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February 3, 2014

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

One of the best things about snow is being able to track every animal that runs across it and every vehicle that drives through it, at least until it melts! We discover all sorts of mysterious paths we would not otherwise observe. Tracing paths to learning is not as easy. Think of TeachersFirst as your learning “snow angel,” leaving a learning impression that comes to life, no matter what your climate.


Lies, Rumors, and Misinformation
Did that title get your attention? That is the theme of this month’s TogetheRead feature from our sister site, TeachersAndFamilies.com. TogetheRead offers a selection of books for all ages around this shared “theme” and free or low cost activities to do along with them. The booklists include questions and discussion topics that will help parents build children’s comprehension skills as they read together—or separately. Share TogetheRead with parents of students of ALL ages. Remind them that the public library can often find the books on interlibrary loan, maybe even by requests on the library web site!


Lincoln Lessons
Presidents Day and Lincoln’s birthday are two good reasons to honor Lincoln this month. Add the 150th anniversary of both the Emancipation Proclamation and the Battle of Gettysburg just this past year (2013), and you have even more reason to share TeachersFirst’s Lincoln Lessons. There are lesson ideas for ALL levels and subjects, not just social studies.


Powerful Pairings
Common Core is less of a chore if you have somewhere to start. Our newest article on implementing Common Core in elementary features a sampler of powerful pairs of books for read-alouds, books that will help you and your students delve into the Common Core State Standards for BOTH literature and informational text—while you do something you have always done, a read-aloud!  Book duos for all elementary grades include ideas for talking about them and using the read-aloud to address three sections of the CCSS: Key Ideas and Details, Craft and Structure, and Integration of Knowledge and Ideas. 


Groundhogs and Presidents
Most schools have passed the 100th Day of School unless snow days delayed it. This week we have Groundhog Day, and the start of the Sochi Olympics, Also in February: Dental Health Month and Black History Month. It’s less than two weeks until Valentine’s Day, followed immediately by Presidents Day. We hope you won’t need them, but TeachersFirst still has Snow Day Resources you can include on your class web page—just in case. Turn to the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar for just what you need, just when you need it. 


Spring into learning
Spring registration for OK2Ask®, our free, online professional development offerings, is now open for offering for March through May. Choose a “snack session” and register NOW for Feb-May (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:

  • Be the Best: Professional Resources; Thurs. Feb. 6
  • Google Series (Part 4): Using Google Templates; Tues. Feb 18
  • Juggling the BYOD or 1:1 Classroom; Mon. Feb 24
  • Great Ideas: Exploring the Resources of TeachersFirst to Plan Effective, Technology-Infused Lessons; Thurs. Mar. 6
  • Google Series (Part 5): Google Earth and Maps Tues. Mar. 18
  • Common Core Math Ideas K-8; Mon. Mar. 24
  • Introduction to Writing with Common Core; Thurs. Mar. 27
  • Specialized for Special Needs: Ideas and Tools for Learning Support, Speech/language, Emotional Support, and more; Mon. Apr. 7
  • Google Series (Part 6): Cool Tools; Tues. Apr. 15
  • Gifted Resources Galore: Tips and Tools for Meeting the Needs of Your Gifted Students; Tues. Apr. 29
  • Ready... Set... Summer: Student Tools to Stay Fresh and Teacher Professional “Refreshments”; Thurs. May 8



Where is that?
Geo and Meri are in Mesa Verde this week on Globetracker’s Mission. Do you know where that is? Follow the teens to find out. Read new posts every Sunday to learn learn standards-based geography, landforms, and major U.S. landmarks in grades 2-6. Vote each week, telling the teens what to do next.

Sochi - do you care?
Families are more dispersed in some cultures than others. Share the XW1W question for the week of Feb 2: How much will you watch the Olympics?  Help your students experience 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.


Preferred professional path
Which option would you choose for professional advancement? State your preference in the teacher poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find just-in-time treasures and simple-but-sensational sites:

  • China—celebrate the New Year of the Horse!
  • Presidents—perfect this month!
  • Science at the Olympics
  • A great tool to teach word choice
  • Number sense visualized a new way
  • World language vocabulary
  • Perfect passwords
  • Immigration through Ellis Island
  • An awesome and sophisticated math tool
  • Earth facts to ponder and investigate
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this Feb 9 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived February 2 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.

May your students discover some previously-hidden paths to learning this week.

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