There is a heavy focus on the importance of students learning how to learn and how to lead. Multiple guess questions are becoming a thing of the past, as we educators seek to challenge students to apply what they’re learning instead of simply memorizing and regurgitating it. As technology continues to evolve and the way we communicate changes as a result, lifelong learning has never been more important.

That’s why most teachers know summer is not a vacation. The work doesn’t stop for teachers when that last bell chimes on the highly anticipated final day of school.

There may be some time outside the classroom and maybe even a trip or two with family. It’s certainly a time to relax, but also a time to recharge and ramp up for the next school year.

Spend your summer wisely by considering using the time to enhance your approach to instruction, curriculum and standards. The school year is a busy time for all educators, but summer offers a unique opportunity to explore professional development opportunities outside the daily grind.

From conferences and online courses to learning how to integrate technology-based assessments and other strategies into your offerings, there is something for everyone.

The options are abundant and can be overwhelming to choose from, which is why it is important to carefully evaluate each tech prior to enrolling or making a final decision.

Or, you can take the guesswork out of the equation entirely by perusing a list of our favorite summer PD opportunities throughout the country:

Conference-Hop1480385178_internt_web_technology-06

Book a trip or study nearby. Regardless of location, chances are there is a conference of interest close by.

Here are some of our top picks:

Best for the STEM-focused

6th Annual STEM Forum & Expo, Empowering teachers with tools for the successful implementation of STEM education, the STEM Forum & Expo offers resources on STEM education, associated outreach programs, partnerships, schools and curricula.

When: Wednesday, July 12 through Friday, July 14

Where: Orlando, Florida

Best for book worms

International Literacy Association 2017, Literacy is tackled from all angles in more than 300 sessions featuring the latest research and trends.

When: Saturday, July 15 through Monday, July 17

Where: Orlando, Florida

Best for east coasters

AFT Teach Conference 2017, In-depth, hands-on experiences are behind this year’s TEACH conference, which will focus on the four pillars of strong and purposeful public education: promoting children’s well-being; supporting powerful learning; developing teacher and staff capacity; and fostering cultures of collaboration among educators, administrators, families and communities.

When: Thursday, July 20 through Saturday, July 22

Where: Washington DC

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Enroll in Free Courses

The web is a vital resource for teachers in an ever-changing world. As long as it’s a quality resource, it’s an easy, convenient and affordable option to expand your professional scope. These are our top picks for online courses:

Coursera

A unique online education community that offers courses, specializations and degrees from 150 of the world’s top universities and institutions, Coursera empowers learners to achieve their short- and long-term course goals online. Their popular courses include topics like “How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects,” created by the University of California, San Diego.

EdX

A well-respected complimentary company, EdX also offers free online courses that have been developed and created by top universities and institutions across the globe. Among their popular courses is called “The Science of Learning – What Every Teacher Should Know,” created by the Teachers College at Columbia University.

Obtain Micro-credentials 1480385688_internt_web_technology-12

When it comes to specialties, size does not matter. If you have an interest or specialty you’d like to learn more about without enrolling in a lengthy course or obtaining another degree, micro-credentials are a way to accomplish that goal. Coined as “bite-size” learning or mastery of a skill for a very specific competency, micro-credentials offer you an opportunity to master new techniques in a short period of time.

Founded in 2010, BloomBoard was developed to enable teachers to use technology to provide personalized, competency-based learning for educators.

The resulting micro-credentials program provided by Digital Promise are a digital form of certification indicating that a person has demonstrated competency in a specific skill, like teacher leadership. They are competency-based, research-backed, on-demand, personalized and shareable.

Classroom Culture, Challenge-Based Learning and Facilitating Productive STEM Discourse are among the dozens of content areas to choose from.

1480385740_internt_web_technology-16Familiarize Yourself with Common Core

The Common Core State Standards have been undergoing phased implementation since adoptions began in 2010.

In many school districts, this process has been challenging, as the training, curriculum, assessment, and technology provided to teachers has lagged behind the expected timetables for implementation and the content of the standards themselves.

Are you still wondering to what exact skills broad verbs like “understand,” “analyze” and “demonstrate” refer? Are you concerned about making sure your students are well-prepared for high-stakes tests aligned to the standards?

Summer is the perfect time to explore one or more of Wisewire’s free curated resources to further build your understanding and comfort with the CCSS.

Build-Your-Own Technology-Enhanced Assessments1480385363_internt_web_technology-01

It’s one thing to guess correctly from a list of possible answers. It’s something else entirely to have an assessment process that is involved and personalized. Writing a scientifically and pedagogically sound, rigorous, engaging, aligned, relevant and ultimately valuable assessment is the way of the future. And it’s easy!

Summer is the perfect time to explore the templates on the platform or clone from the sample questions that are available to create a completely personalized, professional and useful tool for the school year ahead.

Technology-enhanced assessments are among the abundant resources Wisewire offers educators. Wisewire’s platform allows teachers to create computer-based assessments with tools like drag and drop, graphing and matching to help students learn the why in addition to the what.

To access the tool, create a free account on Wisewire, log in, and then select “My Dashboard” from the drop-down menu under your name to enter the platform.

View sample questions beneath “Resources” and check out the platform FAQ and user guide for instructions on how to navigate the various pages and features. You can request to become an author to share or even sell your creations on the Wisewire marketplace.

For most of us, assessments have been filed and the school year is finally effectively complete. The summer is our oyster, and it starts now.

How will you spend your summertime wisely? Share with us your favorite ideas for PD this summer in the comments.

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