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September 15, 2014

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

Routines are important, and learning routines are vital to making our classrooms hum with new ideas. Whether you are looking for some fresheners to your routine after years of teaching or ideas for establishing routines in your brand new career, TeachersFirst helps Thinking Teachers—Teaching Thinkers—hum to yourselves as you watch the routines pay off.


We the People
September 17 is Constitution Day. Find reviewed resources to help you plan a lesson, or extend the discussion with By the People, a CurriConnects theme with books from picture book to adult level about what it means to be a citizen, how our government works, and the tough decisions that people make—both citizens and those who work in government. Use CurriConnects leveled lists to find books related to curriculum topics or subject areas. Build student literacy skills, reinforce the place of curriculum concepts in other contexts, and help students build the important reading strategy of connecting what they read to prior knowledge. Any student can find a book on the topic at the appropriate interest and Lexile® level.


OK2Ask® Fall registration is OPEN
September-November OK2ASK sessions, our series of FREE online “snack sessions” for teacher self-directed professional development, are now open for registration. Please be sure to read the detailed descriptions and suggested technology comfort levels so you can find the best match for your learning needs. Note that we have expanded all sessions to 90 minutes in response to teacher feedback. Learn more about OK2Ask, 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 winter and spring sessions will open a month or two in advance.


On the Road again- almost!
You have three weeks to get ready before Geo and Meri leave home the week of October 5. If you teach social studies (or gifted) in grades 2-6, take time to check out Globetracker’s Mission. The preview episode is online, along with teacher information, standards, and lesson ideas for using the mission. Introduce the Mission now. Then take your students on a journey throughout the seven continents from October through early May. New weekly episodes will show each Sunday, beginning October 5. Your votes determine what teen bloggers Geo and Meri do next. This engaging “blog” teaches map skills, geography, landmarks, landforms, and more as you follow the teens’ adventures. Accompanying Google Earth files let you “see” the Mission unfold. For extra fun, set your class account to follow Geo and Meri (@geoandmeri) on Twitter!


It’s time
Now that you know a little about your students, it is time to differentiate. You can already tell who needs an extra nudge and who needs a real stretch. TeachersFirst’s Differentiating Instruction: Ideas for individual differences will help you accomplish this challenging teaching task. Trying to reach a full range of multiple intelligences? Try some of these Examples to help recognize multiple intelligences.


Almost every teacher has ESL/ELL students at some time, and many of us have more and more students who struggle to learn in English. Find hints and strategies for your ESL/ELL learners in TeachersFirst’s Top Ten Tips for Working with ESL/ELL Students and Adapt-a-Strategy: Adjusting Lessons for ESL/ELL Students.


Project time?
Now that the school year is rolling, you have a firmer idea about when you are going to roll out the big projects. This week’s teacher poll asks: When do you assign your first major project for the year? Respond on the TeachersFirst home page.


Calendar convenience
We make planning for upcoming events easier, by offering convenient, trusted resources, collected just for you in TeachersFirst’s Classroom Planning Calendar. Find resources for Constitution Day (Sept 17), the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept 15), and Rosh Hashanah.


Make a date of it
Speaking of calendars, you can make every day matter for learning with Dates That Matter. Dates That Matter offers a new perspective on history by placing each day-in-history event in broader context and explaining its long-term impact. History is a fabric woven of many events, and Dates That Matter helps students see the full tapestry. Ideal for grades 6-9, Dates That Matter is also a delightful challenge for adults. Challenge the parents at Back to School night!


Garden to table?
Eating is part of our family life and our culture. Share the XW1W question for the week of September 14 to learn how where others get their food: Does your family grow any of your own food?  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 both useful and intriguing resources:

  • Two terrific Twitter resources
  • Differentiated math practice
  • Two great presentation tools
  • Music as a window on an era
  • A candy packaging challenge
  • Ancient Rome travel planning
  • Behavior Interventions
  • Visits to authors’ and artists’ homes
  • Test questions for practice
  • Fire Safety
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this Sept 21 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived September 14 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 yourself humming along as you watch your students learn this week.

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