TeachersFirst Update Archives

Return to Update Archives List


Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers™

As I write this, the sky is an ominous gray, but there is no snow in sight — yet.  January seems to threaten a storm just about every day. What a perfect time to snuggle in and learn something.


Leaping into Elections
In case you had not noticed or have been under a media rock, 2012 is both leap year and election year. As the primaries heat up, don’t miss TeachersFirst’s Resources for Elections to fire up the youthful electorate in your classroom.


A blizzard of ideas
January is a solid time for learning without the distractions of warm days (or even sunshine, in some places).  Coming soon is Martin Luther King Day.  Not long after that, the 100th day of school. February is Dental Health Month and Black History Month. Find these and other collections in the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar for just-in-time, trusted resources for any upcoming event.


Say it out loud
Have something to say about a TeachersFirst resource?  Have you used one of our 13,000+ reviewed resources and seen successful learning because of it? Do you have other suggestions for how to use it? TeachersFirst members can add comments to any review as part of their free membership. New in 2012: We will be looking for the most helpful comment of the month. A random drawing from the most helpful comments submitted each month could earn you a prized Thinking Teacher shirt from TeachersFirst.  Use your free TeachersFirst membership now to keep those comments coming! (Note that comments are moderated so will not appear instantly.)

*Make sure your email address book for the email address associated with your TeachersFirst membership “trusts” mail from teachersfirst@sflinc.org. If our prize notice goes to junk mail, we won’t be able to contact you or send your shirt.


2012 Bucket List
What is on your technology bucket list for 2012? What would you like to learn before year’s end? Is it time to tackle Twitter? Want a class wiki? Ready to explore tools for making comics or other types of digital storytelling? TeachersFirst’s professional exclusives and Edge reviews are the perfect place to kick off your bucket list. (Click the tool categories at left to narrow the list.) If you aren’t a solo learner, make this the year you try an OK2Ask® session to learn side by side with other teachers from the comfort of your couch. Make 2012 the year you kick the tech bucket!


Features never go away...we just forget they are there
Teachers worldwide tell us that their favorite part of TeachersFirst is our weekly Featured Sites. But this dozen or so newer finds represent a tiny fraction of the resources available on TeachersFirst. Our database of 13,000+ reviewed resources includes hundreds of Feature Sites from the past. Don’t miss such terrific finds. Try the keyword search on a simple curriculum term like fractions or phrase like branches of government to find terrific sites and teaching ideas that you may have forgotten. You can also browse the Featured Sites archive.


Semester exam study skills
As semester exams approach, inspire your students to bump up their study skills (and their grades). Share TeachersFirst’s Study Skills Resources to help both students and parents. You might even want to offer extra credit to students who teach their peers how to create test-prep activities or graphic organizers.


Help! It’s Project Time!
January is a great time to launch a class project. This year, schools across the country face the extra challenge of doing projects without a school library/media specialist. The latest installment in TeachersFirst’s Help I Lost My Library/Media Specialist series is Embracing Research: Teaching information literacy and subject content without a library/media specialist. Find inspiration, advice, and practical tips to pull off your K-8 project without your helpful library/media specialist. Maybe your next project could be a letter writing campaign to get him/her back?


East of the Mississippi
Geo and Meri are east of the Mississippi in this week’s episode of Globetracker’s Mission. If your class is behind on episodes from December, you can “rewind” using the <<episode link at the top of any episode. If you have never checked out Globetracker’s Mission, why not take a look now to see if you would like to take your class on a “mission” next year to learn standards-based map sills, geography, and more in an engaging and clever weekly format. If your social studies time is as “short” as most classrooms these days, the mission may be the perfect solution for you to wrap up a lot of learning.


New Year, new learning for YOU
January is busy with OK2Ask®. Three sessions include a new offering on TeachersFirst’s free member timesavers, one to start a class wiki, and a look at the Best of the Best. These live, online teacher professional development “snack sessions” are designed for cold winter evenings at home (or as an after school treat). And they are FREE! See the full OK2Ask® schedule. Sign up now:

Great Timesavers: Tools and tips to maximize TeachersFirst's free membership; January 12, 2012; Read the details and register or show up at session time for “standby” space.

The Best of the Best: A tour of 6-10 TeachersFirst Editors' Choice resources with in-depth ideas for how to use them; January 23, 2012; Read the details and register

Guided Wiki Walk:Step by step to create your own classroom wiki (TWO session workshop with “homework” between); Jan 30 AND Feb 6, 2012; Read the details and register


Teacher Poll
How do you view winter as a time for teaching and learning? Share your thoughts on the weekly poll on the TeachersFirst home page:


Around the World Once a Week (#xw1w)
XW1W  for the week of January 8: What is the warmest article of clothing you own?
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 handy tools and new unusual challenges:

  • Two tools for decisions and problem-solving
  • Film-based quotes
  • Animated explanations
  • Advertising explained (for elementary)
  • An excellent energy simulation
  • Interactive books from pdfs
  • Voracious vocabulary
  • Marvelous music

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


May your week bring some squalls of discovery with patchy sunshine to melt the chill of misconceptions. Happy January!


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