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Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers™

As we are finalizing this Update, the news from Newtown Connecticut is wrenching.  We are sickened and saddened not only for the immediate victims and their families but for all children, parents, and teachers trying to understand and process this tragedy. Nothing can make the pain and fear go away, but we offer these resources to help you support your students, parents, and colleagues:

TeachersFirst’s Resources for School Violence
Talking with Children about Violence (with Talk Time activities) from our sister site, TeachersAndFamilies


We are all busy wrapping up and winding down before holiday break. With any luck, your students will turn everything in and you will tie up the loose ends of units and ribbons just in time. You might even defer reading this Update to meet more pressing deadlines. So we are repeating the same Update and the same Featured Sites for the weeks of December 16 and 23.  Even the weekly Brain Twister will remain online for two weeks Dec 14 - 28. Before you know it, TeachersFirst will be back on our usual schedule with a new Update on December 30, just in time to wish you a Happy New Year.

We wish you the very best of holidays and hope you have the opportunity to enjoy them with those you love. Thank you for giving the gift of learning. You truly are Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers.


Pay it forward
Please consider “paying forward” the help you receive from TeachersFirst. Your Amazon shopping via the link at the bottom of our Reading for All page will donate a percentage of the purchase to TeachersFirst, continuing our ongoing efforts to bring the very best resources for teaching and learning to your classroom. You must make your purchase during a visit via that link. Help support our free, ad-free service to teachers like you.


Scrambling for gifts?
Create free, meaningful gifts with tools and ideas from Special Occasion Ideas for the Classroom: TeachersFirst Editors' Choices. This collection of reviewed tools has dozens of ideas for you (or your students) to create, write, and learn at the same time. Don’t forget the helpful school personnel who make your life better. Why not send a class creation to the school secretary or cafeteria workers? ‘Tis the season!


From 2012 ahead to 2013
TeachersFirst’s Christmas Resources are consistently among our popular offerings, including lessons for a Victorian Christmas. Before you leave for break, ask your students what new habits and new attitudes they plan to bring for the New Year. Find timely ideas for from January through December on the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar.


Now what do I do?
Most likely, you have ESL/ELL students in  one or more of your classes. You also have lesson plans that have proven to help most students learn. But what do you do when your ELL students cannot handle these lesson activities? Try TeachersFirst’s Adapt-A-Strategy for ESL/ELL for a handy way to find adapted activities that work. As you look ahead to the New Year, try something new to reach and support every learner. They will thank you for it.


World Wisdom
Wise citizens understand that life is different around the world. Across the World Once a Week (#xw1w) takes just a moment or two of class time to help students think about everyday life in other corners of the world. Share responses about life where you live and learn about others with Across the World Once a Week (XW1W). This quick activity uses microblogging and something called a hashtag. It’s easy! Get started now with these simple directions and FAQ. Tell your teacher friends!
XW1W for the week of December 16: In what do you wrap gifts? 


True gifts
TeachersFirst’s Giving Tree lesson is timeless and can be done in very little class time. Students from kindergarten to high school respond to the message of this Shel Silverstein classic. Have students continue their thinking outside of school and bring ideas back in to share. What would they like to give/receive? Plant the seeds of generosity with in your class with The Giving Tree.


OK2Ask® 2013 awaits you
Look ahead to January and FREE learning opportunities for cold, dark evenings. OK2Ask® registration is now open for January and February sessions. Be sure to mark your calendar. These friendly, online sessions for self-directed teacher professional development resume just after the New Year. Check for times and descriptions to register. Here are the January offerings:

New Years—New Ideas! Professional Resources to Make Your Life Easier, Communication Tools, Classroom Ideas, Sharing Time, and more; Thursday January 10

Google Docs/Drive:  A Focused Workshop on Docs and Forms Only (Extended Time Session); Monday January 14

Energizing Math: Ideas, Resources, and Collaboration for K-8 Math Teachers; Thursday January 24, 2013


Geo and Meri on hiatus
Geo and Meri will take a break with Uncle GT over the holidays, having left the unstable environment in Egypt. The December 16 episode will remain online for two weeks. New episodes resume December 30. Which continent will they see next on the worldwide Globetracker’s Mission? Students in grades 2-6 learn geography, map skills, landforms, and more from Globetracker’s Mission, Ready to Go any time at bottom center on the TeachersFirst home page. Join in as a whole class activity or at a computer center. You can always “rewind” to catch up with episodes you miss.


Wish list?
Which gift would you appreciate most? Tell Teacher Santa what you would like him to bring by responding to the weekly teacher poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, dig into new tools and ideas:

  • A no-membership, quick web page maker
  • Loads of basic reading printables and interactives
  • Languages!
  • A first class tool collection
  • QR codes on your desktop
  • Lesson plan organization
  • Current events for kids (non-fiction text!)
  • Creative math ideas and differentiated math activities
  • Sounds ‘round the world
  • Words as graphics

And more. IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this December 30 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived December 16/23 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.


May you celebrate many gifts this week, especially the intangible ones.

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