Common Sense


Best Professional Development Websites and PLNs for Teachers

Though our reviews look at a tool's learning potential for students in the classroom, many of these resources offer learning opportunities for educators as well. On this list, you'll find tools for staying up to date with the latest news, sharing ideas with other teachers, and finding the best lessons. Expand your teacher network through a PLN (professional learning network), find inspiration, and build your knowledge of the best teaching practices with these rich professional development sites and online communities.

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Top Picks


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Exemplary lessons, strategies, and coaching from master teachers

Bottom line: Take advantage of the offerings of this professional community to improve the quality of your classroom instruction.

Common Curriculum

Sleek lesson planner replaces bulky binders, promotes collaboration

Bottom line: Flexible and collaborative lesson planning, calendar design, and classroom site creator save teachers precious time.

KQED Teach

Super PD resource for making media in the classroom

Bottom line: Stay on top of the trends and take the fear out of media-making in the classroom.

PowerMyLearning Connect

Create playlists and differentiate with quality third-party content

Bottom line: A curation of some of the best educational content on the web made easily accessible, both for students and teachers.


Excellent free resource for all things reading and writing

Bottom line: A language arts teacher's dream; lesson plans, professional development, and all-around quality support.

Smithsonian Science Education Center

Teacher-geared site outlines steps for innovative science instruction

Bottom line: Use the SSEC's site as a stop on your changing-science-instruction path; just be prepared to reach out to them for constructive details.

California Academy of Sciences

Expert research and diverse, rich lessons inspire future scientists

Bottom line: A perfect companion to (or substitute for) the Academy, this site delivers highly interactive resources and research with a lot of depth.

Curio Learning

Collaborative curation tool for teachers who like to share

Bottom line: A mix of social bookmarking, resource sharing, and online discussion creates a unique collaborative tool with potential.


Quality Common Core-aligned lessons with great modeling for teachers

Bottom line: An innovative way to enhance lessons and tailor learning for individual needs.

OER Commons

Free, easy access to a wealth of resources

Bottom line: Impressive resource opens access to quality materials for all educators.

Teaching Channel

Quality videos challenge educators to grow within a PD environment

Bottom line: Professional educators can watch, share, and learn in a continually updated environment.

Learning for Justice

Thought-provoking classroom resources support diversity education

Bottom line: It's an invaluable teacher tool to help reduce prejudice and encourage tolerance in schools, as well as within society as a whole.


Manage classes, content, and communication with social LMS platform

Bottom line: This free platform allows for teacher-monitored classroom communication with basic tools.

The Current

Engaging space for tech-forward instruction and teacher collaboration

Bottom line: A great resource to share and gather ideas on teaching with technology and media, but there are some bugs that need fixing.

KQED Education

Excellent multimedia learning hub supports both teachers and students

Bottom line: For those willing to dig around, the site is an exceptional place for both educators and students to find inspirational digital media resources.

Microsoft Teams

Collaborative platform helps manage multiple groups and projects

Bottom line: It offers a ton of options for integrating learning; the lack of some typical LMS features may make it a better fit for small groups or nontraditional group configurations.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Stellar history website, gateway to cool PD and scholarship

Bottom line: In class, a good resource for U.S. history; beyond, a great website for free teacher PD and some great in-depth exploration of primary sources.

Voxer Walkie Talkie Messenger

Voice- and text-messaging app is a teacher PLN standout

Bottom line: A cool tool for teachers to collaborate with each other (but maybe not with their students).


Research-backed resources that attack math myths head on

Bottom line: A fantastic resource for teachers working on changing attitudes toward math and teaching it in an innovate and engaging way.


Visually appealing, endlessly creative gallery of images and ideas

Bottom line: An effective way to search for new ideas and save them for later use, but keep an eye on the source -- and on your watch.


Smart classroom tool if used with care; priceless for PLNs

Bottom line: Twitter offers something for everyone: information, resources, and an easy way to connect with just about anyone.

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