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December 8, 2014

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

Make a list. Check it twice. We all have lists of lists during this busy season. TeachersFirst can help with handy resources and ready-made lessons. (Check out “Ready to go” on our home page!) Think of us as the list-master!


Donate by shopping
TeachersFirst gives much and asks for little in return. Take an online shopping moment this gift-giving season 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 Amazon 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.


Branching out
Decorate your students’ minds with one of TeachersFirst’s most popular and “evergreen” offerings, 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, too. You’ll be amazed what you learn about your students! The plan includes technology options.


Take flight
As the anniversary of the Wright Brothers flight approaches, what better time to take flight with reading? Whether you teach elementary or high school, science or social studies, help your students connect what they learn in class with their outside experiences, including their independent reading. TeachersFirst’s latest CurriConnects theme is Flight and Things That Fly. Learn how things fly—either by nature or human engineering! Read about birds, aircraft, and the people who have pioneered human flight. CurriConnects lists offer leveled books to support curriculum. You might even entice some reluctant readers by letting them choose from this list. Common Core asks for informational texts. We deliver! Get together with your school library/media specialist to take flight with literacy in science and social studies at all levels.


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!


New Year plans
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 a workshop or PD session in the New Year, 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.”


A busy month indeed
December is more than gift-giving season. We also observe 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.


Save some time
Did you know that TeachersFirst offers optional, free membership that will save you TIME? If you are not already a member, check out reasons for joining, such as a handy list of the latest new offerings in YOUR subject area(s) and handy tools to mark and tag Favorite resources. Why not give yourself the gift of time. Sign up now. Tell your teacher friends. They’ll thank you for it!


Resolve to learn something new
Registration is open and busy 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 plans over 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.


Bumpety bump
Geo and Meri take the bumpiest ride of their lives in Abuye and head to South 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.


Clean up
Families all have chores, and such daily realities are central to almost every culture. Share the XW1W question for the week of December 7 to learn about day to day life in other families: Who washes dishes at your home? 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.


We know teaching a new way can be scary, but is fear what prevents some teachers from trying something new? This week’s teacher poll asks, What do you think prevents teachers from integrating technology? Respond using the poll choices on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find:

  • Hour of Code resources!
  • Sounds we have lost
  • STEM and flying
  • A cool Twitter chat tool
  • Two great writing sites
  • Overlapping geography
  • A photo editor to “erase” backgrounds
  • Personalized practice sheets
  • Classification of living things
  • Shapes, area, and volume
  • Hands-on, interactive physics
  • A critical look at ad claims
  • 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 December 7 Features here, and don’t miss our many other recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured Sites page.


May your students compile long lists of the things they learn this week.

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