Free: Without Cost or Payment

There’s no denying it. Funds for teachers professional development are like my three year old son at the park…always on the slide. Additionally, finding the time to go to conferences, and not just the awesome national conferences but even those held at a local level is difficult too.  Now, we could see this as a negative, and complain that “things aren’t how they used to be” (you aren’t one of those teachers are you?) or you could take the Malcolm Gladwell view as outlined in his #1 National Bestseller ‘David & Goliath. In that book, which incidentally was one of ten books distributed to teachers at my wife’s school as part of a student body literacy initiative, the author encourages readers to challenge how they view obstacles and disadvantages. Gladwell writes that “the act of facing overwhelming odds produces greatness and beauty”, later adding that being in a position of weakness (poor access to professional development?) “can open doors and create opportunities and educate and enlighten and make possible what might otherwise have seemed unthinkable”.

So let’s look at ways in which we as teachers can access up to date information that we can use to improve our content knowledge and pass on to our students. All of the resources shared here are free, and easy to access. It would be great if you could add to this list by sharing any similar resources that you use that would be beneficial to the rest of the #slowchathealth community.

free email

Click ‘subscribe’ to some of these great organizations, sit back and watch your inbox fill up with resources that can be used immediately or saved for another day. Many of these free subscriptions can be refined to reflect your needs, or stopped if they prove to be irrelevant.

First up is the regular email subscription service from the CDC. They offer a wealth of subscriptions and you get to refine the choices based on your own needs. I like the scientific and specific nature of their emails, often providing the most up to date statistics on a number of issues. The charts and graphs can be used to introduce a topic, prompt discussion or printed out and used as posters.

The U.S Department of Health and Human Services offer a range of adolescent updates from this link. Their monthly email includes a number of teen related health articles with a wealth of further links to check out. They also tweet as @teenhealthgov’s subscription newsletter offers daily health tips, important audio, videos, articles, blogs and more. It can be a bit hit or miss, but there is the occasional gem in there among the slightly more generic articles.

For my school our local sexual health clinic providing information regarding issues related to sex, sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity is Angles. We have their staff come in to present to our health students (also free!) and they also organize an outstanding LGBTQ Pride Panel that visits us for a day. Their monthly newsletter keeps me up to speed with their events, services and teen advocacy opportunities for my students. They are worth checking out in addition to finding your local equivalent.

The Wisconsin Safe & Healthy Schools Center provide a monthly newsletter that is crammed full with teen-specific resources, their current edition focuses on e-cigarettes. Thanks to the wonderful @PrideandjoyMary for recommending this source to me.

Howard Brown are LGBTQ advocates based in Chicago. They also release a monthly mailing with information about their services and events.

The awesome American Schools Health Association have a free subscription newsletter that includes great links that I have used in class a number of times. I’ll be presenting at their national conference in October with Andy Horne. My office mate Kate Kalnes will be there too. Both are great teachers worth following on Twitter if you aren’t already doing so.

Finally, I am sure that your local state APHERD sends out regular mailings. Check them out, share any great resources with the #healthed community and consider contributing to the next edition. I know that most state organizations would appreciate hearing from more health teachers.

free blogs

Now, the #healthed community doesn’t seem to blog anywhere near as prolifically as the #physed community. However, that’s not to say that everything we read has to be health specific. I use a great (free!) app called Feedly  which allows me to collate all of my favorite blogs across all platforms – my phone. iPad, and laptop.

Blogs that I recommend include Teacher Toolkit (General Education), #slowchatpe (PE & Health), Tools2Engage (Health), LovePhyEd (PE), The PE Geek (PE & Technology)  and Drowning in the Shallow (PE but with something in there for everyone).

There are many more, but these are a cross section of some of the best from each category. Finding 5 minutes to read a blog post is a good way to top up on some thought-provoking professional development. And if you have an extra 5 minutes, why not post a comment or engage in an online conversation with an expert in their field?

free podcasts

Another area in which the #physed community has got us beat, but again a great way to get free PD while driving to work, going for a run, or in the comfort of your own home. I use the free Stitcher app on my phone, or listen straight from iTunes. We know that the TED talk videos are an excellent source of information (ask regular #slowchathealth contributor Jill Warner – she’s watching as many of these as she can over the summer) but they also have a great podcast. The TED Radio Hour is often a compilation of the TED talks and it is easy to search for topics.

I mentioned the PE Geek above. Jarrod Robinson The PE Geek Podcast offers a lot of tech ideas that can be integrated into the classroom. As more schools enter the realm of the 1:1 classroom this podcast is guaranteed to give you one or two takeaways each episode that you will want to use immediately.

Another interesting podcast that has taken the education charts by storm is Voxcast. Created by Jorge Rodriguez it is compiled from educators discussions about their professionin which they share innovations and inspiration. The Voxcast podcast brings you in-depth conversations from connected educators and the leading minds of our profession. The best thing about this is, if you are active on social media you might know many of the contributors. And if you are interested in contributing to the podcast you can contact Jorge and join in the conversation on Voxer.

One podcast provider I will be listening to this summer is the BAM Radio Network. BAM! is an acronym for “body and mind” and BAM! Radio was conceived in 2007 on the premise that the key to success in life for children and youth is nurturing a healthy mind in a healthy body. Their “on air” hosts are the executive directors of the most respected education associations in the country, their guests are the leading experts, advocates and journalists in education and their programming is produced by an Emmy-winning team. Simply said they have assembled the best talent they could secure in an effort to be your most valued and reliable source of information and insight. Sounds impressive.

free twitter

National Health Education Standard #3 states that students will demonstrate the ability to access valid information, products, and services to enhance health. Sharing the sources above will help your students achieve this standard. So too will sharing this list of Twitter accounts that tweet relevant health information. Obviously there are so many great accounts to follow, but here are some the accounts that I follow that provide me with information for my sexuality unit.

Pregnancy & Reproduction Tweets

@HeyPP  @healthyteen  @Scarleteen  @healthfinder  @girlshealth

Anatomy & Reproduction Tweets

@cdc_cancer  @americancancer  @testicle_cancer  @SusanGKomen  @WomensCancer  @bcaware  @singlejingles  @TCAFinfo

Sexual Identity Tweets

@ICAH   @TrevorProject  @AdvocatesTweets  @scarleteen @TransEquality  @healthyteen   @TheAdvocateMag  @GLSEN   @StrongFams  @moveBEYONDit @brownboiproject  @hbhclifeline   @anglesclinic  @GLAAD  @ActuallyMetro  @CDC_HIVAIDS  @AIDSgov  @TeenHealthGov

STD’s & HIV Tweets

@CDC_HIVAIDS  @CDCSTD  @AIDSgov  @HeyPP  @PPFAQ  @healthyteen  @bedsider  @TeenHealthGov

free webinars

Technology has allowed webinars to be more easily distributed and if you aren’t available to watch them live, often the link to watch the broadcast (for free) is shared after the event. SPARK are the best example of webinar providers to our community. Every 3rd Wednesday of the month they host a free webinar. Here’s an example of their “Diving into Google Drive” webinar hosted by Naomi Hartl and presented by Jo Bailey.

SPARK also just launched which is an online professional development resource. You can view studio quality online training in the SPARK research-based programs, watch webinars and tutorials (free!), and earn certificates of completion. Plus, you can earn graduate units of credit for completing SPARK program training.

The team from Physedagogy are running their next awesome #PhysEdSummit that will provide the PE & Health community access to presentations about best practices, teaching strategies, top tips, and innovative resources. All for free. And YOU can also be a part of it. Proposals close on July 12th.

It starts at 08:00 (8am Eastern Time New York) on August 15, 2015.

Here in Illinois a free webinar was offered to help teachers implement the new state standards for PE & Health. Maybe your state organization does the same?

Not free ($30 for members) , but worth a mention is SHAPE America’s webinar series. If you are frustrated that our national organization doesn’t appear to have any health-related webinars then speak up. Or offer to present one of your own.

ASHA offer webinars to members, with the most recent one being “Bullying Prevention and Suicide Prevention for Schools: A Digital Approach from SAMHSA”

HealthyPeople.Gov offer webinars. You can sign up for their newsletter for details of future webinars.

Here are this weeks questions. Feel free to keep the conversation flowing on Twitter, don’t feel restricted by the questions.

Q1. In what ways do you/will you use free email subscriptions? #slowchathealth

Q2. Which blogs (aside from this one of course!) do you read regularly? #slowchathealth

Q3. In what ways do you use podcasting to enhance your teaching? #slowchathealth

Q4. Which twitter accounts provide you with information that you often use in your teaching? #slowchathealth

Q5. What has been your experience of using webinars to enhance your teaching? #slowchathealth


3 thoughts on “Free: Without Cost or Payment

  1. Pingback: Education Panorama (August '15) | | @TeacherToolkit

  2. Pingback: Inspiring Calendars – #slowchathealth

  3. Pingback: Free Posters for the Health Classroom – #slowchathealth

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