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September 16, 2013

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

By now, you know which students are going to push your buttons and which ones will need some extra help. You have opened the lines of communication with home and perhaps even met their parents at Open House. As you forge ahead together, you’ll be looking for progress, not perfection. TeachersFirst can offer the resources to make progress attainable. Take a minute or two to explore all that we have to offer.


More than just another day
What is it about today that really matters? Share Dates That Matter with your class to find out. Read a hint about an event in history that happened today, and walk through questions to discover what it is and WHY it matters. The questions connect what students know to an event in history, forging connections that make sense and really matter. Dates That Matter is designed and tested by a teacher for her students in grades 6-9, but many others enjoy it, including parents! Find it in the Ready to Go section, bottom center of the TeachersFirst home page, or in our TeachersFirst Exclusives menu. Dates That Matter is projector AND mobile friendly.


Assess this?
With so many great, creative tools, sometimes the greatest challenge for us as teachers is figuring out how to assess the projects our students do. Here come Rubrics to the Rescue! Find tips and ideas for creating and using rubrics along with links to reviewed rubric tools and collections. If you would like to add some specific creativity criteria to your rubrics, try ideas and wording in these sample, customizable rubrics from TeachersFirst.  Help your students know what they do well and what they can do to improve!


Subs and newbies, find help here
If you are a newer teacher, a substitute, or a student teacher, TeachersFirst can help. Find practical ideas, tips, and resources to make your classroom hum with success. If you are mentoring a new teacher, be sure to share TeachersFirst with him/her. It’s the best (free) gift you could ever give!


It’s OK!
Forget one-sided lectures and videos. Learn LIVE with other teachers from around the world at TeachersFirst’s FREE, online sessions from OK2Ask. Have a question? It’s OK2Ask! The full schedule in pdf format for 2013-14, FREE online “snack sessions” of teacher self-directed professional development is now available. Find a wide variety of topics, including a Google six-part series, Common Core, and many topics YOU have requested. We have added recommended “technology comfort levels” to our session descriptions so you will know what to expect—and what will be expected of you. See the full schedule in pdf format, read more about OK2Ask, and register NOW for sessions from Sept-November. Winter and spring offerings will open for registration at later dates.


Mission ahead
Are Geo and Meri planning to travel on Globetracker’s Mission this year? Yes! The Mission this year will focus on North America, primarily the U.S. A preview episode will be online at the beginning of October, and new weekly episodes will start to roll late October and last until late April. Start planning now to incorporate this engaging “blog” from teens Geo and Meri as part of your social studies curriculum in grades 2-6. Teach map skills, geography, landmarks, landforms, and more as you follow the teens’ adventures and vote for what happens next!


September and beyond
National Hispanic Heritage Month begins September 15. Constitution Day is this week, too (September 17). October is Bullying Prevention Month. Find vetted resources for these and many other events throughout the school year on the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar. Share these resource collections with a friend by clicking the handy “share” widget at the top. Fill those pinboards with trusted resources.


Food and culture
Extend your classroom this year by sharing the details of everyday life where you live with classrooms around the world. Invite a teacher friend to join the #XW1W project with you! See and share responses from people in other places via Across the World Once a Week (#xw1w). Your responses about life where you live help others learn—and vice versa. This quick activity uses microblogging and something called a hashtag. It’s easy! Get started now with these simple directions and FAQ. XW1W for the week of September 15: What food signals "autumn" where you live? 


Home-and-school connections
We know many parents do not attend Open House, even though we wish they would. How do you reach out to parents who do not attend open house? Share your strategy in the teacher poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find interesting combinations and versatile tools:

  • Tools for images and videos
  • Gamifying lessons about plagiarism
  • Energy (not for you, for science class...)
  • Cultural artifacts
  • A tool to make textbooks interactive
  • Math and architecture
  • Clever creativity games
  • Ancient Mediterranean civilizations
  • Titanic
  • Angles
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this September 22 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived September 15 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.


May you see certain signs of progress in every one of your students this week.

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