Season 1, Episode 4 of The Educator’s Companion to PD Podcast : Teachers First

Season 1, Episode 4 of The Educator’s Companion to PD Podcast : Teachers First

I know that a lot of people enjoying reading and skimming through podcast show notes to get a gist of the highlights of the episode. This podcast was originally recorded back in June 2017. To listen to the podcast, please go here.

On February 16th, 2013, I signed up for a free membership at Teachers First and my life hasn’t been the same since. This is probably one of my favorite website for teachers. You can really get lost here in the generous amount of fabulous resources here, which has everything from Edtech reviewed resources to BYOD tools and tips, and tons upon tons of curriculum ideas to integrate subjects. It has other useful and timely resources for special education and But that’s really the tip of the iceberg, you have got to go check it out.

The best part of all of this is that it is completely free, including ads and politics. This site is interesting because it self-funds through its non-profit parent company, The Source for learning.   The Source for Learning (SFL), holds licenses for some special broadcast frequencies that date back to the 1970s that are now used by wireless communication companies. The royalties from these arrangements let SFL maintain Teachers First’s main operations as a free service for teachers. They see this website as their charitable way to help teachers enrich their practice with their online community for teachers by teachers. With thousands of lessons, units, and reviewed web resources for K-12 classroom teachers, you will be grateful that you have found this website, as it supports you in becoming a 21st-century educator.

There are literally thousands of resources here for classrooms K-12, but I’m going to focus mainly on the free professional development that they offer through their OK2Ask program. The OK2Ask program conducts virtual workshops that are designed to be interactive and practical. Since they are based in America, they offer these online workshops in the evening, eastern standard time, so it’s convenient as well. Even for me, who lives in China, I can catch these workshops before I go to school. These webinars are about 90-minutes long and you can ask all sorts of questions. The first 60-70 minutes is all about the topic, and then the rest of it is just answering a question.  That is what I love about these workshops is that you never have to feel idiotic. Sometimes you feel like you should know more about a topic but you don’t and are afraid to ask so you don’t look stupid. So I really appreciate how they create this context of authenticity, and they patiently and thoroughly answer questions. And, even though this is free, you can still get continuing education credits that you can use towards your licensing.  And those credits are not given with a fee attached–they are completely free.

Listen to the offerings for last month’s OK2Ask Program:
  • 3 Cool Tools for Student Response
  • Explore, compare, and contrast 3 free online student response tools for formative assessment in the classroom. 4/11
  • Digital Storytelling In the Classroom Pt. 3: Adding Tech Tools Join us to explore free options for creating digital storytelling projects with your students.
  • 4/25 Differentiating the K-8 Classroom Learn to use instructional technology strategies that invite differentiation and provide opportunities to tailor your teaching to reach all students.
  • 5/2 Meet Google Classroom Join us for a “Meet and Greet” with Google Classroom, an online tool that incorporates G-Suite apps into a dynamic classroom environment.
  • 5/9 Make the Most of Your TeachersFirst Membership Discover the benefits of the free membership offered by TeachersFirst.
  • 5/16 Microsoft Tools to Ignite Student Engagement and Increase Productivity! Enhance classroom instruction and connect your students to authentic classroom experiences with free tools from Microsoft
  • 5/23 Getting Started with Google Draw Explore the hidden treasure that is Google Draw. Don’t let its simplicity fool you; there are many things hidden in this versatile tool.
  • 5/30 Tech Integration Made Easy with Adobe Spark Engage your students with Adobe Spark, an integrated suite of FREE storytelling applications. Learn to use Adobe Spark, Post, and Page for classroom projects and personal productivity.
Personally, I have taken courses on everything from Daily 5 with a Technology Twist, to Digital Storytelling, to Tools for Flipped Learning, Student-friendly Search Engines.

3 Pros of the Resource

  1. The teachers who present these topics are really well versed and helpful, so you are getting quality PD. Oftentimes, there are multiple hosts so you are getting more than one perspective or advice from an expert in the area of interest.  I personally love that, and since they use Abode Connect, not only are there are little to none technical glitches, but it’s a great platform to interact and engage.
  2.  And they archive workshops so if you miss it, you watch it later. However, they do repeat certain popular workshops so there is a likelihood that you can catch it live another time.
  3. If you have a BYOD or 1:1 initiative at your school, they have a multitude of ideas and solutions to your challenges. You can use their archived workshops in your own school’s PD meetings, so your team can discuss and troubleshoot these challenges.

2 Cons of the Resource

I actually had to think hard about this since the Webinars are incredibly organized and are a well-oiled machine. but here are my 2 cons.
  1. You have to be live on the webinar in order to receive PD credit.
  2. They have almost too many resources. I know that sounds funny but sometimes you can get overwhelmed by it all. However, I do have to say that they have webinars on how to use the website and if you take it. And if all you ever do is engage in the OK2ASk offerings, the presenters do an amazing job with creating wikis on the content they share.

1 Idea for Success

Get a membership. It is free and be sure that you sign up for their newsletter. They don’t bombard you with a bunch of ads or annoying emails, it’s just straight up resources. I just want to share one more resource that you can avail yourself that is nestled in their professional resources area:

TeachersFirst’s Grant Sources and Contests

There they have over 30 listings of contests that educators can have their classroom compete in that award money as well as resources for educational grants. The only thing I love more than Free PD is free money for my classroom, so I highly recommend you avail yourself of these opportunities.
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Judy Imamudeen

Judy Imamudeen

Developing learners as leaders is my joy! As a highly qualified International Baccaluearate (IB) teacher and educational leader, I am committed and passionate about executing its framework and empowering students in creating a future world that works for everyone.

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