TeachersFirst Update Archives

Return to Update Archives List


Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers™

Life is no picnic, except on Labor Day weekend. Take time for burgers and dogs, a last swim, and a family gathering during this unofficial end of summer. Before you know it, we’ll be roasting turkeys. Hang out in the hammock one more time.


Travel and learn
Our intrepid teens are at it again. Travel with Geo and Meri as they lead your social studies students (grades 2-6) on Globetracker’s Mission: Finding Dewey. The introductory episode is now online. You have a few weeks to introduce your students to Globetracker’s Mission during September. Episodes will then change weekly, beginning September 30. YOUR students vote each week to help Geo and Meri decide where to go next, as standards-aligned episodes continue through late April.

In a recent survey of teachers who have used Globetracker’s Mission, over 85% say it is more effective than other teaching materials and strategies in helping students master map skills, geography terms, and landforms. Well over 90% say the Mission helps students apply geography concepts in new situations and master higher level thinking concepts related to geography and social studies. 100% of teachers report that Globetracker’s Mission makes students more curious about maps, geography, and/or social studies. Want to create global citizens? Join Globetracker’s Mission in 2012-13.  Lose the link? It’s front and center on our home page under “Ready to go.”


Just getting started?
If your school is in the final wave, starting class after Labor Day, don’t miss this great collection of first day ideas from TeachersFirst. Even if you have been in class for a month, these getting-to-know-you ideas work well at other times during the year, as well. If you are a newbie teacher (or student teacher) just getting started in your career, we also have some tips for you. Come to TeachersFirst—first—to keep you on track.


Current Events
Just in time for a new school year—and election season, get The Scoop on Current Events (for grades K-6). Introduce basic concepts about the news and help students find kid-friendly news sources in this latest offering in our Help! I Lost my library/media specialist series. TeachersFirst will never fill those empty media specialist shoes, but at least we can share a few ideas each month.


Free family literacy
The September TogetheRead theme from our sister site, TeachersAndFamilies, is Problem Solvers. This free family literacy feature incorporates books on a common theme for readers of all ages, activity ideas to go along with the theme, and prompts to build effective reading strategies as families share reading.  Families will appreciate something they can do for FREE. Share TogetheRead with this year’s parents via a link on your class web page or online school newsletter, then give the book list to your local or school library for help finding the books for free. Through the magic of interlibrary loans, they may be able to locate many of the books. Teachers and librarians can also sign up for advanced notice up upcoming lists.


9/11, Grandparents, and the Constitution
September brings events like the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, Constitution Day, and Grandparents Day, just to name a few. Find resources for many occasions on the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar, definitely a link worth sharing with your teacher friends on Facebook (click the SHARE widget).


Lead the way as a follower
Teachers are leaders, not followers, but we can do amazing things with Twitter. This Labor day weekend, check out our Twitter for Teachers page. One place to start? Follow the Mars Curiosity rover via Twitter.  You do not need a Twitter account to read the latest from the Red Planet. NASA has three staffers sending messages designed to hook young scientists—and their teachers! Find more tweeting scientists in this week’s Featured Sites.


Across the World Once a Week (#xw1w)
Make THIS the year you connect with worldwide classrooms—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 with just a moment or two of class time. XW1W for the week of September 2: Do you ever have class outside? When? 


You ask, we help
Teachers need a place to learn comfortably, on their own time—without taking too much of it! That’s why TeachersFirst offers OK2Ask®: free, online professional development “snack sessions.” The full schedule for September 2012 to May, 2013, is now available.  Make this the year you learn—for YOU! Think of OK2Ask as virtual chocolate for the Thinking Teacher. We issue professional development certificates for those who participate fully. Registration is now open for the first session:

Great Timesavers: Tools and Tips to Maximize TeachersFirst’s free Membership; Monday September 24, 2012; 7:00- 8:15pm (EDT)


Lines of Communication  
What is the easiest way for you to communicate with parents? Click your choice in the weekly poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Speed Check
How good is your school Internet connection really? A group of edtech folks is trying to collect real data on the true state of Internet connectivity in U.S. classrooms. 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 to improve connections for underserved classrooms. Pass it on.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, discover sights, sounds, and more:

  • Two timely finds for American elections
  • Memories of September 11
  • Copyright-safe music and image sites
  • Math videos and ideas for “Flipped” classrooms
  • A very quick polling tool
  • Oceans for little ones
  • Sensational science for many grade levels
  • Podcasts to remix
  • An amazing look at agriculture

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this Sept 9 or later, you link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived September 2 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.


Enjoy the four-day week this week!


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