TeachersFirst Update Archives

Return to Update Archives List

December 23, 2013

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

Woohoo! It’s holiday break time! Rejoice and be merry! You are probably reading this long after we send it out. We know everyone is busy, so this is a combined edition of the Update for the weeks of December 22 and 29. If you don’t get a chance to read it until New Year’s, we have been waiting for your return to “reality” and the fresh start of a New Year.


Holiday schedule
As teachers and students leave for break, we will send this Update December 22 AND December 29.  Hopefully you will have time to read the latest somewhere during those two weeks. The Weekly Brain Twister changed on Friday, December 20 and will stay the same until a new one is posted Friday, January 3.


Proud as...
The Thinking Teachers of TeachersFirst are very pleased that FOUR members of our team have been accepted as presenters at the annual ISTE conference in Atlanta next June. Congratulations to Kevin Bower, Melissa Henning, Louise Maine, and yours truly. ISTE acceptances are not easy to come by, so we are thrilled! We hope to meet some of our southern and East Coast TeachersFirst members at the conference.


Last minute gifts?
Need teaching ideas or resources to hold the lid on for a last day before break? Include Christmas in lessons or teach about Kwanzaa. Or try TeachersFirst’s Giving Tree lesson, one of our most popular pages every year. Help students plan for the New Year using these “resolute” resources.  Plan ahead by adding some Snow Day Resources to your class web page for those inevitable school closures. Turn to the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar for timely help any time.


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.


New Year, new learning
Why not start off the New Year 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


Geo and Meri are on a family holiday in Hawaii! We all envy them as they get a brief break on Globetracker’s Mission.  Don’t worry, you won’t get far behind during break, and they will be back on the move soon. 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.


Family singers?
Different cultures value music in different ways. Share the XW1W question for the weeks of December 22 and 29 in your class: Does your family sing holiday music together? Help your students experience holidays 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.


Your gift of choice
Which "gift" would you to give to all your students?? Make your choice in the teacher poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find clever new tools, useful information, and new ways to engage your students as active participants in their own learning:

  • A trio of Mandela resources
  • Reading to excite elementary students
  • A great graphic organizer maker
  • Public debates
  • A brilliant tool for hashtagged collections
  • Vintage video about sand and coasts
  • Your clothing footprint
  • Modern art in video
  • Math videos in Spanish!
  • Freebie how-to’s and courses
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this January 5 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived December 22/29 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.

We wish you the very warmest of holidays—with laughter among those you love. As the New Year begins, we look forward to sharing our best ideas with all Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers.

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