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October 13, 2014

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

Columbus Day is a holiday for some schools and an inservice day for others. No matter what your schedule, teachers are perennial explorers seeking new places to learn. TeachersFirst voyages far and wide to find the best learning resources for both the adventurous and the cautious. We build activities and lessons to guide thoughtful discoveries. Join the exploration!


Hands-on Poe
October is the most popular time for classes to study Edgar Allen Poe’s scary classics, and The Interactive Raven challenges your students to explore literary devices on their own devices or school laptops, making poetry a hands-on experience. Even the vocabulary is interactive!


Dig into Explorers’ Graveyard
If you teach explorers, dig deeper this year with a new lesson idea for elementary (or middle) grades.  Classes typically study explorers around this time of the school year. Make your unit culminate just in time for Halloween (no mention of Halloween actually required). Create an explorers review project the whole school will enjoy. This assignment involves research, review, and creative writing.


Share the mystery
When the air turns cool and the leaves change color, many students begin to think about Halloween and spooky activities and stories. Capitalize on this interest in October with a focus on mysteries in your classroom.  Find mystery read-alouds and before-during-after reading activities in Sleuthing and Snooping:  Real and Imagined Mystery Read-alouds for grades K-6.



OK2Ask® coming up
Choose your professional learning during October and November with OK2Ask®, our series of free, LIVE, online “snack sessions” for teacher self-directed professional development. Registration is open or sessions though November. Please be sure to read the detailed descriptions and suggested technology comfort levels to find the best match for your learning needs. Read our FAQ for information about certificates, etc.  All sessions meet from 7:00-8:30 pm EASTERN time:

Great Ideas: Exploring the Resources of TeachersFirst to Plan Effective, Technology-Infused Lessons
Thursday October 16, 2014

Organizational Tools for You, Your Classroom, and Your Students
Thursday October 23, 2014

Google 6-Part Series (Part 2): Google Search Secrets 
Monday November 3, 2014
*Appropriate for teachers at Beginner to Intermediate technology comfort levels.

Great Timesavers: Tools and Tips to Maximize TeachersFirst’s Free Membership
Thursday November 13, 2014

Tech it Out: Twitter for Teachers (and the classroom)
Tuesday November 18, 2014
*Appropriate for teachers at Intermediate technology comfort levels.



Geo and Meri have traveled to the northwest side of North America this week on Globetracker’s Mission. Your votes decide their next move. Social studies students in grades 2-6 learn map skills, geography, landmarks, landforms, and more by following the teens’ blog-style adventure. Embark on the journey to visit seven continents from October through early May. New weekly episodes appear each Sunday. Don’t miss the accompanying teacher information, standards, and lesson ideas for using the mission. Included Google Earth files let you “watch” the Mission unfold. For extra fun, set your class Twitter account to follow the teens Twitter account, @geoandmeri.


NO bully for you!
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. As you use online resources with  comments and interaction, take the time to promote positive digital citizenship (no cyberbullying). Find resources for countering bullying both online and face to face in TeachersFirst's Bullying and Cyberbullying Prevention Resources.


October observances
October is International Dinosaur Month. This week is Columbus Day.  We are now in the season for Fall Festivals and Halloween festivities (if you have them). Later this month is Red Ribbon Week (Oct 23-31). We are already into the baseball playoffs and soon the World Series. Check out resources for these and other upcoming events in TeachersFirst’s Classroom Planning Calendar. You might even want to share some of them with your class parents.


Staying after school
Teachers work well beyond their required “day,” some at home, some at school. This week’s teacher poll asks: How many days a week do you stay at school later than required? Respond on the TeachersFirst home page.



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.


Night owls
Every family is different, but many share the same patterns. Share the XW1W question for the week of October 12 to learn what families do in other places and cultures: Who stays up latest at your house? 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 some unusual offering and handy gadgets:

  • A duo of outstanding history resources
  • World languages interactively
  • Sensational science for teachers
  • Jumping rope for health
  • A creative writing prompt tool
  • Free eBooks
  • Differentiated math -- as a game
  • U.S. population movement and demographics, state by state
  • A random name chooser
  • Ears explained
  • Tools for video, QR codes, and web annotations
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this Oct 19 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived October 12 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.


May you witness learning that is off the charts this week.

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