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Ten Great MOOCs for Teacher Professional Development

EducationWorld is pleased to present this article by Christi Wilson, a credentialed teacher of highly gifted students in Northern Nevada. She has 11 years of classroom teaching experience, including K-12 education online, and writes for

It’s increasingly common for K-12 students to enroll in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in order to take classes not offered at their schools. With this greater demand came the need for K-12 educators to teach such online courses. It was only a matter of time, then, before MOOCs also became a rich source of teacher professional development.coursera mooc teachers

With MOOCs, educators can learn for free in a flexible online environment, getting the opportunity to collaborate with, and learn from, virtual colleagues. Currently, the most popular and well-regarded MOOC providers are Coursera, edX and Udacity. A growing number of smaller providers and many universities also offer courses on topics ranging from student engagement to implementing the Common Core.

Below are 10 interesting courses to try. Consider your personal goals and consult with your school’s administrator to determine the options that make the most sense for you. Before you enroll, determine whether your MOOC of choice will count toward required professional development hours. Why not take a course along with some colleagues, forming a professional learning community of sorts?

Common Core in Action: Math Formative Assessment
This six-week online course provided by New Teacher Center via Coursera gives participants the tools and skills needed to implement the Common Core State Standards in a math classroom. Teachers will learn how to engage students as active learners, plan instruction and teach students how to communicate reasoning. Participants choose from 60 classroom challenges, complete an initial assessment and continue formative assessments to track achievement.

Student Thinking at the Core
This four-week course, provided by Vanderbilt University via Coursera, explains how and why student thinking and background knowledge have an impact on achievement. next generation science standardsAccording to the Vanderbilt Web site, the course explores “how teachers can capitalize on what students bring to the classroom—their ideas, perceptions and misunderstandings—to advance the learning of all students in the class, a practice we call ‘leveraging student thinking.’”

Using the Next Generation Science Standards for Students' Deeper Understanding
Rice University (via Coursera) offers this four-week online professional development course, which teaches educators how to integrate scientific and engineering design practices in the classroom. The course is best suited for science teachers with at least three years of teaching experience.

Applying Principles of Behavior in the K-12 Classroom
This course, provided by the University of Houston System/Coursera, teaches participants how to do a functional behavior assessment (FBA), how to promote positive behavior and how to intervene with challenging behaviors in the classroom.

On the Hunt for Feedback – Self-Directed Teacher Improvement
The four-week course from Match Education is designed for teachers seeking more feedback on their teaching. Video equipment is required for this course, which features several video-based case studies along with writing assignments.

Mastering Language for the Common Core State Standards: Focus on Elementary Grades Mathematics
Stanford University Online (via Class Central) provides this online course for educators seeking to raise the rigor of student language demands during content instruction.

Tech Explorations in the Common Core
This six-week course is available from Maricopa Community College ST4STEM (via Canvas Network) and includes both video lectures and discussion forums. Teachers learn how to use new tech tools to support the Common Core and how to create student activities using these tools.

Common Core in Action: Literacy Across Content Areas
This course, designed by New Teacher Center and offered via Coursera, helps teachers make Common Core instructional shifts that require literacy integration across content areas. Teachers will have the opportunity to (1) collaborate with other teachers through a discussion forum and (2) design a teaching task with a writing prompt aligned to the common core.

Integrating Engineering into your Science Classroom
Exploratorium Teacher Institute (via Coursera) offers this online course to middle-school and high-school science teachers. Participants will learn how to integrate the engineering process into their science classrooms and also how to monitor student learning.

Surviving Your Rookie Year of Teaching: 3 Key Ideas & High Leverage Techniques
This four-week course, delivered via Coursera by instructors at Match Education, teaches new educators how to survive the beginning of their teaching careers. The course covers (1) how to create a classroom management plan, (2) the benefits of maintaining a balance between teacher-driven and student-driven classroom activities, and (3) how to create positive relationships with parents.


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