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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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The Connected Science Teacher

Eric Brunsell

Asst Professor of Science Education @ UW-Oshkosh

It's summertime: time to relax, refresh and get connected. Joining an online community of science teachers is a great way to find resources, inspiration and like-minded colleagues to collaborate with as you re-tool your courses for the next school year. The list below is a good starting point to find a community or two that meets your needs. However, the list is not exhaustive. Use the comment section to share any online groups or communities that you find valuable!

Edutopia's STEM Group

This group has over 2000 members engaged in discussion and sharing ideas. Topics range from sharing favorite STEM resources (with over 100 comments) to discussions about what an effective STEM magnet middle school would look like.

Scitable

Scitable is a social network created by Nature Publishing Group. It can help you connect with peers, scientists and other experts. You can also create your own virtual classroom which allows you to organize content into an e-book and provide students with discussion boards and research tools.

My Moon

My Moon is an irreverent co-moon-ity from the Lunar Planetary Institute that is focused on connecting those "under 35" to resources, experts and other information about lunar exploration. More importantly, the goal of the project is to learn "with" each other -- so members of the community can enter competitions, join webcasts, and share ideas, artwork and other thoughts with each other. No worries -- if you are over 35, you can still use it . . . if you can handle the snark, graphics and navigation.

Edmodo's Science Community

This community connects thousands of Edmodo-using science teachers to each other. Users can post questions on a variety of different topics, share ideas, support each other and find collaboration partners. Additionally, you can easily find the most popular resources that have been shared by others. With more than 8000 members, Edmodo's Science Community is vibrant and most posts have responses within a few hours. (Note: you must be logged in as a teacher to view this community. To sign up, start at the home page.)

The NSTA Learning Center

This Learning Center is another large community space for science teachers, whether or not you're a member of the National Science Teachers Association. Besides connecting teachers through discussion forums and e-mail lists, the Learning Center contains thousands of free resources (including many webinars) and tools -- such as a PD Indexer, portfolio system and personal library -- to organize resources and keep a record of professional growth. Also, during the week, NSTA's Learning Center is "staffed" by teacher-mentors that can answer your questions and point you in the right direction for great resources.

The Synapse

A Ning platform social network for biology teachers, The Synapse is a grass-roots community started by a group of those teachers. Although the site has grown, it maintains its open and inclusive "vibe." Newcomers are welcomed with open arms, and the veterans are always willing to provide help. The Synapse has also amassed a large collection of biology teaching resources at many different grade levels.

The Flipped Classroom Network

If you are interested in flipping your classroom, this social network is a great place to start. With nearly 6000 members, and resources and discussion groups across all disciplines, you are bound to find the support you need.

National Lab Network

Although this isn't necessarily a social network, the National Lab Network initiative uses a powerful matching system to connect teachers to any local scientists and engineers that are interested in volunteering. Check out Edutopia's blog post about the National Lab Network for more information.

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