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July 21 & 28, 2014

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

Hot sand, cool teaching tools. Chillin’ and cooking up hot ideas. July is a time for our teaching ideas to incubate as we take time to play far from our classrooms. There comes a moment during our time away when fresh ideas once again pop into our minds, ideas for new ways to teach or new approaches to recurrent teaching challenges. July is that delicious mixture of time away and creative ideas that call us back to the new school year with a fresh outlook. Enjoy the flow of new ideas that grow from your time at play. TeachersFirst is here, ready for you to dig in when you come back.


If you have just “met” the Thinking Teachers of TeachersFirst, perhaps at ISTE or in a PD workshop, we are glad to have you. Don’t miss the chance to get to know us better via our Great Ideas (July 22) and Great Timesavers (July 29) sessions from OK2Ask®. These sessions will help you find even more to love about TeachersFirst, all for FREE. Bring a friend! If you are a tech integration specialist/ tech coach or other tech trainer, join us to get to know TeachersFirst well so you can share it with your teacher colleagues.


Nourishing Gifted in ANY classroom
Whether you teach calculus or first grade, you probably have them: the handful of gifted students who can be a real handful as you try to meet the needs of a diverse class. TeachersFirst has some answers in out newest professional pages and resource collection, Nourishing Gifted Through Technology in Any Classroom. Fresh from our presentation at the ISTE conference, these pages offer a multitude of tools, resources, and connections available via technology so you can differentiate academic content, leverage technology to foster student creativity, and allow your gifted ones to join in digital collaborations and extend the curriculum through individual interests, even establishing digital “me-portfolios.” These pages offer resources, tools, and tips to nourish the needs of gifted, along with sanity savers to organize your multitasking class and your often-times “scattered” gifted learners. The authors have combined 25+ years of experience teaching gifted students in grades K-12. Share the link with your colleagues.


Professional Exploration
NOW is the time to explore the rich professional resources within TeachersFirst. You will especially appreciate TeachersFirst’s Professional Exclusives, often offering just the solution you need to a professional challenge. Don’t miss the hot topics in our collections of “Must Knows” for teachers. Make TeachersFirst your cool summer salad of learning.


Summer schedule
The Thinking Teachers at TeachersFirst slow our pace a bit during July to accommodate our users’ summer breaks and travel. This Update will repeat for the weeks of July 20 and 27. The Weekly Brain Twisters are changing every other Friday during July, with new Twisters coming online July 18. The Brain Twister and the Update will resume weekly editions in August. We hope this schedule will keep you from missing the latest from TeachersFirst as your travels and outdoor activities take you offline a bit. Enjoy the rest of your summer!


Summer OK2Ask®
Summer OK2Ask® sessions are in full swing on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6pm EDT. These free, online sessions for teacher self-directed professional development feature many ways to use technology in YOUR classroom. Please read descriptions carefully to be sure you have prerequisites and/or the appropriate technology comfort levels BEFORE you sign up. Note that ALL summer certificates will be issued at the end of the summer. No exceptions. Learn more about OK2Ask. Registration is now open for:
Great Ideas Tues, July 22
QR Codes Thurs, July 24
Great Timesavers Tues, July 29
School Year KickOff Thurs, July 31
CCSS Literacy Tues, Aug 5
Common Core Math Ideas K-8 Thur, Aug 07
And more during August!


Can't make the live sessions?
If you prefer to learn on your own schedule, make a date to watch some archived OK2Ask sessions on dozens of technology integration and teaching topics. Although we cannot offer certificates for watching a recording, you could watch and learn some new ideas for next school year. Or plan to watch together with your grade level team or department as a self-structured PD day, and your school might offer you the “credit.” It’s OK2Ask, after all!


Doing a workshop or other PD about TeachersFirst?
If you coach teachers or conduct teacher professional development workshops featuring TeachersFirst or teach a grad class where you spend time “touring” TeachersFirst, we can help. Complete this form telling us where you plan to feature TeachersFirst. We will send out TeachersFirst cards and an ever-popular Thinking Teacher T-shirt for qualifying sessions. Complete the form NOW while supplies last.


Our latest CurriConnects theme, Natural Disasters, offers a collection of books that could accompany a unit on earth science, weather, or even communities and government as your students look at how disasters affect people and how individuals or governments respond to adversity. These books would also connect well to a character education or guidance unit about dealing with crisis. CurriConnects book lists provide choices for student independent reading in support of curriculum content. This particular list is rich in “informational texts” you can use for Common Core reading and science literacy. Our CurriConnects lists for over two dozen curriculum areas include Lexile® levels, interest levels, and a short “blurb” to help any student find a book of interest. Share the lists with your school library/media specialist or local public library to locate the books on the shelves or on interlibrary loan.



On the calendar
Summer is the perfect time to check out the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar. Scout ahead for events and resources to include in your plans for next year.


Long or short?
We all love summer break. Share the XW1W question for the weeks of July 20 and 27 to find out what kind of “break” others have in far off places: How long is summer break at your school? Help your students stop and think about life in other cultures with #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.


Integrated, separated, or no tech PD?
Teachers tell us that their schools offer varying models of professional development on integrating technology—and some schools offer no tech related PD at all. How is technology included in your school's professional development? Please tell us in the poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Are you a new teacher starting your first teaching job in the fall? Will you be working with a student teacher or mentoring a new teacher? Don’t miss TeachersFirst’s ideas and help for newbie teachers, their cooperating teacher, and mentors. Click the Share widget to pass it on!


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find thought-provokers and helpful tools:

  • A trio of “fracking” resources
  • Writing about real world math
  • Gamification YOUR STUDENTS can do
  • A new way to look at legislation
  • A handy tool for citations
  • Worldwide data
  • Finding design ideas in nature
  • A BYOD or 1:1 MUST HAVE tool!
  • Twitter connections for any subject/grade
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this August 3 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived July 20 and 27 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.

May you discover something cool below the sizzling surface of the sand.

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