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December 1, 2014

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

Welcome back to school—and the most manic time of the year! As you try to achieve balance with special school projects, everyday lessons, and personal holiday preparations, let TeachersFirst help with great resources and some refreshing ideas to control the mania.


Planning to give
One of TeachersFirst’s most popular and “evergreen” offerings is our lesson based on Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. This lesson can be adapted for use in language arts class with students of varying ability levels in grades 2 - 8. This lesson is also well-suited to a multi-age activity with "big buddies" and "little buddies" from upper and lower grades working together. We know many high school teachers use it, as well. Check it out now to include it in your upcoming plans. There are even technology options to try.


Donate by shopping
Take an online shopping moment to donate to TeachersFirst—at no cost to you! “Shop” a donation our way by doing some holiday shopping on Amazon. Just be sure to enter the Amazon site via the link at the bottom of our How TeachersFirst Stays Free page, and complete your purchase during that visit. TeachersFirst earns a percentage of the profits from your purchases completed via this entry point. Help us maintain our free, ad-free service to teachers. Our non-profit parent company, The Source for Learning, appreciates your help.


See it to understand it
Infographics are everywhere. We see them in magazines, Facebook posts, tweets, and posters, explaining ideas in a visual format we expect in todays media. Make infographics a tool for your students to explain what they learn. TeachersFirst’s collection of resources for creating and understanding infographics includes options from simple to sophisticated. Infographics can function as content scaffold and creative, formative assessment. This extensive article tells the story of how one Biology teacher uses them. Share infographics for your students to “show what you know”!


A little Christmas, wrapped up in some history and literature
If you study the Victorian era or Charles Dickens, you’ll love our collection of Victorian Christmas resources to make history come to life. Plan a truly Victorian experience!


December dates
December marks the official “opening” of gift-giving season, observances for Pearl Harbor Day, and the anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ flight. Later in the month are celebrations of Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa. Look for these and more calendar-related resources throughout the year.


Do something for YOU in the New Year
Registration opens December 1 for OK2Ask® winter offerings (January and February sessions). Read our FAQ for general information about certificates, etc.  Then explore the catalog of winter offerings. Please be sure to read the detailed descriptions and suggested technology comfort levels BEFORE you register for the best match for your learning needs. (MARK YOUR 2015 calendar so you do not forget your just-for-me plans after the hectic holidays.) For a full preview of offerings through spring, check out this pdf. All sessions meet from 7:00-8:30 pm EASTERN time.


Three of seven
Geo and Meri are heading to Ethiopia and learning about Africa this week on Globetracker's Mission. This is the third of seven continents they will visit between now and early May. Vote to help them decide their next move at the end of each weekly episode. Invite your students in grades 2-6 to learn map skills, geography, landmarks, landforms, and much more through the teens’ blogging adventure. (Yes, the mission will pause over winter break.) Check out complete teacher information, standards, and lesson ideas for using the mission. There are even Google Earth files for you to “watch” the Mission unfold. For extra fun, set your class Twitter account to follow the teens Twitter account, @geoandmeri.


Beyond family
Holidays and gift-giving are central to almost every culture. Share the XW1W question for the week of November 30 to learn about holidays in other places and families: Do you give gifts to people outside your family? When/why? 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.


Making the grade
You give grades all the time. This week’s teacher poll asks, Do you ever have your students grade you? Respond using the poll choices on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find simulations and interactives for learning:

  • Pearl Harbor explained
  • Simulations for energy and the Middle East
  • A wonderful www retrospective
  • U.S. National Parks your way
  • An emergency simulator for CPR and more
  • A STEM challenge based on nature
  • Financial literacy and real life
  • Pattern block activities for free
  • Two terrific math sites for upper grades
  • A great online dictionary—with filters
  • An image discussion tool
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this December 7 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived November 30 Features here, and don’t miss our many other recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured Sites page.

May you and your students return from Thanksgiving break well rested and ready to learn.

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