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Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers™

Think of winter as a time for “comfort learning.” Like comfort food, learning can be familiar and substantial, sticking to the brain  the way macaroni and cheese sticks to the ribs. Try out some new recipes, courtesy of TeachersFirst.


Let it snow...maybe
If you teach in a snow-prone area, you know the frustration (and delight) of snow days.  These sudden interruptions can halt progress on learning and also charm us with the beauty and uniqueness of snowflakes. TeachersFirst’s Snow Day Resources include tools for “meeting” with your students while they are at home and creative ideas for making snow the topic that keeps learning happening. Explore the opportunities inherent in snow days! (Even if you teach in a warm climate, you’ll find ideas you can use).


Tried and True Tips
Sometimes technology bring along barriers and frustrations. TeachersFirst Edge offers three sets of tried and true tips to help. This page offers general tips for using web 2.0 tools in your classroom. This page addresses specific features of some web tools, such as student registration or public interaction. Been There Done That shares Thinking Teachers’ suggestions for making technology-infused lessons run smoothly. Share these with your techno-timid colleagues.


Busy learning
Winter is another busy time: mid-year exams for some schools, projects and winter activities in others. Soon it will be the 100th day of school. February brings Groundhog Day,  Dental Health Month and Black History Month. Find these and other collections in the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar for just-in-time, trusted resources for any upcoming event.


Do the twist
Want an extra credit or enrichment challenge for your elementary or middle school students? Try TeachersFirst’s weekly Brain Twister. The quizzes change every Friday for both elementary and middle school. It works on iPads, iTouches, laptops, or a computer cluster to refresh concepts across math, language arts, social studies, science, and current events. Reinforce problem solving and cooperation skills. Include the link on your class web page for snow days. (Tip: TeachersFirst members can mark it as a Fav from this review). The Twister is handy under Ready to Go on the TeachersFirst home page.


Show up at home!
Did you ever notice the teacher comments in the left column of the TeachersFirst home page? This rotation of comments comes from our members. If you have a helpful comment (or constructive criticism) about a TeachersFirst resource, be sure to share it as part of your free membership. We are looking for the most helpful comment of the month. Win a Thinking Teacher T-shirt*! (Note that comments are moderated so will not appear instantly.) *Make sure to set your email to allow mail from addresses @sflinc.org.  If our prize notice goes to junk email, we won’t be able to contact you or send your shirt!


Lone Star stop
Geo and Meri are stopping in the Lone Star state this week on Globetracker’s Mission. Check out the mission for standards-based map skills, geography, and more in an engaging and clever weekly format.


BEST way to learn
Teachers love OK2Ask®. Meet other teachers and learn together in our online teacher professional development “snack sessions.” And they are FREE! See the full OK2Ask® schedule. Sign up now:

This MONDAY, Jan 23:
The Best of the Best: A tour of 6-10 TeachersFirst Editors' Choice resources with in-depth ideas for how to use them; Read the details  There is still room to show up a few minutes early and log in as a “standby” attendee.  See what has the TeachersFirst editors excited!

Guided Wiki Walk: Step by step to create your own classroom wiki (TWO session workshop with “homework” between); Jan 30 AND Feb 6, 2012; Read the details and register

Google Docs: A focused workshop on Google docs Forms and Documents ONLY;
Extended session at ONE time; Tuesday, February 21, 2012; Read the details and register



Teacher Poll
How is your school budget to attend conferences this year? Share your thoughts on the weekly poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Around the World Once a Week (#xw1w)
XW1W  for the week of January 22: How often do you eat meat? 
Across the World Once a Week (XW1W) uses microblogging or blogging tools to share responses about everyday life from any corner of the world. The XW1W FAQ page explains it all. Make today’s instant communications an instant learning experience.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find many “cool tools” and some great ways to connect classroom content to a meaningful “outside world”:

  • People who use math
  • Arts connections
  • Songs for learning science and more
  • Tools for chat, mindmaps, and more
  • Cybersafety realities
  • A narrated presentation tool
  • A web page sharing/annotation tool
  • Vocabulary and spelling

And more. Don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.


May the pasta of learning stick to the walls—and brains—in your classroom this week.


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