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November 25, 2013

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

Phew! You made it through the longest stretch of the school year, and your students seem to be making progress. Give thanks this week for these two accomplishments as you gather with family to enjoy some turkey, some down time, and maybe some shopping. TeachersFirst will be here when you are ready to face the stretch ahead.


DATs it!
If you have students using diverse devices, you know how frustrating it can be to assign a task and discover that a given tool works on this but not that. You need DATs (device agnostic tools)! As part of our ongoing efforts to make your life easier and your students’ learning more productive, TeachersFirst is specifically looking for and tagging DATs, device agnostic tools that are available as FREE apps for iOS AND Android devices as well as free web tools for use on laptops, etc. DATs are “it” for BYOD or mixed-device classrooms, and TeachersFirst helps you find them quickly! Bookmark this ever-growing collection or simply click the DAT tag in any tool review.


Shop and drop
Donate to TeachersFirst at no cost to you! Shop and “drop” a donation our way as you do some holiday shopping on Amazon over your break. Enter the Amazon site via the link at the bottom of our Reading for All page, and complete your purchase during that visit. TeachersFirst earns a percentage of the profits from the sales using this entry point. Help us maintain our free, ad-free service to teachers. Our non-profit parent company, The Source for Learning, appreciates your urge to shop ‘til you drop.


Ready for you
Teachers AND students are ready to give thanks. In an unusual confluence, Hanukkah begins ON Thanksgiving this year! December sneaks in during the long weekend, bringing the Holiday Gift Giving Season and Pearl Harbor Day. Turn to the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar for date-related learning, handy any time. For an instant lesson about today—with history in context—don’t miss Dates that Matter, ready for your projector or mobile device from the Ready to Go pod on our home page.


Got PreK?
TeachersFirst’s non-profit parent company, The Source for Learning, is proud to announce the launch of PreschoolFirst 2.0. PreschoolFirst is an observational assessment system for the early childhood years that interconnects hundreds of learning activities, developmental progress, and educational decisions. PreschoolFirst uses a developmental play approach to support the development of the whole child. The new version offers new enhancements to help plan play-based curriculum, observe child development, and report developmental progress. More information is available at: http://www.preschoolfirst.com/front-intro2.cfm. Please share PreschoolFirst with your preschool, preK, and early intervention friends and colleagues as they plan for “next year.”


New Year, new offerings
Set aside some time for yourself after the upcoming holidays. OK2Ask will resume in January with free, online professional development “snack sessions.” Register NOW for all sessions in January and February (all at 7:00pm Eastern time). Please be sure to READ the descriptions to be sure you have the prerequisites and/or technology comfort levels:

  • 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


What happens in Vegas? Geo and Meri tell all
Geo and Meri are near the Hoover Dam this week on Globetracker’s Mission. See their new blog posts every Sunday, teaching standards-based geography, landforms, and major U.S. landmarks. Students (grades 2-6) vote each week, telling the teens what to do next. If you miss an episode during holiday breaks or busy times, simply rewind using the <<episode link at the top.


Thinking Teachers sort the toolbox for you
Having the right tool makes all the difference. The Edge gathers trustworthy options for BYOD or 1:1 programs or simply to make technology work FOR you. The TeachersFirst Edge features teacher-reviewed, free, online tools (many with free app versions) to help you and your students create projects or simply make your digital life a little easier. All are carefully reviewed by Thinking Teachers who know classroom realities and school policy concerns. Click to find:

Organization for tools to keep you and your students organized (including planning!)
Plugins/Addons for tools to make web browsing more productive or easier
Polls/Quizzes for tools to find, create, AND grade quick assessments
Presentations for many tools for students to “show what you know”


Around the table
Holiday customs vary from family to family and location to location. The XW1W question for the week of November 24: Who and how many gather at your family holiday dinners? 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.


Turkey with a side of homework?
Do you assign homework over Thanksgiving? Share your plans in the teacher poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find unusual angles and terrific tools:

  • Leveled current news articles
  • Punctuation practice
  • Two presidential resources
  • Learning theories organized
  • Cool tools for working with images, web pages, and timelines
  • Math mistakes
  • Lists
  • Musical fun
  • Sensational science videos
  • A look at mental health
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this December 1 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived November 24 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.


May your Thanksgiving with family and friends include a side dish of laughter and the spice of time for yourself.

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