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December 16, 2013

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

In December, everyone asks for donations. Teachers try to model generosity by planning service projects, charity drives, and lessons about giving. This TeachersFirst Update suggests ways you can “give” to us, but none will cost money. In return, we promise to keep giving you ideas and resources to use through the holidays and all year long.


Just ONE favor?
After all that TeachersFirst does for you, can you spare a few minutes to applaud our editor? You can give back to TeachersFirst with one vote. Our editor’s blog, Think Like a Teacher, is a finalist for Best Individual Blog in the tenth annual Edublog Awards. This is a great honor for us. Please help other educators “discover” the Thinking Teachers of TeachersFirst by bumping us up in the voting! Follow the directions in this post to VOTE for Think Like a Teacher. Voting requires that you log in using Facebook, Twitter, or other service. The voting deadline is December 18. As you view the many nominees in several categories on the Edublog awards site, bookmark the nominees for some inspiring reading—when you have time after the holidays!


Who is on your gift list?
If you need ideas to create free, meaningful gifts don’t miss Special Occasion Ideas for the Classroom: TeachersFirst Editors' Choices. This collection of reviewed tools has dozens of ideas for you (or your students) to create, write, and learn at the same time. Don’t forget the helpful school personnel who make your life better. Why not send a class creation to the school secretary or cafeteria workers? ‘Tis the season!


Time savers for a busy season
Need teaching ideas for the Dec 17 anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ flight? Find teaching resources to include Christmas in lessons or to teach about Kwanzaa. Help students plan for the New Year using these “resolute” resources. Turn to the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar for timely help any time.


Donate by shopping
Take an online shopping moment to donate to TeachersFirst—at no cost to you! “Shop” a donation our way by doing some holiday shopping on Amazon. Just be sure to enter the Amazon site via the link at the bottom of our How TeachersFirst Stays Free page, and complete your purchase during that visit. TeachersFirst earns a percentage of the profits from your purchases completed via this entry point. Help us maintain our free, ad-free service to teachers. Our non-profit parent company, The Source for Learning, appreciates your help.


Best (Christmas) lesson ever
TeachersFirst’s Giving Tree lesson is one of our most popular pages every year. Find out why teachers all over the world use this lesson and suggest it to their colleagues. Students from kindergarten to high school respond to the message of the Shel Silverstein classic. What would your students like to give/receive? Bring meaning to the season in your class with The Giving Tree. You can even make it fit into your curriculum!

More on the Core
We have a new installment in our series of articles about implementing Common Core in elementary grades. Common Core Connections: The Power of Poetry shares ideas for including poetry throughout the year or as a separate unit. If you thought poetry had to disappear with Common Core’s emphasis on informational texts, this article will show you how poetry fits in the Common Core classroom.


Web pages and wikis
The TeachersFirst Edge is a terrific toolbox—all free—with trustworthy options for BYOD or 1:1 programs, carefully reviewed by Thinking Teachers who know classroom realities. Find online tools (many with free app versions) to help you and your students accomplish tasks. Create projects and some simply make your digital life a little easier. Choose from tool categories at the left. Click Web Page Makers for tools for teachers and students to create an online presence (or portfolio). Select Wikis for tools to create web sites where users can contribute and edit the contents. If you don’t know what a wiki is, you might want to check out TeachersFirst’s Wiki Walk-Through, our acclaimed, teacher-friendly tutorial, a TeachersFirst Professional Exclusive.


New Year, new learning
2014 will be here before you know it. Why not start the year off with a chance to learn for free? OK2Ask® sessions resume in January, providing online professional development “snack sessions” for teachers everywhere. Register NOW for all sessions in January and February (all at 7:00pm Eastern time). Please be sure to READ the descriptions to be sure you have the prerequisites (if any) and/or technology comfort levels:

  • Great Timesavers; Mon. Jan 6, 2014
  • Sharing and Solutions for Technology Coaches; Thurs. Jan 16, 2014
  • Google Series (Part 3): Google for Every Classroom Tues. Jan. 21, 2014
  • Building Ethical Digital Citizens; Thurs. Jan. 30, 2014
  • Be the Best: Professional Resources; Thurs. Feb. 6, 2014
  • Google Series (Part 4): Using Google Templates; Tues. Feb 18, 2014
  • Juggling the BYOD or 1:1 Classroom; Mon. Feb 24, 2014


Not your tropical cruise!
Geo and Meri are crusing down the Mississippi this week on Globetracker’s Mission. Given the chilly weather lately, this will be a frosty one! The teens share new blog posts every Sunday so your students (grades 2-6) can learn standards-based geography, landforms, and major U.S. landmarks. Your students vote each week, telling the teens what to do next. If you miss an episode during holiday breaks or busy times, simply rewind using the <<episode link at the top.


Wrapped up in learning
Different cultures give gifts in different ways. Share the XW1W question for the week of December 15 in your class: What do you use to wrap gifts?  Help your students experience everyday life in far off places through #XW1W. Share with classrooms around the world. The Across the World Once a Week (#xw1w) project uses simple tweets or blog posts to share the responses to a weekly question and help you “see” what life is like in other places. It all works because of something called a hashtag. Get started now with these simple directions and FAQ.


A season of giving?
Does your class/school do a charity or service project during December? Tell us about it in the teacher poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find sophisticated information, terrific tools, and new ways to learn:

  • Digital “boxes” to inspire projects
  • News about learning, technology, and youth
  • An analytic close-up of U.S. demographics
  • A tool to annotate maps
  • Science and nature
  • Learning games for little ones
  • Air quality
  • A huge, searchable aggregator of online courses/videos
  • A new way to make sense of numbers
  • Math problems (and solutions) galore
  • Winter Olympics
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this December 22 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived December 15 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 unexpected acts of kindness in your classes this week.

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