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June 24, 2013

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

Life in the summer is different, but never slow. You have probably shifted your routine a bit, but teachers are always busy, even when school is out. Find time in your summer routine to do a little proactive planning, discovering new timesavers and inspiration from TeachersFirst. You will appreciate it in September. Make TeachersFirst your summer rainy day friend.


Summer schedule shifts
We know you have plenty to do away from your computer or online device during July. TeachersFirst changes our schedule a bit to adjust to your needs. The Brain Twisters will change every other week (June 28 and July 12, resuming weekly editions July 26). We will send the Updates every other week (with encore editions on July 7 and 21). Take time this summer to explore features of TeachersFirst you have never explored. Our Great Ideas and Great Timesavers sessions from OK2Ask® will open your eyes.  You can also browse the archived Featured Sites you may have missed during the school year.


TeachersFirst is at ISTE in San Antonio this week, June 23-26. If you are there, add us to your plans. Visit us in the Exhibit Hall (booth 5216). Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to those wearing Thinking Teachers shirts throughout the conference. (Earn one for yourself at our booth!) Meet Candy Shively and Melissa Henning at our presentations and meet other Thinking Teachers during OK2Ask® LIVE from our ISTE booth (5216) on Tuesday June 25 at 3:30-4:30 Central time.  If you are a technology integration specialist or edtech coach by any name, please come to the first get-together for the new ISTE Edtech Coach SIGETC on Monday afternoon. We can’t wait to meet you!

Not at ISTE? Fear not. Teachers lucky enough to attend will be sharing LIVE from our booth on Tuesday, June 25 3:30-4:30 Central (4:30-5:30 Eastern). Join us virtually!
Watch the live webcast here or via the link front-and-center on the TeachersFirst home page on Tuesday.


What is this “Edge” thing, anyway?
If you have read the Update or used TeachersFirst anytime since 2006, you have heard about something called the “TeachersFirst Edge.” What is it? It is an area of our site where we share teacher-reviewed, online tools that you and your students can use to “make things.” These tools are free (like everything we review), and range from very easy to a bit tech-challenging. The little turquoise E icon on some reviews indicate Edge tools. These reviews are part of our overall database but also include additional information about using them safely, memberships, etc. To make it easier to find a tool for a specific task, we even group them into categories. Why not explore the Edge this summer, one category at a time? Find tools for creating maps or geography based information, handy utility tools like file converters, etc., and tools that help with organization such as making lists, dividing tasks, parent sign ups, etc. Find a few helpers to get 2013-14 off to a smooth start!


Just in time fireworks
Independence Day is coming up soon. Find resources for July 4 and other events on our handy Classroom Planning Calendar. Summer is s great time to look ahead in the calendar. Just click “next month” to see offerings throughout the school year.


Summer sensations
July and August are packed with OK2Ask® offerings for teachers. Sensational snack sessions are available nearly every Tuesday and Thursday. Browse the offerings and register now, before sessions fill up. Summer sessions are slightly longer to allow more time for exploration and questions. Note that OK2Ask information and registration have moved to a new location, so update your bookmarks. See the full summer catalog and register. Read more about OK2Ask, free online “snack sessions” for self-directed teacher professional development, including FAQs. Yes, we offer professional development certificates to those who meet the participation criteria.


Beyond the numbers
In just a few days our nation commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. TeachersFirst is proud to announce Gettysburg by the Numbers, an interactive experience of the Battle of Gettysburg through numbers and infographics. Trace the data to thought-provoking questions that inspire connections. Move beyond dates and facts to make the battle personally meaningful and real. Gettysburg by the Numbers builds understanding far more lasting than a three-day anniversary in July. Take it on vacation with you! This resource is designed to work well on tablet mobile devices in the back seat!


Travel time
Summer and travel go together, right? Tell us about your journeys. See responses from other people in other places via Across the World Once a Week (#xw1w). Your responses about life where you live help others learn—and vice versa. This quick activity uses microblogging and something called a hashtag. It’s easy! Get started now with these simple directions and FAQ. XW1W for the week of June 23: What is the farthest you have ever traveled from home? 


Cell learning
How often do you see students use a cell phone to LEARN something? Share your observations via the weekly teacher poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find creative tools and clever approaches:

  • A great virtual museum
  • Personalized college searching
  • eBooks from any webpage
  • Curated “magazines”
  • Quadratics
  • The Internet unraveled
  • An engaging graphic novel
  • Text-searchabe videos
  • Creating video trivia games
  • History told through maps
  • A handy url sharing tool for more than a handful!
  • And MORE

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


Run through a sprinkler or play outside with a child this week. It’s summer.

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