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A Guide to Differentiating Instruction for Gifted and Talented Students
 
If you've taught more than one student at a time, you know that students learn at different rates. And when you have an entire class full of different types of learners, how can you keep each of them engaged without planning 20 personalized lessons?

Differentiating instruction is essential for reaching students of diverse learning styles and proficiency levels. In classrooms with gifted students, it is especially important to create learning experiences and assignments that provide choice and challenge with opportunities for deeper and more complex learning.

In this course, you will learn how to identify gifted learners and understand their unique needs in the classroom. You will also create a differentiated learning plan, from brainstorming all the way through to delivery. First, you will consider everything from academic standards, goal setting, and pre-assessment to the instructional plan, assignment creation, and summative assessment. Your plan will account for your studentsÕ unique learning preferences, interests, and readiness levels, and include flexible grouping practices, tiered assignments, and student choice of content, process, and product. Finally, you will learn how to manage a differentiated classroom and foster student responsibility and independence.

By the end of the course, you will have all the tools you need to modify instruction, assignments, and assessments with a deeper understanding of the "big picture" of unit design and a focus on gifted learners.
Grade Level: K-12
Up to 6 Months to complete


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Dates Dates: Up to 6 months to complete
Credits Credits: 45 PD Credit and 3 Grad Credit
Location Location:
Accessibility in the Digital Classroom
 
Schools are places of inclusion. But when it comes to accessibility in online settings, inclusion can easily fall by the wayside simply because teachers aren’t familiar with online accessibility practices. Accessibility might involve something as simple as considering the amount of bandwidth required to view a video or as complex as ensuring students with disabilities have equal access to learning materials. Even if these issues seem intimidating at first, with the right tools and strategies, making your online classroom accessible for all students might be easier than you think.

In this course, you’ll explore both the foundational elements of online accessibility and the nitty-gritty technical knowledge you need to create an accessible digital classroom. Through the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), you’ll learn how to better represent content, create a more engaging experience, and improve outcomes for all learners. In addition, you’ll look at design principles and technical tools that will help you make online learning a reality for learners with a variety of different needs.

By the end of this course, you’ll have the knowledge and tools you need to create or modify digital learning materials to be more accessible to all students.
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Dates Dates: Up to 6 months to complete
Credits Credits: 15 PD Credit and 1 Grad Credit
Location Location:
Active Reading vs Passive Reading: Teaching Students to Become Better Readers
 
Reading involves much more than passing one’s eyes over rows of printed words. To truly learn and benefit from what they’re reading, students must read with an active and engaged brain. But as a teacher, you know it’s challenging to get students to block out all distractions and concentrate on a single task—especially one they might dislike.

In this course, you will explore the latest brain research on how the visual and auditory systems work during what we call “active reading.” You’ll develop strategies for helping students build (a) word decoding skills, (b) fluency through purposeful physical actions, (c) vocabulary through tier-level words, and (d) age-appropriate comprehension skills. In addition, you’ll examine the advantages and disadvantages of reading in print and electronic formats, including how the brain works when engaging different formats. Finally, you’ll learn how to find appropriate reading materials for your students, and how to engage students who dislike reading by identifying the underlying reasons and mindset behind their struggles.

Using the techniques from this course, you will be able to strengthen your students’ reading skills to inspire deeper learning and a greater love of reading.

Grade Level: K-12

Up to 6 months to complete
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Dates Dates: Up to 6 months to complete
Credits Credits: 45 PD Credit and 3 Grad Credit
Location Location:
Adding Relevance to Teaching Mathematics
 
When students engage in mathematics that is relevant to their world, they pose questions, seek answers, and are passionate about math. Relevant and rigorous math satisfies students’ natural curiosity while building their understanding of math concepts. When coupled with asking good questions, engaging in three-act math tasks, and incorporating technology, relevant math can also enhance literacy skills, interest in math, and engagement in authentic learning experiences that connect to problem-solving in the real world.

In this course, you will learn practical methods for using relevant math concepts, theory, and practice to spur students’ excitement for and engagement with math tasks. By examining current research and practice, you will be able to develop lessons that students will both love and remember. For example, you’ll develop strategies for integrating inquiry-based learning, authentic problem-solving, math-based investigations, and student-centered approaches to help students tackle complex and rigorous questions.

By the end of the course, you will be able to integrate researched-based techniques to guide mathematical inquiry in a manner that motivates and excites students, supports math comprehension, and creates a lifelong interest in math.

Grade Level: K-12

Up to 6 months to complete


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Dates Dates: Up to 6 months to complete
Credits Credits: 45 PD Credit and 3 Grad Credit
Location Location:
America's Wars: From the Civil War to Vietnam
 
The United States, a nation founded by war, has started, supported, avoided, and ended many wars throughout history. However, despite the incredible personal and national upheaval that war causes, students often consider learning the causes and details of war to be dull and unwieldy.

In this course, you will create specific strategies for teaching about the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War, including the major causes and events, the key players, and how each war served as a turning point in American history and policy. You will help students examine these events from a variety of perspectives, using techniques such as debate, critical discussion, and examining lesser studied issues such as antiwar efforts. These activities will not only deepen students’ critical-thinking and perspective-taking skills, but also encourage them to engage in the topics beyond basic facts.

Using the knowledge and techniques from this course, you will be able to teach about America’s wars in a high-interest, interactive, and engaging way that goes well beyond memorizing battle dates and political speeches.

Grade Level: 9-12

Up to 6 months to complete


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Dates Dates: Up to 6 months to complete
Credits Credits: 45 PD Credit and 3 Grad Credit
Location Location:
An Effective Guide For Integrating Debate in the Classroom
 
Rhetoric and debate used to be standard classes in schools’ curriculum. Although these classes have fallen by the wayside, the need for effective debating skills and critical thinking has not. As students face the constant communication on the Internet and today’s divisive political and social issues, it is more important than ever that they know how to express their knowledge and opinions skillfully and effectively. Incorporating debate as an instructional strategy in your classroom will help them do just that.

In this course, you will review the debate process and how it can promote critical thinking and a deeper connection to content regardless of what subject matter you teach. You’ll learn how to help students form effective arguments, analyze resources, research debate stances, and participate in small-group and whole-class debates. In addition, you will create a series of graphic organizers and scaffolding strategies that will help you engage all of your students in the debate process regardless of natural interest or ability. Debating will help your students improve their public-speaking skills, work collaboratively, and be a more active part of the assessment process.

By the end of this course, you will have an actionable plan for integrating debate into your classroom and a strong foundation for making debate an essential element of learning and instruction.

Grade Level: K-12

Up to 6 months to complete


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Dates Dates: Up to 6 months to complete
Credits Credits: 45 PD Credit and 3 Grad Credit
Location Location:
Applying the Habits of Mind in the Classroom and Beyond
 
Problem solving and critical thinking are buzzwords we hear all the time. But how do you teach these broad concepts to your students, particularly in a way that they will continue to use after they’ve left your classroom?

In this course, you will explore personal mindset and the role that mindset plays in developing your beliefs about how you learn as well as how your students learn. Habits of Mind consist of 16 behaviors that people can learn to utilize to make them more effective learners. Using the intentional strategies from this course, you will be able to select and create activities that support Habits of Mind and create an environment that encourages their use. In addition, you will be able to assess students’ abilities to use Habits of Mind to ensure that they are internalizing thinking processes that they can use for the rest of their lives.

Using the techniques from this course, you will be able to incorporate Habits of Mind into your classroom and school to prepare your students to handle any intellectual challenge that comes their way.

Grade Level: K-12

Up to 6 months to complete


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Dates Dates: Up to 6 months to complete
Credits Credits: 45 PD Credit and 3 Grad Credit
Location Location:
Athletic Speed and Agility
 
“How can I get faster?” It’s a question every coach has heard from student athletes. Speed and agility training not only gives athletes an edge on the field but also helps any PE student grow in coordination and athleticism. With the right training program, students of all abilities can improve their acceleration, quickness, and change of direction, while also building confidence in their bodies and reducing the risk of injury.

In this course, you will build a plan for improving the speed and agility of your PE students and student athletes. You’ll review proper warm-ups, stretching, and plyometrics, and the role of flexibility in developing muscle elasticity and lengthening an athlete’s strides. In addition, you’ll take a holistic look at speed and agility training, taking into account diet, mental fortitude, and goal setting. Finally, you’ll explore different methods of assessing and evaluating students’ performance, including how to adjust instruction to help them improve.

By the end of the course, you will have a quality plan that yields results for athletes of any age or innate ability.

Grade Level: K-12

Up to 6 months to complete


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Dates Dates: Up to 6 months to complete
Credits Credits: 45 PD Credit and 3 Grad Credit
Location Location:
Basketball John Wooden's Way
 
Arguably the most successful college basketball coach of all time, John Wooden had a passion not only for coaching but also for sharing his story with other coaches so they could learn from his success. His leadership, dedication, knowledge, and discipline are traits all coaches can learn from.

In this course, you will learn the strategies and characteristics of good coaching by studying the life and career of John Wooden. You’ll examine Coach Wooden’s UCLA offense and how you can implement some of its key strategies with your own team. In addition, you’ll develop techniques for building your team’s chemistry and morale while motivating your individual athletes to push themselves to learn and grow. Finally, you’ll create exercises that will simulate game-like conditions in your practices and also build positive communication between you and your players.

By the end of the course, you will be able to design a coaching structure that instills both discipline and character into your athletes, and implement effective basketball drills and techniques that will set you on the path to victory.

Grade Level: 6-12

Up to 6 months to complete


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Dates Dates: Up to 6 months to complete
Credits Credits: 45 PD Credit and 3 Grad Credit
Location Location:
Be Versatile with Verse: Poetry in the Classroom
 
Whether we realize it or not, our lives are infused with poetry. Adults sing rhythmic lullabies to babies children learn nursery rhymes and key concepts like the months of the year by chanting (“Thirty days have September, April, June, and November!”) and teenagers rock to the beat of their favorite songs’ rhythm and lyrics. Poetry has the power to inspire, transform, enlighten, and stir our emotions.

From simple limericks to complex elegies, poetry enriches English Language Arts instruction by exposing students to its unique literary features and challenging them to interpret abstract or symbolic verse. In this course, you will develop robust strategies for incorporating poetry into your teaching practice. You will learn how to help students understand the conventions of poetry, interpret different styles of poetry, creatively express their responses to poems, and write original poetry. In addition, you’ll learn to create a classroom environment where all students are comfortable sharing their own poetry and their personal responses to others’ works.

Using the tools from this course, you will be able to enhance your English Language Arts curriculum with poetry and help students discover a lifelong appreciation for this unique literary form.

Grade Level: K-12

Up to 6 months to complete


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Dates Dates: Up to 6 months to complete
Credits Credits: 45 PD Credit and 3 Grad Credit
Location Location:
Becoming a Calm, Happy Teacher
 
Teachers have a multifaceted role that includes wearing many hats being present in the lives of students, families, and colleagues and taking care of others before themselves. Educators’ demanding careers and giving spirits can lead to stress, burnout, dissatisfaction, frustration, and sadness if they are not intentional about caring for their mental and emotional health.

In this course, you’ll explore the power of positive psychology to find a more balanced, calm approach to teaching. You’ll identify your strengths, weaknesses, and personal stressors and learn how to manage them to promote your well-being and happiness. In addition, you’ll create strategies for bringing gratitude and learned optimism to your classroom to help you and your students become more joyful and empathetic.

Using the strategies from this course, you will become more engaged, present, and fulfilled as a teacher and pass on these traits to your students.

Grade Level: K-5

Up to 6 months to complete


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Dates Dates: Up to 6 months to complete
Credits Credits: 45 PD Credit and 3 Grad Credit
Location Location:
Bell Ringers and Exit Slips: Creating Powerful Beginnings and Endings
 
Getting your students quiet, focused, and primed for learning during the first five minutes of class can be extremely challenging. However, integrating bell-ringers (i.e., quick, targeted start-of-class activities that students do at their desks) and exit slips (i.e., activities completed during the last five minutes of class) into your instruction can make beginning and ending a class less difficult.

In this course, you will develop concrete, actionable strategies for choosing bell-ringers and exit slips based on curricular objectives. You’ll learn how to differentiate bell-ringer and exit slip activities for diverse learners (e.g., English language learners, students with special needs) and formatively assess student work so you can modify instruction going forward. In addition, you’ll review examples of bell-ringers and exit slips for different subject areas so you can engage students in creative and critical thinking and incorporate these activities into daily instruction.

Using the techniques and resources from this course, you’ll be able to easily implement best practices for using bell-ringers and exit slips to start and end every class period successfully.

NOTE: If you have taken the Advancement Courses course Getting Off On The Right Foot With Bell-Ringers, we advise you not to take this course, as its contents are similar. You may, instead, take one of our other courses on assessment strategies.

Grade Level: K-12

Up to 6 months to complete


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Dates Dates: Up to 6 months to complete
Credits Credits: 45 PD Credit and 3 Grad Credit
Location Location:
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