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12/19 & 26/2011

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers™

Many of you are reading this sometime after December 25. The very organized teachers (whose holiday shopping was done in October) are opening it on Sunday morning as usual. The rest of us are counting down until vacation starts, trying to remember what day of the week it is, or struggling to assemble toys with incomprehensible directions—leaving little time to read email. In recognition of the manic reality of teachers’ lives in December, this Update will be repeated two weeks in a row. We would not want you to miss a great batch of Update tidbits!


Brain Twisters
Send your elementary or middle school students home with a challenge. The weekly Brain Twister is mobile-friendly and changes on Fridays. During the busy holiday season, the same Twister will remain online for two weeks, beginning December 16.  A new Twister will appear December 30, just in time for post-holiday boredom. The Brain Twister is always available directly from the TeachersFirst home page, in the “Ready to Go” section in the center column.


Last minute plans—and looking ahead
The holiday events of December are nearly over. You can still find last minute resources for the holidays at the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar. As you pause during break, check out ideas for New Year’s  or plan ahead for Martin Luther King Day.


Better than a football win
Soon the bowl games will monopolize media attention. Teaching victories rarely receive that kind of attention. TeachersFirst is sharing What is Your #Eduwin, a chance for you to stop, reflect—and share the real victories of learning. Everyone still remembered their math facts after vacation? #Eduwin! Everyone read a book? #Eduwin! Their small group projects are posted online? #Eduwin! Tell the positive stories of U.S. education. You’ll learn a little about Twitter in the process. Make 2012 the year of the #Eduwin.


Hawaiian holiday
Geo and Meri are taking a break with their family in Hawaii for the holidays. (Do you suppose they’ll see the Obamas?) This week’s episode of Globetracker’s Mission will remain online for the weeks of Dec 18 and 25 so your class can stay in sync with the mission. The teens will resume their travels on January 1st. Even if you miss an episode, you can always “rewind” using the <<episode link at the top of any episode.


Resolve to learn- just for you!
Resolve to spend some “me” time in January with OK2Ask™. Three sessions include a new offering on TeachersFirst’s free member timesavers, one to start a class wiki, and a look at the Best of the Best. These live, online “snack sessions” are perfect  in your sweats on a cold evening. And they are FREE! See the full OK2Ask™ schedule. Sign up now:

Great Timesavers: Tools and tips to maximize TeachersFirst's free membership; January 12, 2012; Read the details and register

The Best of the Best: A tour of 6-10 TeachersFirst Editors' Choice resources with in-depth ideas for how to use them; January 23, 2012; Read the details and register

Guided Wiki Walk:Step by step to create your own classroom wiki (TWO session workshop with “homework” between); Jan 30 AND Feb 6, 2012; Read the details and register


Poll of the week(s)
Share your thoughts with a click of the poll on the TeachersFirst home page:
Week of Dec 18: If you could give EVERY student a gift, which would you choose?
Week of Dec 25: How much of your winter break do you spend on schoolwork?


Across the World Once a Week (#xw1w)
XW1W continues with new questions throughout the holidays:
Week of December 18: Do you wear more buttons, zippers or snaps? 
Week of Dec 25:  In what do you wrap gifts? 
Across the World Once a Week (XW1W) uses microblogging or blogging tools to share responses about everyday life from any corner of the world. The XW1W FAQ page explains it all. Make today’s instant communications an instant learning experience.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, we offer cool tools to create and share student- or teacher-made online products, along with some other great finds:

  • Two great ways to share (and narrate) images
  • A tool to check the source of an image
  • A simple, handy way to share web links
  • Hispanic ballads
  • A way to borrow (and lend) eBooks for free
  • A podcast tool without all the work
  • Twitter “diaries”
  • A place for writers to publish and share

And more. Don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.


All of us at TeachersFirst and The Source for Learning (our non-profit parent company) wish you and yours a warm, safe, and peaceful holiday season. Thanks for allowing us to share the gift of TeachersFirst throughout the year. We’ll be fired up and ready to roll into a learning-filled 2012 with you and your students.


Your “teacher to go,”
Candace Hackett Shively
Director of K-12 Initiatives