Free Professional Development Courses for Teachers

The American Museum of Natural History offers free online professional development courses for teachers, through Coursera, probably the best MOOC (Massive Online Open Course).

Might as well know something about the topics you’ll be teaching, right?

You’ll have to go to and open up a free account. You can do as little work as you want and bail at any time, although it’s best to put in the effort and complete the course.

One big benefit of these courses is that you’ll have a community of fellow students to interact with.

Keep an eye on the sign-up dates, because at least one of them starts very soon! And please let me know if there is any interest at all in this kind of thing.

Here is what is currently offered:

Evolution: a Course for Educators

The Dynamic Earth: a Course for Educators

Genetics and Society: a Course for Educators

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And, if anybody cares, here is the Curriculum Collections page from the museum. It consists of collections of activities, articles, videos and more, for educators, families, students and anyone interested in teaching or learning about science. Be sure to view both pages. These materials seem to be targeted at older students, but I haven’t seen them all.

Thanks BeagleLady, just found this thread today and signed up for Evolution: a course for educators. In particular, module 5 should be interesting to our group here: “strategies for teaching evolution in culturally diverse classrooms.”

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You are welcome! I think you’ll find the course useful. Would be interest in hearing your thoughts once the course starts…

I’m already finding it very helpful. One of the free content from the aforementioned course is a full textbook, Evolutionary Science and Society. Inside, there’s an excellent essay by Kennth Miller that addresses the religious evolution debate in America:

[…] the conflict over evolution is unlike the controversies that scientists have come to expect within their disciplines. The evolution controversy is far more than a conflict over scientific ideas. It is a struggle for the soul itself. The PBS television series Nova recognized this point squarely in 2001 when it concluded its landmark eight-hour mini series, Evolution, with a program on the religious conflicts inherent in the battle over evolution. The narration of a promotional piece describing that final program told viewers: Today, even as science continues to provide evidence supporting the theory of evolution, for millions of Americans, the most important question remains “What about God?” (Jersey & Page, 1999)

Exactly. For most Americans, “What about God?” is indeed the most important question. The religious character of the debate gives conflicts over evolution a cultural and political weight unlike that in any other scientific controversy. […] If Darwin’s great idea is seen as the foundation of everything wrong in society, including lawlessness, abortion, pornography, and the dissolution of marriage, then it must be opposed at all costs. Furthermore, any factual evidence that science might gather in favor of evolution must be disregarded in favor of the
greater truth upon which all of society is founded. Such powerful motivations drive sincere and dedicated opposition to science and must not be underestimated.

basically, this was a matter of the heart, not the brain. This is exactly the kind of thing I’m interested in right now: bridging the great divide respectfully and effectively.

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