Are you looking for a professional learning community specifically for K-16 science teachers? The NSTA Learning Center is stocked with resources, customized lesson plans, and community forums, and will change the ways you access and leverage professional learning. Research suggests that professional learning for science educators should be an ongoing, continuous endeavor taking anywhere from 50-80 hours per year. The NSTA Learning Center allows you to control the place, the pace, and the time as you work to transform instruction in your classroom.
Whenever you’ve got 45 minutes, consider choosing one of these six introductory steps to take advantage of what the NSTA Learning Center has to offer.
- Activate your account and personalize your profile.
All NSTA members already have a Learning Center account. To activate your account for the first time, use your last name and your NSTA Member Number. Once you’re logged in, make sure to upload a profile picture, school/work affiliation, your geographic location, and any professional social media channels like Twitter or Facebook. Updating your profile makes you more visible to more than 150,000 community members.
- Search for resources.
The Learning Center offers a robust search engine that can bring you peer-reviewed resources and new online learning opportunities. Even the most basic search can bring you results not only from the NSTA vaults, but also from other users’ collections. Once you’ve selected a resource, simply “Add to Library” and it’s yours to use and share. Although the NSTA Learning Center is an open resource to anyone, NSTA Members get an extra 20% discount on fee-based resources in the Learning Center.
- Get recognized through Activities Badges.
Earn badges as recognition for your efforts as you aggregate, review, and share your personal and NSTA e-PD resources. You also earn badges for making posts in the community forums, for diagnosing your needs in science content, and by attending web seminars, and successfully completing SciPacks.
- Create an e-PD portfolio.
Have you ever struggled to submit a professional development plan? Let NSTA help you with accountability by creating a personalized professional development portfolio online. The My Professional Development Plan and Portfolio Tool helps educators define goals, track successes, and write a report with specific content knowledge goals.
- Join a community forum.
Despite the nagging stigma of online chat rooms, the modern world connects online. The Learning Center was developed as a way to connect with like-minded colleagues at various levels of experience. Join a community forum to learn and to share. You can always ask questions from online advisors, but you might be the one person with the answer for someone else.
- Develop your library—and share it with others.
Your good ideas have probably already outgrown the folder on your desktop or even worse, the physical drawer in your classroom or office. By sharing a virtual library and cultivating collections of resources, you not only organize your digital shelf —you allow others to use what you’ve learned. Educators can benefit from your curated content, and you’ll make a greater impact than just filing that away as a resource for a rainy day.
Next time you need help with a lesson plan, developing assessments, or collecting resources, you have more than just Google as a tool. The NSTA Learning Center will help you focus on your grade level, your topics, and your interests while helping you connect with fellow educators around the world.
We know our members are leaders in their schools, districts, and communities. As you explore the rich collection of resources available in the NSTA Learning Center, advance your leadership role by sharing resources with your colleagues. As more science teachers join the NSTA Learning Center community, the richer it becomes. When someone receives resources from you, whether they are an NSTA member or not, all they have to do is create a free account to access the materials.
Laura Berry of Cogberry Creative is our guest blogger for this series. Laura is a communications professional for the education community.