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Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers™

Bridge freezes before road surface. The signs warn of unexpected changes during wintry weather. No one posts signs on the web to warn of rapid, unexpected change in technology, however. We are as accustomed to change as seasoned winter drivers. As you try to adjust to the technology shifts, TeachersFirst will continue to put up road signs to help you maximize the latest and support learning in your classroom.


How is a teacher to know?
Many (fortunate) schools are receiving tablets (iPads and others) to use in the classroom. Of course you want to know which web resources work best on these devices. You may have some apps on the devices, but what about all the great resources you have found on TeachersFirst? We offer this tip to help you out a bit. Sites that use Flash may not operate on an iOS device (such as iPad or iTouch). You might see an empty black box. Some sites have answered with newer technology to “sense” the iOS device and send that device a Flash-free version that works. Other sites offer an app version that you must install. TeachersFirst tells you if a site uses Flash. There is a small, orange f icon and message at the end of our full review. Flash sites MAY have a problem on iPads - or maybe not. In any case, it is always wise to pre-test web sites on the tablet or mobile device you plan to use with students. As technology evolves so rapidly and web sites change, that is the only way to know for sure.


Tweeting our own horn
The national press are just writing about it now, but we told you so more than a year ago: Twitter is a great way for teachers and classrooms to stay in touch and learn. If you are looking to find out how Twitter could possibly be more than a waste of time, check out TeachersFirst’s Twitter for Teachers. Then start your Twitter account by following @teachersfirst and our editor @cshively.


Speak up and earn a shirt
Congratulations to our first “comment of the month” winner, Lauren from TN. Lauren’s comment on a TeachersFirst resource was randomly selected from the helpful comments made in January. She received a Thinking Teacher shirt to wear proudly. Your free TeachersFirst membership allows you to rate and comment on reviewed resources. Tell others how you used it in your class. Speak up and win!


Safety and consequences
Today’s online tools offer both creative opportunities and management challenges. You may worry about staying within school policy and managing the tools with your students. At the same time, you know that creating digital projects is a powerful motivator and challenge to higher level thinking. You also want parents to understand and support the projects. TeachersFirst offers the Wiki Warranty, a downloadable, customizable Word document you can use as a contract with students and parents for any online project, wiki, or blog. Teachers all over the world have used it. Customize as needed, and simply retain the credit in the footer. Cross web worries off your list, and start creating! (The Wiki Warranty is part of the acclaimed Wiki Walk-Through from TeachersFirst).


Feeling the Pain
Every school is experiencing budget cuts, but you see the impact up close. Which is causing the most pain in your school this year, in your opinion? Click your thoughts on the weekly poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Here come the Presidents
Valentine’s Day brings a diversion this week, but it is also an opportunity for learning. Find resources for Valentine’s Day, Presidents Day, and other February observances like Dental Health Month and Black History Month. Visit the Classroom Planning Calendar for trusted resources at all levels.


In MoTown
Clint Eastwood talked about it during the Super Bowl. Geo and Meri are in the Motor City this week on Globetracker’s Mission. Join them in learning about standards-based map skills, geography, by following the Globetracker’s Mission blog. Searching for the elusive Louie has taken them all over the U.S.! Could Louie be driving a Chrysler?


What’s up? Docs... and Great Ideas
Have you always wondered about using Google Docs? Maybe you have never had time to explore all the great additions to TeachersFirst 3.0. Don’t miss these upcoming OK2Ask® sessions: free, online teacher professional development “snack sessions” that whet the appetite and let you learn at your convenience. See the full OK2Ask® schedule.

Google Docs: A focused workshop on Google docs Forms and Documents ONLY; Extended session at ONE time; Tuesday, February 21, 2012; Read the details and register

Great Ideas: Exploring the Resources of TeachersFirst 3.0 to Plan Effective, Technology-Infused Lessons; Thursday, March 8, 2012 at two times; Read the details and register


Around the World Once a Week (#xw1w)
XW1W  for the week of Feb 12: When does weather change your plans? 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 the practical, the sophisticated, and the creative:

  • Two ways to learn from/about music
  • Behavior tips for home and school
  • Multiple math finds
  • A great tool for collections
  • Budgets and spending
  • Images—up close!
  • Stick figure stories
  • QR codes explained

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


May the icy stares of confusion thaw into the flow of understanding in your classes this week.


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