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April 28, 2014

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

We are in the home stretch, and sometimes it really feels like a stretch. We teachers try to find ways to stretch the teaching time to fit all the things our students must complete before school ends, and we stretch ourselves thinly with special events, culminating projects and prep for AP and other major exams. TeachersFirst stretches with just what you need, just in time. Think of TeachersFirst as teaching yoga: Stretch with us.


STEM in elem(entary)
STEM sounds scary, especially that “engineering” part. If you are an elementary teacher implementing Common Core, you know that the next step is Next Gen science standards and (gasp), this thing called STEM. Our latest article about implementing Common Core in elementary is all about STEM problems solving in elementary classrooms. STEM is really not all that scary afterall, thanks to library/media specialist Kathy Lawrence. Explore her article Roots of STEM: Books and ideas for real world problem solving in your classroom as you plan for an end-of-year, hands-on project with your K-6 class or grade level team.


Look amazing!
Make your resource blog or wiki look amazing with new additions every week courtesy of TeachersFirst. If you find yourself scrambling to find resources to share, save yourself time and effort by embedding the TeachersFirst Featured Sites widget in your blog or wiki. There are two sizes to choose from. You will look amazingly up to date!


Civil Rights landmark
May 17 is the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. Mark this civil rights landmark using TeachersFirst resources tagged “civil rights.” (Those little tags in resource reviews can really save time—sort of like Amazon’s “if you like this, you might like...” !


May events
May brings Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, teacher appreciation days (and other opportunities for thank you gifts), and more, Find resources and ideas for these and other date-related events on the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar throughout the school year.


Time off? Subbing?
Whether you are planning for a substitute or serving as one, finding the right resources and teaching ideas can make or break the day’s lessons. TeachersFirst’s Ideas and Resources for Substitutes can help. Check the ideas under “in the classroom” for specific lesson ideas.


Last chances before a quick “break”
We have two remaining spring offerings from OK2Ask®, our free, online professional development series. We will announce our summer OK2Ask schedule in mid-May, but sessions do not resume until July. Everybody needs a break! 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 (both at 7:00pm Eastern Daylight time).

  • 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


Mission Accomplished
Geo and Meri have finally caught up with Louie in the conclusion of Globetracker’s Mission last week, but little sister Pandora will help you wrap up the loose ends you may have missed. Find a broad selection of review activities to help your students look back over the year and realize how much they have learned, including printables and answer keys where appropriate. Find the link to Review Activities in the sidebar of the Teacher’s edition of Globetracker. If you did not join us this year, take a look to see what Globetracker’s Mission is like so you can plan to use it next year to teach map skills, landforms, and geography in grades 2-6. Hint: next year Geo and Meri will be traveling all seven continents!


Civil War May
Classes that study U.S. history across a two-year curriculum usually get to the Civil War during May. Make the Civil War an interactive, “data” experience sure to engage today’s digital learner with TeachersFirst’s Gettysburg by the Numbers. The stats and questions will make this landmark battle real, and the supporting teacher ideas and resources give you everything you need to teach about this watershed battle and the Civil War in general (sorry, bad pun).


Test or project?
Imagining what it would be like to grow up somewhere else always includes wondering what school would be like. Some people say schools reflect the country’s culture. Share the XW1W question for the week of April 27 to find out about schools elsewhere: Which do you have/give more often: tests or projects?? Help your students experience life 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.


How many BIG ones?
How many major projects do you assign per class per year? Tell us in the poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find tools, activities, sources, and assessments:

  • Two amazing, provocative primary sources for history
  • A reading fluency test—online and free
  • A peer-reviewed YOUTH science journal
  • Writing like Hemingway
  • A personalized college planning resource
  • A simple timeline maker
  • Clever, visual word puzzles
  • Tools for urls and instant in-class questions
  • An unlimited, free notebook tool (think unlimited Evernote)
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this May 4 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived April 27 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 stretch their mental limits this week.

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