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October 20, 2014

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

For some reason, October always seems busier than other times of the year. Maybe it’s the leaves piling up on the lawn or all the special fall events. Maybe it’s preparing for end of the marking period and parent conferences. As you rake up the leaves and dig through the piles of projects to be graded, let TeachersFirst help you prepare for the next round. More leaves start coming down the minute you turn your back!


Poe made personal
Students learn best when they can explore and learn actively and personally. Check out The Interactive Raven to challenge your students to explore literary devices on their own devices or school laptops, making poetry a hands-on experience. Even the vocabulary is interactive. October is the perfect time for Poe!


Looking ahead
November is Native American Heritage Month. Our collection of resources for this observance spans all grades. Many schools also celebrate Native Americans as part of Thanksgiving observances. One of the most popular resource on TeachersFirst is our Native American Crafts Unit, including directions for making corn husk dolls and dreamcatchers. Take a look at these activities as you plan for November.


Election Day!
Election Day is just weeks away (November 4). Bring the election buzz into your classroom with TeachersFirst's Resources for Elections. Help students build their personal understanding of the election process through class activities using these resources and by choosing a book for independent reading from our CurriConnects We The People leveled booklist.


OK2Ask® for your treat bag
Choose your own “treats” with no tricks from OK2Ask®, our series of free, LIVE, online “snack sessions” for teacher self-directed professional development. Registration is open for 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:

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.


Workshop planning
Are you a professional development trainer, graduate professor, or ed tech coach for your school? Do you work with Thinking Teachers? If you plan to feature TeachersFirst at an upcoming workshop or PD session, you can request materials to share by filling out this online form. As a free service from a non-profit, TeachersFirst relies on word of mouth from connectors like you to “get the word out.”


October observances
‘Tis the season for Fall Festivals and Halloween festivities (if you have them). Coming up is Red Ribbon Week (Oct 23-31). The baseball playoffs are in full swing. 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.


Rock Family
If you teach the rock cycle in elementary grades, we have the lesson pans for you to teach about rocks using helpful online resources. Try this lesson plan to involve every student in your BYOD classroom or on class computers/netbooks. Did you know TeachersFirst has our own original lesson plans and units from elementary through high school? Check them all out here.


Conference preferences
We are starting into conference time. This week’s teacher poll asks: Which would you like MOST for parents to bring to parent-teacher conferences? Respond to the choices on the TeachersFirst home page.


Mystery month
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 during October by adding a little mystery to 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.


Windy City
Geo and Meri are on their way to the Windy City this week on Globetracker’s Mission, passing by some major landmarks on the way. 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.


Children and adults are digitally “connected” from everywhere. Share the XW1W question for the week of October 19 to learn about “connectedness” in other places and cultures: Who in your family is online MOST? 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 a wide variety of tools and information:

  • An Internet data infographic
  • Wall Street investing
  • Antibullying
  • Environmental explorations and resources
  • Free, advanced level videos
  • A summarizer tool
  • An online poster maker
  • A graphic organizer creator
  • Two handy classroom management tools
  • Dental health
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this Oct 26 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived October 19 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 jump into the learning you have raked together for them this week!

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