Summer PD Fun

Now that summer is in full swing, and I have more time to focus on me, I determined to make a plan to ensure I did not fall into a deep binge book reading or Netflix hole (and then wake up in August with no real accomplishments)! There are many free opportunities for teachers/librarians to better their practice over the summer, so I want to share my summer PD plan with you.

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Google Educator, Trainer, and Innovator certifications are a great way to ensure you are prepared to move your classroom into the digital landscape. With so many unknowns for the upcoming school year, I have made it a priority to get my Level 2 Certification and my trainer status. The google trainings are easy, engaging, and teach you all things Google. At the end of the training you can pay to take the online test and become certified. Or you can just follow along and learn how to use and integrate G-Suite into your classroom. I felt it was a streamlined process to learning, that does not overwhelm a person from the start! Click the picture above to learn how you can earn your Google certifications too.

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Newsela is such a cool site to help integrate literacy across the subjects. They have a rich library of articles paired with questions you can assign to your students digitally (or print). The real magic of Newsela is that the program can adapt to the student’s reading level. You can literally have five different lexile versions of the same article for your students! This really makes it easy to meet your students where they are at, and help grow them as readers. The content is variable, so you can find current events or pre-built units depending on your program plan. They have free services, but like all good edutech they also have a pay for version.

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Screencasify is not my favorite screencast service, but it is what my district will allow. So sometimes that is what we go with! The cool part about screencastify is that they have some free training available for teachers to learn how to use screencastify in their classrooms. I really appreciate that it not only goes over the logistics of how to use screencastify, but also offers some suggestions of how to use it in your lessons. Some of the suggestions were super good ideas that I had not previously thought of.

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Edpuzzle has a wide range of skill level PD sessions you can complete to earn how to use their edutech in your classroom. Edpuzzle is a great way to ensure students are getting something out of the videos you assign them to watch using best practices.

These are just a few of the free eduTech PDs out there for teachers and librarians. I am going to keep my plan simple this summer in hopes of achieving my goals. What PD’s do you have planned?

Sponsor a club. Or two. Or three.

High school can be the most awkward time, or it can be the most memorable. And while we would love to think that our dear students will remember that perfect lesson on symbolism in The Giver, it is more plausible that they will only remember how you made them feel. They will remember if you cared, if you believed in them, and if you shared some joy with them. Over the years, I found the best way to build relationships with students in my class and outside of my class is to sponsor a club. I was recruited to sponsor the my first club by two freshmen girls who wanted a Sci-Fi club. We developed some theme days, and eventually worked our way into becoming the largest non-service club on campus (we were 100+ strong). The library was the perfect home for the club. We played games, we watched anime, we made art, we danced, we had talent shows, and we even played kickball on occasion. Funny thing…I was able to build more relationships with readers in Sci-fi club, than I was able to do in Book Club. Nevertheless, Sci-Fi brought me and the students so much joy. Here is some of that joy:


If you want to see students open up, then you have to try a breakout box game. I was an early adopter of breakout games (you know when they were still selling pine boxes and locks from the store). The premise behind a breakout box game is that a group of students collaborate & communicate together to find clues, decipher codes, and unlock 5 different types of locks. Check out this video if you want to know more. The best games were those that utilized various technologies. The students would often use the internet to help, but in the end, they would get sidetracked by the plethora of information. Setting up a game is time-consuming, but the reward was seeing the students light up and try to solve the puzzles. Here are a few of the games:

If you can’t take a field trip, schedule a free video conference!

I would collaborate with teachers all the time and listen to their frustrations about not being able to take field trips towards the end of the year. We get it. Testing. However, some field trip experiences are worthwhile and inspire rich learning. At times like this, video conferencing can save the day! CILC is one of many organizations that offer paid-for and free video conferences for students. So when my Biology 2 colleague began teaching about the heart, I was able to organize a video conference of a live dissection of a cadaver heart with AIMS program of Saint Louis University. I set up studio seating, connected a mic, and set up Zoom.

The students were so engaged in the video conference you could hear a pin fall. I thought someone might get grossed out, but pretty much everyone thought it was the coolest thing to see. In reflection, I think I would have had the students pre-prepare some questions to engage with the doctor who presented. He was attempting to talk with the students, ask questions, etc. and majority of them were just passively watching and not really interacting as much as I would have liked.

This past year, I had the pleasure of hosting a CILC conference with a NPS archaelogist for the “If Stones Could Speak” Unit in my class. It was so informative, and the kids were so engaged. The students learned all about archeologists and the process.