Common Sense

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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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BetterLesson

Exemplary Common Core-aligned lessons from rock star peers at large

Bottom line: Get a head start on the Common Core transition with this professional community for great classroom-ready lessons.

Common Curriculum

Sleek lesson planner replaces bulky binders, promotes collaboration

Bottom line: Ditch pen-and-paper planning; embrace the flexibility of collaborative lesson planning and calendar design.

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.

ReadWriteThink

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.

LearnZillion

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

See colleagues in action with digital PD for discussion and reflection

Bottom line: This video library of actual classroom teaching offers opportunities for professional educators to watch, share, and improve their craft.

Teaching Tolerance

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.

Edmodo

Manage classes, content, and communication with social LMS platform

Bottom line: This free platform allows for teacher-monitored classroom communication but lacks excitement.

The Current at Educator Innovator

Engaging space for tech-forward instruction and teacher collaboration

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

KQED Education

Great news and classroom resources support both teachers and students

Bottom line: With some organizational adjustments, the site could be an exceptional place for both kids and teachers to find educational inspiration.

Ogment

Get beyond binders with digital, remixable lesson-planning tool

Bottom line: If you invest some serious time in preloading your content, this is an exceptional tool for building and using your lesson plans.

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 PD standout

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

Pinterest

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.

Twitter

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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