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How to Improve Your Practice This Summer

05.01.14 | Classroom Tips | 0 Comments

Whether you are a new teacher or a seasoned veteran, summer is a great time to explore innovative material, gather fresh ideas, learn how to do something new, or connect with educators around the world. Here are some simple ways to make the most of your summer weeks.

1. Tune in to the Teaching Channel.
I’ve yet to find a Teaching Channel video that didn’t help me in some way. They’ve got something for everyone — all grades, all subjects. Here are a few great ones to get you started:

Just use their search tool to locate videos on topics of interest to you.

2. Join the CTQ Collaboratory.
Are you ready to stop talking about changing education and DO something instead? The Center for Teaching Quality’s Collaboratory is for you.

Launched in spring 2013, the Collaboratory is more than just a free online network of teachers. Featuring “labs” for learning about and discussing topics ranging from the Common Core and school redesign to innovative leadership and more, this network is growing by the day.

3. Start a book club.
Why not get some of your colleagues together, choose a couple of books, and have a summer book club? The challenge here is finding the right book. Take a look at this list, organized by category.

4. Attend an education event (from the comfort of your own home).
Several online organizations host regular free online events where participants can learn about a range of education topics.

  • Education Week features regular virtual events, including webinars and chats, that are sure to get you thinking.
  • “Classroom 2.0 LIVE” is a weekly Internet broadcast hosted by Steve Hargadon featuring guests from all over the world of educational technology. Check out the homepage for info on upcoming shows and more.
  • and Simple K-12 feature free webinars, many focused on 21st-century skills and technology.

5. Learn a new tool.
Integrating technology is on the to-do list of many teachers I talk to. Here are three easy-to-use, free, web-based applications that are perfect places to start:

  • Edmodo — Check out the Edmodo help center for webinars, tips, and advice on how to get the most out of this amazing and engaging site.
  • Kidblog — Both you and your students can interact with blog authors by commenting on each other’s writing. You can make students’ blogs private, so only class members and the teacher can view them, or you can take them public for the world to see.
  • Wikispaces — Students can build wikis individually or together as the culminating activity for a research project.

6. Get connected with Twitter chats.
Twitter chats are live events focused on a specific topic and led by a chat moderator. #edchat is one of hundreds of regular Twitter chats. It takes place twice every Tuesday, at noon and 7 p.m. Eastern time.

Perhaps the easiest site to use to participate in a chat is Tweetchat. Just go there at the appointed time, type in your chat’s hashtag, and start tweeting. There are chats for every educational interest. A handy schedule is at

A complete version of this article appeared in the April/May 2014 issue of Educational Horizons.

About Ben Curran

Ben Curran is an instructional coach at a K-5 charter school in Detroit, Mich., co-founder of Engaging Educators, and co-author of Engaged, Connected, Empowered. He blogs at

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