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November 11, 2013

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

Applaud a veteran this week. If you are a teacher AND a military veteran, we thank you for doing double service! If you know a veteran, please pause to thank him/her, and maybe pick up the check for his/her pizza. Seek out vets at local Veterans Day ceremonies or stop to talk as they wait for a bus or train. We hope you will find time to talk about the concept of service in your classes this week. As a teacher, you model service every day (though we hope yours is far less risky than that of our military veterans).


MySciLife works!
Since August, 2012, TeachersFirst has been conducting a limited pilot of MySciLife, a social learning environment where students design and maintain science "identities" to LIVE and LEARN. Students LIVE as a science concept, creating their identities using status updates, interactions, and a full range of digital media within the MySciLife platform. MySciLife is personal, dynamic science learning, interaction, and assessment. This project began as a MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition Finalist in 2010. The results of the 2012-13 research pilot of MySciLife are in. Social learning in middle school science classes yields positive results for both science performance and student attitudes toward science. Read the full report and share it with your science colleagues. Learn more about the project here.


Last chance for 2013
OK2Ask® offerings stop before Thanksgiving and resume after the holiday season. Register NOW for the last two November sessions (both at 7:00pm Eastern time):

  • Intro to the NEW Wikispaces Classroom; Monday, Nov 11 (has prerequisites!)
  • Google 6-Part Series (Part 2): Google Search Secrets; Tuesday, Nov 19


2014 awaits
Winter OK2Ask® sessions are now open for registration. Choose from the full catalog of FREE online offerings for January and February. Put on your post-holiday sweats and cuddle up with your laptop to share 75 minutes of learning and energy with teachers around the world. These “snack sessions” offer the kick-start you need to infuse learning with technology in your classroom. The topics are varied, and the excitement is always palpable. Of course, we issue professional development certificates to those who meet the requirements. Here is a sampling (all sessions begin at 7 pm EASTERN time):

Great Timesavers; Mon. Jan 6, 2014
Sharing and Solutions for Technology Coaches; Thurs. Jan 16, 2014
Google Series (Part 3): Google for Every Classroom Tues. Jan. 21, 2014
Building Ethical Digital Citizens; Thurs. Jan. 30, 2014
Be the Best: Professional Resources; Thurs. Feb. 6, 2014
Google Series (Part 4): Using Google Templates; Tues. Feb 18, 2014
Juggling the BYOD or 1:1 Classroom; Mon. Feb 24, 2014


Far north
Geo and Meri are in Barrow, Alaska this week on Globetracker’s Mission. Check their blog as it changes every Sunday until April (follow @geoandmeri on Twitter, too!). Weekly episodes teach standards-based geography, landforms, and major U.S. landmarks. Your students in grades 2-6 can vote each week, telling the teens what to do next. Explore the locations Geo and Meri visit using the downloadable Google Earth files at the top of each blog post. Did you miss the start of the Mission a couple of weeks ago? Fear not! You can always “rewind” to all previous posts using the <<episode link at the top. Globetracker’s Mission provides teacher suggestions, lesson ideas, and more to help your students enjoy and learn.



Planning for learning
This is the week for Veterans’ Day observances. November is also Native American Heritage Month. Take learning hands-on with Native American Crafts. November 19 is the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, perfect for Gettysburg by the Numbers. Turn to the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar for date-related learning, handy any time. After surviving almost all of November, we will all be ready to give thanks. In an unusual confluence, Hanukkah begins ON Thanksgiving this year! Stay home with your family and celebrate. The stores can wait.


Fifty years
November 22 is the fiftieth anniversary of the JFK assassination. Older Americans remember the day, but our students need to know about this dark day in our history and the presidency that preceded it. TeachersFirst has been collecting the best resources on Kennedy so your American History or social studies class can experience and learn about Camelot, the Bay of Pigs, and, of course, the assassination.


A different pilgrim
If you like the TeachersFirst Interactive Raven, you should check out Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. The same veteran English teacher who helped us design our ever-popular Raven resource also designed this response journal unit to accompany Annie Dillard’s novel. Don’t teach this novel? You can still find some great teaching ideas to use with the novels you do teach. Pass it on!


Picture perfect help
The TeachersFirst Edge reviews free, online tools (many with free app versions) to help you and your students create your own projects or simply make your digital life little easier. Click on Images/photos to find reviewed tools that help you work with images and photos in many ways. Just in time for the holiday season, you can collect, edit, montage, and more. The Edge is a must to find the best options in classes with BYOD or 1:1 programs. Help yourself learn the latest technology with tools that are carefully reviewed by Thinking Teachers like you.



Fall to winter
Autumn stretches out in some locations and quickly disappears into winter in others. The XW1W question for the week of November 10: What is your sure sign of winter's arrival? Help your students experience everyday life in far off places through #XW1W. Share 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 question and help you “see” what life is like in other places. It all works because of something called a hashtag. Get started now with these simple directions and FAQ.


Challenging times
When do your students do their biggest or most difficult project of the year? Share your plans in the teacher poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find the unusual and the engaging:

  • Customizable quotes
  • Land use on Earth, visually
  • AP math
  • Popular media literacy
  • Reading music
  • Literature and science together
  • Fall colors!
  • Recycling reimagined
  • Primary documents of our Founding Fathers
  • Little known heroes
  • Tools for cubes, links, comics, and more
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this November 17 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived November 10 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.

May your students notice those who serve and take the time to thank them.

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