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February 10, 2014

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

Teaching in winter is a series of interruptions. You have more students out sick. The weather can change the schedule on short notice, and—just when you have hit a rhythm—many schools will soon have February break. Before you know it, it will be Big Test season. Before it all gets away from you, grab some great ideas from TeachersFirst to help smooth the interruptions and take learning anywhere your students go.


Weather tales
Weather. It’s what everyone is talking about. What a perfect time for your science unit on weather, the atmosphere, and climate. It is also the perfect time for our new CurriConnects theme, Weather, Climate, and Earth's Atmosphere. CurriConnects book lists provide choices for student independent reading in support of curriculum content. This particular list is rich in “informational texts” you can use for Common Core reading and science literacy. Our CurriConnects lists for over two dozen curriculum areas include Lexile® levels, interest levels, and a short “blurb” to help any student find a book of interest. Share the lists with your school library/media specialist or local public library to locate the books on the shelves or on interlibrary loan.  As you uncover the mysteries of this wicked-cold winter, would you please send us a taste of spring?


But what do I write about?
If your well of writing prompts is running a little dry, find plenty more in TeachersFirst’s Resources for Writing Prompts. Better yet, give your students the choice to explore these ideas themselves and select a prompt for themselves or their class. Your class blog or wiki will become an instant writing anthology once the ideas start flowing.


It’s project season
Your students are probably working on research projects, science fair, or other cold weather long term projects. Soon they will be looking for images, sounds, and more to create their project. Have you talked about copyright? It you aren’t sure where to start, check out TeacherFirst’s Copyright and Fair Use Resources for lessons about copyright, copyright-safe search tools, and Creative Commons collections to be sure that your students are modeling good digital citizenship.


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
Make sense of Common Core with the help of a supportive library/media specialist.  Kathy Lawrence, an elementary library media specialist in Vermont, pens our series of articles on implementing Common Core. Her 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. 


Day by day, month to month
As we follow news of the Sochi Olympics, we are rapidly approaching Valentine’s Day. February is also Dental Health Month and Black History Month. In just a week we celebrate Presidents Day. We hope you won’t need them, but TeachersFirst remnds you that we have Snow Day Resources to include on your class web page—just in case. Turn to the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar throughout February and the months to come.



Open—and FREE!
Registration is open for spring OK2Ask®, our free, online professional development series. 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:

  • 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 the Navajo Nation 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.


News for you?
Some people are glued to the news, others not so much. Is this a cultural difference or a personal preference? Share the XW1W question for the week of Feb 9: Do you watch news? How/how often? 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.


Favorite games
Which is your favorite Olympics: summer, winter, or none? State your preference in the teacher poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find

  • An interactive brain map
  • Science songs and videos
  • Multimedia Cubes YOU create
  • Math solutions, instantly
  • Audio books and fun for young ones
  • Photos around the world
  • Ice Hockey science
  • Rich U.S. history collections
  • Tools for polls and audience interactions
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this Feb 16 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived February 9 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 learning in unexpected places and times this week.

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