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7/15/2012 and 7/22/2012

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers™

July is the month to play and learn. As we regain energy through a change in routine, we begin to get excited about our new ideas for the coming school year. We even have time to learn something new.  Don’t let July pass without choosing to play and learn about a new way to teach, a new tool, or a fresh approach to how you structure your classes.  Start with an OK2Ask® session, a tour of the TeachersFirst professional menu, or one of the new ideas in this Update.


Now I See!
If you love “seeing” information and/or data as an infographic, why not capture the power of this visual communication method to help your students “see” concepts and relationships? Now sure what infographics are or how to use them in the classroom? TeachersFirst offers Now I See! Infographics as content scaffold and creative, formative assessment...even if you don’t think visually.  Follow one class’s story, learn tips and tricks from the teacher who did it, and find tools, resources, rubric, and ready to go, downloadable PowerPoint shows to help your students SHOW what they learn using this popular, visual format. What a great idea to introduce this fall!


Thoughts from ISTE
Dozens of Thinking Teachers stopped at our booth at the recent ISTE conference just to share with other teachers unable to attend the conference. Learn vicariously from teachers who were at the conference.  Spread the inspiration. You will also meet the three teachers who won our ISTE12 Thinking Teachers Contest. We recorded and archived this OK2Ask® LIVE session so you can watch it at your leisure.


Summer Schedule
Our schedule for the remainder of July is adapted to match busy teacher summers. This Update and Featured Sites in a combined issue for July 15 and July 22, followed so you can catch up easily after a week at the beach. The Brain Twister changes every other Friday during July, with new versions posted July 6 and 20. We will resume our regular weekly schedule with July 27 Brain Twister and July 29 Update, in time to get you fired up for 2012-13.


Swifter, Higher, Stronger Learning
It’s almost here! Find resources for the Olympics and other upcoming events on the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar. Even secondary teachers will find useful collections for date-related topics such as Constitution Day or Pearl Harbor. Summer is a great time to peek ahead at the timesaving collections for the coming year. TeachersFirst is ready when you need us.


Meet the Author: It's easier than ever!
This month’s installment in our Help I Lost my Library/Media Specialist series is all about doing FREE author interviews with your students via Skype. No one can replace the constant support and expertise of your library media specialist, and TeachersFirst advocates for all schools to have this professional expertise on site. But the sad reality is that budget cuts have left your students—and you—without such help. This summer you can learn how Skype author interviews work. Summer is the time for teachers to research, play, and learn. Maybe stop by a school board meeting to advocate for the return of that library/media specialist, too.


OK2Ask® is here!
Summer OK2Ask® sessions are in full swing. Read the schedule and descriptions for OK2Ask every Tuesday and Thursday from July 17 through August 23. Register now and mark your calendar for free OK2Ask online, self-directed teacher professional development. August includes Google Earth, some great back to school timesavers, K-3 literacy, Elementary math, Google Docs and more. See the full schedule and register early. Listed below are the July offerings:

Great Ideas: Exploring the Resources of TeachersFirst 3.0 to Plan Effective, Technology-Infused Lessons; Tuesday July 17; 6:00 - 7:15 EDT

Wiki Workshop: An open help session and time for teachers to ask questions, help each other, and learn tips and tricks for their Wikispaces wiki; Thursday July 19; 6:00 - 8:00 EDT

Great Timesavers: Tools and tips to maximize TeachersFirst's free membership; Tuesday July 24; 6:00 - 7:15 EDT

EZ Edge Timesavers: Teacher tools to communicate, manage, create materials, and make your life easier; Thursday July 26; 6:00 - 7:15 EDT

Hands Off, Vanna: Giving Students Control of Interactive Whiteboard Learning; Tuesday July 31; 6:00 - 7:15 EDT


Got K?
How have budget cuts affected kindergarten where you teach?
Vote for your choice in the weekly poll on the TeachersFirst home page.

Read it, hear it
TeachersFirst has collected reviewed resources with FREE audio books to help your struggling readers and those who simply prefer listening. See the full collection or subsets of audio books that include text and audio books with interactive features. You would be amazed what is available for free. Download some in mp3 format for your long vacation drive!


Across the World Once a Week (#xw1w)
XW1W  for the weeks of July 15 and 22: How long is summer break at your school? 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 new ways to see, do, and learn:

  • Two different ways to “see” size and scale
  • Timesaving teacher tools
  • A brand new literacy and math site
  • Design and innovation ideas
  • Pros and Cons of controversial issues
  • A great way to make “mePortfolios”
  • Fun with Latin and Mythology
  • Incredible science resources
  • Fractions!

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


As you enjoy the final two weeks of July, make a point to play with something you have never tried.


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