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Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers™

The shortest month of the year is packed with special occasions. We start with a groundhog and end with a leap this year. Why not take the leap to try a new, creative online tool with your students this month? (Maybe with just a few of them?) By the 29th, you will know why we call it “leap year.”


A Warranty from web worries
Online tools frighten some parents and some school administrators. If you are ready to try a student project using a blog, a wiki, or another creative tool that allows students to “show what they know” in an online project, you probably worry about staying within school policy and establishing safety and consequences for your students. You also want parents to understand and support the projects. TeachersFirst offers the Wiki Warranty, a downloadable, customizable Word document you can use as a contract with students and parents for any online project, wiki, or blog. Teachers all over the world have used it. All we ask is that you retain the credit in the footer. Cross the web worries off your list, and start creating! (The Wiki Warranty is part of the acclaimed Wiki Walk-Through from TeachersFirst).


Teacher Poll
Which is your best time to learn new teaching ideas? Click your thoughts on the weekly poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Read all about it!
February’s TogetheRead theme from our sister site, TeachersAndFamilies, is News and Newspapers. Get the scoop on reading enjoyment with children, teens, and families via this collection of books and low- or no-cost activities. Embedded in the book reviews and activity suggestions are discussion questions to promote effective reading strategies. Books selections span all age groups, centering on the common theme so everyone in the family can join in the conversation. Check out a free new theme each month from TogetheRead.


LOVE it!
Valentine’s Day is a cheerful aside, but it can also open opportunities for learning. Find resources for Valentine’s Day, National Inventors Day (Edison’s birthday), Presidents Day, and other February observances like Dental Health Month and Black History Month. Visit the Classroom Planning Calendar for trusted resources or all levels to fit upcoming events.


Lost without your library/media specialist?
As Presidents Day approaches, inspire your students with Biography Read-Alouds. The latest installment in our Help! I Lost My Library/Media Specialist series offers read-aloud suggestions for elementary grades. See ideas for before and after reading and activities to make biographies come to life. Try them with your own class and share with others, especially if budget cuts left your school’s library/media without its “connector” and leader.


What’s a mesa?
Geo and Meri are learning about landforms in the southwest this week on Globetracker’s Mission. Join them in learning about standards-based map skills, geography, by following the Globetracker’s Mission blog. Searching for the elusive Louie has taken them all over the U.S.! Could Louie be in Mesa Verde?


What’s up? Docs...and Great Ideas
Have you always wondered about using Google Docs? Maybe you have never had time to explore all the great additions to TeachersFirst 3.0. Don’t miss these upcoming OK2Ask® sessions: free, online teacher professional development “snack sessions” that whet the appetite and let you learn at your convenience. See the full OK2Ask® schedule.

Google Docs: A focused workshop on Google docs Forms and Documents ONLY; Extended session at ONE time; Tuesday, February 21, 2012; Read the details and register

Great Ideas: Exploring the Resources of TeachersFirst 3.0 to Plan Effective, Technology-Infused Lessons; Thursday, March 8, 2012 at two times; Read the details and register


Around the World Once a Week (#xw1w)
XW1W  for the week of Feb 5: How many minutes a day do you spend reading? 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, find sites from simple to sensational:

  • Math problems with real-world connections
  • Grammar and writing videos
  • Fitness for all ages and a great way to the ideal weight
  • Simple science “books” for early grades
  • Physics fun from elementary to seniors
  • Bookmarks in “trees”
  • Reading and giving wrapped into one
  • An inspirational look at your old address

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


May your students venture into unknown territories of learning this week.

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