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Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers™

The world has convened in London for two weeks of competition in the Olympic spirit. Millions of us watch, fascinated by the effort and dedication of these individuals as they reach the pinnacle of athletic achievement and of international sharing for a brief moment in time. Coming in “first” may actually be secondary. As we prep our classrooms for the nitty gritty of learning “workouts,” let’s not forget the importance of celebrating the important moments of thinking and learning as shared experience.


How “connected” is your classroom?
Ever wonder why your Internet connection at school seems slow or simply cannot access some sites? Does your school block Google Earth and other services with live updating? Your school Internet connection (“bandwidth”) may not be as great as it needs to be to support today’s Internet. (This is a budget issue for many schools.) A group of edtech folks is trying to collect real data on the state of Internet connectivity in U.S. schools. Fill out a form to join the efforts for a quick September click-test of your school’s bandwidth. No geekiness required. This data collection will support your teaching efforts and provide ammunition for those seeking improved connections for underserved classrooms. Pass it on.


Read, think, wonder, inspire
Blogs are a great place to inspire deep thoughts and possibilities for the coming school year. Summer may be one of the rare times you have time to read for inspiration. Don’t miss our Editor’s blog and many teacher blogs (or try a Google search for “teacher blog”) to make you think, wonder, feel pride in your profession.


Connect and ask
August is Connected Educators Month. Connect yourself with new professional learning via OK2Ask®, our free, live, online professional development “snack sessions.” You will meet other teachers, gain some hands-on practice with new resources and teaching ideas and have a chance to ASK anything. It’s OK2Ask®. These small sessions allow for plenty of individual help from the tech timid to the most savvy. Read the full descriptions and sign up to join us. Note that times vary!

Hands Off, Vanna: Giving Students Control of Interactive Whiteboard Learning;
Tues July 31; 6:00 - 7:15 EDT

Google Earth: Take your lessons INTO this world;
Thurs August 2; 7:00 - 8:15 EDT

School Year KickOff: Get off to a great start with TeachersFirst’s ready to go lessons, interactives, and professional resources;
Tues August 7; 7:00 - 8:15 EDT

Light up Literacy: PreK-3 Reading/Language Arts Ideas and Resources; 
Thurs August 9; 7:00 - 8:15 EDT

Energizing Math: ideas, resources, and collaboration for K-8 math teachers; 
Tues August 14; 7:00 - 8:30 EDT

Google Docs(Drive): A focused workshop on forms and documents only; 
Thurs August 16; 6:00 - 8:00 EDT

Great Ideas: Exploring the Resources of TeachersFirst 3.0 to Plan Effective, Technology-Infused Lessons
Tues August 21; 7:00 - 8:15 EDT

Web Worries: What teachers should know about online behavior; 
Thurs August 23; 7:00 - 8:15 EDT


Geared up
As July ends, TeachersFirst is back in full Back to School mode. The weekly Update, Featured Sites, and weekly Brain Twister have resumed regular weekly offerings.  If you start school early in August, we are ready to help. If you still have a few weeks to plan, why not use this time to discover some treasures on TeachersFirst. Did you know you can browse all the archived Featured Sites? Another great place to explore is in Special Topics collections for holidays and many important topics such as Constitution Day, Study Skills, September 11, Elections, and more. There are seventy-nine special topics collections, and we keep adding more. Don’t miss our imaginative ice-breakers for the first day (or week) of school and Getting to Know You activities.


Swifter, Higher, Stronger Learning—now and later
Let the learning begin! Find resources for the Olympics now and other upcoming events on the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar. TeachersFirst is ready when you need us.


Just in time for August beach or lake visits, our sister site, TeachersAndFamilies, is featuring Water as the monthly TogetheRead theme for family literacy (for ALL ages, not just little ones). Share TogetheRead with your new students, a free feature that 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 back to school web page or online school newsletter, and be sure to give the book list to your local/school library for help finding the books for free. Dive in!


Dream or nightmare?
Do you have back-to-school dreams as that time approaches?
Click to tell us in the weekly poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Across the World Once a Week (#xw1w)
XW1W  for the week of July 29: What kind of bread is popular where you live? 
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 visually striking (or otherwise terrific) tools and information:

  • A new way to “see” geography
  • Rhymes and more
  • Creative thinking and building
  • Symmetry to play with
  • Science and Art together
  • Tools for polls and presentations
  • Gender in advertising
  • Two treasures for U.S. government and history
  •  A way to stay organized

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


Award yourself a medal of inspiration this week for the coming school year. Maybe share a “medal ceremony” with your teacher friends lunch or a picnic.


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