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December 2, 2013

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

This weekend we give thanks. I share A Teacher’s Thanksgiving on my blog, and I hope you have had time to reflect a little on what makes you grateful, too. As we forge ahead into December’s flurry of activity and wintery winds, may the warmth of this break stick with you. TeachersFirst will wrap you in new ideas from now through the New Year!


Click to contribute -- FREE!
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Books, books, books!
The newest CurriConnects leveled booklist is out. Find books about Real Life in Wartime for all ages and reading levels. What was it like for ordinary people to live during wartime? This collection of books shares how real people experienced the conflicts of the 20th century. As you teach about the various conflicts, help students build and connect their knowledge through independent reading. What a perfect offering as we approach Pearl Harbor Day!


Letter by Letter
This month’s TogetheRead theme from our sister site, TeachersAndFamilies, is “Letter by Letter.” Discover a world of ABC books for all ages and promote family literacy with this free feature incorporating books for readers of all ages, all centered on the “Letter by Letter” theme. Enjoy activity ideas to go along with the theme, and prompts to build effective reading strategies as families share reading. Families will appreciate something they can do for FREE as they approach the holidays. Share TogetheRead via a link on your class web page or online school newsletter, then give the book list to your local/school library for help finding the books for free. What a tasty treat for family reading!


December takes flight
Hanukkah continues this week as December rolls in. Find ideas for the Holiday Gift Giving Season or for teaching about Pearl Harbor Day. December also brings the anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ flight. Turn to the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar for timely help any time.


Make ideas “stick”
The TeachersFirst Edge features reviews of free, online tools (many with free app versions) to help you and your students accomplish tasks using online “tools” (or apps). Some create projects and some simply make your digital life a little easier. Click on Choose from tool categories at the left. Click on Stickies/Walls to find tools that make sticky note boards or electronic “walls.” Select Study Aid Creator for tools to create and share electronic flashcards and other ways to practice or review skills. The Edge shares trustworthy options for BYOD or 1:1 programs, carefully reviewed by Thinking Teachers who know classroom realities.


DATs it!
If you have students using diverse devices, you know how frustrating it can be to assign a task and discover that a given tool works on this... but not that. You need DATs (device agnostic tools)! As part of our ongoing efforts to make your life easier and your students’ learning more productive, TeachersFirst is specifically looking for and tagging DATs, device agnostic tools that are available as FREE apps for iOS AND Android devices as well as free web tools for use on laptops, etc. DATs are “it” for BYOD or mixed-device classrooms, and TeachersFirst helps you find them quickly! Bookmark this ever-growing collection or simply click the DAT tag in any tool review.


Got PreK? Headstart?
TeachersFirst’s non-profit parent company, The Source for Learning, is proud to announce the launch of PreschoolFirst 2.0. PreschoolFirst is an observational assessment system for the early childhood years that interconnects hundreds of learning activities, developmental progress, and educational decisions. PreschoolFirst uses a developmental play approach to support the development of the whole child. The new version offers new enhancements to help plan play-based curriculum, observe child development, and report developmental progress. More information is available at: http://www.preschoolfirst.com/front-intro2.cfm. Please share PreschoolFirst with your preschool, preK, and early intervention friends and colleagues as they plan for “next year.”


Our treat to you
Plan NOW to treat yourself after the holidays. OK2Ask resumes in January with free, online professional development “snack sessions.” Register NOW for all sessions in January and February (all at 7:00pm Eastern time). Please be sure to READ the descriptions to be sure you have the prerequisites and/or technology comfort levels:

  • Great Timesavers; Mon. Jan 6, 2014
  • Sharing and Solutions for Technology Coaches; Thurs. Jan 16, 2014
  • Google Series (Part 3): Google for Every Classroom Tues. Jan. 21, 2014
  • Building Ethical Digital Citizens; Thurs. Jan. 30, 2014
  • Be the Best: Professional Resources; Thurs. Feb. 6, 2014
  • Google Series (Part 4): Using Google Templates; Tues. Feb 18, 2014
  • Juggling the BYOD or 1:1 Classroom; Mon. Feb 24, 2014


Teens in Philly
Geo and Meri are in the City of Brotherly Love (Philadelphia) this week on Globetracker’s Mission. As they share new blog posts every Sunday, your students (grades 2-6) learn standards-based geography, landforms, and major U.S. landmarks. You can even vote each week, telling the teens what to do next. If you miss an episode during holiday breaks or busy times, simply rewind using the <<episode link at the top.


Out in the cold
Some people and cultures love winter weather, others “hibernate.” The XW1W question for the week of December 1: How often do you play/exercise outside in winter? Help your students experience everyday life in far off places through #XW1W. Share with classrooms around the world. The Across the World Once a Week (#xw1w) project uses simple tweets or blog posts to share the responses to a weekly question and help you “see” what life is like in other places. It all works because of something called a hashtag. Get started now with these simple directions and FAQ.


Copyright or copy wrong?
How do you handle student use of copyrighted material in projects? Share your plans in the teacher poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find ways to organize, collaborate, and “gamify” learning:

  • Science articles to grab interest
  • Informational text (with audio) for young readers
  • Grab things from the web to read later
  • Annotate images or clear their backgrounds
  • Design a tour of a location
  • A glossary (and treasure chest!) of instructional strategies
  • Timely activities for elementary all year round
  • An arctic inhabitant—NOT Santa!
  • Homelessness up close and personal
  • Learning about Europe
  • Games to understand structures and more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this December 8 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived December 1 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.
May your students return filled with turkey and ready to think.

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