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March 31, 2014

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

April Fools! Teaching on April Fools’ Day is a true test of your suitability for the teaching profession. You either frustrate yourself trying to suppress all the silly urges that erupt from your students or you embrace them, allowing a little humor to add energy to class routine. Of course, the master teacher redirects the humor into something productive, but sometimes the gooey pranks can get to you. Take a deep breath and have a laugh. You’ll live to teach many more days! Ask your students how THEY would inject productive humor into the day’s work. Maybe some creative tools from TeachersFirst can help.


Making it matter
History is longer ago and farther away to our students than the galaxies in Star Wars. The facts mean nothing to them without context. Help students build their own understanding of historic events by following the question prompts in mobile-friendly Dates That Matter. Placing historic events in the context of personal experience makes all the difference. Dates That Matter works on ANY mobile device and is perfect for your projector or interactive whiteboard. Put a student guide in charge, and watch your class discover history.


April showers—of events!
April brings the opening of baseball season and National Poetry Month. It is also Autism Awareness month. Later in the month we have Earth Day, so start preparing now. If you grimace at teaching on April Fool's Day, why not turn mischief around and create comics and cartoons in the spirit of the day (while still learning). Turn to the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar throughout April.


Most popular poem ever
If you missed it around Halloween, Poetry Month is a perfect time to try TeachersFirst’s MOST popular exclusive content, the Interactive Raven. Even the most reluctant readers enjoy navigating the poem on their own as they discover literary terms and help with tough vocabulary. The Interactive Raven functions just fine on mobile devices or tablets, so put poetry in your pocket! Dry poetry lessons? Nevermore!


Specialized spring
Spring is sensational—and special—with OK2Ask®, our free, online professional development series. In honor of Autism Awareness month, we host sessions about meeting special needs. Please be sure to READ the descriptions and double check that you have the prerequisites (if any) and/or technology comfort levels. Choose your favorite “snack session(s)” and register NOW (all at 7:00pm Eastern Daylight time).

  • 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



Family fools?
Minor celebrations tell a lot about us. Share the XW1W question for the week of Mar 30: Do you play April fools tricks on family? What? Help your students experience life through the eyes of others in distant 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.


Big Easy
Geo and Meri are in New Orleans this week on Globetracker's Mission. Read new posts every Sunday to learn standards-based geography, landforms, and major U.S. landmarks in grades 2-6. Vote each week, telling the teens what to do next.


Feeling foolish?
Do you observe April Fool's Day at school? Share your foolishness (or not) in the poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Stress, divorce, loss...
Our students face more challenges than simply academic ones. As the winter drags on, the stressors of family tensions and personal problems can interfere with learning even more than usual. TeachersFirst’s special CurriConnects list, Books for Tough Situations, can be part of a health unit or simply help an individual student cope by selecting a book at just the right level on just the right topic. CurriConnects lists include interest levels, ESL levels, and Lexile® levels to ensure the right match. Keep this list handy year round, and be sure to share it with your school counselor and teacher-librarian. Remember that you can always request books via interlibrary loan.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find challenges, thought-provokers, and a change of pace:

  • Sounds to relieve stress (before high stakes tests?)
  • Stats from ‘round the world to compare with your own
  • News from other viewpoints
  • Email for young ones
  • Math + QR code answers
  • A visual feed reader
  • Handy tools for tweets, polls, and more
  • English skills for older learners
  • STEM
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this April 6 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived March 30 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.

May your week bring laughter and learning together.

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