Learning the Ropes

Take advantage of Net-based professional development.

You wouldn't give a 16 year-old the keys to your car without making sure he or she had completed driver's ed, so why expect teachers to know how to integrate technology into their classrooms without proper training? These online professional development opportunities help teachers build instructional strategies and master the basics of popular applications.

LearningElectric.com offers program instruction for Mac and PC applications such as Excel.

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire: LTS Online Help Documentation: This skill-builder powerhouse site features guided lessons for popular software products like Microsoft Office, Office XP/2002 for Windows, Microsoft Publisher, Outlook, Entourage, Macromedia Dreamweaver, and others.

LearningElectric.com: LearningElectric.com offers free tutorials for several Microsoft applications including Word, Excel, PowerPoint Publisher, and FrontPage, as well as tutorials for AppleWorks, Inspiration, KidPix, and Easy Grade Pro. You'll need QuickTime to access the site (a free download).

enVISION your WORLD: Educational Resource Guides: At this enVISION site (developed in part with support from Olympus, VayaVentures, and faculty at Teacher's College, Columbia University) you'll find images, lesson plans, timelines, and other resources to help you integrate photography into social studies and science curricula.

Learner.org: Register at this Annenberg Media site for free downloadable print materials that support its professional development videos (available via video-on-demand or live simulcast) on topics like art, literature, economics, and critical issues in school reform.

Technology Professional Development: This North Central Regional Educational Laboratory site offers helpful planning resources for technology professional developers, including activities and bibliographic resources organized around five different themes.

Digital Workshops: The Department of Education's free Teacher-to-Teacher online professional development Web site offers free digital training workshops in reading, math, science, history, standards-based assessment, and data and inclusion, among others. My favorite is Shannon C'de Baca's "'Taking the Dense' out of Density."

The Good Mentor: Many school districts have mentor-based entry-year programs designed to help beginning teachers succeed in the classroom. This online article summarizes the skills and qualities of a good mentor and has a bibliography of suggested readings.

Schools Bring Professional Development In-House: Successful professional development doesn't have to cost big bucks. Visit this site to read descriptions of several successful locally based professional development initiatives.

Intellectual Development and Service to Peers as Integral to Professional Teaching: The Center for Effective Teaching and Learning at the University of Texas at El Paso makes a strong case for the value of teaching portfolios and the ways they promote stronger teaching. You can download a free copy of Anthony F. Grasha's Teaching With Style: A Practical Guide to Enhancing Learning by Understanding Teaching and Learning Styles.

Teacher Development: Performance And Development Modules: General educational professional development modules from the folks down under are available for viewing and download from this resource-rich Web site targeting early and middle grade students.

Carol S. Holzberg is an educational technology specialist in Greenfield, Mass.