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Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers™

Every August I gain new respect for the teaching profession. As I work with teachers gearing up for new initiatives, they ask some of the best questions I have ever heard—even better than those asked by hundreds of gifted students I taught over the years. If you know a teacher who deserves respect for his/her thought-provoking questions and self-motivated professionalism, thank him/her for teaching alongside you. We all need to notice the truly great teachers, especially when the media seem to overlook them. Thank you to my Thinking Teacher colleagues. You make me want to learn more every day.


Every teacher longs for it. TeachersFirst responds by sharing our editors’ choice timesavers and organizational tools for teachers. They include "utility" sites for teaching tasks such as seating charts, rubrics, and certificates. Other tools facilitate parent communication, such as text messaging or online conferencing. This is our back to school gift to all time-deprived, Thinking Teachers.


Front and Center: Ready to Go
Chances are, you go to your favorite places on TeachersFirst and never look at the home page. Before the new school year goes too far, take the time to notice the bottom center “pod” on the TeachersFirst home page: Classroom Ready to Go.  Click to cycle through our most popular student-ready TeachersFirst exclusives: Weekly Brain Twister, Dates That Matter, the Interactive Raven, the interactive Highwaymen, and—returning mid-September—Globetracker’s Mission. Or click to browse our entire collection of Ready to Go activities.


First Day?
How about an icebreaker? First week? Be sure to include a “getting to know you” activity. If your bulletin boards are still empty, try TeachersFirst’s thought-provoking Bulletin Board Hang-ups. Then help parents and students get off on the right foot together by sharing Study Skills resources. This is the perfect link to share on your class web page or wiki! Invite parents to help build a firm foundation for the year.


9/11, Grandparents, and the Constitution
September will sneak up on us before we know it. Take the time now to mark a few Favorites (using your free TeachersFirst membership) for the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, celebrating Constitution Day, or gift ideas for Grandparents Day. Where can you find all this and more? The TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar, of course. Now that’s a link worth sharing with your friends or pinning in Pinterest.


Teacher skeptics, read this
Teachers are natural skeptics (or maybe you call it “critical thinkers”?). Before you share TeachersFirst with a friend, why not share the story behind how we stay free? If ever there were a heartwarming way to tell teachers how much they matter, this is it. Read and share “How TeachersFirst Stays Free.”


Across the World Once a Week (#xw1w)
Make THIS the year you connect with other classrooms ’round the world—easily. 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.
XW1W for the week of August 19: What beverage do you drink at breakfast? 


Last chance
This week brings the last two of our summer OK2Ask® free, live, online professional development “snack sessions.” Read the full descriptions and sign up to join us:

Great Ideas: Exploring the Resources of TeachersFirst 3.0 to Plan Effective, Technology-Infused Lessons
Tues August 21; 7:00 - 8:15 EDT

Web Worries: What teachers should know about online behavior; 
Thurs August 23; 7:00 - 8:15 EDT

Coming soon: The full schedule for 2012-13 OK2Ask® sessions, September through May.


Speed Check
A group of edtech folks is trying to collect real data on the state of Internet connectivity in U.S. schools. Fill out a form to join the efforts for a quick September click-test of your school’s bandwidth. No geekiness required. This data collection will support your teaching efforts and provide ammunition for those seeking improved connections for underserved classrooms. Pass it on.


Tell us what you want...
 If you could add one thing to your classroom, which would it be? Click your choice in the weekly poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find unusual approaches, useful ideas, and new views.

  • Parts of speech
  • Great eBook info and tools
  • Comics for teaching and learning
  • A White House tour (include with Election 2012?)
  • Polar bears
  • School subject videos
  • Animal iconography
  • Recycling
  • Cool image and Google Earth tools
  • And more!

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this August 26 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived August 19 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.

May your week offer the opportunity to thank a Thinking Teacher—and the gift of some unexpected free time.

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