies of A Tribute to Teachers, signed by Richard Lederer.  To be entered into the drawing, simply fill out our postcard and write your favorite teaching practices, a bit of advice or a techy idea that works in your classroom!  After the conference, EVERYONE’S ideas will be featured in our upcoming blog, “After the PETE: Advice and Ideas from PA teachers.” We hope to encourage as many teachers as possible to participate in sharing their ideas and winning prizes!

Do you have what it takes to be a Teacher Feature?

The Teacher’s Academy celebrates teachers every month by sharing their cutting edge practices with thousands of other teachers across the nation.  Our blog post, “Teacher Feature” has been an amazing way to transfer expert strategies, resources and tips, from inside the classroom, to teachers everywhere.  So far, we have encountered teachers who use social media for enrichment purposes, cope with the loss of their arts program, share the very best free tech resources, use the world outside to experience real science and much more. We know teachers are the most creative and innovative thinkers and above Teacher Featureall, love to share their ideas.

Why nominate myself for a Teacher Feature?

This year, we will be inviting all of the teachers we meet at the PETE conference, to nominate teachers for our 2016-2017 Teacher Feature blog.  Why not nominate yourself or someone else for this great honor?

  • Unique strategies and approaches to teaching and classroom management will be shared with others.
  • Your story is likely someone else’s. Sharing it will only help other teachers looking for inspiration.
  • You work hard and a little (positive) media publicity never hurt anyone! Once the blog is written, you can read, make edits and changes and have the final say before it gets posted! Then, we hope you share your publication with your peers. People should know the impact you have on your students!

Professional Development from The Teacher’s Academycategory26

The Teacher’s Academy celebrates teachers. As teachers ourselves, we understand how difficult it is to find relevant professional development that’s convenient and affordable. Check out our courses (written by teachers) to help satisfy your PD needs. All of our courses Act 48 Approved. As a matter of fact, you may already know us in PA as Act 48 Academy!

The PETE conference in Hershey, PA is an incredible event for anyone in education.  Meet new educators from Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Scranton, Allentown, Pittsburgh, to name a few, and share your teaching experiences! Being in Hershey makes it that much sweeter!

So, stop by booth #122 and meet the hard-working PA teachers who want to help make these few days in Hershey fun (and rewarding) for you!  Can’t wait to see you there! (Tell us you read the blog and there’s something special in it for you!)