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October 7, 2013

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

In October we smell the farm fields freshly harvested and see kids scouring the pumpkin patch for “the one.” There is something about the potential of that perfect pumpkin, waiting to be carved into just the face you want it to be. Learning is the same way: a chance to turn limitless potential into a glowing face. Let TeachersFirst be your pumpkin patch for learning.


Are you connected?
October is Connected Educators Month (CEM). Celebrate your connections with educator and learning opportunities throughout the month. TeachersFirst is one of the organizations sharing the “connection,” including our OK2Ask offerings that run throughout the year to keep you connected to best practices, great resources , and a community of educators from across the country and around the world. CEM offers a shared calendar of events, several themes, and lots more. Whether you are just a little curious about connecting or an avid “joiner,” take the time to “connect” with other educators. Tell them TeachersFirst sent you!


Get an "A" from the Edge
The TeachersFirst Edge is a special group of reviews of free tools you and your students can use to create things. These tools “live” on the web and usually offer a way to save and/or share what you have made. Many also have “app” versions. With so many new tools appearing on a daily basis, turn to TeachersFirst for critical reviews that check classroom safety concerns, possible school policy issues, and tool functionality for you. We categorize the tools so you can find just what you need (see categories at the left side of the Edge listings). Why not start with A for Animation tools and Audio tools?


This month's theme for family literacy from TogetheRead is Villains—just in time for Hallowe’en!. TogetheRead is offered by our sister site, TeachersAndFamilies. Each month a new theme appears with a list of books for ALL ages and free or low cost activities to do together around this theme. Built into the book information are questions and discussion topics to build better readers before, during, and after reading. Share TogetheRead with parents from elementary through high school to make reading something that families experience together.


Fired up for the October daze
October is a daze of doings! This week is Fire Prevention Week. The boys of summer have swung into the playoffs. Why not take a swing at some baseball in your classroom? It’s also National Bullying Prevention Month and Dinosaur Month. And next week is Columbus Day! Many towns and school are celebrating with fall festivals. Your head could spin with so much going on. Turn to the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar for help all year long.


Useful for YOU
Looking for professional learning that fits YOUR situation? Try OK2Ask®, TeachersFirst’s FREE, LIVE online “snack sessions” for teacher self-directed professional development. We make sure every attendee discovers ideas and resources he/she can use—NOW. The full schedule in pdf format for the year is planned, and you can register NOW for Oct-November sessions. Winter and spring offerings will open for registration a bit later. Read more about OK2Ask and plan to attend these upcoming sessions (all 7:00-8:15 pm EDT):

  • THIS WEEK! Great Ideas: Exploring the Resources of TeachersFirst 3.0 to Plan Effective, Technology-Infused Lessons; If you are new to TeachersFirst or want personalized time to explore, this is a MUST SEE; Monday, October 7
  • Google 6-Part Series (Part 1): The Top View of Google; Tuesday, October 15
  • Common Core Literacy Ideas (Grades K-8); Monday, October 28


Three weeks 'til launch
You have three weeks to get ready before Geo and Meri leave home the week of October 27. If you teach social studies (or gifted) on grades 2-6, take time to check out Globetracker’s Mission. The preview episode is online, along with teacher information, standards, and lesson ideas for using the mission. Take your students on a journey throughout North America. New weekly episodes will show on Sundays, starting October 27. Your votes determine what teen bloggers Geo and Meri do next. This engaging “blog” teaches map skills, geography, landmarks, landforms, and more as you follow the teens’ adventures. Accompanying Google Earth files let you “see” the Mission unfold. For extra fun, set your class account to follow Geo and Meri on Twitter!


Families and cultures
Learn how families live in places near and far from your students’ experience. Share details of everyday life where you live with classrooms around the world. The Across the World Once a Week (#xw1w) project uses simple tweets or blog posts to share the responses to a weekly questions and help you “see” what life is like in other places. It all works because of something called a hashtag. It’s easy! Get started now with these simple directions and FAQ. XW1W question for the week of October 6: Does your family watch TV together? What? 


Connected homework?
Teachers report that it is very hard to ask students to do homework that requires the Internet, though this may be getting better. What percentage of your students have Internet connected devices to do homework? Share your response in the teacher poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find convenient tools and supportive resources for challenging topics:

  • Latitude and longitude
  • A Pinterest-like tool—with privacy options
  • Some great science finds
  • Ice Age floods and landforms
  • Powerful blogging
  • Multiple intelligences illustrated
  • Calculators and converters for anything
  • Current events for kids
  • Rockets!
  • Terrific tools for writers
  • Handy tools for pdfs and file management
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this October 13 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived October 6 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.


May you see some faces light up with learning this week.

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