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September 29, 2014

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

This week we look forward to October smells of pumpkins and spice. Pumpkins look great but really don’t taste like much without some spice. Don’t let your teaching be a pretty pumpkin: nice to look at—but bland. Stir in some spice for learning flavor from TeachersFirst.


OK2Ask® is live!
If you prefer to learn live, with actual human beings but have no time to travel to a class, try OK2Ask®. This series of free, LIVE, online “snack sessions” for teacher self-directed professional development, runs throughout the school year. Registration is open for Sept-November sessions. Please be sure to read the detailed descriptions and suggested technology comfort levels to 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. View/download the full 2014-15 schedule (a PDF) now. Registration for winter and spring sessions opens a month or two prior to session dates.


An amazing opportunity
Are you a Thinking Teacher and ed tech coach (by whatever title)? Do you love helping teachers and students learn with technology? Read about an amazing career opportunity. Please pass the link along to others who might be interested. Do it NOW, before it is too late. Read one Thinking Teacher’s thoughts about it here.


One week to go
Geo and Meri will hit the road on Globetracker’s Mission on Sunday, October 5. Your social studies students in grades 2-6 will learn map skills, geography, landmarks, landforms, and more as you follow the teens’ blog-style adventures. Take time now to share the preview episode with your class. Don’t miss the accompanying teacher information, standards, and lesson ideas for using the mission. Embark on the journey with your students, visiting seven continents from October through early May. New weekly episodes appear each Sunday. Your votes determine what teen bloggers Geo and Meri will do next. Accompanying Google Earth files let you “watch” the Mission unfold. For extra fun, set your class Twitter account to follow Geo and Meri (@geoandmeri)!


Kids can’t learn if they are hungry. This week’s teacher poll asks: What percentage of your students would you estimate come to school hungry? Respond on the TeachersFirst home page.


Explorers’ Graveyard
If you teach explorers, this lesson idea is a must. Start planning now to have it culminate just in time for Halloween (no mention of Halloween actually required). Create a classroom review project that the whole school will enjoy. Typically, classrooms learn about Explorers to America around this time of the school year, with Halloween just around the corner. This assignment involves research, review, and creative writing.


It’s time
You know the gifted students in your class who need more, but keeping up with the extra help others need drains nearly all your energy. By October, you need strategies to stretch those gifted minds. TeachersFirst’s Nourishing Gifted Through Technology in Any Classroom gives you the tools, the tips, and the ideas to meet the needs of your gifted students without stretching you any further.


Convert it!
Need a Word doc, not a pdf? Need a different image format? Making your life a bit easier with reviewed file converter tools from the Edge. The TeachersFirst Edge features teacher-reviewed, free, online tools (many with free app versions) to help you and your students create projects or simply make your digital life little easier. Although we also list these tools under the appropriate subjects where they might fit, the little turquoise “E” icon in the review means this is a tool where you or you students can create or collaborate in making something of your own. Explore all the categories of the Edge, not just the file converters!


An October harvest
October arrives this week. Check out resources just in time on TeachersFirst’s Classroom Planning Calendar. Find resources for the continuation of National Hispanic Heritage Month, as well as for Yom Kippur, National Bullying Prevention Month and International Dinosaur Month. Of special interest to many elementary classes is Fire Prevention Week, October 5-11.  Don’t forget Columbus Day! Share these resources on your class web page for students to access both in and out of school.


On foot
We can learn about other cultures simply by looking at their clothing—and their feet! Share the XW1W question for the week of September 28 to learn about shoes in other places and cultures: How do your shoes fasten? 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 new tools and new topics:

  • A newer behavior management tool
  • A clever geographic mystery
  • Speech and Language lesson ideas
  • Biomimicry (find out what it is!)
  • Tools for memes, chat, animations, and projects
  • History to grab anyone’s attention
  • IWB resources for elementary
  • Teens and social media
  • Autism and parents
  • Authors speak
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this Oct 5 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived September 28 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.


May your students develop tastes for learning this week.

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