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Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers™

We have cleared out the cookies, emptied the holiday leftovers from the refrigerator, and are starting new exercise routines to erase holiday pounds. As you deny yourself the temptations of holidays past, reward yourself with the free, calorie-free ideas and resources for learning. TeachersFirst is one resolution you can stick with.


Resolve to explore
Quite often, teachers tell us that their favorite part of TeachersFirst is the weekly Featured Sites. These dozen or more newer finds represent a tiny fraction of the great resources available on TeachersFirst. There are over 13,000 reviewed resources in our database, and many were Feature Sites in the past. Don’t miss out on so many terrific finds. Try the keyword search (a simple curriculum term like fractions or phrase like branches of government) will show you many terrific sites and teaching ideas that you may have forgotten since their days as a “feature.” You can also browse former “Featured Site” listings in the Featured Sites archive. Think of TeachersFirst as your calorie-free smorgasbord for the New Year.


Support student study skills resolutions
The New Year is the perfect time for your students to bump up their study skills (and their grades). Share TeachersFirst’s Study Skills Resources to both students and parents to help with their resolutions. You might even want to offer extra credit to students who teach their peers how to create test-prep activities or graphic organizers.


2012 Bucket List
What is on your technology bucket list for 2012? What would you like to learn before year’s end? Is it time to tackle Twitter? Want a class wiki? Ready to explore tools for making comics or other types of digital storytelling? TeachersFirst’s professional exclusives and Edge reviews are the perfect place to kick off your bucket list. (Click the tool categories at left to narrow the list.) If you aren’t a solo learner, make this the year you try an OK2Ask® session to learn side by side with other teachers from the comfort of your couch. Make 2012 the year you kick the tech bucket!


Help! It’s time for research!
The uninterrupted mid-winter stretch is often a good time to conduct a major class research project. In elementary and middle schools across the country, teachers face the extra challenge of doing this project without a school library/media specialist, thanks to budget and staff cuts. The latest installment in TeachersFirst’s Help I Lost My Library/Media Specialist series is Embracing Research:
Teaching information literacy and subject content without a library/media specialist
. Find inspiration, advice, and practical tips to pull off the project without your good buddy in the library in grade K-8.


A fresh month of a fresh New Year
2011 has come and gone, and we are planning many  new lessons and activities to keep us warm through the winter. Soon it will be Martin Luther King Day.  Not long after that, the 100th day of school. Find many special topic and date-related collections in the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar. Resolve to plan ahead in 2012—and we’ll do the work for you!


New Year, new opportunities
January brings another great TogetheRead theme from our sister site, TeachersAndFamilies: New Year, New Opportunities.  Discover TogetheRead for family literacy (for ALL ages, not just little ones). This free feature offers books for all ages around a common theme—and activity ideas to go along with them. Built in are prompts to build effective reading strategies as families share reading. Include the TogetheRead link on your class web page or online school newsletter, and be sure to give the book list to parent volunteers or the local public library for help finding the books for free. Why not host a TogetheRead evening event at your school this winter? Find ideas on the teacher/librarian support page of TogetheRead.


On the road to Rushmore
Geo and Meri are hot on the trail of Louie the cartographer again. This week’s episode of Globetracker’s Mission takes them to Mt. Rushmore. Did your class miss an episode during the chaotic days of December? You can always “rewind” using the <<episode link at the top of any episode.


New Year, new learning for YOU
January is chock full of OK2Ask® sessions. 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 teacher professional development “snack sessions” are designed for couch potatoes with laptops. 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


Teacher Poll
What kind of resolution have you made for the New Year? Share your thoughts on the weekly poll on the TeachersFirst home page:


Around the World Once a Week (#xw1w)
XW1W  for the week of January 1: What do you do on New Year's? 
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, there are thoughtful, organized, and creative options to start the New Year off right:

  • A world hunger resource for possible service learning and more
  • A simple but terrific time management tool
  • A “zoo” to help younger ones build an enviro-conscience
  • Slavery in New York history
  • Shadow puppetry
  • Five minute how-to videos
  • A wonderful behavior management tool
  • Amazing music creation

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


May your new year kick off with more than just football! Have a great learning week.


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