-->

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!

 

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!!

January 2016 Teacher Feature: Brian Blair

“Life is the hardest teacher, she gives you the test first and the lessons after.”

-Anonymous

 Hey teachers!  The Teacher’s Academy is excited to kick off 2016 with an introduction to a high-tech, innovative 9th grade modern American history teacher from PA.  (Yes, I used high-tech and history in the same sentence!)  You’ll be inspired by his out-of-the-box approach to teaching and motivated to create your own digital lessons.  It doesn’t matter what subject you teach or even the age, grade or ability level of your students.  Mr. Blair’s custom learning experiences are cross-curricular, engaging and adaptable to a variety of academic levels.

Get ready, because this is not your typical history class and Mr. Brian Blair from Bucks County, PA has no interest in being a typical history teacher…

Teacher Brian BlairThrough innovation, experimentation and communication, the lucky students in Mr. Blair’s classroom are obtaining the skills necessary for success in college and career while having a blast… in the past!  Images of modern American history cover the walls of classroom 501.  Louis Armstrong plays soft jazz music over-head as students file in and get settled.  The 1920’s culture is the theme for today, and to bring them back in time, Mr. Blair begins class by allowing students to observe and discuss a political cartoon from that era.  Even though they are separated by almost five generations, these savvy students are able to quickly observe striking similarities in the 1920’s culture and politics with our own 21st century society.   Students are given time to discuss the fear and symbolism in the cartoon while connections are made to a current events article.   The feel in the classroom is easygoing, safe and positive.  His students seem to know what is coming and are excited to begin their exploration of the 1920s.

 Innovation

Exploring history does not happen merely in books in this classroom, rather learning occurs in a digital realm.  Mr. Blair and his team of teachers have worked together to create digital learning experiences for students in grades 7 through 9.  Using Web 2.0 tools, students have access to the “Course Site” where videos, advertisements, pictures, articles and teacher-created questions related to the content have been posted.  (Teachers can also post questions or additional information while the students are working.)  There is a “comments” section for student responses, and they can also access the videos and articles from a home computer.  Students now have the freedom to review on their own or spend more time on an area they found interesting.

Creating an online curriculum takes planning and collaboration, but once the process is in place, the content comes to life.  This method is certainly a major change in the way teachers can deliver curriculum, but it in no way diminishes the role of the teacher.  In fact, the teacher becomes a crucial piece of the learning process by creating an environment that supports and challenges all students.  In this environment, the teacher has more time to coach one-on-one or clarify misconceptions and enrich learning.

Back to the ‘20s…

As his students gather their laptops and head-phones, Mr. Blair directs them to digital “stations” that he created so his students can experience history in a whole new way.  In Station #1 students are able to witness the popular roaring ‘20s dance craze “The Charleston.”  A picture of the actual dance steps is posted in this station for adventurous students who want to get out of their seats and try a few steps.  (Several do, to the delight of the rest of us!)

Station #2 introduces the dynamic changes in transportation that occurred in the ‘20s by allowing students to watch and/or read about Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight and understand how the assembly line allowed Henry Ford to build his Model T at the rate of 1 every 93 minutes!

“Oh my gosh!  There is a kid doing The Charleston on the wing of a bi-plane!”  Click on Station #3 and you get to see “barnstorming” the very real and death-defying entertainment of the 1920s.  (Thank goodness for Steven Spielberg!)

As the students begin to immerse themselves in the videos, the classroom becomes more vibrant and exciting.  Mr. Blair encourages the excitement by posting a few new pictures and tempting his students to check them out.  “I think I just found my favorite barnstorming image and I’m posting it on the Course Site.”  Frantically, the students search for the image.  It’s a picture of a few men playing cards while flying on the wing of the plane.  Hilarious?  Well, his students think so!

Experimentation

Since 2011, Mr. Blair has been the department coordinator and catalyst for introducing Web 2.0 tools into the classroom.  This has encouraged digital collaboration between teachers.   He is a proud member of a talented team of 7-9th grade teachers also possessed with the ambition for creating amazing learning experiences for their students.

“I work with an incredible team of teachers in my department, in my building and in this Mr. Blair's studentdistrict as a whole.  They are all great collaborators and expose the students to high quality teaching and learning daily.  We even have a member of our department here that is getting published and has a fledgling career as a historical rapper on iTunes.”

His decision to become the department coordinator did not come without some apprehension.  With the support of his principal, his new roll allowed him to completely redesign curriculum delivery using the latest technology which has had lasting effects on the department and, more importantly, the students.  He has incredible confidence and does not hesitate to take risks or experiment with ideas outside of the teaching “comfort” zone.  He is aware that things will not always go perfectly, but taking risks is important for growth and change.

“I think the best advice for anyone in this profession is to not be afraid to try new ideas or experiment with new technology.  I know at times we have a tried and true approach and we may not want to deviate from the norm, but some of my greatest moments as a teacher have evolved from trying a new digital platform or creating a screencast of content I used to stand in front of a class and deliver.  We sometimes need to refine who we are and what we do.  Sometimes it works and sometimes… it is dynamic…”

Communication

Mr. Blair has a natural read for middle school learners.  He has an easy smile and makes Brian Blairthe whole class feel comfortable communicating with each other.

“The students need to be comfortable talking in this class,” he says with a wide smile.

I know exactly why he’s smiling.  Student chatter can be quite uncomfortable for some teachers to accept, but learning to communicate effectively is a key skill that students will not learn by staying quiet.  Of course, anyone who works with 13, 14 and 15 year old students can also understand the challenge to get any kind of valuable response!  No doubt, these students were very comfortable discussing ideas with Mr. Blair, but most of the discussion happened between the students.  Discussions about the political landscapes, the differences in the cultures, and the similarities in our hopes and fears were happening in small groups all around me.   Mr. Blair supports students just enough so they are able to succeed independently and challenges others to dig deeper.  Some students formed strong opinions based on the new information gathered from the videos but also from listening to their peers’ reactions.    Many were practiced in the art of persuasion and used those skills to change minds.  His students are expert communicators already.

Mr. Blair mentioned his team of teachers more than once and, to an outsider looking in, it is clear that this team of teachers has created an effective, fun way to accomplish many academic goals.  Through collaboration and effective communication with each other, no one loses site of the end product.

History in the Making

Mr. Brian Blair began creating his own history in his junior year of high school.  As a teenager, he would sit in his favorite class (social studies) and imagine ways of using different types of visuals or primary sources to make the lessons even more interesting.  After graduating from Penn State, earning a Masters degree from Villanova and years of teaching experiences, Mr. Blair still imagines news ways to make his social studies class even more interesting!

He has been awarded by his district for in-house assessment services, worked for ETS, The National Board and currently contributes to Learning Bird.com.  (As part of Learning Bird, he creates short educational videos to increase student engagement and keep education moving in a digital direction.)  He runs a Claymation Camp with a fellow teacher at Bucks County Community College and has coached tennis and track for years.  Like any respectable Pennsylvanian, he is an avid participant in fantasy football and could be considered an originator of that great pastime considering his family involvement since 1972.  (Respect.)

Most importantly, Brian is the proud father of two little aspiring rock-star girls and a brand new baby boy!  I must mention that he happens to be married to another fantastic teacher who was featured in our 2015 line-up of amazing teachers. J

Back to the 21st Century

The time flew by and I seemed to have been lost in the super fun, “roaring” ‘20s, because class was about to end and I was not prepared.  I jumped to get my notes and continue my observation, but most of the students had filed out.  So, I thanked Mr. Blair and started to leave.

Just before I walked out the door, I had a chance to ask one of Mr. Blair’s lingering students about the class.

“What do you think about your history class?”

“It’s pretty cool,” she responded.

“Well, what do you think about your teacher?”

She too gave me a wide, easy smile, “He makes class really fun!”

I’d have to agree, Lexi!

Thanks Mr. Blair, for being The Teacher’s Academy January 2016 Teacher Feature! You are truly making history!

For more information about technology courses, social studies courses and professional development in your state, visit The Teacher’s Academy. It’s where teachers go to learn!

 

 

 

5 Tips for Substitute Teachers

Because The Teacher’s Academy is comprised of teachers, we understand how Teacher at whiteboardimportant substitute teachers are to the educational process.  Studies suggest that between five and ten percent of teachers are absent on any given day.  That’s a lot of substitute teachers working every day, often without a lot of instruction, guidance or support.

The Benefits of “Subbing”

Substitute teaching allows certified teachers the benefits of being a teacher with the perks of making their own schedule.  It is a great opportunity for teachers turned stay-at-home parents to stay active in the profession without the workload and commitment of being a full-time teacher.  It allows former teachers looking to re-enter the workforce the chance to showcase their skills to a school or district.  Also, it is a great way for the recent college grad to put their education into practice and hone their craft before taking on a class of their own.

If you can identify with any of these scenarios, you may have found yourself interested in giving substitute teaching a try. If so, here are some tools and tricks to help you walk into the classroom with confidence and make substitute teaching work for you.

1. Plan your Work

“If you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” 

While this is true of teaching in general, it is even more so in substitute teaching.   Classroom teachers have the benefit of knowing the personalities of their students, the curriculum and the procedures of the school.  As a substitute teacher, you are often coming in blind, so preparation is key.  Plan to be at the school at least 10 min. before you are scheduled to arrive.  This will earn you the appreciation of the front office staff who are often anxiously waiting for their substitutes in hopes that there are no last minute no-shows which throws their morning into chaos.  Use that extra time to read over the lesson plans for the day.  This is crucial, since there is rarely enough time to read every lesson and determine your game plan before the students start to arrive.

TTA Pinterest BoardAlso, don’t leave your bag of tricks at home.  Come prepared with read aloud books, 5-minute time fillers and emergency lessons that you could use for a range of grades in case you have arrived and found that the classroom teacher has left inadequate plans for the day.  Check out The Teacher’s Academy Read-Aloud and 5 Minute Filler Pinterest boards for ideas!  Bring your own supplies such as pens, pencils, post-its, and paper.  Instead of scrambling to find these materials, you will have them on hand when you need them.

 

2. Work your plan.

This is my own teaching motto. It simply means execute actionable steps to achieve success.

Preparing is not enough. Take it from me, I’ve been substitute teaching for several years now, and even though I can’t predict every misstep, I can avoid the big ones. And now, you can too! You need to not only think of “what could go wrong,” but actively put in place strategies that will avoid some of the common problems. Here are some action steps you can take to provide a bit of insurance for your plans!

  • Take a quick walk around the building to find where the cafeteria, recess, gym, library, art room, computer lab and fire exits are located.  You want to be able to confidently lead your class wherever you need to go.
  • Stop in and introduce yourself to the teachers next door or in your grade level.  They can offer you helpful information, (such as an assembly that the classroom teacher may have forgotten to tell you about)!
  • Read over the plans that the teacher (hopefully!) left you for the day.  If the teacher did not leave you plans for the day (Yes, it happens!), good thing you have that bag of tricks.  Or, ask a grade-level teacher for suggestions. They can probably point you in the right direction and give you more specific information.
  • If you are not familiar with the material, read a few of the previous lessons so you are familiar with what you are teaching.  This helps to avoid the awkward moments when a student asks you a question and you do not know the answer.  Use the Internet to research any material if the teacher’s manuals are not available to you.  This way, when you begin a lesson, you can be confident that all of the materials are at hand.
  • Highlight any emergency procedures.  When the fire alarm is blaring in the classroom, you’ll be happy you can quickly find the procedures you are supposed to follow.
  • It is often helpful to bring or find a clipboard to attach the daily plans.  This way, they don’t get lost in a bunch of papers as you sort through the material for the day.  Also clip a class roster and a pen or pencil to the clipboard.  This way, you always have the kids’ names on hand.  Students tend to respond more quickly when they are addressed by their name and it helps to assert your authority.
  • Take time to become familiar with whatever technology you are going to use throughout the day.  If you are expected to teach using a SmartBoard, make sure you have log-in information and that it works.
  • Make sure you know what the procedure is for taking attendance and how to report it to the main office.
  • Get students working as soon as they enter. If the teacher has not left morning work for the students, this is the time come up with something.  If you have the students begin working as soon as they enter the room, they are more likely to settle quickly and it sets the tone for the rest of the day.  Having something prepared helps to tame the chaos of morning arrival.
  • Once you’ve had an opportunity to read over the plans, make note of important classroom information:
    • Children with allergies
    • Specials and lunch times
    • Times each subject starts and ends
    • Children pulled out of the classroom for individual instructions.

Did I say arrive 10 minutes early? Better bake it 15!  It is a lot to accomplish in a very short amount of time!  But it is important to prepare early so you are not sidelined by being unprepared during a lesson.

3. Quickly Establish Authority 

Greet students. Set the Tone. Maintain Consistency.

Students in classroomThe key to successful substitute teaching is quickly establishing authority in the classroom.  Now that you are prepared, stand by the door or at the front of the room as the students begin to arrive.  Did you know that students are more apt to behave and follow the routine just because you are in their proximity during arrival?  Since you arrived early, organized all your materials, familiarized yourself with the building and procedures and are attentively greeting your students at the door – you have already completed the first steps in establishing authority.  A prepared, attentive substitute encounters many less behavior problems than the distracted, unorganized substitute.

The next step is to set the tone.  A warm, kind greeting and a show of interest in the students goes a long way towards establishing good will.  You don’t have the luxury of building rapport with these students to help your classroom management, so set a firm, yet friendly, tone. After the students arrive and complete their morning work (and you’ve followed the attendance procedures and reported them to the office), it is a good time to go over the rules with the students.  To the degree possible, follow the rules that the classroom teacher has put in place.  Consistency is the key to a smooth day, so this is not the time to reinvent the wheel (no matter how great your own method of classroom management is).

 4. Deal with Behavior Issues

The best defense is a good offense.

One of the most difficult aspects of substitute teaching is dealing with behavior issues.  It Studentis tempting to mistake that joy on the face of the students when they see you as the pleasure of making your acquaintance.  More likely, they are figuring out ways to capitalize on the fact that you don’t know the established classroom rules and routines.  In this case, the best defense is a good offense.  By simply actively engaging the students as they walk in the room, you will set the tone for the day.  Make sure they have work to do as soon as they enter the classroom and keep them engaged throughout the day with discussions and written assignments.  It is always a good idea to collect all written assignments so students know they will be held accountable for their work.  Sometimes, letting the class or even individual students know that you will assign any unfinished work for homework also encourages them to remain focused on the assigned task.

Despite keeping them engaged, you will still encounter uncooperative students.  Because students can often see through idle threats, make sure you are prepared to follow through with any consequences you give to the students.  Implement whatever disciplinary measures the teacher has left in place and has (hopefully!) shared with you.  Document all stages of misbehavior and your response to them.  Sending students to the principal should be your last option, unless a student is a threat to himself or others.

5. Communicate with the Classroom Teacher

No matter how the day went, make sure you communicate the details to the classroom teacher.  At a minimum, leave a note detailing the material you covered for each subject.  If you did not get to all of the material, make sure to note that as well.  It is important to note any behavior problems or issues you had with the class.  I use my own template that I print and just fill in at the end of the day. Teachers love it and now they know what to expect when they request me to sub for them. (Which they do, often!) Here’s what I would include on this “Day in Review” template:

  • Absent and late students
  • Material covered for the day (and the material not covered)
  • Helpful students
  • Students that misbehaved (detailing specific incidents)
  • Other important information.  Include your name and contact information as well.

Do you have any tips for substitute teachers?  If you are interested in substitute teaching and are in need of professional development hours for your certification, check out our courses at The Teacher’s Academy.  We offer on-line professional development courses that are convenient, affordable and relevant.

 

 

 

 

November 2015 Teacher Feature: Kerry Black

“I don’t do anything special. I just love what I do!”

-Kerry Black

 From the moment you walk into 4C (Mrs. Black’s Pre-K classroom), you get the feeling Mrs. Kerry Blackyou’ve stepped into a special place.  Books and supplies are neatly organized, walls are filled with colorful projects, and there is a warmth in the room that reflects the philosophy of the teacher.  When I reach my hand out to introduce myself formally and thank her for allowing me to spend the morning in her room, she coyly replies, “I don’t do anything special, I just love what I do.”  After spending the morning with Mrs. Black, I realize that is exactly what makes her so special.

Kerry approaches her day with a focus on “creating wonderful individuals.”  She and her partner, Ms. Marianne, create lessons each day that might seem daunting (considering the time restraints of a preschool day) or even impossible (due to the fact that they are teaching 4 year olds). Yet, with proper preparation, support from each other and the will to do the impossible, they find a way to execute even the most demanding lessons… And then they clean up and do it again! Kerry admits that without Ms. Marianne, the prepping, executing and sharing in the joy of accomplishment wouldn’t be possible. Having support is the key to success in learning, and life in general.

Teaching Letter FormationKerry’s ability to infuse learning with play promotes a love for learning in her young students. For example, to teach students how to form letters, they create “Mat Man.”  Students construct a figure using lines and curves (all of the shapes we use to form letters).  Of course, the students are so interested in creating their figure; they don’t realize that they’re learning.  As Kerry explains, “They’re just having fun; they don’t realize I’m teaching them.” 

It’s an ideal environment for preschoolers.  Students learn academics and real-world skills through play.  Kerry explains, “I try to create a warm, caring environment.  We’re a family here in 4C.  We love and take care of each other.”

Warm and Fuzzies are Contagious!

As the focus of Kindergarten becomes more academic, students often struggle socially as they enter the early elementary grades.  They don’t always get the opportunity to practice the skill of working as a group or team, something children typically learn through play.  Kerry emphasizes the importance of being kind and taking care of each other.  In her class, students receive a “warm and fuzzy” (a colorful, soft pom pom ball) when they demonstrate positive, nurturing behavior. It’s fascinating to see how hard students will work for this reward.  There are no toys or small trinkets, just the acknowledgement that you are taking care of and helping a classmate.

Clearly, it is working.  Kerry tells the story of a little boy who was out sick one day.  During morning circle and after they prayed for the boy who was out for the day, two classmates asked if they can make cards for him.  When the absent child received the cards, he asked Mrs. Black if his classmates can receive a warm and fuzzy for making him feel better!

Character and Community Development begin in Pre-K

The children of 4C also embrace the practice of being “bucket fillers.” It is a concept popularized by Carol McCloud’s book, Have You Filled a Bucket Today?  Children are encouraged to examine their actions toward others.  Are you helping someone, are you filling their bucket?  They realize through practice that by helping someone else, they end up feeling better about themselves.

These practices serve to enhance Kerry’s behavior management style.  Kerry explains, “I’m not interested in controlling their behavior.”  There is no chart, there is no public acknowledgment of which student is making good or bad choices.  “I simply reward good behavior and help them to make good choices.”

Kerry is an educator first and foremost.  She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Have You Filled A Bucket Today?Education and a Master’s Degree in Reading.  She worked for eight years as a reading specialist in secondary education and saw firsthand how difficult it can be to remediate students. She felt compelled to reach these students before remediation was their only hope. That’s when she turned to early childhood education. Kerry believes she has more influence on character development and forming good habits if she can reach students in the early stages of development.

“Teaching preschool is my escape…”

When Kerry was called to teach at Good Beginnings Preschool, she had young children and wasn’t looking to jump back into a professional role so soon. Kerry’s faith in God and His plan helped guide her to accept the position and she has since never looked back.  Kerry tells me, “This is now my passion, my happy place, my escape.”  If “escape” isn’t the word that comes to your mind while in a room full of excited 4-5 year olds, you’re probably not alone.  But for Kerry, designing rigorous lesson plans for this age is her passion.

Academia + Creativity + Fun = Learning

Kerry’s rigorous academic background, attention to detail, and high expectations set the stage for a preschool class that focuses on learning objectives and performance outcome. However, meeting performance objectives is not what drives her teaching practices. Yes, the students are held to a high standard. Yes, she peppers in advanced vocabulary. And yes, they do a LOT of hands on projects each day. But, it’s more important at this stage for the kids to love school, take care of each other and demonstrate good choices through play. Kerry realizes that when kids are having fun, there’s almost no limit to what they can learn.

Kerry designed a lesson on the human body that gives her students hands-on learning in a Human Body Projecctfun and impressionable way.  In her human body lesson, students create a “body” from a large paper shopping bag, with holes cut out for their head and arms.  Next, they attach balloons and straws to represent the lungs (that actually expand when the kids blow into the straws)!  There’s even a “piece of food” that travels down the esophagus through the intestine and into the stomach!  Bones (macaroni) are glued onto the back to represent the spine. Kerry doesn’t shy away from using medical terms like esophagus and vertebrae when teaching her students. This lesson is an excellent example of Mrs. Black’s ability to plan and execute an advanced concept lesson that 4 year olds (and their parents) will remember for years to come!

Mrs. Kerry BlackThank you, Kerry Black, for being an amazing inspiration to our children, their parents, your community and now teachers worldwide! The Teacher’s Academy proudly supports and congratulates your creativity, work ethic and genuine passion for developing character and a love of learning in our youth. Congratulations on being The Teacher’s Academy November, 2015 Teacher Feature!

Do you have a Rigorous Classroom?

Take this Teacher’s Academy quiz to find out if you teach with rigor.

Introduction

There’s a lot of buzz lately about integrating rigor into the classroom. There are workshops, webinars, articles and even blogs that define rigor for students and teachers. You’ve probably started to hear about rigor in your latest staff meetings, and if your state has adopted the hotly debated Common Core Standards, rigor is the new cornerstone of your lesson planning. But are you really infusing rigor into your curriculum? Are your students actually working rigorously? Take this quiz and see if you truly understand rigor in the classroom, and if your lessons and your students perform at a higher, more rigorous level!

1. Which of the following classes is an excellent example of a rigorous classroom?

a. An Honors Science class that requires a 20 page research report as their final exam.
b. An AP History class that coaches students to pass a college entrance exam.
c. An Algebra class that teaches students to use problem-solving strategies to analyze world hunger data they received in their social studies class.
d. A 4th grade class that assigns the most homework in the school.

“Rigor is the ability to solve complex problems and develop strategies to other content areas (Bogess 2007).” Since the adoption of No Child Left Behind in 2001, more attention is given to the way and the depth that teachers teach and students learn. It’s vital for us to compete in the global community, and according to test scores, the United States is falling behind. The quick fix for some teachers might be to assign more work. In the question Rigorous studentabove, all but one class focused on the amount of work the students had to endure. The correct answer is C. In the algebra class, students are using strategies taught and applying those strategies across the curriculum and to real world problems. Do you teach strategies that help students solve problems outside of your classroom? If so, you are teaching with rigor!

2. Which of the following teaching philosophies lends itself to incorporating rigor into the curriculum?

a. I believe all students can learn.
b. It is more important for students to respect than like their teacher.
c. I have high expectations for my students.
d. Fostering student effort is more important than high grades.
e. Both C and D.

High expectations are important and must include effort on the part of the learner (Wasley, Hampel and Clark , 1997). Most teachers believe all students can learn, and that’s a great teaching philosophy, but it doesn’t reflect the intent to teach with rigor. B is surprisingly a debatable topic to be discussed in another blog! The correct answer is E.students raising hands

Teaching with rigor requires the teachers to have high expectations of their students, and it requires effort on behalf of the student. It is up to the teacher to ignite that fire, so the student is compelled to work at a higher level, use more brain power, think harder and be ok with making a mistake. Do you have high expectations for your students? Do you celebrate effort over test scores? If so, you are teaching with rigor!

 3. Which of the following lessons is being taught with rigor?

a. After the science experiment, students will use primary sources to defend their findings.
b. Working collaboratively and utilizing the trends provided by NASDAQ, students will determine the best stock companies in which to invest for the next quarter.
c. After reading a passage from the classic Robinson Crusoe, students will refer to other literary texts and draw comparisons.
d. All of the above.

“Rigor would be used to say something about how an experience or activity is carried out and to what degree. Specifically, a ‘rigorous’ experience would be one that involves depth and care as, for example, in a scientific experiment or literary analysis that is done thoughtfully, deeply with sufficient depth and attention to accuracy and detail (Beane, 2001).” Memorizing facts is definitely an essential skill needed to get to deeper level thinking. Math facts, for example, must be drilled through a variety of practices until they become second nature. But this is not rigor. Once facts are established, what you and the students do with them sets the stage for rigor in the classroom. All of the lesson samples are examples of students using information that they comprehend and applying it to alternative situations. Do you give your students opportunities to deepen their understanding of basic concepts by analyzing data, comparing text or utilizing primary sources? If so, well done…that is a rigorous lesson!

 4. Which combination of classroom skills is considered “rigorous”?

a. memorize, explain, paraphrase
b. communicate, recall, comprehend
c. identify, paraphrase, solve
d. lead, collaborate, adapt

 “Rigor for the 21st century includes a focus on skills for life: critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration and leadership, agility and adaptability, initiative and entrepreneurialism, effective oral and written communication, accessing and analyzing information, and curiosity and imagination (Wagner 2008).” Perhaps options A, B and C look familiar to you. They were taken straight out of Bloom’s Taxonomy. As mentioned earlier, the foundational skills of learning are important, but too many students, teachers, and districts stop there. The correct answer is D. Students must be given opportunities to utilize the concepts they’ve learned and apply them to other situations. Do your students get to lead, collaborate, adapt, initiate and analyze to stimulate their curiosity? If so, you’re providing a rigorous environment.

5. Which of the following is true about rigor in the classroom?

a. Teaching rigor does not require supporting the students. At this level, students should be able to adapt to a rigorous lesson.
b. When students demonstrate understanding of rigorous material, they should all come to the same answer using the same methods.
c. The best way to assess rigor is through testing.
d. A student may have to sit with a problem longer than others to develop deeper understanding of applying the concepts.

In a rigorous classroom, the teacher is the support, the motivation and the key to success for students. Rigor is higher level thinking; teachers must support students and guide them through questioning and analyzing material. Therefore, the answer cannot be A. If students are being guided to come to their own conclusions, it’s highly likely that they come to their solution through different means. Rigor includes providing a variety of ways that the student can comprehend information. Therefore, the answer cannot be B. Rigor cannot be assessed through standardized tests, unless these tests offer a variety of stacked booksopportunities to demonstrate comprehension. Rigor is best assessed through creative projects, discussion, and application. Therefore, the answer cannot be C. Rigor can be taught at all levels. If a student’s mental capacity requires them to sit with a problem longer than their peer needs to, the student sitting and working through the problem is experiencing rigor. Do you support your students as they work through difficult problems? Do you teach and encourage a variety of methods that lead to the same findings? Do you vary your tests and assessment strategies to incorporate analysis? Do you encourage students to sit with a problem until they get it? If so, you’ve got a pretty rigorous classroom!

So, what have you learned about rigor and your own classroom? As a teacher and life-long student, I believe there are always areas to grow and learn. Taking a good hard look at our own teaching philosophy, curriculum, lessons and methods can only put us on the path to being a better teacher.

Do you need more ideas? Check out our professional development course Inspiring Ideas for the 21st Century Classroom.  Or check out how to integrate rigor in Teaching Math using Common Core Standards and Teaching Science using Common Core Standards.

At The Teacher’s Academy, we are always updating our courses to be the most relevant, affordable and convenient professional development option. Check out our entire course catalog and get started renewing your certificate right away.

Top 5 Teacher Recommended Websites for Fall

Image

The leaves are falling, the air is crisp and Pumpkin Spice Lattes are in the hands of teachers everywhere.  It’s fall, and for teachers it’s the beginning of a new school year.  A time to spruce up the classroom and experiment with new strategies.  Here at The Teacher’s Academy, we’ve been searching the web for new, inspiring ways to help celebrate the fall season in the classroom.  We’ve compiled some tried and true fall ideas from teachers from all over the country who are generous enough to share their ideas for free! Take a moment and check out some of the best ideas from around the web to see if there are any that you can implement in your classroom today.

1.   Pinterest

Of course Pinterest is a go-to site for teachers looking for new (free!) ideas.  At the

Teacher’s Academy Pinterest page, we have an entire board devoted to September ideas!  We’re always in search of new ways to help teach those classroom rules and routines, as well as ways to learn about our new students.  Amy at milkandcookiesblog.com has a great getting-to-know youactivity.  Trace each student’s head for a silhouette, and let them fill the space with all of the things they love.  It’s a great way to find out what your students like, and it’s an activity they’re excited about.  Bonus: it can be used as an art piece to hang for Back to School Night that parents will enjoy too!

2.   Storyit.com

Story It is a website designed to make creative writing easier for students and more convenient for teachers.  One of the many features of Story It are story starters where students can log-on, choose their story starter, and either print or start typing.  Story It offers a few great fall themed story starters.  There is a Thanksgiving story starter where students write about an adventure they have on their way to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving dinner.  Students can get creative, and teachers have access to themed story starters any time of the year.

3.   InstructionalTechTalk.com

If you are using Google Apps for Education in your classroom, the folks at Instrumental Tech Talk have put together a step-by-step guide for Getting Started with Google

Classroom.  The easy to follow instructions will walk you through how to set up GAFE for you GAFE newbies.  If you’ve been hesitant to explore all of the features of GAFE, the experts at Instructional Tech Talk will give you the confidence you need to get started.   Interested in learning more about all of the features Google Apps for Education offer?  Check out one of our Google for Educators courses and discover all the ways GAFE can streamline your administrative responsibilities.

4.   LemonLimeAdvenures.com

Because STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) is one of the hot educational topics right now, teachers are always on the lookout for affordable, exciting STEM projects.  Lemon Lime Adventures has a great fall STEM project that can be used in just

about any elementary classroom – and it only requires two materials!  Just provide your students with candy sugar pumpkins and toothpicks and instruct them to build a tower or object.  Students can make them as complex or straightforward as they want.  Students will love the freedom they have while learning basic principles of engineering and building.

5.   Bitstrips.com

This app allows you to create comics using an avatar of your own design.  Students will love creating their own avatars and customizing comics for presentations, e-chats or just for fun.   Teachers can also get in on the fun by creating avatars and comics to use in their own presentations.  Even better, it’s free!  Warning: you may find yourself investing more time than you planned creating your avatar and comics, as I learned while researching this app. If you’re interested in learning more about BitStrip, StoryIt, or other great educational websites, check out our course at The Teacher’s Academy – Website Review for Teachers 2015.  Here you can learn about great websites and get professional development credits while doing it!

Hopefully these websites will ease your transition into fall and the new school year.  Check us out at The Teacher’s Academy for all of your professional development needs!

5 Ways Google Apps for Education Increases Productivity in the Classroom

Google Apps for Education (or as the “Tech Teachers” commonly say, GAFE) is used by

over 40 million students and teachers around the world.  GAFE is a service that Google provides as an alternative to traditional office suites.  Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides perform similarly to traditional word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation applications.  However, because GAFE is web based, it offers more flexibility and mobility.  The main difference between Google’s Apps and say, the Microsoft® Office Suite, is the primary focus on peer to peer and teacher to student collaboration. Google’s online platform may seem a little “leaner” than the full Microsoft options (you can’t add reflections, shadows, bevels and several other cool formatting features), but what it lacks in tools, it makes up for in online accessibility. Schools venturing into Flipped Classrooms, Blended Learning and Differentiated Instruction models will love how GAFE projects can be created and accessed from anywhere in the world (that has an Internet connection).

Twenty-first Century Teachers:  Google’s suite is for you!  Before you take the plunge, want to know what other teachers are saying about Google Apps in their classrooms? Read on. Below are five ways you can use GAFE to enhance your teaching tool belt.

  1. Google Classroom- Google Classroom is an app that is free for those with a GAFE account.  It allows students to access assignments and collaborate with their peersand teachers.  For example, if you’re teaching a unit on the water cycle, you may post a video which offers further explanation or an article that might pose a controversial idea about water conservation.  This forum allows students to comment and pose questions to each other. Classroom also helps the teacher generate, administer and even grade tests or other objective- based assignments. (Wait. GAFE can grade tests?) Yes. It can!
  2. Real Time Feedback- One of the many benefits of Google Docs is that it allows more than one user to collaborate on a document at any time.  It can also track whois using the document and identify who is making the changes.  Teachers can use this function to offer feedback in the rough draft phase.  For example, a teacher may instruct a student to “explain this further” or “omit this” by just accessing the document, highlighting information, and making notes in the comment section.  Students don’t need to print their rough drafts, and teachers can simply access the documents from any computer at any time.
  3. Google Play- This online media resource is aimed at providing teachers with arichcatalog of learning content to enhance their lessons.  Teachers can search bycategory, grade level, or recommendations from other educators. Google has partnered with educational outlets such as PBS and NASA to provide educational rich material.  Each piece of content is pre-approved for school-appropriateness, so teachers can present with confidence!
  4. Challenge your Students- We all wish we had extra instructional time to provide more problem-solving opportunities and real-world experiences for students outside of the curriculum.  But between the demands of standardized testing and new Common Core Standards, teachers are left with very little time.  GAFE offers programs such as Made with Code, Doodle 4 Google, and Google Science Fair that students can access in their free time and work on at their own pace to engage in learning they may be passionate about.
  5. Virtual Field Trips with Google Maps– Though not limited to Google for Education subscribers, Google Maps is an often over-looked resource for exploring the Earth.Google Maps allows users to see the “street view” of major historical sites.  Studying the Himalayas?  Google Maps allows users to take an interactive trek through Khumbu, Nepal and even hear folklore and stories from the locals.  Be sure to check out Google’s underwater adventures as well. Google has ventured into the depths of the oceans and started mapping the sea floor. All from the comfort of your laptop!

Still not convinced? Do you want more information on the Google Application Suite? The Teacher’s Academy recently launched the Google Apps Suite courses for professional development. For the most convenient and affordable professional development, you can learn the basics of Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. We have a whole array of technology courses that are ready for your 21st century classroom.

How Do I Check My Act 48 Credits?

 #1: How Do I Check My Act 48 Credits?

1. Go to the PA Department of Education website.

2. Type your Professional ID in the box and click GO. You will see Accumulated Credits and those that are Still Needed.

3. Click View CE Details to view the list of classes that you have taken.

#2: How do I get my PA Professional Personnel ID?

1. Go to the PA Department of Education website.
2. Click the Get your Professional Personnel ID.
&npsp;

3. Type your personal information in the spaces provided. Click Get Professional Personnel ID.

#3: How can I fulfill my Act 48 Requirements Quickly?

You must obtain 180 hours of professional development every 5 years. If your certificate is in danger of being inactive or you need to reactivate it for an upcoming job opportunity, your fastest option is online learning. The fastest way to obtain affordable Act 48 CEUs so that your certificate does not go inactive is The Teacher’s Academy. This new service for educators allows you to choose a course from a variety of growing topics and download the material to your computer instantly.

#4: What if I don’t satisfy my Act 48 Requirements?

If you don’t complete 180 hours of professional development in five (5) years, your certificate will be considered “inactive.” You will not be able to be hired or employed by any public or charter school in Pennsylvania. The certificate will remain inactive until you fulfill the 180 hour requirement.

#5: How can I update my contact information with the PA Department of Education?

Perhaps you recently moved or changed your name. It is important that the state has your most current information so that they can keep you informed of your certificate status and any other changes or news regarding your Pennsylvania teaching certificate. If you want to check that your information is current and that you are receiving any and all communication from the state, you can manage your contact information via the Teacher Information Management System (TIMS). NOTE: You must be a registered user of the PA Department of Education Website.

6. The Teacher’s Academy- The newest online provider of Act 48 credits recognized the problem that teachers need a source for managing and accumulating their Act 48 hours. This company was created by a group of teachers who have reached out to other teachers to write courses that have been approved by the state for Act 48 credits. As a result, you have a wide variety of affordable courses that you can download to your computer and complete at your convenience.

Use the chart for a visual comparison of these common vendors of Act 48 Hours.

The Teacher's Academy- Act 48 Credits

#7: Isn’t there a moratorium on obtaining Act 48 credits right now?

Yes…but that grace period expires at the end of June 2014. Check the status of your certificate online to see if you are in danger of becoming inactive. If you want more information on the moratorium, you can check out our last blog post.

Top 5 Things About Act 48 Moratorium

 

1. Why Was the Moratorium Instated?

In 2011, Pennsylvania Lawmakers passed Act 24 of 2011. Among other things, this law suspended the continuing professional education requirements of all certified PA educators until June 30, 2013. According to John Freund and Keely Espinar’s article,Making Sense of the Act 24 Hodgepodge, the moratorium was instated as a cost- savings strategy. Prior to Act 24 of 2011, school districts were responsible for paying for all continued education programs needed for their employed teachers to maintain their PA teaching certificate. The moratorium lifted this requirement so districts need not pay for continuing education programs…until June 30, 2013!

 2. Your Two-Year Grace Period is just about up!

If you’ve checked your certificate’s status at the PA Department of Education website lately, you may have noticed that two years have been added to your certificate’s end date. All Pennsylvania certified educators were given a two-year grace period for acquiring their 180 hours of required professional development. If your certificate was in danger of being “inactive” during the past two years, you have just a few months to reactivate it.

3. You can Reactivate an Inactive Certificate During the Moratorium

If your certificate is about to expire, you CAN take the necessary steps to reactivate your certificate during the moratorium grace period. An active certificate requires 180 hours of approved professional development or 6 college credits.

4. Act 48 Covered Certificates Issued during the Moratorium Expire on June 30, 2018

According to the PA Department of Education, if you received your first Act 48 certificate anytime during the moratorium, it will be set to end on June 30, 2018. This may seem far off from today, but it is important that you begin to take professional development courses and spread out the 180 hour requirement over the next 5 years.

5. Solutions for Obtaining Act 48 Credit Hours

Enroll in self-paced courses or college courses. Be aware that 1 collegiate credit is equal to 30 clock hours. Workshops and conferences that are approved by your school district can also apply towards your Act 48 professional development hours.