online-learningMost teachers spend their summers enjoying some time off, working a second job, or traveling the country to visit conferences and professional development opportunities on the dollars of their school. This summer, you can engage in some meaningful professional development right from the comfort of your couch for the low, low fee of absolutely nothing! Thanks to companies and organizations who are providing free online courses from reputable universities, you can now be a part of thousands who are engaging in real learning on the web. Some are structured and taught live by notable professors, while others are self-paced and video-based. All of them provide valuable learning opportunities for educators who are low on funds and low on gas!

If you are looking for a place to start, here are 12 free professional development courses that caught my eye:

  1. Art and Inquiry: Museum Teaching Strategies For Your Classroom
    Explore how to integrate works of art into your classroom with inquiry-based teaching methods originally developed for in-gallery museum education.
  2. Designing Blended Learning
    Transition your teaching to blended learning experiences where some portion of learning occurs online and outside of a traditional classroom setting. Prepare your students for self-directed and independent learning.
  3. Effective Classroom Interactions: Supporting Young Children’s Development
    During the early childhood years children gain knowledge and skills that provide the foundation for later learning. Young children learn many of these skills through the interactions they have with their teachers. This course is intended to increase teachers’ knowledge about specific types of teacher-child interactions that promote young children’s development.
  4. Common Core In Action: Literacy Across Content Areas
    Learn how to apply some of the tools from the Literacy Design Collaborative to incorporate Common Core literacy strategies into your content area. In this course you will implement a template task and examine student work according to the LDC writing rubric.
  5. Common Core In Action: Math Formative Assessment
    This course offers participants an opportunity to engage in a community of learners using an inquiry cycle focusing on math formative assessments as a strategy for implementing CCSS in math. It focuses on the implementation of a Classroom Challenge: a 1 – 2 day lesson developed by the Mathematics Assessment Project (MAP) based on formative assessment and the CCSSM.
  6. Educational Psychology
    This course is designed to be used to prepare you to earn real college credit by passing the Introduction to Educational Psychology CLEP exam. This course covers topics that are included on the exam, such as cognitive and behavioral perspective, developmental psychology, motivation in learning and instructional pedagogy. Use it to help you learn what you need to know about educational psychology topics and succeed on the exam.
  7. Integrating Engineering Into Your Science Classroom
    This is an Exploratorium Teacher Institute professional development course open to any middle or high school science teacher. This course is designed to help science teachers infuse their curriculum with activities that support the NGSS engineering practices.
  8. Thinking Critically With Data
    Examine critical thinking with a focus on data analysis. This course will help you prepare students to think analytically in our global, knowledge-driven world.
  9. Emerging Trends and Technologies In The Virtual K12 Classroom
    Learn about emerging trends and technologies in K-12 virtual instruction. Join us as we explore this dynamic landscape and investigate how we can more deeply engage students in the virtual classroom through the use of innovative practices and technologies.
  10. Foundations of Virtual Instruction
    Learn what it takes to teach a K-12 course online! Investigate the history of virtual education, explore innovative tools, and examine key issues related to K-12 virtual instruction.
  11. Genetics and Society: A Course for Educators
    How have advances in genetics affected society? What do we need to know to make ethical decisions about genetic technologies? This course includes the study of cloning, genetic enhancement, and ownership of genetic information. Course participants will acquire the tools to explore the ethics of modern genetics and learn how to integrate these issues into their classrooms.
  12. Assessments in 21st Century Classrooms
    Learn how to plan, develop, and manage student-centered assessment strategies that can benefit your teaching and your students’ learning.

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