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Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers™

Reality strikes hard. As budget cuts change what we do and stretch each of us a little further, we feel guilt, anxiety, and excitement all at once this back to school season. Will we be able to do it all? What will be taken away next? One thing we at TeachersFirst want to assure you about is that we are not going away. We are free and ad-free for teachers and will stay that way. There are people who care about supporting teachers, and a small and dedicated group of us work hard to give you TeachersFirst. If you are skeptical about why, read the story behind this marvelous modern day giveaway. And tell your teacher friends. We’ll be here by your side. We promise.


Are you a newbie? Feel like one because of new teaching assignment?
Don’t miss helpful, teacher-tested ideas and resources for teachers new to an assignment, student teachers, or even teacher mentors. As budget cuts shift many out of their comfort zone, TeachersFirst can help. We have even added a “newbies” tag in our new site so you can easily find reviewed resources well-suited for new teachers. Follow the life of an enthusiastic newbie teacher and give some encouragement to her at Take One, Pass it On, our newbie teacher’s blog.


A free resource that works as hard as you do
You plan so many lessons you can’t even keep count, and your job seems to include new demands each year. Teachersfirst adds fresh content all year long to keep you and your students thinking and learning. What’s new each week at TeachersFirst? We keep things fresh with this weekly Update, and editor’s blog post, Featured Sites, a weekly Brain Twister, additions to the Classroom Planning Calendar, XW1W, and—of course—tweets from @teachersfirst. Together, we are all Thinking Teachers—Teaching Thinkers®.


Fresh thoughts
Keep wandering eyes from becoming wandering minds with TeachersFirst’s Bulletin Board “Hangups.”  These quotes from famous (and not so famous) thinkers will inspire students of all ages.


TeachersFirst Members go “public”
Exciting new member features are now available on TF 3.0—free, as always. When you log in, your "My Start Page" tab includes a link to Update your profile (change password, school, subjects, email address, etc.) and another link to Add/edit your "public page." A TeachersFirst “public page” will display some or all of your TeachersFirst Favorites so students and parents can easily find the same resources you have come to trust. Your public page displays any brief NOTES you add to a Fav, such as things students should do at that site. When you save or edit a Favorite, you can elect to share it by clicking the checkbox to “Share on your public page.” If you write Notes with it, these will show on your public page, as well.

Members can also add Favs from a mobile device using TeachersFirst 3.0’s  mobile friendly layout. Your new Favs will be on your public page for tomorrow's classes. The public page has space for announcements, schedule, contact info, etc. Another blessing of TeachersFirst’s public pages: schools do not block them!


From the mouths of teachers
See the highlights of teachers sharing at the TeachersFirst booth at the recent ISTE conference. We have edited short clips into a video of less than 20 minutes so you can hear the latest and greatest from teachers willing to share the ISTE experience. Whether you teach AP Chem or Kindergarten, you’ll find some fresh ideas from Thinking Teachers. What an inspiration for Back to School!


TeachersFirst BEST FINDS: Help for all teachers working with ESL/ELL students
No matter what you teach, you are likely to have ESL/ELL learners in your classes. TeachersFirst offers the Top Ten Tips for Working with ESL/ELL Students to help you understand and plan for these learners. If you already have a lesson planned, check out Adapt-a-Strategy for ESL/ELL for teacher-tested suggestions to help your ELL learners be successful with the same activity.


On the Calendar
The sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is approaching and offers a meaningful opportunity to connect lessons on weather or natural disasters with real life events of recent history. Find resources for this and many other August/September events on the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar,  front and center on the TeachersFirst home page. Holidays aren’t just for elementary students. You will also find “secondary” topics, including Constitution Day and Sept 11. How old were your students on that fateful day?


OK2Ask wraps up summer
OK2Ask™  Is nearing the end of our summer offerings. Don’t miss free, online snack sessions for teacher self-guided professional development, accessible from any computer with a high speed connection. You can earn Professional Development Certificates, and you get to “meet” teachers from all over. Read the full descriptions and  sign up NOW for the final summer offerings:

  • NEW! This week! Editors’ Choices from the TeachersFirst Edge: TeachersFirst Editors’ Top Three Picks (Extended time session); Tuesday, August 16, 2011; ONE time block only 3:30-5:30 pm EDT

  • Project options from the TeachersFirst Edge: A focused workshop using Google Docs (Extended time session); Thursday, August 18, 2011; ONE time block only 3:30-5:30 pm EDT.


XW1W question for the week of August 14: What do you do first on Saturdays? 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.


This Week's Poll
The week before school starts, I... ? What describes your feelings prior to the start of school? Take the poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
Everyone can find an exciting choice amid the featured sites this week! Find tools, visuals, and thought provokers:

  • Visually rich science and evolution sites
  • Clever fold-up boxes for math, art and more
  • Simple to use tools for in depth thinking
  • Garfield’s guide to Internet safety, cyberbullying, and more
  • An amazing tool to guide web activities
  • Humanitarian news and analysis
  • Explorers for elementary
  • Monthly calendars to get everyone moving
  • And more

Don’t miss all our recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.


May your week confirm the good in people and surprise you with some “freebies.”


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