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Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers™

The days are certainly dark in the northern hemisphere. Many of us arrive at school in the dark and leave as the sun disappears. Thank goodness for the bright lights of holidays and the flurry of projects our classes are doing before winter break. As you manage the demands of keeping the “lights” on in your classrooms, let TeachersFirst be your energy saver.


Gifts that give twice
As you do your online holiday shopping, your gifts can give twice -- once to your friend/family and again to TeachersFirst—without spending an extra penny. Simply enter the Amazon site through the search box on our Suggested Reading page and finalize your Amazon purchase during that session. TeachersFirst will receive a portion of the proceeds to help support our free service to teachers. Remember that your purchase must be completed during a session that begins at the TeachersFirst entry point. Even Santa isn’t clever enough to make a gift count twice!


Words worth
Technology is a marvelous tool for vocabulary development, whether it is for science terminology, SAT prep, English language learning, or for those with speech/language deficits. TeachersFirst’s Vocabulary Development Resources collection offers creative tools and ideas to help students take charge of vocabulary learning. Don’t forget to click “more” to read all the ideas for each reviewed resource from the Thinking Teachers.


An Empty Library/Media Center?
Nothing can replace the expertise of the teacher-librarian who knows every student and connects teachers with resources. If your school has lost your library/media specialist due to budget cuts, TeachersFirst has a new feature to ease the pain: Help I Lost My Library/Media Specialist! We hope to fill part of the void with readalong ideas and activities for elementary classes written by an experienced (and creative) elementary library/media specialist. New offerings appear about once a month with books and ideas to use with your class or as suggestions for parent volunteers.


A lesson for all ages
TeachersFirst’s Giving Tree Lesson is one of our all-time most popular gifts for classes of all ages ‘round the world. Built on Shel Silverstein’s book, this lesson works with elementary to high school, driving home important messages about giving of oneself. Freshly revised with new technology options, the Giving Tree lesson plan is ready for your December plan book.


Wrapped up and ready for you!
Pearl Harbor day is this week. Fewer and fewer students even know anyone who can recount the events of that day. December 17 is the anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ historic flight. The month of December is designated as HIV/AIDS Awareness month. These and the more obvious holiday events of December fill our days with preparations and our classrooms with opportunities for learning and giving. Find resources quickly at the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar.


In the Windy City
Geo and Meri are chillin’ in the windy city this week as they continue with Globetracker’s Mission. If your class has been following in the mission, don’t let the upcoming winter break worry you. The teens will be on hiatus over the holidays, keeping the same episode online for the weeks of December 18 and 25 and moving on to a new location on January 1st. Even if you miss an episode, you can always “rewind” using the <<episode link at the top of any episode.


Looking forward to January’s calm?
As you scurry around this December, why not plan some “me” time for OK2Ask™ in January? Join our new session on TeachersFirst’s free member timesavers, start a class wiki, or tour the Best of the Best. These live, online “snack sessions” are perfect for a chilly winter respite in your fuzzy slippers. See the full OK2Ask™ schedule. Registrations are open now:

Great Timesavers: Tools and tips to maximize TeachersFirst's free membership; January 12, 2012; Read the details and register

The Best of the Best: A tour of 6-10 TeachersFirst Editors' Choice resources with in-depth ideas for how to use them; January 23, 2012; Read the details and register

Guided Wiki Walk:Step by step to create your own classroom wiki (TWO session workshop with “homework” between); Jan 30 AND Feb 6, 2012; Read the details and register


This Week's Poll
Which teacher gift would you like to receive? Share your thoughts by taking the poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


XW1W question for the week of December 4: Where/when do you sing? 
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.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, you will find plenty to rate, comment on, or mark as Favorites (using the FREE features of your FREE TeachersFirst membership):

  • A powerful civil rights site
  • European history and world population interactives
  • Mapping YOUR data
  • Exploring Ocean data
  • A duo of animal sites: to create and to learn
  • Terrific ESL/ELL learning tools
  • Tools for disposable email addresses and online sign-up sheets
  • Exercise incentives and a veggie site

And more. Don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.


May your classes this week be a string of brightness—all alight.


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