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December 22, 2014

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

As I conclude my career with TeachersFirst, my gift to you this holiday season is a collection of my all-time favorite “Featured Sites.” Though not new to TeachersFirst, these are the resources I deem to be tried and true “bests” from our collection of over 16,000. I hope you will enjoy these creative, useful, and highly visual treasures. Stay tuned for Part 2 of the list in the January 4 Update.


Holiday “hiatus”
TeachersFirst knows how hard it is to keep track of email during the holidays. This Update will come out on both December 21 and Dec 28 in hopes you have a chance to read it sometime during your holiday break. The weekly Brain Twisters that went online Friday, December 19 will remain online for two weeks until Friday, January 2.


A timely gift
There is still time to give a teaching colleague the perfect gift. Show them TeachersFirst! Take 2 minutes to share the home page and your favorite places within our site. Then point out the What's Popular page (under the What’s Hot menu). They will love seeing which TeachersFirst resources teachers have marked as Favorites most often during the last 60 days. TeachersFirst is one gift your friend will never return for a refund!


Common Core: What’s the fuss?
Even if you do not teach in a Common Core state, you have probably heard everyone talking about close reading and non-fiction. Demystify the Common Core with our helpful article for elementary teachers, Common Core: The Fuss Over Non-Fiction. This Q/A article will help you to make sense of this shift and provide you with some practical tips and resources to get started. Even middle and high school teachers will find helpful information for implementing (and improving their implementation) of CCSS.


New Year, new PD
The New Year will be here before you know it, and with it come many new offerings from OK2Ask. Register now 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.) For a full preview of offerings through May, check out this pdf. All sessions meet from 7:00-8:30 pm EASTERN time.


Now and later
We are about to hit the peak of gift-giving season. You may have already wrapped up celebrations of Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa. Find resources for the New Year and calendar-related learning throughout 2015 in the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar.


Morocco and more
Geo and Meri are Morocco and heading to New Zealand before the New Year on Globetracker's Mission. The teens will pause their travels there until January 4. Resolve now to take your adventurers in grades 2-6 on the Mission in 2015 to learn map skills, geography, landmarks, landforms, and much more through the teens’ blogging adventure. 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.


Your New Year
The new Year has varied customs in different cultures. Share the XW1W question for the weeks of December 21 and 28: What do you do on New Year's Day? 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.


New Year, new wish
This week’s teacher poll asks you to share your wishes for the New Year: What is your teaching wish for the New Year? Choose from the poll choices on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find batch #1 of our editor’s all time favorites, some for writing, some using maps, mapping, and some very useful (or cool) tools:

  • A Choose Your Own Adventure writing tool
  • A favorite online, interactive book creator
  • A unique “look” at story writing
  • Old time photos on a map
  • A game to guess the location and a tool to create your own such games
  • Tools for note-taking, collecting
  • Creative multi-media makers
  • The BEST way to collect and share links
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this January 4 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived December 21-28 Features here, and don’t miss our many other recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured Sites page.

May your holidays be festive and the New Year open many new possibilities.

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