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Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers™

With just the right tools, we can all make the perfect, autumnal apple pie, right?  OK, maybe it takes a good recipe, some practice, the season’s best apples, and possibly a YouTube video, but we keep trying. TeachersFirst shares the best tools, recipes, ingredients, and even videos to help you refine the best apple pie of learning. And if it doesn’t turn out perfectly today, tomorrow the hungry minds will be ready and waiting again.


Like kitchen gadgets
We all love the handy kitchen doo-dads that solve specific problems like pitting cherries. Avoid the pitfalls (get it?) of technology with handy tech utilities from the TeachersFirst Edge. The "TeachersFirst Edge" is our name for web-based tools that allow you to create things (and share them). While many Edge tool categories offer highly creative tools to do digital storytelling, create animations, etc., we also have a category we call "utilities." Check out these handy tools to make your technology (and teaching) life easier.


We love a mystery
October is the perfect month for mystery read-alouds in your elementary classroom. The latest installment in our Help! I Lost My Library/Media Specialist series offers books and activity ideas for Sleuthing and Snooping: Real and Imagined Mystery Read-alouds. An experienced library media specialist writes these offerings. This will only fill a teaspoonful of the huge hole left when the budget cuts took away your library/media specialist, but TeachersFirst is trying to help.


October events
October brings Bullying Prevention Month and Dinosaur Month. National Fire Prevention Week is this week. October is a great month for elementary teachers to use our lesson plan, Explorers’ Graveyard. You may also need ideas and resources for upcoming 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 October 7: What do you use to tell the time? 
 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.


ESL/ELL help
You probably have at least one ESL/ELL student in your class, and you may not have any support in meeting these students’ unique needs. As you plan your lessons, use TeachersFirst’s Adapt-a-Strategy for ESL/ELL to see how you can adjust your regular lesson activity for ESL/ELL success. For more help, try our Top Ten Tips for working with ESL/ELL students. (Another tip: many of these same tips and adaptations work for learning support students who have language disabilities.) We hope these tricks of the trade will help your students with specialized needs. For more ideas, see our upcoming, free OK2Ask® session.


Treats and no tricks
OK2Ask® is the ideal teacher treat from TeachersFirst. This series of free, online professional development “snack sessions” is our gift for your harvest of teaching ideas. Sessions always include hands-on exploration time. Discover ideas and resources you can use tomorrow.  See the full schedule from fall through May, 2013. Professional development certificates are available for those who participate fully. Register now for October and November sessions (all at 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


When Geo and Meri were last seen...
Geo and Meri left their Phoenix, Arizona home last week on this year’s Globetracker’s Mission: Finding Dewey! Readers voted for where they should go next: Vancouver, Seattle, or Anchorage. Check out the results now! New posts appear at midnight each Saturday night, with Geo and Meri following the advice of their readers. Invite your students in grades 2-6 to learn standards-aligned geography, map skills, landforms, and more as you follow the adventurous teens’ weekly blog. Episodes include a Google Earth file to trace the teens’ path across seven continents from now until the end of April. If you missed the first episodes, 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!


Heated debates and more
Connect your curriculum with the debates and U.S. 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 social studies/government class. Need more ideas? Check out items tagged "debate" on TeachersFirst.


Teacher poll question for Bullying Awareness Month  
What does your school's Acceptable Use Policy include about cyberbullying?
Respond to the weekly poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find resources for research, projects, and professional support:

  • Awesome digital scrapbooks
  • Genetics and Elements in interactive formats
  • Practical primary reading
  • Thought-provoking metaphors
  • Videos galore
  • Drama for ESL/ELL
  • Tech help on almost ANY topic

And more. IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this October 14 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived October 7 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.


"And when the pie was opened, the birds began to sing." Instead of blackbirds, may your pie open to delicious songs of learning in your classes this week.


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