Great Virtual and In-Person Spring and Summer PD for 2021

We all know that this year was unlike any year we have ever seen in the teaching profession. Even now, as the school year is ending and summer approaches…it is still unclear what next year will bring us as educators. Really. I don’t even know what next week might bring! Nevertheless, as teachers we’re accustomed to flexing with the changes! The warm air and bright sun of spring are finally here, and still we are mired in a pandemic that is keeping many of our favorite activities restricted or completely canceled. Many spring and summer PD are canceled as well; most are meeting virtually, and a few are pressing on with in person learning. To note- most in person opportunities are locally based and only open to local participants. If you are sick of the computer learning, and really want to get back to face-to-face interactions, you might want to check with your school or union to see if there are any opportunities in your own learning community. We are all at different levels of comfort and social interaction so pick one that fits your learning needs and comfort level.  While I’m not sure what my teaching assignment will look like next year, I know these spring and summer learning opportunities will help prepare me.

Virtual PD: Anytime opportunities

ALISON-freepd– Did you ever want to go back for a degree, but allowed the price tag to dissuade you? ALISON offers many FREE classes and professional development opportunities whenever you want them, but I was most impressed with their extensive offering of diploma and certificate earning classes that are worth adding to your resume! This includes degrees and diplomas in things like Educational Psychology and  Teaching Skills for Educators. Check out your options and create your own summer learning experience!

Apple-teacher – Are you an Apple product user? Do you have access to Apple products like iPads and Macs in your classroom? Check this site out for best uses of your products and tutorials on basic use and ideas for you to become the best “Apple teacher” you can be! Apple offers these tutorials virtually, whenever you want them.

Ed-web– Ed-web offers free podcasts that can help any virtual and live classroom teacher. They offer free PD certificates, but most importantly, they offer an online community that can be helpful in our changing education system for sharing ideas, venting frustrations, and learning new strategies.

FREEpodcasts– This one is great because it offers a library of over 40 downloadable resources free, whenever you are ready. Have some time at the beach, or the pool, or driving in the car? It’s easy to jump on and choose what best fits your needs. The podcasts offer a variety of subjects, grade levels, and topics You are sure to find something to improve your teaching skills!

GOOGLE-teachers – If you are anything like me, you would be lost without Google. At this point in my teaching career, my entire classroom runs through Google.  Google Teachers offers you short podcasts that can help you navigate and use the many resources they offer teachers. No matter where you are with your google capabilities, check out this link and see what new tool you can incorporate into your classroom!

MITcollegeclasses – MIT has posted classes (already delivered by MIT professors) aimed at higher-level educators that can be viewed and completed from home. There is no cost, credits earned, or coursework required. Just watch and learn or follow along with reading course texts if you want to go deeper. Each course comes complete with free, downloadable course materials, calendar of posts, assignment list, and videos. I am looking at “Becoming the next Bill Nye – creating an educational show” for my summer learning adventure!

TED-talks-EDUCATION– I have used many TED talks in my classroom, and it was great to see a collection of TED talks aimed at helping teachers in our classrooms! This is another link to check out and find what will help you best. Talks range from higher education, to student needs, inequalities in the classroom, and so on, and covers a variety of subjects and grade levels.


Virtual PD – scheduled classes/webinars

iNaturalist: A Tool for Exploration and Citizen Science

If you are a middle or high school teacher, and you are looking for ways to get your students outside more (while including technology and flexibility of teaching virtual or in person) then iNaturalist is for you.  This is a two-part series exploring citizen science using iNaturalist, a FREE app that can help you get students outdoors. The course is a two-session workshop, where you will be introduced to, and experience, the iNaturalist app with lots of learning tips and exploration opportunities. Participants should practice using the app and upload five observations before the workshop.

  • Date: June 2 5, 5:45 PM
  • Location: virtual: live class
  • Cost: free

Exploring Human Impacts and Solutions

This webinar is for all teachers. Educators will discuss human impacts on birds such as habitat loss and climate change, as well as discover citizen science data and models to explore human impacts. They will share resources and free lessons to explore human impacts on birds. Teachers will learn how to use eBird for student outside exploration and use real world case studies to draw evidence-based conclusions and solutions.

  • Dates: Tuesday, May 18 at 6:00pm or Thursday, May 20th 8:00pm
  • Location:  virtual, live class
  • Cost: free

Creating Space for Self-Care

How about some social-emotional-learning for YOU. This is a one-hour workshop designed to help you, the teacher, cope and flourish. This educator self-care session will explore self-care and introduce the neuroscience of stress and its effects on the body and nervous system. Participants will engage in journaling with writing prompts, breathing techniques, mindful movement, and guided relaxation strategies in the form of Breathe, Move, and Rest Brain Breaks. Attendees should wear suitable clothing for light exercise.

  • Dates: June 4,  3:00 PM
  • Location: Virtual and scheduled
  • Cost: Free

Get Outside for Summer!

Elementary and Middle school teachers… this one’s for you! Do you want to get your students outside for some exporation? This event will share simple activities that connect students with nature through birds. This is a great way for our students to de-stress and boost creativity- fantastic for improving social emotional wellness.

  • Dates: June 8 at 6, or  June 10th 8:00pm – 9:00pm (choose only one)
  • Location: virtual, live class
  • Cost: free

2021 Maitland P. Simmons Memorial Award Summer Institute “OpenSciEd for PD”

6th-8th grade educators can participate in a 5-day professional development opportunity using the OpenSciEd free and open curriculum resources. OpenSciEd brings science to life with phenomenon-based storylines, hands-on science investigations and engineering design projects aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards. Accepted teachers will have the $1,000.00 Institute cost covered and participants will receive a 1-year NJSTA membership through which they can access additional online resources to support their classroom teaching. Also included is a one-day registration fee to attend either one day of a live 2021 New Jersey Science Convention or a Virtual version, wherein participants will be recognized as Maitland P. Simmons Scholars. Upon completion of the entire program, Scholars will earn and be presented with certification for 20 Professional Development hours.

  • Dates:  June 28 – July 2 (9am-1pm  (applications due by May 1)
  • Location: Virtual and scheduled
  • Cost:  free (accepted applicants costs will be covered)

Summer institute:  National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Opportunities

Check these out! They are amazing cross-curricular opportunities all across America and all FREE! There are dozens! This is a MUST check out! The application work is worth it- but be aware this is a highly competitive opportunity because they are amazing experiences! There are in person and virtual opportunities – but please consider the risks, as well as requirements before travelling. While most application due dates have passed, if classes are still open then they may still be accepting applications.

  • Dates:  1-4 week commitments throughout the summer
  • Location: various (many online for 2021, some in person)
  • Cost: all free and come with stipends of $1200-$3300 depending on time commitment

Jessica Cicalese-Kurtz, MA, K-12 Teaching and Technology; BA, K-8 Education; BS, Biology, Science and Engineering, is a high school STEAM Bio and AP Research teacher at Toms River High School East. Jess is also the Science Fair Coordinator at Toms River Middle School South. Jess has written curriculum for K-8 Science and High School Biology, as well as designed and implemented workshops for teachers. She is a freelance writer, wife, and budgeting mom of four who loves to travel, enjoy nature, connect with animals, and read.

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