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May 5, 2014

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

Close your eyes and remember May when you were a kid. Chances are, your memories are nothing like your life (or your students’ lives) today. As you run from here to there in your May of today, take TeachersFirst with you. We’ll help you and your students keep up!


Being a kid
Growing up is not the same everywhere. What is "typical" for the kids at your school may seem odd to those who grew up somewhere else. What was typical for our grandparents is not the same as what is typical today. Our latest CurriConnects booklist, Childhood Here and There, delves into the differences. This leveled list of books for student independent reading shares tales of childhood in many cultures and countries. Include these books for independent reading during a unit on world cultures, in a guidance class about differences, or in a reading unit about drawing inferences. CurriConnects lists include ISBN numbers for ordering or searching, interest grade levels, ESL levels and Lexiles® to match with student independent reading levels to challenge, not frustrate.


Summer is coming (and so is the “slide”)
Some schools have less than a month left. If you are preparing for a May exit, NOW is the time to share the TeachersFirst Summer Sparklers with parents and students. Prevent “summer slide” while inspiring creativity (and learning) with this handpicked collection of interactives, creative tools, and clever sites for all ages. Put the link on your summer learning web page and share it in your e-newsletter before the sun sets on another school year. Parents really appreciate it!


On the calendar
This week brings Cinco de Mayo and teacher appreciation days. Next weekend is Mother's Day. Throughout this month we have occasions for thank you gifts to school staff, parent volunteers and more. Find resources and ideas for these and other date-related events on the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar throughout the school year.


Growing with STEM
STEM and Next Gen are growing on us, even in elementary grades. 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 fits right in, 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.


Ready for summer learning?
Our final offering from OK2Ask® for this school year is Thursday. Please be sure to READ the description of Thursday’s session and register NOW to join this final “snack session” at 7:00pm Eastern Daylight Time:

  • Ready.. Set.. Summer: Student Tools to Stay Fresh and Teacher Professional “Refreshments”; Thurs. May 8

We will post our summer OK2Ask catalog in mid-May. Sessions resume in early July and will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 pm EDT. OK2Ask® is a series of free, online session for teacher self-directed professional development. Learn more here.


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...” !


Home Again
Geo and Meri and little sister Pandora have been reunited safely in Arizona, but your students can still learn from this year’s Globetracker’s Mission. Try the review activities to reflect about the mission and realize how much they have learned. We have included printables and answer keys where appropriate. Find the link to Review Activities in the sidebar of the Teacher’s edition of Globetracker. Even if you did not follow the mission this year, take a look to see what Globetracker’s Mission is like and 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!


Parent reactions
Parents vary. Many reflect the culture of their community. Share the XW1W question for the week of May 4 to learn about parents in different places: What do parents do if a student gets in trouble at your school?? 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.


Class combo
Which class would you rather teach? Choose your preferences about student characteristics within the same class in the poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find a tossed salad of learning:

  • A pair of theater sites
  • Place value
  • Sounds of nature
  • Real Info and graphics on climate change
  • A movie poster maker
  • A video grabber
  • Math podcasts
  • Time—visualized!
  • An in depth look at the Seminole tribe
  • Fabulous history fun
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this May 11 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived May 4 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.


May you feel you are getting somewhere this week—and see your students getting somewhere too!

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