TeachersFirst Update Archives

Return to Update Archives List

November 18, 2013

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

Many schools observe American Education Week this week. Classrooms open their doors for visiting parents and grandparents to glimpse what learning looks like today.  Chances are, your classroom looks very different from what you (and they) experienced even a few years ago. Don’t forget to stop and explain why you do what you do—and why it IS different now. Sometimes we as teachers need to do our own PR. TeachersFirst helps you keep pace with the changes so you can share the best with your students and parents.


Fifty years
This week (November 22) brings the fiftieth anniversary of the JFK assassination. Many Americans remember it, but our students need to know about this dark day in our history and the presidency that preceded it. TeachersFirst has collected some terrific resources on Kennedy so your American History or social studies class can experience and learn about Camelot, the Bay of Pigs, and, of course, the assassination.


Last chance for 2013
Our final, free OK2Ask® offering for 2013 is this week. OK2Ask free, online professional development “snack sessions” will resume after the first of the year. Register NOW for this week’s session and for all sessions in January and February. (All are held at 7:00pm Eastern time):

  • Google Series (Part 2): Google Search Secrets; Tues. Nov 19
  • 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


Coal country
Geo and Meri are headed to West Virginia this week on Globetracker’s Mission. Follow their search for Louie, the cartographer from now until April. They add new posts on their blog every Sunday. You can also follow @geoandmeri on Twitter!  Weekly episodes teach standards-based geography, landforms, and major U.S. landmarks. Your students (grades 2-6) can vote each week, telling the teens what to do nextyou’re your class missed the start of the Mission, you can always “rewind” to read the previous posts using the <<episode link at the top. Don’t miss our helpful teacher suggestions, lesson ideas, and more to help your students enjoy and learn.


Science + creativity = success
Since August, 2012, TeachersFirst has been conducting a limited pilot of MySciLife, a social learning environment where students design and maintain science "identities" to LIVE and LEARN. Students LIVE as a science concept, creating their identities using status updates, interactions, and a full range of digital media within the MySciLife platform. The results of the 2012-13 research pilot of MySciLife are in. Social learning in middle school science classes yields positive results for both science performance and student attitudes toward science.  Read the full report and share it with your science colleagues. Learn more about the project here.


Instant class prep
November 19 is the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, the perfect time to have students explore Gettysburg by the Numbers. After surviving almost all of November, teachers AND students will be ready to give thanks. In an unusual confluence, Hanukkah begins ON Thanksgiving this year! Turn to the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar for date-related learning, handy any time.


Calorie free M and M "treats"
The TeachersFirst Edge features teacher-reviewed, free, online tools (many with free app versions) to help you and your students create projects or simply make your digital life little easier. Click on Mashups  to find tools that combine capabilities of two or more “gadgets” and on Multimedia to find tools to meld images, text, audio, video, or any combination. The Edge gathers trustworthy options for BYOD or 1:1 programs. Learn and teach with the latest technology tools, carefully reviewed by Thinking Teachers who know classroom realities.


Paper or tech?
Technology use varies in different schools and locations. The XW1W question for the week of November 17: Do you do more homework on paper or using tech devices? 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.


ALMOST here: Thanksgiving plans?
What are your plans for YOUR Thanksgiving break? Share your plans in the teacher poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find the tools, simulations, and challenges:

  • Musical rhythms
  • Personalized math and science challenges
  • The politics of redistricting
  • The Arctic
  • The Sun
  • Blood
  • A new way to “see” economics concepts
  • Photosharing
  • A Pinterest addition
  • A tool for summarizing and revising
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this November 17 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived November 17 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.


Take the time to ask students why they think you have planned a certain lesson or activity this week. May their responses offer refreshing perspective that builds new levels of understanding for all of you.

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