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July 22, 2013

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

At the Virginia home of TeachersFirst, the July forecast is typically HHH: hazy, hot, and humid. In teacher world, the July forecast is RRR: rested, reflective, and resolved. As you move from reflection to action on your teaching resolutions for the coming school year, make TeachersFirst your first stop on the way to “ready” for back to school. We add dozens of new resources and teaching ideas every week, even during summer.


July schedule shifts
You no doubt notice that this Update has two dates. TeachersFirst changes our schedule a bit in July while many teachers are away from your computers. We send the Updates every other week (this July 14 issue with encore edition on July 21). The Brain Twisters change every other week (was posted new on July 12, and resumes weekly editions July 26). Take time this summer to explore features of TeachersFirst you have never explored. Why not browse the archived Featured Sites for treasures you missed during manic weeks this past year?


Sharing the ISTE experience
If you “met” TeachersFirst for the first time at ISTE in San Antonio and are reading your first Update, we welcome you. The archived recording of OK2Ask® LIVE from the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference is now available if you were not able to watch it live. See teachers share the highlights of the conference with their peers everywhere. If you were a “star” of the video, be sure to share it with your friends!


Thoughts from a thinking teacher
Summer is our best time to reflect and set goals for our teaching. Don’t miss the TeachersFirst’s editor’s blog, Think Like a Teacher, for reflections on educational technology, teaching, and the world of education. We welcome your comments and thoughts, as well.


The best 90 minutes you ever spent
Looking for free ideas to save your teaching sanity? Join our free OK2Ask® session, Great Ideas, on Tuesday, July 16, to discover the vast resources of TeachersFirst and ways to use them in YOUR teaching situation. One week later on July 23, learn about TeachersFirst’s FREE, time saving membership in the Great Timesavers session. These are just two of the many free online professional development snack sessions being offered this summer. See the full catalog and register NOW. (Read the details. Most summer sessions are 90 minutes, but extended sessions last two hours.) Learn more about OK2Ask, including FAQs. Yes, we offer professional development certificates to those who meet the participation criteria.



Gettysburg 150
This July we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. TeachersFirst is proud to share our newest classroom-ready content, Gettysburg by the Numbers, an interactive experience of the Battle of Gettysburg through numbers and infographics. Use Gettysburg by the Numbers to bring the battle (and a sense of the Civil War) into your classroom long after the anniversary. 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.


One category at a time
Summer is the perfect time to discover the TeachersFirst Edge to learn a tool or two. The TeachersFirst Edge is a collection of teacher-reviewed, online tools that you and your students can use to “make things.” The little turquoise E icon on some reviews indicates Edge tools. These reviews include a little additional information about using them safety, memberships, etc. These free tools range from very easy to a bit tech-challenging. (The little colored “thermometer” at the end of the review indicates the tech-challenge level.) To make it easier to find a tool for a specific task, we group them into categories in the left sidebar within the Edge area of TeachersFirst. Why not explore one category at a time? Find Drawing/Whiteboard tools, tools for making Stickies/Walls,  and tools to collect, manage, and share Bookmarks.


The year ahead
Ramadan began July 9 and continues until August 7. Although we have few other holidays this month, TeachersFirst has already prepared collections of resources for the coming school year of calendar-related events and learning opportunities, all clickable from our handy Classroom Planning Calendar. From the First Day of School to Summer, 2014, we are ready. Summer is a great time to look ahead at all the possibilities. Just click “next month” to see offerings throughout the school year.


Tent? Hammock?
Summer means being outdoors—some of us more than others. Tell others how the outdoors is part of your culture. See responses from 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 weeks of July 14 and 21: Do you ever sleep outside? When and how?


Summer accomplishments
We are sorry to say that summer is flying by! What would you most like to accomplish this summer? Choose from the options in the teacher poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find useful real world resources, elementary gems, tools for writers and “geeks,” and some hard-to-find topics:

  • Audio feedback on writing
  • Castles and more from medieval times
  • A magical door to major worldwide landmarks
  • A safe search for kids
  • Tables in your blog or site without writing code!
  • Real science notebooks and engaging videos
  • Environmental legislation tracker
  • Games with Twitter
  • And MORE

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this July 28 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived July 14 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.

May your energy and enthusiasm for hot, new teaching ideas rise along with the temperatures.

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