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September 2, 2013

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

Labor Day began as a celebration of those who work hard. Teachers certainly know the meaning of hard work! May this long holiday weekend give you time to not only honor your own hard work, but also to think about the impact your work has on so many students past, present, and future. Don’t forget to enjoy a picnic or ball game, too!


 The right foot
Get students off on the right foot by encouraging effective study skills right form the start. TeachersFirst’s Study skills Resources include specific study tools, reading strategies, review ideas, and notetaking methods that students and teachers can try as lessons in themselves or—even better—as they go about the regular curriculum. Make good study skills part of the routine in your classroom. Be sure to share these ideas with parents, as well. Don’t wait until the first parent conference to offer positive support and prevent poor grades.


Timely, trusted
Plan for now for upcoming events with timely, trusted resources, collected just for you in TeachersFirst’s handy Classroom Planning Calendar. Did you know Rosh Hashanah and Grandparent’s Day are coming soon? September 17 is Constitution Day.


Share the best
Share the latest educator-reviewed resources on YOUR class web page. We now offer an embeddable widget with the weekly Featured Sites, usable on any teacher or edtech web page. Your colleagues and parents will think YOU went out to find the latest and best. They will thank you for sharing such “great stuff”!  If you know how to copy and paste to use an embed code, you can choose from two widget options. (Don’t know how? Try this resource to help you out.) Our embeddable widgets are free and available for use by any teacher, library/media specialist, edtech coach, ITRT, etc. to use on your school or teacher web site, wiki, or blog. Note that the widget may NOT be used as part of any fee-based or commercial site.  Thank you to an instructional technology specialist from Michigan who made this suggestion to TeachersFirst at the ISTE conference in San Antonio.


Seeing is Reading
September is the month for graphic novels, wordless books, and other “visual” reading from TogetheRead, the family literacy feature from our sister site, TeachersAndFamilies.  See reading a whole new way as a family! TogetheRead offers monthly themes for family literacy (for ALL ages, not just little ones). Find free book suggestions and activity ideas for all ages and prompts to build effective reading strategies as families share reading time together or individually. Include TogetheRead in your class web page or online school newsletter to encourage parent involvement.


Encourage meaningful reading
What better way to build student background knowledge than with independent reading that they LIKE? TeachersFirst’s CurriConnects reading lists offer leveled books to interest students and support many areas of the curriculum, from math to science and social studies. CurriConnects suggestions include informational texts as recommended by Common Core. See all the CurriConnects topics here. Our latest addition: By the People, books about being an involved citizen and learning how the (U.S.) government works. Beef up civics and citizens with CurriConnects. Constitution Day is coming!



OK2Ask® to come
We have wrapped up a record-breaking summer of OK2Ask® The spring and summer archives are available for you to view, rewind, and view again. Learn more about OK2Ask, our series of FREE online “snack sessions” for teacher self-directed professional development, including FAQs. We have exciting OK2Ask topics planned for 2013-14, including BYOD/BYOT, a Google series, and Common Core. We will announce the OK2Ask® fall schedule VERY soon.


Farms and schools
Extend your classroom this year by sharing the details of everyday life where you live with classrooms around the world. Invite a teacher friend to join the #XW1W project with you! See and share responses from people in other places via Across the World Once a Week (#xw1w). Your responses about life where you live help others learn—and vice versa. This quick activity uses microblogging and something called a hashtag. It’s easy! Get started now with these simple directions and FAQ. XW1W for the week of September 1: How far is your school from the closest farm?


Tech by the numbers
Technology availability and use vary greatly from classroom to classroom and school to school. What percentage of time do your STUDENTS actively use technology in class? Share your estimate in the teacher poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find words, maps, and new ways to learn:

  • World War II through two new lenses: the Blitz and the Manhattan Project
  • English words and their use
  • A fabulous tool to “translate” difficult text
  • Quote posters - instantly
  • A math reasoning assessment
  • Current events - by students
  • A powerful research tool
  • An amazing human anatomy site
  • Curriculum-related video and audio clips
  • A geographic guessing game
  • Drama!
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this September 8 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived September 1 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.


May you witness the fruits of your labors this week and in the months to come.

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