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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Free Online Professional Development Courses for Teachers 2015


Do you have to go out of your way to get continuing professional development? Traveling across town, having a substitute teacher take over so that you could leave class, or paying a workshop fee are a few things teachers do in order to attend PD workshops.

In my state of Texas, classroom teachers have 5 years to accumulate at least 150 PD hours, and specialists such as administrators must have at least 200 hours to renew their teaching licenses. Those are a lot of hours, especially if you have that "special" year where your hands are as full as ever, and you're thinking it'll be better to catch up on PD over the summer. When I was on the JET Program and teaching in Japan, PD was a confusing once-a-year seminar crammed into 2-3 days. If you're teaching abroad, PD can be very rare or far away.

There are many ways to seek PD. In this post I will list some options for teachers who want to get professional development that is less intrusive to their time, schedule, and wallets. FREE online professional development courses have been popping up lately in the form of massive open online courses or MOOCs, self-paced distance courses, online modules, etc. These are for self-directed learners who don't mind learning through an online platform and interacting in online communities. Some courses are available as self-paced courses and some, such as MOOCs, are available in a certain time frame only. Let's take a look at what's out there!


Coursera

https://www.coursera.org/courses?categories=teacherpd

Coursera has the largest collection of free online teacher professional development courses that I've seen. I am also blown away by the selection. There are Teaching 101 and foundation courses for beginning teachers, courses on advance learning research, technology courses, literacy education, and many more. About half of these courses were developed by research universities stretching from North America to Australia. The other half of the creators are also established in the Education world. Many of these courses also offer some sort of verification that you've taken them in the form of certificates.

I recommend some courses offered by the University of Houston. I've taken other courses taught by Dr. Sara McNeil and Dr. Bernard Robin in the past, and I know a few of the grad students who are passionate and worked hard on developing these MOOCs:

Click here to view the MOOCs offered by University of Houston or select the course links below


Credit: Most of the courses that are currently open award Verified Certificates. The ones that are not in session are varied.


Note that MOOCs tend to last several weeks. If you're only looking for a few hours, or if Coursera doesn't have what you're looking for then keep exploring the rest of this list.



edX

https://www.edx.org/courses
(Refine search by clicking on Education under Subjects)

edX doesn't have an extensive list of free online courses like Coursera, but there are a few that might interest you.

Credit: About a third of the courses come with Verified Certificates.


OpenLearn

http://www.open.edu/openlearn/education/professional-development-education?media_filter[]=702#filter_options

The Open University is an online university that offers low-cost and sometimes free education. A part of their website, called OpenLearn and under the Education menu tab, offers an extensive list of free online PD courses.

You may notice that this site actually offers degrees and diplomas. Yes, you can get a teaching degree from OU! However, this is available for registered students outside of the United States for a fee.

CreditDigital badges are awarded for completing their free OpenLearn courses.


MOOC-Ed

http://www.mooc-ed.org/

MOOC-Ed, or Massive Open Online Courses for Educators, is a website run by North Carolina State University's College of Education. This site is still in the works with about 6 courses.

Credit: Certificate of Completion


European Schoolnet Academy

http://www.europeanschoolnetacademy.eu/

European Schoolnet Academy is a website organized by 30 European Ministries of Education. As of now, there are 9 online courses that focus on technology themes and STEM education.

Credit: Digital badges


Intel Teach Elements

http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/education/k12/teach-elements.html

Similar to European Schoolnet Academy, Intel Teach Elements offers several courses that focus on 21st century skills, technology in the classroom, and STEM education. These are highly organized courses that are available in several different languages. You can check out their brochure here.

Credit: I can't seem to find the details on this. If you know, please leave a comment!


United States Library of Congress

http://www.loc.gov/teachers/professionaldevelopment/

The Library of Congress offers 6 online modules that relate to Social Studies and research skills. Each module is approximately 1 hour long. There are also downloadable PD modules for school leaders to use for PD with their own teachers.

Credit: Certificate of Completion


TeachersFirst

http://www.teachersfirst.com/OK2Ask.cfm

Developed by The Source for Learning, TeachersFirst is a website that offers a variety of live evening PD "snack sessions" that last approximately 1.5 hours. They cover broad topics that are helpful in K-8 education, with a few topics such as technology and differentiation that expand to high school grades.

Credit: PD certificates issued upon request


Other Free PD Online:


Teachers Without Borders
http://teacherswithoutborders.org/page/online-courses

Open Education Consortium
http://www.oeconsortium.org/courses/category/2267/

This page on OEC lists materials that universities, predominantly Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have made available online from their Education courses. I don't think you can earn and document credit hours, but you can check out the course materials. See OpenCourseWare for more information on this type of learning material.



Do you know of any other resources for teacher professional development that is online and free? If so, please leave a comment with your recommendation!

As mentioned earlier, free online courses are one way to fulfill PD. I will be working on more lists of free and low-cost teacher PD, so follow me and stay tuned!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

LOST TEACHER IN JAPAN's Tips for Using Technology Tools in the Classroom

The Challenge

In this blog post, I would like to talk about an issue that many foreign teachers experience in Japanese public middle and high schools: technology, or the lack of technology. I was an English as a Foreign Language teacher, or ALT, on the Japan Exchange and Teaching, or JET, Program for two years. If you've never taught in Japan, it might come as a surprise to you that Japan, known for its technology and engineering brands such as Sony or Toyota, could be lacking in that category.

Imagine arriving at your base school in Japan in the summer of 2011, and seeing that the computer you're assigned to is operating on Windows '98 (that was the case with a teacher I knew). It is not a surprise if you see classrooms filled with 40 students, and no projector or digital screens anywhere to support instruction. Is there even an electrical outlet in the classroom? You're not sure. You have some ideas for lessons, but you really want to use technology tools to support it.

The reality is that most public high schools that I knew of looked like American classrooms... from the 50's. I actually took the picture above from a homeroom in a high school that specialized in technology. If you're a new teacher on the JET Program and just visited your school, don't despair. Although technology tools can't be found in the classroom, there are computer labs and special areas. You can either revise your ideas into printables, or you might want to consider some of these tips on how to get a hold of technology equipment or use online technology tools to support learning in the classroom.


Tip #1. Check out technology equipment

You can ask someone, usually the tech guy or gal on the campus, or the assistant principal. I've been able to borrow portable projectors and screens in the past.

Tip #2. Find the technology room

In high schools, there are large meeting rooms that teachers could check out. These rooms usually have white screens that you could pull down and use a projector with. Some of these rooms even have interactive projectors such as ELMOs or Lunas that project your writing onto a screen. In the past, I've organized digital content into DVDs, and used multimedia to support the lessons in these rooms. I've visited a these rooms at every school I've been at, and they usually have air conditioning, which the students will love you for booking during the summers!

Tip #3. Flip the classroom



If students have Internet connection at home or on mobile phones, you can assign them something to read, watch, or explore before the next lesson. You can spend the rest of your time in class building on what they were supposed to explore. For example, you can use a snippet of a video or audio conversation with vocabulary or grammar points, and extend on it in the classroom. Many teachers use audio exercises in the classroom, and you can provide this ahead of time by recording and uploading your files to a server such as SoundCloud.com.

Learn more:
Infographic: Is a Flipped Classroom Right for You? by We Are the Teachers
http://www.weareteachers.com/blogs/post/2014/08/11/the-flipped-classroom-infographic
"Flipping" a class by the University of Texas at Austin Center for Teaching & Learning
http://ctl.utexas.edu/teaching/flipping-a-class

Tip #4. Use online (collaborative) tools



If you're able to check out a computer lab or students have Internet access at home, you can give the option of online work through applications such as Google Docs or Microsoft OneDrive which store all documents, presentations, spreadsheets, etc. in a cloud. Once student's work settings are public, you can go in an add comments or suggestions to improve their work. I think Google Docs is excellent for English writing practice. By working online, students will have more resources such as online dictionaries and search engines to support and expand the content of their work. Although spelling is important in learning English, the spellcheck correct errors, so that you can focus on the content and quality of student's writing. Once you go digital and develop a grading system, you'll find giving feedback can be more efficient.

Learn more:
Google for Education
https://www.google.com/edu/
https://www.google.com/edu/products/productivity-tools/


Tip #5. Make things available online

Learning a foreign language is hard. Reduce barriers by making more resources available online. Students would no longer have to ask you for extra copies of missing printables if it's been uploaded to the public. You don't need to build a web site or wiki, unless you want to, but you can upload your files into a cloud drive and post the links to an online site, social media, or message board where students could follow. You also have an audio and video recorder in your pocket-- your mobile phone that you could use to record and upload the content online. Be careful when recording students' faces, because it can violate privacy.

Cloud storage:
Google Drive - https://drive.google.com
OneDrive - https://onedrive.live.com/
Dropbox - https://www.dropbox.com
Box - https://www.dropbox.com/


Tip #6. Use social media



Social media is very popular in Japan. These tools can be harnessed to get students interested in using English to express themselves in an online comfort zone. You can post simple questions, graphics, or videos in English to generate conversation. Students who have Internet connection at home or on mobile phones can interact with you through social media apps such as Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, and so on.


Learn More:
22 Simple Examples of Social Media in the Classroom by te@chthought
http://www.teachthought.com/technology/22-simple-examples-of-social-media-in-the-classroom/
How to Use Social Media as a Learning Tool by Edudemic
http://www.edudemic.com/how-to-use-social-media-as-a-learning-tool-in-the-classroom/

Tip #7. Use mobile technology

This tip is related to tips 4 and 6. It is rare for public classrooms to provide tablets, but if you and your cooperating teacher are comfortable with students using mobile phones in the classroom, then the world is your oyster! One tool that you can try is Socrative, an online quiz and questionnaire tool that you can monitor in real-time. This can be used as a quick way to get a grade or review at the end of an English lesson. See my review here: http://lostteachertools.blogspot.com/2014/07/web-20-tool-review-socrative.html




Instead of using social media for online discussion, you can also use a digital wall that would do the same thing, but doesn't have the stigma of social media. Try Padlet:



Learn more:
Mobile in the Classroom Trends, Resources and How To's by Edmentum
http://www.edmentum.com/sites/edmentum.com/files/resource/media/0384_01_Mobile_eBook.pdf



Japan is a country where pedagogical ideas are still fairly traditional, so it might be a challenge to use online tools right away in a cooperating teacher's classroom. You just have to take baby steps, especially if you're also new at using online technology tools in the classroom. Sometimes, these tools may not be necessary, but they're worth thinking about if they could improve instruction.

I'd be interested to hear how you use technology to support English teaching and learning in a foreign classroom. Please send me a message or leave a comment to share what you did.

If none of these suggestions are an option for your situation, try visiting my other webpages on Lessons & Ideas at lostteacherinjapan.weebly.com for more ideas:





Sunday, March 15, 2015

Options to Make Your YouTube Videos More Accessible With Closed Captioning



Have you noticed the CC button in the bottom right corner of YouTube videos? This icon turns on closed captions. This means that it will show text or subtitles that match the audio in the video. YouTube has automatically provided this feature where it translates the audio into a particular language.


This is great because it makes the video more accessible for people who prefer to read along or for people who have hearing impairments.


The problem is that sometimes, the text is incorrect. It is, after all, inserted by a computer system that decodes the audio into text of the most similar-sounding words that it can identify. If you want your video to be correctly subtitled, you should first turn on your CC and check the text.

In this blog post I will show you how to access the options to add new-- or correct your current closed captioning and give you an overview of the tool.

1. First, go to your YouTube account at https://www.youtube.com/ and log in.

2. Go directly to your video if you know its link. Under the play button, click on the CC tab for Captions. If you do this step, then you can skip to step 7 or 8 of this blog.

Click on the CC tab for Captions



3. Otherwise, search for your video. In the top right corner of the YouTube main page, select your personal icon to access your account. Click on CREATOR STUDIO.

Select Creator Studio


4. You can now access your Video Manager.

Access Video Manager


5. Find your video and select Edit.

Select Edit


6. Your Editing menu with many options will appear above the video. Select Subtitles and CC.

In the top menu, choose Subtitles and CC


7. Select your video language.

From the drop-down, select the language of the audio in the video

There are now several paths you could take to add captions/subtitles. 


8. If you click on the Add New Subtitles or CC, it will give you several options.

Add new subtitles or CC above OR go to the automatic CC in the bottom selection


Adding New Subtitles

9. If you choose to add new subtitles, you have several choices:

These are options to add new subtitles from scratch


These are options to start from scratch. This might be a good option if you noticed the majority of your automatic captions are incorrect.

If you upload a file, it will take the text from the file and apply it to your video. One issue that I've experienced when I uploaded a script file was that YouTube didn't recognize it. Well, it recognized parts of it. I used a basic TextEdit / RTF file.

The next option would be to transcribe. You can type the entire script or copy and paste it from your storyboard then set the timing later.

Type the entire script then set timings later



The final new-subtitle option would be to create new subtitles. Out of all the new-subtitle options, I prefer this one because you could play the video and pause where you want it to. Then you can add the text and adjust it on the timeline. You just do this again and again for each audio phrase in the timeline.

Type and add to the audio timeline at the same time, one phrase at a time



Here's a good short video from YouTube HelpCreating subtitles and closed captions, that will assist you with adding new subtitles. It shows how the audio/video timeline works:




Correcting Automatic Subtitles

10. The next option is to go back to the previous menu and select English (Automatic) or your preferred language.

Return to the CC options to select English (Automatic)


In this option, the text is automatically scripted based on the audio pauses between phrases and sentences. In this option, you may notice that there is no punctuation, words may be misspelled, and written information may be misrepresented. This option is recommended if you don't want to time the text and there are few errors in your subtitles, so you can just correct text here and there.

This option has automatic subtitles that are timed and typed out on the right of the video


Whatever option you choose, you will eventually have to work with your audio-video timeline. On the right of the video, you can edit the text that apears. Beneath the video is the timeline. You can extend the blue brackets to adjust how long you want the text to last on screen. The YouTube video above also demonstrates how to adjust text on a timeline, so you might want to check that out if you haven't yet.

You can drag and re-size parts of text in an audio timeline


Adjusting the automatic captions is what I've favored so far because it sets up the audio timeline based on phrasal pauses, so I could just edit the phrases for some spelling and punctuation. If you've found that starting from scratch is more convenient or better instead, please leave a comment and let me know.

Overall, I think YouTube's closed captioning tool is very friendly and easy to use versus adding subtitles in a digital video editor. I recommend CC for anyone who wants to make their YouTube videos accessible to more viewers.


More Resources:
Add subtitles and closed captions by Google Support - https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2734796?hl=en
Reasons why your video doesn't have captions, Automatic captions by Google Support - https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/3038280?hl=en


Key words: YouTube, Closed Captions, Captioning, Subtitles, Hearing impairment

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Mac Apple OSX Tutorial: Print in Black / White / Grayscale in the Preview App

Are you having trouble figuring out how to print in black and white or grayscale from your Apple/Mac Preview application? I clicked on just about every option from the Print menu, but it turns out the Color Option is hidden under an odd sub-menu. I'll show you where it is. Please note that the printer driver installed in these instructions is from an HP Photosmart.

You can choose to watch the instructional video below, or follow the instructions in the rest of the blog. The video has closed-captioning with English subtitles.




1. First, open your file in Preview. Select the Print option.



2. Find Orientation. Select the drop-down menu below. From the drop-down, select Paper Type/Quality. It's odd that the Color Option is under this.


3. Now the Color Options will appear at the bottom! Select Color Options.


4. You will see a drop-down menu next to Color: ColorSmart/sRGB. Select Grayscale. You will also see an option beneath for Black Print Cartridge Only. Select this if you want to print from that cartridge only.


If you can't locate these options, it could be because you're using a different printer. Different printer drivers affect the printer settings. Try this next video tutorial to see if it matches your printer settings better:






Sunday, March 1, 2015

Haiku Deck for UDL Multiple Means of Action and Expression

This week I have been looking at Multiple Means of Action and Expression from the Universal Design for Learning Guidelines:


CAST. (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines Version 2.0. Retrieved from: http://www.udlcenter.org/sites/udlcenter.org/files/updateguidelines2_0.pdf. (This alternative version can be retrieved fromhttp://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/udlguidelines_theorypractice)

Students can present what they've learned in a multitude of ways. In the past I've given students choices such as making dioramas, posters, skits, PowerPoint slides or writing papers. In elementary school, I've found that for students, getting presentations ready can be just as, or even more time-consuming, than researching or preparing what to say. There are Web 2.0 tools that students could assist students in spending more time on the quality of the content, and less time on its visual design.

One of these tools is Haiku Deck (https://www.haikudeck.com) which only requires a computer or iPad with Internet connection. Let's look at some ways students could use Haiku Deck as a means of expression and ways that teachers could use it to guide students' executive functions.

Basic Options




Options to Express Visually


One of the best features of Haiku Deck is that it helps the user design very visual slides. No more going out to buy poster boards, markers, or models, and no more printing! It automatically selects key words in the slide which could be used in a built-in search tool to find images for the background.


The search results in images licensed for re-use under Creative Commons. When the presentation gets published, the attribution will automatically be present on the top left corner of each slide image.

In the top, there is an option to change the fonts and themes. Fonts themes and image filters will automatically apply to all slides for consistency.


This is the same slide background in a different theme:



Options to Express Verbally


The placement of words can be changed with the Select Slide Type and Choose a Layout options. You can review how to identify only main ideas so that students don't type every single detail and read off of the slide.




For students who would like to add detailed notes or scripts, there is an Add Notes option.



When a presentation is published, the notes can be viewed directly on the slides page if it is not in full screen mode. Notice the attribution on the top left corner and in the slide description below.



Options to Guide Student Executive Functions


Teachers could display checklists, directions, and notes using presentation slides if they have a projector and/or SmartBoard in the classroom. Slides could also be shared with students online. When you select any export options, just remember to "Allow reuse" before you share so that students could copy the slides into their Haiku Deck Account to change or add their own notes to it.




In upper grade levels or higher education, sharing in advance could reduce barriers for many who might have difficulty following new concepts. Students might figure out that they could share a single slide set and collaborate in the note-taking process.


Drawbacks


The major drawback of Haiku Deck is that you cannot embed videos or audio files into the slides. You can, however, add links to multimedia in the notes area.

For students who designed a presentation but struggle to present, they can play the presentation in small-screen mode to read off the notes. They can also use a screencasting app to pre-record their presentation.


Conclusion


Below are other free slide presentation tools out there with simplified user interfaces:

  • Google Slides
  • PowerPoint Online (simpler than the desktop version)
  • Prezi (allows voice recording and timing)


Once again, Haiku Deck is an excellent slide presentation application for students who want to make attractive visual presentations fast or for teachers who want to provide an organized presentation or set of notes for students to customize.

If you have tried other free presentation apps such as slidebean (https://slidebean.com/), SlideDog (http://slidedog.com/), or something else, let me know if you've found it to be helpful.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Applying UDL Principles - National Mall Graphic


Continuing my exploration of Universal Design for Learning Principles, I tried to apply some of these principles in an interactive graphic I made about the National Mall of the U.S.A.

UDL Accommodations:

  • Clear sans serif fonts in the body
  • Audio that reads the text aloud
  • Numbered parts so that listeners could follow along
  • Option to view larger text
  • Links to definitions of "hard" words in the option, "TEXT ONLY"
  • Link to the larger image if the learner can not zoom into the screen
  • Links to more information





Learn more about Universal Design for Learning at: http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/take_a_tour_udl

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Apps for Multiple Means of Engagement

Engagement


Recently I've been exploring the National Center On Universal Design for Learning's website: http://www.udlcenter.org and looking over their UDL principles.

Today I would like to blog a little and share my infographic about Engagement and some of the tools that can be used in the classroom or at home to support it.

Engaged learners have a purpose and are motivated in learning. They are interested, self-regulated, and persistent. How can teachers and parents keep students engaged?




Saturday, January 3, 2015

Issues About Making and Selling Educational Products on TeachersPayTeachers


In this posting I will discuss my personal reasons for selling and sharing on TeachersPayTeachers.com, some opinions that people have about teachers selling resources online, reasons why educators sell there, and aspects of TeachersPayTeachers that are often overlooked by the differing viewpoints. I will also share some comments about how to expand the usability of works that are uploaded online that may be agreeable for both viewpoints.

This Post in a Nutshell:

TeachersPayTeachers and Me
Viewpoints About TeachersPayTeachers
     Those Who Frown on TPT
     Those Who Support Earning Income Through TPT
My Opinion on These ViewPoints
     The Obligation to Share
     Qualities of TeachersPayTeachers.com
Share More and Earn-- Do Both


TeachersPayTeachers and Me

I have been a seller on TeachersPayTeachers.com for a little over a year. I admit, I was curious about TeachersPayTeachers when I read an online article about how Deanna Jump made over a million dollars by selling her teaching resources online. At that time, I was an English teacher in Japan on the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. It might be hard for some to believe, but my salary was actually significantly less than the salary I had when I was teaching back in the states. (The experience I had was definitely worth the trade. =D)

I looked through Deanna and others' online stores, and I thought I could earn some extra income doing the same thing, too. I used to teach elementary and I had a plethora of ideas. However, it wasn't that easy to put my ideas online. Most of the things that I had were not worth selling and didn't look as neatly organized or as attractive as many of the top sellers' items on TPT. I did not have the resources or the time to create attractive sellable resources or free things that I would be proud upload, so I put my ambitions of having an online store on hold.

Half a year later I returned to the United States. I decided that I was not going to get a "real" job so that I could get adjusted to life back home and get ready to go back to school full-time. During that time I had no income, but I wanted to make money doing something I knew well. I remembered a few months back that I wanted to open up a store on TPT, so I made plans to build my store.

In the past year, I took courses full-time, worked part-time, and kept adding original products to my store. I borrowed some lesson and activity ideas from my past experiences as an elementary teacher, but everything I shared or sold was made from scratch. Eventually, my store grew and I earned enough each month to cover my necessities. I have been very fortunate to have TPT as an outlet for my ideas and creativity, and I am also appreciative of all the positive feedback and earnings that I have made through it.

Viewpoints About TeachersPayTeachers

Early on and even now, I "google" TeachersPayTeachers sometimes to see any new articles about it or to read about people's opinions-- which are the most interesting search results. I notice that there are usually two types of writers with opinions about TPT: 
  1. Those who frown on TPT mainly for philosophical reasons.
  2. Those who support the idea that educators can earn extra income outside of their teaching jobs.
There are also those who discuss concerns about legal issues such as Copyright and Fair Use on TPT, though there are very few who get into details about it. (In the future I plan on writing about this topic, so stay tuned!)

In this part of the post, I will summarize and generalize these viewpoints.

1. Those Who Frown on TPT

I noticed that many who frown on the concept of teachers selling teaching resources online do so for philosophical reasons. These reasons are usually connected to the ideals that an education should be open and free. Some people argue that selling teaching resources somewhat takes away from another educator and that it should be made available and free. Some will also add that teachers who teach for the public sector are obligated to keep their teaching resources free.

2. Those Who Support Earning Income Through TPT

Many who support TPT's concept like the possibility of earning extra income and being a part of an online community. Some argue that teachers should be able to earn extra income outside of their regular teaching jobs similar to any other jobs that do not require an exclusive commitment. Examples that have been used are that some teachers do acceptable things such as teach extra classes or do tutoring on the side.

My Opinion on These Viewpoints

Some people who are reading this might assume that my viewpoint aligns with #2 above. I think that I have a mixture of both #1 and #2. I will add some other thoughts that I think balances both viewpoints.

The Obligation to Share

I also think that teachers are obligated to share some teaching resources. Where and how they share it is a different story. If a teacher works in a district or private school, it seems appropriate that what they produce for their work may belong to that entity depending on the conditions set by it. Most teachers openly share their ideas and resources with other teachers naturally, usually with those who are close to them in their grade level or subject area. 

There are a few teachers who actually step into the digital educational world and share their resources online. I applaud those teachers who are involved in any online teacher networks. Sharing and exchanging ideas online is a 21st century educator skill, and for many, TeachersPayTeachers is their stepping stone from their private classroom to the digital world.

If a teacher wants to openly share their resources online with more people, there are many platforms to choose from. Curriki (http://www.curriki.org/) and Wikieducator (http://wikieducator.org/Main_Page) are just two of the vast number of teacher professional learning networks out there. These two, in particular, stress open sharing. One could also openly share on TPT, too. Openly sharing or not openly sharing seems to me to be a personal preference, not a TPT issue. 

Qualities of TeachersPayTeachers.com

 Book Report / Project Packet

People who criticize TeachersPayTeachers neglect the fact that there are a lot of free downloads on the network and TPT requires all sellers to provide at least one free digital resource. My first TPT product was my free Book Report / Project Packet which remains my most downloaded and most frequently rated item. One of the reasons why I continue to upload items is because of all the positive feedback I have received. TPT also has a friendly and visual navigation design, feedback system, and easy-to-use search engine compared to other online teacher portals.

I mentioned earlier that the resources available for download on TPT, especially those that sell, are of a certain quality. Someone put a lot of work into designing and packaging them for upload, and that they probably would not do so for a regular lesson. The products that I sell usually take days for me to create, something I would not have been able to do for my regular teaching lessons. I provide many resources with an open and free Creative Commons license on TPT, and the rest, I feel that I should not be ashamed to earn extra income from my extra work.

Moving Beyond the Selling-Only Mentality

When I first started selling on TeachersPayTeachers I had a selling mentality. After all, I had no income at the time, so it was a place for me to see if I could earn some money. It's still a place for me to earn money, but I also do a lot of other things on TPT. Every once in a while I create something fabulous to give away. I visit the forums to add my two cents, I enjoy interacting and receiving feedback, and I follow some teachers and online entities about trends. Putting my work up on TPT and taking some courses had helped me to take steps to put my instructional materials out in the open and on this educational blog. 

Five paragraphs ago, I mentioned that TPT is a stepping stone for many into the digital world. There are many ways to join teacher networks online, and if your path was through TPT, then I hope you have been able to expand your learning network. There are quite a few threads in the TPT Seller's Forum about teaching, collaboration, and just sharing ideas. Stop by the Curriculum section if you haven't yet: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/forum/viewforum.php?id=1

Teaching, learning, and collaborating online is a 21st century teacher skill. Whatever platform an educator uses, let's hope that it helps them and others.

Share More and Earn-- Do Both

The important thing is that teachers are participating online. Sharing online means that more people can access the resource. However, there are some things that teacher-sellers do that restrict others from having more freedoms with the downloaded work. I'm not going to get into certain things that are personal preferences, but I do want to talk about something that many are doing unknowingly.

To teacherpreneurs out there, do you understand the copyrights © that you place on your work?

It isn't just a reminder to the user that the work is your creation. Once you create something original, whether you use a copyright symbol or not, it places serious limitations on how others can re-use your work, even for educational purposes. It requires the user to get permission from you if they want to share it with other teachers or share more than a limited portion of your work. Here is an excerpt about the Fair Use of Printed Material from http://www.techlearning.com that is provided on PBS SOCal's link called Copyright Guidelines for Teachershttp://www.pbssocal.org/education/teachers/copyright/ 



It's great when a teacher puts work online for whatever reason, but I think teacher-sellers should consider using open licenses to expand the use of their work. The TPT Copyright FAQ page even encourages it: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Copyright-FAQ

One of the ways that I retain my copyright but make my work open for others to re-use and share 100% of it is by applying Creative Commons licenses on my products.

That's right. I can still require others to give me credit, I can set conditions for how my work can be used, and I can let others use it quite liberally. Learn more about Creative Commons licenses here: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/ or learn through videos here: http://creativecommons.org/videos

I make a license using an easy license builder here: http://creativecommons.org/choose/ and just copy and past the HTML link into my product page.

Learn more by watching the first few minutes of my video here:


Currently, I am in the process of adding Creative Commons licenses to all of my resources on TPT.

If you want to see how I have applied Creative Commons license on my free or selling products, drop by my store to look at my product pages or download my free items: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/The-Lost-Teacher

I also have a tutorial on how to add CC licenses on to TPT products, so check it out: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/GUIDE-to-opening-your-TPT-store-uploading-your-first-FREE-product-1521934

You can put a CC license on just about anything.

In the future I will be posting more about Fair Use, Copyright, Creative Commons, and include these topics in the context of TeachersPayTeachers. I think TPT could really use more resources on these topics. Subscribe by email, RSS, and follow for updates! =)

Conclusion


There are many reasons why teachers sell on TPT and some differing viewpoints about it. Whatever the viewpoint is, the important thing is that teachers are encouraged to be online citizens. If we take extra steps and be mindful of Copyright by being explicit about how our work can be used, we can make it easier for others to re-use and expand our work.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Blogger Tutorial - Add Page Tab Links & Organize Posts in Different Pages


When I first began using Blogger, I had a few posts that I wanted to organize in to different pages. I realized that I could not do that. Any new pages created in Blogger are separate pages that can not be used to organize your posts. As a result, all of your posts will be listed by dates on your Home tab only.

After fiddling around and doing some web searches I found a way to organize posts. Blogger did not have a straightforward option to add posts beneath certain pages, and most of the information that I found about how to do this were somewhat confusing, so I made this tutorial to add to the resources out there.

If you watch this video, I recommend that you set aside 10 minutes and watch it in order. I hope this is helpful!

Blogger Tutorial - Add Page Tab Links & Organize Posts in Different Pages:






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