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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.

The Teacher’s Academy in Arkansas!

Arkansas teachers: Get ready for the MOST convenient, affordable and relevant professional development option!

How it all began…

In 2012, a group of established teachers wanted more out of their professional development time. We used our content-based expertise (and knowing what teachers really want), we created an online platform that provided a variety of courses for teachers to complete on their own schedule. Most importantly, we had to make these courses affordable. Originally, we aimed to serve PA teachers, but soon noticed purchases coming in from other states. Teachers needed this service and we are happy to provide it! At The Teachers Academy, we are all certified classroom teachers. In fact, the founder of the company is still teaching in the classroom and keeping her pulse on the needs and wants of the 21st century teacher. We are so excited to be able to bring this service to the great teachers of Arkansas! Welcome, Arkansas teachers!

We help teachers across the country…

Since then, we have been providing an affordable, convenient way for teachers to maintain their professional licenses.  In 2013, we expanded into additional states like, Texas, Tennessee, Colorado, Virginia, Arizona and Indiana. In 2016, we were approved by an international accrediting agency, IACET.

The Teacher’s Academy is accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and is authorized to issue the IACET CEU.

This approval opened doors to all states accepting IACET CEUs, like Massachusetts, Michigan, South Carolina and South Dakota.

Today, our internationally recognized company, The Teacher’s Academy, reaches across the nation to support all teachers. We are extremely proud to share the same vision for preparing generations of students for successful careers.

Renewing Your AR Teaching License

Arkansas teachers may take any of our 6, 15 or 18 hour courses toward license renewal. Beginning the 2015-16 school year, Arkansas teachers must earn 36 hours or 6 days of professional development per school year. Licenses that are expired for more than a year must earn 60 hours of professional development.

Here are a few examples of courses offered by The Teacher’s Academy and the PDPs earned for each:

The Teacher’s Academy offers a variety of courses worth 6, 15 and 18 hours.

The Teacher’s Academy Courses

Because the founders of The Teacher’s Academy are teachers, we believe professional development should be convenient, cover relevant topics, provide choices and above all, affordable.

Not only are courses affordable, the team of teachers that reviews your completed work will present your Certificate and professional development hours within 5 – 7 business days of submission.  Our process is faster and less expensive than community colleges or other private companies.  There are no administrative or extra costs for materials because everything you need to complete the course is emailed immediately.   We have a tech team and support staff ready to assist with any questions.

Since our courses are downloaded to the your computer, the course, along with all of the great web resources and teaching tools, are your to keep! Check out our course topics:

Teacher Resources

Music and Art

Technology

We are honored to bring our services to the excellent teachers of Arkansas! Check out The Teacher’s Academy website and Course Catalog, for a listing of all of our courses.

The Teacher's Academy

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!

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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!

 

Top 5 Take-Aways from the Pennsylvania Education and Technology Conference

The Pennsylvania Education Technology Expo and Conference was very special to The Teacher’s Academy this year. Not only did we get to see lots of familiar faces and meet new teachers, we were honored to be able to present a small section of our Mindfulness in Education course.

Throughout the conference, we received tons of great teaching tips, advice and tech tools that teachers swear by. Now it’s time for us to share the best of the best with you! Check out our Top 5 Take-Aways from PETE this year…

5: Words of Wisdom

Teachers were eager to share their favorite philosophies and quotes that keep them motivated from September to June! Here are our favorites:

  • “Kindness 1st!” -Rianna, Sayne School District
  • “Always be willing to learn from your students.” -Amanda, Derry Township School District
  • “Show students it’s okay to make a mistake or that things go wrong. Adjust and reset, that’s how we learn.” -Dom, New Brighton Area High School
  • “If you take care of yourself, you can better help each other.” -Kevin, Garnet Valley School District

 4: Mindfulness Apps
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As Mindfulness continues to make waves in public education, curious teachers may want to try out some mindful practices on their own before bringing these strategies to their students. Fair warning: Learning Mindfulness may change the way you live! Here are some of our favorite Mindfulness Apps:

  • Insight Timer.com Download this app to your mobile device for instant connections to group meditations, poetry readings, and more. The timer feature allows you to set your meditation time, background music, and peaceful meditation sounds. So nice!
  • Smiling Mind.com au A non-profit seeking to make mindfulness accessible to all. Take a survey to assess your current state and find recommended meditations based on the results. Their programs are designed for ages 7-9, 10-12, 13-15, etc. Included on the site is a meditation/ mindfulness tracker.
  • Buddhify.com For meditations on the go! Choose what’s happening in your life at the moment and find a 6-14 minute meditation for it: Traveling, difficulty sleeping, or just simple meditation- it’s all there!

3: Video Resourcescamera

  • YouTube You Tube is a dumping ground for all kinds of educational videos, movie clips, inspirational talks, tutorials, etc. Did you know that you can create your own playlist of saved videos and subscribe to helpful channels? (It’s not just for looking up old 80s rock videos anymore!)
  • Snip for MS Windows This is an easy-to-use feature for MS users. You can create your own screen casting video or convert your PowerPoint Slide Show into a video! You can even annotate on the screen and record your voice to customize your videos- and it’s free! Look for our new course on Mix to be released in 2017!
  • PBS Learning Media  A familiar site for many teachers, PBS Learning Media provides quick clips of historically accurate videos. Science news, as well as tutorials for English and Math concepts provide another way for teachers to differentiate learning, and for students to achieve deeper understanding of content.
  • Do Ink Your students will have a blast creating their own videos using a green screen backdrop. They can use pictures, video, or design their own graphics to create and retell stories or present information. Visit the tutorial page to see how you can use this in your own classroom.

2: Newest Apps

Do your lesson apps need an update? Are you just starting to integrate apps in your classroom instruction? Check out these tested and favorite apps submitted from both teachers and students.

  •  Epic! Encourage young readers with instant access to an extensive library for free! Audio and Spanish versions are available too! Anyone else can join for about $5 per month.
  • Seesaw Remember when students would keep all of their work in a folder? Using Seesaw, they can keep all of their work on an interactive, online folder that can be shared with teachers, family and peers. This is a great time management tool for teacherkidscomps and an empowerment tool for students.
  • Newsela This news source for students provides information on the latest scientific discoveries, political issues, weather, current events, etc. Students can use the information to write their own summary and teachers can use the quiz tool to assess. Stories are written in Spanish and English for students interested in learning another language. Lots of ways to differentiate instruction too!
  • MobyMax This is an educational tool designed to find specific gaps in student learning and then “fix” the gaps with differentiated instruction and motivational tools. Reading, writing, science and social studies content are covered. There is even a test prep tool!

1: Mindfulness in Education Workshop

This is particularly special because The Teacher’s Academy presented, Unplug: Mindful Practices that Work for 150 technology teachers! Our presenter, Maggie Haflett, was overwhelmed with gratitude for the immediate and eager acceptance of this new (to education) practice. Teachers came to this conference thirsty for the latest and greatest in technology, but came out of that workshop with a renewed appreciation for slowing down and fostering our abilities to focus more.

We want to thank all of the teachers who attended the conference for their support and promotion of Mindfulness in Education. To learn more about this practice and get 18 hours of PD, click here!

There were so many great ideas, it was impossible to fit them all into this blog. In fact, we are inspired to write another course to showcase what we learned from you! Look for another website review course to be released later this year. It will contain more suggestions from our PA teachers as well as our teachers from Michigan, Massachusetts, Texas, Indiana, South Carolina, Virginia, South Dakota, Tennessee and Colorado!

The Teacher’s Academy is honored to provide high-quality, relevant and affordable professional development courses for busy teachers. Visit our website to view a complete listing of courses in our course catalog.

“Whoever is happy, will make others happy too.”

-Anne Frank

The Teacher’s Academy is honored to introduce our April Teacher Feature, Mrs. Lisa Mancini!

Fostering a love for reading at the middle school level can be a quite challenge.  Kids spend so much time immersed in the fast-paced world of technology that they often don’t have the patience required to appreciate classic literature.  We met one teacher who is able to use her students’ interest in technology to keep them motivated, curious, and persistent in the challenges that come with developing strong reading skills.  Simply put, she nurtures a good old-fashioned, love for reading.

Spark CuriosityMancini

The beauty of Mrs. Mancini’s teaching is that she is able to develop her students’ comprehension skills in such a subtle way that they become captivated before even beginning the book.

On the day I met Mrs. Mancini, she was introducing, “The Diary of Anne Frank” to her lively 7th grade students.  Before they were able to open the book, Mrs. Mancini used the website http://annefrank.org to allow her students to experience a virtual tour of the secret annex where Anne and her family hid for 3 years.

The realization of war and the occupation of the Nazi army in Holland were sub-topics that her students quickly picked up on.   They asked questions about Anne’s older sister who was called to report to one of the camps in Germany.  They wondered about how Anne’s friends must have felt when she just disappeared, unable to say goodbye.  They considered the risks taken by her father’s employees to keep the whole family hidden. In short, they were able to make the deep connections to the people and events in the book that are vital to reading comprehension.  Did you forget we were in English class?  I did!

Performing Arts and Reading…

Next step, reading!  Not reading from a textbook or even the diary, but from a scripted play.  Mrs. Mancini skillfully incorporates the performing arts to allow her students to further immerse themselves in the story.  The students have already chosen which characters they will portray.  They sit together, practicing their lines, while Mrs. Mancini helps to further define the characters.

 “I never thought I’d see the day where Mr. Frank goes into hiding.” She states to her students.  “What does that sentence tell you about Mr. Frank?”

The students discuss what they know of Mr. Frank’s character thus far and devise several responses:

“He’s a good person.”

“He’s trying to protect his family or else he wouldn’t have to go into hiding.”

 Mrs. Mancini offers a little more guidance. “What kind of people go into hiding?”

The enthusiasm in the room is palpable as students jump to chime in.

“Criminals!”

“Bad people, people who are wanted by the government.”

“Mr. Frank is not a bad person. That’s why no one can believe he has to go into hiding.”

“Exactly.” Mrs. Mancini smiles and leads her students into a discussion of the other 7 characters and some background information to help set the scene.

The kids have lots of questions.

 annefrank“Why are the names different in the video?”  One perceptive student asks.

 “Anne was afraid to get anyone else in trouble.  She knew if they were caught and the names of the people who shared the annex with her were in her diary, the Nazis would punish them too.”

Mrs. Mancini continues to explain why Mrs. van Pels has on 7 layers of clothing and a fur coat in July and why Peter might be happy to burn his Star of David, but Anne can’t seem to let hers go.  She points out how Mr. Frank, the eternal optimist, continuously tries to keep everyone’s moods elevated, even in the darkest of times.

Her students are comfortable with their characters and the play begins…

Foster A Love of Reading

Mrs. Mancini gives stage directions and supports the integrity of the play by encouraging her students to read their parts like true actors…

“Come on Zac! This is the perfect role for you! How would you act if your mom was embarrassing you?”

With Mrs. Mancini’s encouragement, Zac (reading the role of Peter) over-emphasizes the total embarrassment of having such a doting mother, “Pleeease Mother!” he says, with the dramatics of a seasoned professional.  The classroom erupts with laughter until the student playing Anne chimes in with her eloquent voice, evoking the energetic spirit of the real Anne Frank.

Mrs. Mancini’s students continue to have fun reading their parts. Mr. Frank, Margot, Mrs. Frank, Mr. and Mrs. van Pels, Peter, Mr. Pfeffer and of course, Anne, enjoy experimenting with voices and emotions, while the rest of the class encourages the actors to “stay in character.”

At the conclusion of the play, the students are directed to write about the characters.  Using laptops, they log into www.goformative.com. Mrs. Mancini hands out slips of paper with the names of two characters the students can describe.

Incorporating writing immediately after interactive visuals and a dramatic reading makes her students better equipped to respond.  They get to work right away, with very little discussion. Soon the classroom is filled with the clicking sounds of confident writers. Students are able to post their responses onto the common page where Mrs. Mancini can quickly read or share the comments.

At the end of class, students gather to sign up for characters to portray during tomorrow’s lesson.  “I’m going to read the role of Mr. Frank! I can’t wait until tomorrow!”  Chirps one enthusiastic student.

Kindness and Giving… Keystones of a Successful Teacher

“My favorite thing about teaching is having the chance to play a small part in so many lives. Knowing that I have had a role in the education of so many young lives is very powerful. I also love the opportunity to start again each fall; it gives me the opportunity to improve my craft and set new goals for myself.”

Even with a story as tragic as that of Anne Frank’s, Mrs. Mancini is able to find elements of life and joy that she then brings to her students.

Not only does this create strong readers, but it also develops compassion and interest in historical events that students may not have been able to connect to previously.  And, perhaps even more importantly, it demonstrates Mrs. Mancini’s ability to teach her students that to avoid hatred we must embrace kindness.

Mrs. Mancini performs her own acts of kindness in many different ways.  Along with her entire school community, she supports the Kelly Ann Dolan fund, which raises money for families of sick children. She organizes the Lee National Denim Day at her school, to raise money for breast cancer research.  She is one of the 7th grade team leaders, as well as backstage support during school plays.  She also serves as the CB Cares Boomerang Award Coordinator.  (A district-wide initiative to honor students for small acts of kindness.)

“I love helping students earn recognition for the great things they do each and every day.”

As a graduate of Bloomsburg University and a daughter of two teachers, Mrs. Mancini never dreamed of doing anything but becoming a teacher herself.  She was inspired to earn an additional certification in German by a very special, energetic 13 year-old girl, who also had a great love of writing.

“I LOVE reading. My love of reading turned into a love of writing.  I see the two going hand-in-hand. Good writers need to be good readers and vice-versa!”

Mrs. Mancini works with LearnZillion and the Louisiana Department of Education, writing curriculum guidebooks for teachers. She is also a Graphite Certified Educator, which gives her access to some really cool technology.  On first impression, she presents herself as quiet and modest, but don’t let that fool you! This 21st Century teacher loves to stay active! She is a competitive triathlete and a mixed martial artist. She has been fortunate to have support from some awesome people in her life in order to accomplish all of these amazing things.  Her husband and two children join her for adventures whenever they can. Each summer, the four of them escape to North Wildwood with her in-laws so they can be outside and hang with family and friends.

As an energetic teacher who loves to read and devotes herself to making this world a better place, Mrs. Mancini has some pretty high hopes for her own students…

“I want them to find something they love and go after it. I want them to know that great things are possible with hard work. I want them to know that they might fall down along the way, but there will always be a way to get back up and keep going.”

Thank you so much, Mrs. Mancini!  Anne could not have said it better herself.

Check out The Teacher’s Academy to find an array of affordable, convenient professional development courses. All courses are Act 48 Certified and accepted in most states. Click here to find a course that works for you!

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.

 

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!

 

 

 

The Teacher’s Academy Releases a New Course: Social Studies Websites Review

The Teacher’s Academy proudly releases the latest course in our Website Review Series: Social Studies Websites Reviews!

For those of you who are not familiar with The Teacher’s Academy’s 3-hour website review courses, the idea is simple.  We research hundreds of educational websites and choose 25 to be featured in one of our website review courses.  Of those 25 courses, we ask teachers to review five of them and give a brief summary of how they might use the website in the classroom.   Within 5 – 7 business days after completing the course, teachers will receive a Certificate and Feedback Form. They also have 25 educational websites to refer back to at anytime!  All of our website review courses are worth 3 professional development hours and cost $24.99.   Not bad for checking out a few cool website for your students!

Here is a sneak peek into the course and some of the fun and interesting web sites teachers will discover:

1. Teaching Tolerance.org

Teaching Tolerance.org is a place where teachers can find free materials to use when teaching diversity, equality, and appropriate social behaviors.  Teachers can use the Mix it Up activities, film kits, and magazines (also free) to help support a tolerant, compassionate classroom environment. http://www.tolerance.org/

2. Tenement Museum

The Tenement Museum “tells the stories of 97 Orchard Street.”  This tenement apartment building was built in 1863 and housed almost 7,000 working class immigrants. You can take a virtual tour of the apartments and learn about the families who lived there through pictures and stories.  *A great connection to current immigration issues!  http://www.tenement.org/

3. Teaching History.org

This website provides educational resources for k-12 learners.  Lesson plans, digital integrating ideas, and videos help teachers create engaging learning experiences for their students. There are links to educational websites that complement the lesson plans.  They also have their very own website review section where teachers can choose a few cool websites to check out on their own.  Wow!  What a fantastic idea! http://www.teachinghistory.org/

4. Museum Box

This is a really cool tool for organizing research then presenting an argument.  Students create their own virtual box of information to defend or argue an issue.  The museum box can be filled with videos, pictures, text, sound bites, or anything that can be used to support a particular argument.  Students will have fun with this digital tool while honing their research skills! http://museumbox.e2bn.org/

5.The First Thanksgiving Virtual Field Trips

Scholastic is a great educational website and houses webcasts that re-create the events of the first Thanksgiving.  Students get a tour of the Mayflower, meet the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians of the New World, and learn about the daily lives of these two very different cultures.  Scholastic has also created Common Core aligned lesson plans to make things extra easy for teachers!  http://www.scholastic.com/scholastic_thanksgiving/webcast.htm

6. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum This virtual museum holds pictures, text, podcasts and videos of this dark time in history.  Teachers can share the stories of survivors and online exhibits to connect students on an emotional level.  Use online exhibits like The Nuremberg Race Laws to ignite discussions about discrimination and fear leading to genocide.  Guidelines and lesson plans are provided to help teachers build an appropriate and sensitive unit for their students. http://www.ushmm.org/

7. Facing History and Ourselves

The philosophy behind this website was to provide a way for users to directly connect with racial injustices and prejudice practices of the past so they never happen again.  Teachers can download lesson plans and units on the events surrounding the Civil Rights Movement or find teaching strategies to teach social behaviors.  Articles and news stories are also posted so teachers can connect current events to our history. https://www.facinghistory.org/

While visiting the other websites featured in this course, teachers will discover tools for creating engaging lessons for students, technology to embark on virtual field trips to historical sites such as the Pyramids of Giza, and access to live footage of our own political leaders.  We hope the Social Studies themed websites we’ve chosen for the course will ignite a new passion for learning about historical events and how they have impacted our culture.  Check out Social Studies Website Review online and get excited about Social Studies!

Here is a listing of other web site review courses you can purchase at The Teacher’s Academy website:

2013 Website Reviews for Teachers – 3 Hours, $24.99

2014 Website Reviews for Teachers – 3 Hours, $24.99

2015 Science and Apps Reviews – 3 Hours, $24.99

2015 Pre-K Website and Apps Reviews – 3 Hours, $24.99

2015 Elementary Website Reviews – 3 Hours, $24.99

For a full listing of courses, check out The Teacher’s Academy Course Catalog

 

 

 

 

 

The Teacher’s Academy Expands to Delaware

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Courtesy of iStock

Professional development made easy, affordable, and relevant (finally)!

Welcome, Delaware teachers!  The Teacher’s Academy is excited to become a part of the professional development process for our amazing Delaware teachers!  We are all certified teachers at The Teacher’s Academy so we have made maintaining professional licenses easy, affordable and convenient.  No more wasting time or money with painfully boring workshops or expensive college courses.  At The Teacher’s Academy, you can quickly download a course, create materials to use in class with your students and earn professional development hours, all from the comfort of your own home!

 Delaware teachers need professional development and we can help!

Like many states in the union, Delaware has a minimum PD requirement. Teachers need 90 hours of PD every five (5) years. Many teachers can get these requirements filled through workshops, conferences, in-services or even college courses. But what if you aren’t currently working in a district?  What if you missed the in-service day or couldn’t make it to a conference? Or maybe your district doesn’t take care of your professional development and money is an issue.  Perhaps you are a sub and don’t have access to PD and need a better solution. The Teacher’s Academy was created to fill this need. We can offer Delaware teachers professional development from the comfort of their own home, or work, or wherever they choose!

The Delaware Department of Education allows a variety of activities to fulfill professional development requirements.  The Teacher’s Academy falls under the Professional Committee, Conference, Workshop, Institute or Academy section of the Education Administrative Code.  Our Certificate of Completion and Feedback Form state the contact hours teachers earned along with the skills mastered while taking the course.  Teachers receive these documents within 5-7 business days of course completion as a PDF file, via email.

How does it work?

First, you would need to set up an online account with The Teacher’s Academy.  Here, you will purchase courses, manage your course work and upload completed projects.  Next, you simply choose from a variety of courses depending on the hours you need or content of interest.  After you apply secure payment via credit card or PayPal, all of the course materials are emailed to your account. (If you don’t see them, check your spam folder!) Along with the course materials are directions for opening and saving the course, so that you can get started right away. Or, perhaps you want to begin a month from now. The course is yours to keep forever, but if you want your certificate, you must complete it within a year!

Course Catalog…

The Teacher’s Academy has a wide variety of courses that you can choose from ranging from computer basics to next generation teaching strategies. Below are just a few of our most popular courses to date. Check out our Course Catalog for a full list of courses.

How will I get my credits for taking the course?

After your coursework has been uploaded, it will take 5-7 business days for our review team (comprised of teachers) to review and process your Certificate of Completion.  Upon successful completion of the course, expect to receive a congratulations email containing the Certificate of Completion and Feedback Form.  These documents will state the hours earned for the course along with the skills mastered, and they can be submitted to your administrator for professional development hours.

 What if I need help?

Although our courses are designed to be completed autonomously, we understand glitches, questions and problems arise. We have a tech team and support staff ready to assist with any questions. All requests are answered within 24 hours (but usually before then)!  Our goal is to make the process as simple, meaningful and fun as possible!

The Teacher’s Academy is proud to align our courses with the high standards set by the Delaware Department of Education.   We bring excellence to the field of education and are honored to serve the teachers of Delaware.

Check out The Teacher’s Academy website for a listing of all of our courses and information on the education requirements for Delaware teachers on our Delaware webpage.

Enjoy teachers!

The Teacher’s Academy Expands to Colorado

 The Teacher’s Academy Expands to Colorado

How it all began…

In 2012, a group of established teachers formed a company in Pennsylvania called Act 48CO pic Academy in honor of a law that requires all staff to maintain a high level of professional development. Act 48 Academy struck a chord for many teachers, and these services were needed outside of PA. Hence, The Teacher’s Academy was born.

We help teachers across the country…

Since then, we have been providing an affordable, convenient way for teachers to maintain their professional licenses.  In 2013, we expanded into our neighboring states of New York, New Jersey and Delaware. We’ve become approved providers for the state of Texas and Oregon.  We will remain Act 48 Academy in Pennsylvania, but our nationally recognized company, The Teacher’s Academy, reaches across the nation to support all teachers.  And now, we are excited to announce that The Teacher’s Academy is part of the educational landscape of Colorado.   We are proud to share the same vision for preparing generations of students for successful careers.

Professional development should be relevant and useful!

Preparing students for employment in an ever-changing global market must begin with our teachers.   As educators in the new millennium, we are bombarded with an incredible amount of information on best teaching practices from a variety of different sources.  Sifting through all of this information in order to keep up with highly skilled and tech savvy students can be a bit overwhelming.   We are all teachers at The Teacher’s Academy, and we understand the need to navigate time constraints, develop high-level thinkers and adhere to demanding standards.  For those reasons and more, we have created courses that contain projects for teachers to use in class and utilize resources from reputable education companies. We foster and spark next generation ideas for achieving best practices in education.   Our courses are aligned with Colorado’s superior professional development standards and can be completed at your own pace, in the comfort of your own home.

 Professional development doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming (anymore)!

The Teacher’s Academy has considered the financial burden placed on school districts and, more specifically, teachers.   To keep costs low, we have created an efficient system of reviewing projects and then distributing your Certificate of Completion and Feedback Form within 5 – 7 business days.  Our process is faster and less expensive than community colleges or other private companies.

There are no administrative or extra costs for materials because everything you need to complete the course is emailed immediately.   We have a tech team and support staff ready to assist with any questions.

 How we can help busy Colorado teachers…

According to the Colorado Department of Education, a valid license may be renewed every five years with an equivalent of six-semester hours of credit from an accepted, regionally accredited college or university, which may include up to 90 clock hours of professional development (in-services, workshops, being on a committee, etc.) earned during the validity of your professional license.

 One semester credit hour equals fifteen contact hours.  The courses at The Teacher’s Academy are written in 3, 6, 15 and 18-hour increments.  This allows teachers to choose from a variety of educational experiences and gain an abundance of educational resources while earning their 90 clock hours.

The Colorado Department of Education allows a variety of acceptable activities for professional development.  The Teacher’s Academy would fall under the Workshops or Academies section of the Accepted Renewal Activities document.  Upon completion of the course, Colorado teachers will receive a signed Certificate of Completion along with a Feedback Form that state the contact hours earned and skills mastered.  These forms are sent as a PDF file, via email, and can be submitted for earned “ongoing” professional development hours.

Once you try it, you will keep coming back for more!

The Teacher’s Academy is proud to say we have a large percentage of returning clients for several reasons.  Clients know they are getting high quality PD because the materials are current and the projects are relevant.

The format for every class they take is similar.  In other words, once you take one course, you will notice that the course layout, terminology, and submitting protocol for all TTA courses are exactly the same. Our goal is to make the process as easy and fun as possible!

Once you pay for the course, it is yours to keep forever!  Often times, teachers refer back to the course for websites or activities ideas, long after they’ve completed the course.  Teachers can share the educational resources, activity ideas for students and cutting edge strategies with other teachers or administrators.  Even students like to see what their teachers are learning!

Another feature teachers appreciate is the ability to complete their PD requirements from home.  We really like the idea of working from home and we want to share that experience with as many teachers as possible.  So now there is no reason to get in the car and drive to a workshop or college campus.  Stay at home and enjoy a few hours of learning at your own pace, creating your own materials and expect your Certificate of Completion and Feedback Form in a few days.

We are honored to bring our services to the excellent teachers of Colorado!  Check out some of our most popular courses:

Inspiring Ideas for the 21st Century Classroom – 18 Hours, $89.99

Blended Learning – 15 Hours, $79.99

Computers the VERY basics for the PC – 15 hours, $79.99

Microsoft Word for Educators – 15 hours, $79.99

2015 Science Website and Apps Review – 3 Hours, $24.99

2015 Pre-K Websites and Apps Review – 3 Hours, $24.99

Check out The Teacher’s Academy website for a listing of all of our courses and information on the education requirements for Colorado teachers on the Colorado web page.

Enjoy teachers!