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Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers™

Many U.S. schools have a long weekend or a longer break this week. As we celebrate Presidents Day, TeachersFirst thanks you for the way you model leadership for your students. It’s often our unwritten lessons that stick the most.

Are they ready?
Are the students who arrive at your school ready for the rigors they face? Your opinions can help shape the future of early education and school readiness for all. TeachersFirst’s non-profit parent company, The Source for Learning, Inc., is collaborating with the National Head Start Association on a School Readiness Summit to expand and deepen the connection between national school readiness goals, Common Core, and Head Start programs around the country. We need opinions from educators at all levels about school readiness. You wish your students would come to you better prepared, even in high school. Share your opinions about where they start. Please help by responding to this survey prior to March 20.


YouTube help
If your school blocks YouTube (and many do), you might want to share this information about YouTube for Schools, a way that your tech folks can unblock ONLY the educational content within YouTube. This process does require cooperation of your technology coordinator and YouTube to set up the “safe” space.  It cannot be done by a savvy teacher alone. Why not share this information in a friendly way in hopes that your classes could use YouTube videos without teacher monitoring or teacher-only access. Your technology director’s concerns may have more to do with using lots of network bandwidth than filtering out “bad” videos, but it is worth a try. If you are reading this at school, the links to YouTube for Schools probably won't work. Read this paragraph at home or simply copy/paste this entire link: YouTube for Schools and paste into an email to your tech folks! Want to know more about web filters? See Sifting Through the Filters.


Earn the shirt: Thinking Teacher
Your free TeachersFirst membership allows you to rate and comment on reviewed resources. Tell others how you used it in your class. Each month we draw a teacher name from among those who submit helpful comments on TeachersFirst. The winner receives a Thinking Teacher T-shirt. Speak up and win!


Timely feedback?
How quickly do you grade and return a class writing assignment? Click your thoughts on the weekly poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


February leaps to March
Find resources just in time for Presidents Day and February observances like Dental Health Month and Black History Month. March blows in soon with Dr. Seuss’s birthday, Women's History Month, and Music in our Schools Month, among other events. Plan ahead with the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar : trusted resources at all levels.


In plain(s) sight?
Geo and Meri are in the plains this week on Globetracker’s Mission. Help them as they search for Louie and learn about standards-based map skills, geography.  Follow their Globetracker’s Mission blog and vote for their next move. Searching for the elusive Louie has taken them all over the U.S., and still they have not caught the elusive cartographer.


OK2Ask®: nutrition for your teaching mind
This Tuesday is our single session on Google Docs forms and documents. Coming soon are sessions to learn more about the FREE “riches” within TeachersFirst. Later in March is a new offering featuring some of our editors’ favorite tools to create projects. Don’t miss these upcoming OK2Ask® sessions: free, online teacher professional development “snack sessions” to “consume” from the comfort of your own computer. See the full OK2Ask® schedule.

Google Docs: A focused workshop on Google docs Forms and Documents ONLY; Tuesday, February 21, 2012; at 6:00-8:00 pm EDT. Registrations look pretty full, but we welcome “standby” arrivals PROMPTLY at session time. Read the details and find the link to enter the session

Great Ideas: Exploring the Resources of TeachersFirst 3.0 to Plan Effective, Technology-Infused Lessons; Thursday, March 8, 2012 at two times; Read the details and register.

Editors’ Choices from the TeachersFirst Edge: TeachersFirst Editors’ Top Picks;  Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at two times; Read the details and register.


Resources, iPads, and Flash
Many (fortunate) schools are receiving tablets (iPad or other) to use in the classroom. Of course you want to know which web resources work best on these devices. You may have some apps on the devices, but what about all the FREE resources you have found on TeachersFirst? Since sites that use Flash usually will not work on iPads and other iOS devices, TeachersFirst has added a red Flash notice that shows when you view the TeachersFirst resource reviews of Flash-enable sites ON these devices. It tells you that “this resource uses Flash and may not work on your device. “ Any time you look at a TeachersFirst review on ANY computer or device, there is a small, orange f icon and message at the end of our full review to indicate those that require Flash. In any case, it is always wise to pre-test web sites on the tablet or mobile device you plan to use with students. As technology evolves so rapidly and web sites change, that is the only way to know for sure.


Around the World Once a Week (#xw1w)
XW1W  for the week of Feb 19: How many layers do you wear outside in your coldest weather? 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 terrific tools and learning sites for all levels:

  • A trio of infographics resources and tools to learn visually
  • A tool to brainstorm and decide collaboratively
  • How to sing!
  • News stories by and for kids
  • Sustainability to explore interactively
  • A perimeter “party”!
  • An addictive logic challenge
  • Vocabulary practice with a twist
  • Two sites to help with writing, including lab reports

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


Sculpt some leaders this week. We need all the good ones we can get, worldwide and for years to come!


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