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September 8, 2014

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

September should be called SepTEAMber. This is the time to build teamwork between home and school; among parent, student, and teacher. As you team up to learn together, find ideas to share with parents amid the resources on TeachersFirst, including in many of our reviews. TeachersFirst welcomes all to the team!


OK2Ask® to come
We had a record-breaking summer of OK2Ask® The spring and summer archives are available for you to view, rewind, and view again. Learn more about OK2Ask, our series of FREE online “snack sessions” for teacher self-directed professional development, including FAQs. We have planned a full school year of OK2Ask topics for 2014-15.  View/download the full 2014-15 schedule (a pdf) now. Registration for fall sessions opens next week.


Parent involvement poll
We all now how much impact parent involvement makes, but many of us struggle to get the parents to COME to school.  This week’s teacher poll asks: About what percentage of your school parents show up at Back to School Night/Open House? Respond on the TeachersFirst home page.


Speaking of parents
Whether or not they come to Back to School night or Open House, parents can contribute to their child’s learning. Sometimes they just need help knowing HOW. TeachersFirst’s Ideas for Working Together with Parents offers resources and more to support your students together. Why not share some of the resources on your class web page or wiki? Click “Link” on any TeachersFirst review to copy the direct url and share it on your web page.


Messes and dirty jobs!
The September theme from our sister site. TogetheRead, is Messes and Dirty Jobs. TogetheRead provides a list of recommended books, questions, and activities designed to build stronger readers. The themes include books for all ages, centered around the same theme. Parents find questions to ask as the family reads, deepening comprehension before, during, and after reading. Included are free and low-cost ideas for activities families can do together, as well. TogetheRead involves the entire family in supporting literacy.


Assessing “success”
Sometimes a test or quiz just isn’t the best way to assess learning, especially of the task is more open-ended and deeper-thinking! How to assess? Rubrics to the Rescue! Find ideas and suggestions to customize rubrics to individual needs and easy to use tools to find or create rubrics that fit your needs. The extra bonus: if students (and parents) see the rubric before they start the task, everyone is on the same path toward success!


Prepare for the Mission!
Globetracker’s Mission: Finding Dewey returns NEXT WEEK in its preview episode for the 2014-15 school year. Follow the travels of teens Geo and Meri as they traverse seven continents and blog about it along the way. Your students in gr 2-6 social studies get to vote on their next steps! Teachers tell us Globetracker’s Mission has proven to be a more effective, engaging way for students to master standards-aligned map skills, landforms, and geography terms and concepts, making students more curious about maps, geography, and social studies. Set aside time in your plans. You don’t want to miss the Mission!


Planning ahead
Plan for now for upcoming events with timely, trusted resources, collected just for you in TeachersFirst’s handy Classroom Planning Calendar. Find resources for the 9/11 anniversary, Constitution Day (Sept 17), the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept 15), and Rosh Hashanah.


Breakfast beverage?
Life is not the same across the U.S., much less across the world! Share the XW1W question for the week of September 7 to learn how others start their day: What beverage do you drink at breakfast?  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.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find:

  • STEM in the real world
  • Synonyms and antonyms
  • A powerful portfolio tool
  • Creating graphs to model an action
  • JFK
  • A video combo/editor
  • Ancient Egypt
  • Art tutorials
  • Thought-provoking “wonders”
  • Do’s and don’ts for the start of the school year
  • Customized home pages
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this Sept 14 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived September 7 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.

May you add new members to your learning team this week!

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