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Available Professional Development Offerings


Accessible Literacy Framework (ALF)

How does one provide reading instruction to students with developmental or intellectual disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy or Down syndrome? ALF is grounded in the premise that reading is at the center of most activities—in and out of school. The essential components of reading instruction—phonological awareness, sound blending, ini­tial phoneme segmentation, letter-sound correspondence, decoding and shared reading—are covered and framed to address emerging literacy needs of students with complex communication needs.

Beginning Reading Instruction Beginning Reading Instruction (BRI) focuses on how children learn to read and the best ways to teach beginning reading from kindergarten to the end of the primary grades. Because the course contains considerable information on how students develop basic decoding skills, it is also useful for teachers and support staff working with older students who still are having difficulty with decoding and fluency. The course presents a synthesis of the research consensus for beginning reading instruction, and it provides the most ef­fective instructional strategies—aligned to that research—to help students develop print awareness, phonemic aware­ness, knowledge of the alphabetical system, phonics/decod­ing skills, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

Colorín Colorado Introductory Workshop for ELL Educators
When English language learners (ELLs) are placed in main­stream classrooms, it can be a huge challenge for the stu­dents and for the educators—whether a mainstream teacher, a paraprofessional, or a veteran ESL instructor. This work­shop highlights resources, materials and the latest research to help reach out to ELL families and learn more about literacy skills, academic content and English language acquisition at the same time. The workshop also introduces attendees to the free online materials available on the Colorín Colorado website developed by the AFT and PBS station WETA, which provides preK-12 educators of ELLs of all language back­grounds a high-quality, research-based resource.

Community Schools 101: The Nuts and Bolts
As educators, you know all too well that many of your stu­dents come to school with needs that impede their ability to learn. If we are serious about closing the achievement gap, we must address factors that are beyond the control of teach­ers and schools alone. Important factors such as healthcare, social services and parental involvement often are divorced from school life, although they are crucial to student suc­cess. The community schools strategy enables schools and communities to provide the necessary supports for students, families and communities. This course provides an overview of this strategy, including basic elements, core principles, research, community school results (academic and nonaca­demic), family and community engagement components, site- and system-level implementation, the collaborative leadership framework needed for successful implementation, and examples of successful community school initiatives.

Delivering Effective Professional Development
This course is required for anyone who wants to deliver the graduate courses and SSS modules. All first-time participants and anyone trained prior to 2001, must take this mini-course prior to completing facilitator training.
This mini-course assists trainers and coordinators of local professional development programs. Participants will receive guidelines as to what an effective presenter must know and do (e.g., presentation techniques, planning professional development sessions) and tips on how to succeed with adult learners.
Site coordinators and the individuals responsible for profes­sional development issues also will learn how to manage a professional development program and build local capacity.

Do We Have the Data We Need to Inform Instruction?
"Create a culture of data use." "Use data to inform instruction." These phrases are commonplace in education today. But, how do we know if we're using the right data? How do we know if state and district test results are being used appro­priately? And what role do teacher-developed assessments play in data-driven decision-making? The answers to these and other questions are covered in this workshop. Partici­pants leave with a variety of tips and strategies to take back to their states, districts, schools and classrooms to ensure that they are using the best data for informing programmatic and instructional decision-making.

English Language Learners 101, Module I: Who Are ELLs? In this first module, participants will develop an understand­ing of second language acquisition to increase awareness of English language learners' (ELLs) strengths and empathy for their needs; improve participants' ability to meet the diverse needs of ELLs and increase their academic achievement; identify strategies to differentiate and scaffold instruction to help students access learning along the stages of language acquisition; increase knowledge of state and federal laws that ensure services for ELLs; and examine preliminary research-based instructional strategies to optimize academic learning for ELLs.

Language Learners 101, Module II:Second Language Acquisition and Literacy Development
Module II builds on the knowledge gained in Module I and builds the academic language instructional practices that mainstream educators of ELLs need to ensure success with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The course will engage participants in learning about second language ac­quisition, ELL student literacy development, content-based literacy and meaningful ELL access to the CCSS. The course equips participants with a range of strategies and skills to dif­ferentiate instruction for ELLs while ensuring academic rigor. Educators will expand their repertoire by deeply examining their teaching practice through the lens of language and academic standards.
Prerequisite: English Language Learners 101, Module I.

Foundations of Effective Teaching I: Organizing the Classroom Environment for Teaching and LearningThis core course addresses the fundamental aspects of teach­ing and learning that are relevant for teachers and classroom paraprofessionals in all grade levels and subject areas. It examines proven practices for establishing and maintain­ing classroom management, maximizing use of learning time, questioning and feedback skills, homework, interactive guided instruction strategies, and scaffolding techniques. Covering core topics critical to successful classroom practice, Foundations of Effective Teaching I is recommended as the primary offering for all local sites. It is frequently used as the basis for induction, mentor, and peer assistance programs and is an essential part of any affiliate professional develop­ment program.

Foundations of Effective Teaching II:Building Academic Success
This course addresses the challenges teachers are facing to raise the performance levels of all students while also closing the achievement gap. It addresses both environmental and instructional conditions that foster student achievement by (1) examining the effects that teacher expectations and the social context of the classroom have on student learn­ing, and (2) providing an in-depth study of two instructional models—cognitive apprenticeship and cooperative small groups—that actively engage students and address the diver­sity of their learning needs. This course extends and deepens many concepts introduced in Foundations I; it can be taken either in consecutive years or as an advanced offering for seasoned trainers. While Foundations I is ideal to deliver to novice teachers and paraprofessionals, this advanced course is targeted to more seasoned educators who are prepared to engage in in-depth study and reflective practice. It also may be used to support school improvement teams or schoolwide initiatives to raise achievement.
Prerequisite: Foundations of Effective Teaching I.

Instructional Strategies That Work for All Disciplines
This course provides a cognitive research-based approach to lesson planning and design. To develop a comprehensive instructional plan, participants consider the concepts of standards, curriculum and a course map as they generate unit and lesson plans that promote independent learning for students. In this course, instructional strategies are taught in the context of purpose and appropriateness for support­ing student learning. Course participants will learn how to develop scoring guides (rubrics) for student tasks; evaluate curriculum materials for any content area and create instruc­tional plans that address the shortcomings of the materials. The information in this course can be applied in K-12 settings and is particularly helpful for students with special needs.

Making Data and Classroom Assessments Work for You
In this course, participants will acquire the knowledge and tools they need to collect and use data, to understand the role of classroom assessments to improve schools, to inform instruction, and to advance learning individually and collab­oratively. Specifically, participants will surface their assump­tions about data and will begin to identify what's meant by "data"; will understand two different types of assessment data and their uses and limitations; will better understand how to organize and use standards to help guide instruction and assessment; will better understand how to select, develop and use quality classroom assessments; and will learn how to analyze data to make informed decisions about school improvement and instruction.

Managing Anti-Social Behavior
The anti-social actions of a small but powerful number of students in school not only put their own academic success at risk but threaten the learning environment for everyone. This course presents research on emotional and behavioral problems of students who consistently act out. Participants will learn strategies to reduce and/or prevent the occurrence of disruptive or dangerous outbreaks.
Managing Student Behavior for Support StaffThis course is designed for paraprofessionals and school-related personnel who have contact with and/or are respon­sible for overseeing the behavior and safety of large numbers of students outside the classroom setting, whether that set­ting is the cafeteria, school bus, office, playground or school corridors. The course will teach school-related personnel and paraprofessionals about how to manage large groups of students as well as difficult and disruptive students.

Mind in the Making
Ellen Galinsky's book Mind in the Making: The Seven Essen­tial Skills Every Child Needs provides the content for the Mind in the Making modules, which are designed to bridge theory and practice. The research in the modules is based on the most recent work of neuroscientists and researchers of child development. The seven skills are: focus and self-control; perspective taking; communicating; making connections; critical thinking; taking on challenges; and self-directed, engaged learning. The training is geared to parents and early childhood providers and teachers.

Reading Comprehension Instruction
Reading Comprehension Instruction (RCI) focuses on the research and exemplary practices that help students acquire strong reading comprehension skills. RCI is appropriate for all K-12 teachers and support staff who need to help increase their students' comprehension of text—whether that text is a literature selection or informational text. The course provides participants with a synthesis of the research base on reading comprehension instruction and vocabulary development. Participants examine, discuss and evaluate the appropriate application of a range of instructional strategies from explicit to implicit teaching of comprehension skills. Strategies are presented for increasing student comprehension of both narrative and expository texts. In addition, participants learn how to help students self-monitor comprehension and ap­ply appropriate "fix-up" strategies when comprehension is not achieved. Practice in using instructional strategies and examples of student work are embedded in the course.

School, Family and Community: Partnerships That Support Student Learning
The primary function of this course is to help school staff un­derstand how they can assist parents to better support their children as learners. Topics explored include (1) using effec­tive communication strategies to develop learning partner­ships with families; (2) designing more productive homework assignments to involve families; (3) explaining classroom work and grading systems to parents; (4) developing school­wide parent involvement plans; and (5) examining the role of school absenteeism on student learning.

Share My Lesson: Free Resources Developed by Teachers, for Teachers
Launched in July 2012 by the AFT and TES Connect, Share My Lesson is an innovative Web-based platform that pro­vides anyone who works with students—both inside and outside of schools—a place to collaborate and share their best practices, to address many of the pressing challenges confronting schools and communities in the U.S. The site provides more than 260,000 free resources covering all grades and subjects. The site also includes a dedicated section on the Common Core State Standards and provides a growing collection of resources aligned to the standards. Users of the site can share their own resources and download resources from colleagues in their own school, state or from across the country. This workshop includes a demonstration of the site and examples of how states, districts and schools are using it to engage educators, connect teachers and par­ents, provide supports for new teachers, and more.

Strategies for Student Success Strategies for Student Success is a research-based AFT program consisting of modules that address teaching and learning aspects of the classroom for new and veteran teach­ers alike. These modules are designed to be delivered in three hours, which creates a manageable method of connecting with educators. The goals of this program are to offer high-quality professional development, strengthen institutions for teaching and learning, and support locals in their organizing efforts. Modules include:

  • Activating Learning in All Disciplines Can students learn core concepts from any subject, practice listening, recalling, retelling, time sequencing, the critical thinking skills as well as learn how to take notes and make presentations in very engaging lessons? The answer is "yes." Find out how in this session.
  • Beyond Classroom Management This module invites educators to look beyond rules and procedures to maintain a classroom environment conducive to learning.
  • Coherent, Cohesive Teaching and Learning Examine the research and learn how to apply the research findings to create lessons aligned with standards, curriculum and units. This module will enhance your own practice and provide greater rewards for you and your students.
  • Constructing Effective Classroom Assessments This session will help participants answer the question "What should we consider when creating and administering classroom assessments?" Participants will discuss the differences and appropriate uses of formative and summative assessments and selected response and constructed response.
  • Cooperative Learning Groups Several misconceptions exist about how cooperative learning groups work and how to make them efficient. This module will present the "how" of cooperative learning.
  • Customer Service Rate your school or institution's level of customer service using "The Rater Principle" and then put plans in place to improve or sustain the level of customer service that keeps customers loyal.
  • Differentiating Instruction This session is designed to raise awareness of research that supports differentiation and to examine the basic ele­ments of two differentiation models.
  • Essential Structures for Academic Learning This session examines what effective teachers do to address the three basic needs of every stu­dent in the classroom; how caring is linked to academic learning; and what concrete, research-based ways can be used to structure the social context of the classroom to help all students reach both their social and academic potential.
  • Engaging Students' Long-Term Memory Listening is an important component of learning, but the best learning takes place when students engage in activities that foster thinking about and interacting with the content. When students are asked to think and even create by applying the content they have learned, they will retain the new information for a longer time.
  • The Face Cards in My Deck First there are people, then there are the ideas. What brings these two entities together? Why is it that some indi­viduals can get people to do anything and others can't? Find out why and learn how to effectively interact with those around you.
  • The Game Factor This module examines the research, different types of games, and how they can be used to enhance content instruction for students in today's diverse classrooms.
  • Handling Stress Discover ways of handling stress more successfully as well as practice strategies you can use to turn challenges into opportunities.
  • Homework: Let's Get It Right This session will strengthen participants' decision-making abilities with regard to homework as well asaddress the need to rethink homework practices.
  • Is My Teaching Effective? This module explores high-quality research and shows you how to create effective learning conditions in your class­room and add powerful tools to your repertoire of instructional strategies.
  • LINCS: A Learner Strategy Participants learn a research-based memory-enhancement technique that requires students to transform information, or elaborate on it, in a variety of ways including creating visual images, using mnemonic devices and relating new information to prior knowledge.
  • Making Parents and Guardians Partners in Educating Students In this session, learn how to engage parents and guardians and experience what this engagement looks like.
  • Rethinking Punishment Participants will learn about two types of inter­ventions and the steps required prior to designing intervention strategies for students.
  • Setting Measurable Objectives Learn how to write effective objectives using a rubric, and consider ways of measuring student understanding.
  • Social Media, Students and Learning This session will explore the educational benefits of social media, the cautions and what it means for education and the world.
  • Success Begins with You In this session you will learn habits and behaviors that support success in life, in school and on the job.
  • Supporting English Language Learners In this session participants will become proficient at five standards for effective teaching that work for all students, especially English language learners.
  • Using Questions To Teach and Learn This session will reframe the use of questions to improve students' critical thinking skills.
  • What Effective Schools Do When Students Don't Succeed: The Power of Collaboration This module will examine ways of forming Professional Learning Committees; developing collaborative and decision-making skills; and using a proven process for researching, planning and implementing plans that get results.
  • Words Can Nurture or Hurt: Are You a Feedback Friend or Foe? Participants will use their theatrical and discussion skills to examine every­day scenarios and discover how positive words sometimes canhave a negative impact.

Thinking Mathematics K-2: Common Core Edition
This beginning Thinking Math course focuses on research about how children learn mathematics and implications of these findings for the classroom. TM K-2 has been intention­ally redesigned to help teachers understand the content and practice standards of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and their connection to the research. Ten Principles capture practices that lead to a better understand­ing of math for all students and are applicable at all grade levels. The Principles—which deal with ideas such as tapping what students know, helping them visualize problems, and building the expectation and ability to justify their work—are exemplified through the research on counting, addition and subtraction. The course takes a broad look at the importance of recognizing and using patterns and relationships through­out math, addresses the kind of questioning that promotes thinking in math class, and provides a framework for imple­menting curriculum and lessons.

Thinking Mathematics 3-5: Common Core Edition
Redesigned to help teachers examine, understand and make specific links to the Common Core Mathematics Standards, this course opens with a brief introduction to the research-based Ten Principles. Participants consider patterns and relationships in mathematics, including those in the multipli­cation tables and focus on the Common Core State Standards for Mathematical Practice. They examine the differences between multiplicative and additive structures, including the new role numbers have as they begin to represent not only single objects but also composite units. Participants also review the variety of problem types in the multiplica­tive structures. Representations to help students understand include diagrams, charts, and t-tables as well as arrays and area models, which receive strong emphasis in Common Core. Use of the distributive property and the beginnings of proportional reasoning are stressed as well as the various treatments that may be required for division remainders in contextualized problems. Stress is placed on the importance of matching language to situations.

Thinking Mathematics 6-8: Common Core Edition
The middle school course is redesigned to allow teachers to reflect on and connect the Common Core Mathematics Standards to research on how students learn mathematics. The Ten Principles of Thinking Math and the Standards for Mathematical Practice are linked and attention paid to how concepts and skills develop. Using geometry as a starting point, participants explore ways to help students understand linear functions and rate of change with emphasis on linking various ways of seeing the same problem. Practices such as reasoning, constructing viable arguments, precision and looking for mathematical structure combine with Principles of Thinking Mathematics such as helping students visualize problems, requiring them to discuss and justify their math­ematical thinking, using situational problems to connect mathematics to life, and balancing conceptual and proce­dural knowledge to develop such understanding.

Workers' Rights in a Technology-Driven World
Today, more than 600 million people visit Facebook each month, more than 175 million people have a Twitter account, and more people are using a single smartphone or e-mail account to conduct personal and professional activities. Did you know that every e-mail you send from your work e-mail is archived and saved? Did you know that school staff are being suspended, fired or forced to resign based on their Facebook postings? Do you know your rights in our technol­ogy-driven world? This workshop addresses your rights both on and away from school grounds when using technology, how to keep your personal information and networking sites private, and strategies for how to use technology appropri­ately in the workplace.