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Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers™

Whew! Where did September go? We are well past review season and introductory units, and we know which students may need something extra. TeachersFirst is a great place to find resources, tools, and ideas to support students who struggle or to lure the gifted to a higher level. Try “In the Classroom” ideas from our resource reviews to adapt for the individual learners you have come to know.


Map skills and landforms and geography, Oh My!
Holy Idaho! Geo and Meri left home Sunday, September 30 on this year’s Globetracker’s Mission: Finding Dewey! Your students in grades 2-6 will learn standards-aligned geography, map skills, landforms, and more just by following the adventurous teens’ weekly blog. They need your votes to decide what to do next. Episodes include a Google Earth file for you to trace the teens’ path across seven continents from now until the end of April. If you missed the introduction (or any episode during the year, you can rewind using the <<episode arrows at the top. This Ready to Go content is always available bottom center on the TeachersFirst home page. Fire up your projector for the trip of a lifetime. Bon voyage!


Dancing with the books
October is Dance month at TogetheRead, the family literacy feature from our sister site, TeachersAndFamilies. TogetheRead offers monthly themes for family literacy (for ALL ages, not just little ones). Find free book suggestions and activity ideas for all ages and prompts to build effective reading strategies as families share reading time together or individually. Include TogetheRead in your class web page or online school newsletter. Dance into family reading fun.


October is for learning
National Hispanic Heritage Month is half over. October brings Bullying Prevention Month and Dinosaur Month. National Fire Prevention Week begins October 7, and Columbus Day is celebrated October 8 this year. What a great time for elementary teachers to use our lesson plan, Explorers’ Graveyard. Soon will come Fall Festivals. Find resources for these and other upcoming occasions and learning opportunities on the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar.


Across the World Once a Week (#xw1w)
XW1W for the week of September 30: How many types of transportation do you use? Share the details of life where you live and learn about others with Across the World Once a Week (XW1W). This quick activity 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 with just a moment or two of class time.


Teacher snacks
Join the fall festival of OK2Ask®, TeachersFirst’s free, online professional development “snack sessions.” Sessions always include hand-on exploration time so you  leave with something you can use and practical tips to ensure success.  See the full schedule from fall through May, 2013. Even if you have never tried an online learning session, we will make it easy for you. OK2Ask “frequent fliers” tell us that OK2Ask is just the kind of learning “snack” that teachers want. Professional development certificates are available for those who participate fully. Register now for October and November sessions (all 7:00-8:15 pm Eastern time):

Specialized for Special Needs: Ideas and tools for Learning Support, Speech/language, Emotional Support, and More; Thursday October 11

Google Earth: Take Your Lessons INTO This World; Monday October 22

Inspiring and Implementing: Sharing and Solutions for Technology Coaches/trainers; Thursday November 8

Great Ideas: Exploring the Resources of TeachersFirst 3.0 to Plan Effective, Technology-Infused Lessons; Thursday November 15


Debate, learn, vote
Find meaningful ways to connect your curriculum with the debates and elections using TeachersFirst’s  Resources for Elections (Editor’s Choices). This collection includes both current and historic election resources so your students can learn, interact, and compare. Many of our reviews include classroom ideas beyond just social studies/government class. Need more ideas? Check out items tagged “debate” on TeachersFirst.


Online professional development?  
Do you hesitate to try online PD? What is the biggest barrier to your taking a free, online PD session?
Click your choice from the options in the weekly poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find sites to show and tell, learn and explore:

  • World War II in cartoons
  • Images cubed
  • Projectiles
  • PDF converted to be useful
  • Science intrigue
  • Federal budgeting
  • Civil War
  • Roots and affixes

And more. IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this October 7 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived September 30 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.


May you savor the success of a perfect match for your students’ needs this week.


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