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December 9, 2013

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

It’s the season of giving. As teachers, we see students with many needs beyond the academic ones. We wish we could give each the perfect gifts to meet physical and emotional needs, bring smiles, and assure success. As you push through your own challenges, balancing home and school to be “done” in time for your holiday break, take time to talk with your students about the many ways each of you can give to others. TeachersFirst will keep giving you our best ideas to meet those student needs.


The meaning of the season
TeachersFirst’s Giving Tree lesson is an all time favorite. Students from kindergarten to high school respond to the message of this Shel Silverstein classic. What would your students like to give/receive? Plant the seeds of generosity with in your class with The Giving Tree


Give back -- for free
If you appreciate what TeachersFirst gives to you all year long, why not donate to TeachersFirst—at no cost to you! “Shop” a donation our way simply by doing some holiday shopping on Amazon. Enter the Amazon site via the link at the bottom of our How TeachersFirst Stays Free page, and complete your purchase during that visit. TeachersFirst earns a percentage of the profits from your purchase 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 help.


Who is on your gift list?
If you need ideas to create free, meaningful gifts don’t miss Special Occasion Ideas for the Classroom: TeachersFirst Editors' Choices. This collection of reviewed tools has dozens of ideas for you (or your students) to create, write, and learn at the same time. Don’t forget the helpful school personnel who make your life better. Why not send a class creation to the school secretary or cafeteria workers? ‘Tis the season!


Time savers for a busy season
Need teaching ideas the anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ flight? Find teaching resources to include Christmas in lessons or to teach about Kwanzaa. Turn to the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar for timely help any time.


Timelines, video and more
The Edge is a giant tool collection—all free—with trustworthy options for BYOD or 1:1 programs, carefully reviewed by Thinking Teachers who know classroom realities. Find online tools (many with free app versions) to help you and your students accomplish tasks. Create projects and some simply make your digital life a little easier. Choose from tool categories at the left. Click Timelines for tools to make visual representations of time, often including images and other media. Select Video for tools to create, edit, or share videos. For an eclectic mix of useful tools that defy categorization but help you accomplish tasks efficiently, click Utilities. Utilities include url shorteners, TXT messaging services, file organizers, spoofed email accounts, and other gadgets you never imagined!


This or that: 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.


On your wishlist
Is FREE professional learning on your wishlist? Our free OK2Ask sessions resume in January, providing 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


Windy City
Geo and Meri are in Chicago this week on Globetracker’s Mission. They are preparing for a river cruise. The teens share new blog posts every Sunday so your students (grades 2-6) can learn standards-based geography, landforms, and major U.S. landmarks. Your students 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.


Tuned in
Different cultures share different customs and priorities. Share the XW1W question for the week of December 8 in your class: How many hours/week is a TV ON in your home? 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.


Do you or don't you?
Does your class/school decorate for holidays? Share your school’s policy in the teacher poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find some that look plain but pack power and some that are visually/interactively terrific:

  • Touring with Google
  • Glaciers
  • Math challenges to delight any “geek”!
  • A simple word tool that grows on you
  • Hands-on STEM challenges
  • Build a tweet
  • Energy
  • Two fabulous finds for little ones
  • And more...

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this December 15 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived December 8 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.

May you witness an intellectual gift exchange between your students this week.

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