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Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers™

December is a time for wrapping up: gifts, units, and an entire year. TeachersFirst delivers thinking wrapped in the digital media our students look for. Open the free gift of TeachersFirst all year long.


A lesson for giving
TeachersFirst’s Giving Tree lesson is an all time favorite all over the world. Students from kindergarten to high school respond to this lesson, and it can fit in any subject. Whether you teach Santa-believers or teen skeptics, they will respond to The Giving Tree. With recent devastation from Superstorm Sandy in the U.S., it would be easy to tie this lesson to current events as you talk about those in need. Plan now to plant The Giving Tree in your classes.


Who needs reality TV?
The December theme for TogetheRead is Real People: True stories of the famous and not so famous. TogetheRead is a free family literacy feature offered by our sister site, TeachersAndFamilies. Turn off the TV with books for all ages, focused on the Real People theme and accompanied by free or low-cost activity ideas appropriate for all age groups. The age-banded book choices include questions and ideas any family can use to build better readers by promoting effective reading strategies. Suggest TogetheRead as a free gift for family fun and literacy to all your parents. Don’t forget to tell your library/media specialist or public library so they can feature the books.


Pin us!
If you look carefully at the Share widget on TeachersFirst pages, you will notice that you can now share TeachersFirst pages and resources via Pinterest with one click. Pin us to your boards and see what others have pinned from TeachersFirst.


Donate for FREE
Shop Amazon and make a donation to TeachersFirst—at no cost to you! Enter the Amazon site via the link at the bottom of our Reading for All page and make your purchase during that visit. TeachersFirst earns a percentage of the sales completed via this point of entry. Help support our free, ad-free service to teachers. Our non-profit parent company, The Source for Learning, appreciates your urge to shop ‘til you drop.


Hello out there?
Many schools have ratcheted up their email spam filters and are preventing this weekly Update from getting through to email inboxes. Even if you are receiving this Update, you might want to add the sending email address in your address book to prevent the TeachersFirst Update from being blocked in the future: teachersfirst@sflinc.org. Note that this is an UNATTENDED mailbox, DO NOT send email there. The Contact Us page on our site is best for that.


'Tis the season for learning
December is filled with opportunities to connect with learning: Pearl Harbor Day, the anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ flight, and opportunities to create gifts for others. If the weather turns nasty, you can even find Resources for Snow Days. Find ideas for December learning in the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar.


Experience the world
Help your students experience life in other places. Across the World Once a Week (#xw1w) offers an easy way to spend just a moment or two of class time to help students think about everyday life in other corners of the world. Share responses about life where you live and learn about others with Across the World Once a Week (XW1W). This quick activity uses microblogging and something called a hashtag. It’s easy! Get started now with these simple directions and FAQ. Tell your teacher friends!
XW1W for the week of December 2: What do you read every day? 


Do you LIVE science?
This fall, TeachersFirst has been piloting an amazing project for middle level science: MySciLife. During the second half of the school year, we may be adding a limited number of teachers to the pilot. If you are a science teacher in grades 6-9 who might be interested or simply are curious about what innovative, student-centered science learning looks like, check out the video introductions for students/parents and for teachers on the MySciLife page. Some of you may recognize MySciLife as the project that achieved finalist status in the MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning grant competition.


OK2Ask® - time for YOU
As you add holiday preparations to your usual schoolwork, you probably dream of quieter time for yourself in January. Plan now for January sessions from OK2Ask®. These free, online sessions for self-directed teacher professional development resume just after the New Year. Registration is now open for early 2013 sessions. View the full schedule and mark your calendar.


Africa and beyond
Geo and Meri are in Africa again this week. Soon they head to another continent on the worldwide Globetracker’s Mission, You, the reader, choose what happens next. Mission followers in grades 2-6 learn geography, map skills, landforms, and more. Globetracker’s Mission is Ready to Go any time at bottom center on the TeachersFirst home page. Share the teen’s blog as a whole class activity or at a computer center. A new episode appears every Sunday. (There will be a holiday hiatus to coincide with school breaks in December so your class can stay caught up.)


Cell lockout?
What is your school's policy on student cell phones?
Respond to the weekly teacher poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, discover timely tools and participatory learning:

  • Easy online “posters” (no membership!)
  • QR codes that “talk”
  • A clever “canvas” to share images
  • Living the Civil Rights movement
  • A comprehensive civics site
  • Critical reading of history
  • Infographics as resumes
  • A wishlist tool- just in time!
  • Fish and water
  • Poetry for the primary set

And more. IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this December 9 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived December 2 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.


May you unwrap delectable gifts of learning this week.


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