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August 18, 2014

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

Fire up those engines. It’s time for the practical, successful, and timesaving resources that will get us through Back to School race. We have packed this Update with just what you need, just when you need it. Think of us as your classroom “pit crew” of Thinking Teachers when the rubber meets the road.


Back to School Features!
If you wait eagerly for the Featured Sites each week, you’ll love the Back to School Featured Sites this week and next! TeachersFirst is featuring two weeks of resources selected specifically for Back to School. Enjoy both “encore” and brand new Back to School bests.


For starters
Get yourself and your students ship shape with free organization tools from the TeachersFirst Edge! For handy Back to School ideas, check out these resources tagged for Back to School, including ways to arrange the seats, ideas for a new class, and much more! You will also love TeachersFirst’s Getting to Know You ideas and collection of reviewed resources for the first day or week of class. Don’t forget to inspire your students with Bulletin Board Hangups, thought-provoking quotes ready to post in your classroom. Delve into good work habits with reviewed study skills resources from TeachersFirst.


September is not far off
It is never too early to find teaching resources you need. TeachersFirst is with you throughout the school year with just-in-time resources and ideas for how to use them. September brings Grandparents Day (Sept 7) and International Literacy Day (Sept 8), just to name a couple. The TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar offers resources related to events and observations on the calendar throughout the year. Check it out!


Whew! What a summer!
Our summer OK2Ask® sessions have ended, but you can still learn. OK2Ask archived sessions offer teacher self-directed professional development featuring many ways to use technology in YOUR classroom. Note: We cannot offer certificates for watching an archived recording. We will announce the OK2Ask 2014-15 school year schedule in early September. Learn more about OK2Ask.  



No matter the date
The first day of school is a date that matters! Make it memorable with Dates That Matter. Every day, mobile-friendly (and projector ready) Dates That Matter offers a hint at an event from history that happened on that day, followed by questions to help your students connect the event with something they know. Just as the big reveal tells what the event was, you can click Why does it matter? History becomes meaningful—and engaging—in context. Designed for middle grades, Dates That Matter appeals to students and parents alike. Engage the parents to Back to School night, too. Find more teaching ideas for DTM by clicking the little “I” at the end of the Why Does it Matter explanation. Share the Dates That Matter on your school or class web page!


Dress codes?
School rules about what students (and teachers) wear vary widely. Share the XW1W question for the week of August 17 to learn about schools far from yours: Do you have rules about what you may wear to school?  Why not make this the year you make a class Twitter account to learn from classes near and far? Your students can hear about life in other places and cultures through #XW1W. The Across the World Once a Week (#xw1w) project uses simple tweets (or links to blog posts) to share the responses to a weekly question. Help your class “see” what life is like in other places. It all works because of something called a hashtag. Learn how to get started with these simple directions and FAQ.


BYOD -- or please don't?
Bring Your Own Device programs are spreading. How comfortable are you with students bringing their own tech devices to class? Choose from the options in the poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Every class has students with different learning needs. As you get to know this year’s students, try ideas from TeachersFirst’s Differentiating Instruction: Ideas for individual differences for ideas from gifted to special needs as well as some terrific help for your ESL/ELL students. The Thinking Teachers have also pulled together a collection of Editors' Choice Tools for Pretests to help teachers know what students do (and don’t) know!


Collector editions
Did you know TeachersFirst pulls together special topics collections for many curriculum topics and events? Save yourself some time by browsing these collections. They are terrific for sharing a vetted list of resources with your students for a research activity or for student-directed learning. You will never gave to gather links again! If you can’t remember where to find them (the Classroom Resource menu >> see Special Topics in the left sidebar), you can always search for the curriculum topic from the search box on any page.


Time savers for “odd” jobs
Teachers love to save time, and we have just the gadgets to help. Looking for a handy, dandy way to share a file, make an online teleprompter, or accomplish some other “odd job”? Check out this collection of online tools to get the job done. Use your free TeachersFirst membership to mark the ones you like as Favorites. It’s sort of like having a drawerful of clever kitchen gadgets at your fingertips!


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find new and “encore” features ideal for Back toSchool season:

  • A web site reading level checker
  • A seating chart maker
  • Noise control
  • Behavior management
  • Easy messaging working on update before/after call
  • to parents (and students)
  • Math diagnostics
  • Lesson flow planning
  • To Do list organization
  • Online signups
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this August 24 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived August 17 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.


May you rev up your teaching engine this week!

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