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January 12, 2015

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

The winter breaks are behind us and a long stretch of learning is ahead. TeachersFirst is here to help you dig through the challenges of winter and prepare for a successful year of learning.


Days to Remember
Plan ahead with special January resources for Martin Luther King and the 100th Day of School. Get an early start on your February planning with resources for Black History Month and Dental Health Month. You’ll find resources for events and observances throughout 2015 in the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar.


Speaking of Dates that Matter
Take a minute to check out TeachersFirst’s Dates That Matter. Find a new prompt every day, asking questions to help students connect an important historic event to what they know, and why it matters. Instead of tossing out a factoid, Dates That Matter builds understanding through context. Make this the year you share it, even if you can’t include it in class every day.


Learn with a Latte
What better way to spend a cold winter evening than inside a warm home, sipping a latte, while learning something new? Check out the many offerings from OK2Ask in 2015. Register now for January and February sessions. Read our FAQ for general information about certificates, etc. Please be sure to read the detailed descriptions and suggested technology comfort levels BEFORE you register for the best match for your learning needs. See a full preview of offerings through May in this pdf. All sessions meet from 7:00-8:30 pm EASTERN time. (Be sure you remember the lid on the latte. We want your learning to spill over into your classroom, but no other spills for you.)


What Are You Doing Today?
Winter (outdoor) activities depend on the weather in your area. Is it cool enough to ice skate or ski? Or do your winter days still include a trip to the beach? Share the XW1W question for the week of January 11: What are popular winter outdoor activities where you live? Make this the year you make a class Twitter account to learn from classes near and far. Your students can hear about life in other places and cultures through #XW1W. TeachersFirst’s Across the World Once a Week (#xw1w) project uses simple tweets (or links to blog posts) to share the responses to a weekly question. Help your class “see” what life is like in other places. It all works because of something called a hashtag. Learn how to get started with these simple directions and FAQ.


Snow Day Survival
We are now into the part of the year when many schools experience the dreaded Snow Day. Why not build in ways for students to avoid “slipping” even if they cannot safely get to school? Check out TeachersFirst’s Snow Day resources, a combination of online learning tools, communities, and snow-related resources. Mark it on your class web page now so students will maintain learning traction despite cancellations.


Geo and Meri Down Under
Geo and Meri are in Australia this week on Globetracker’s Mission. Do you know that Australia is actually on the continent of Oceania? Do your students? Help students (grades 2-6) learn more by joining the Mission in 2015 to learn map skills, geography, landmarks, landforms, and much more. Your kids will love traveling the world through the eyes of teens Geo and Meri. Check out complete teacher information, standards, and lesson ideas for using the mission. There are even Google Earth files for you to “watch” the Mission unfold. For extra fun, set your class Twitter account to follow the teens’ Twitter account, @geoandmeri.

A World Full of Colors
The January theme for TogetheRead is Colors. TogetheRead is a free family literacy feature from our parent company, The Source for Learning. TogetheRead lets families take time for reading together and enjoy accompanying activity ideas appropriate for all age groups. The age-banded book choices include questions and ideas any family can use to build better readers by promoting effective reading strategies. Suggest TogetheRead for family fun and literacy to all your school parents. Don’t forget to tell your library/media specialist or public library so they can feature the books.


New Year plans
Are you a professional development trainer, graduate professor, or ed tech coach for your school? Do you work with Thinking Teachers? If you plan to feature TeachersFirst at a workshop or PD session in the New Year, you can request materials to share by filling out this online form. As a free service from a non-profit, TeachersFirst relies on word of mouth from connectors like you to “get the word out.”


Shh.. I am reading
This week’s teacher poll asks: How much time per day do your students have for independent reading? Click your poll response on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find prompts, propaganda, posters, and more:

  • A Google Doodle
  • An icy challenge
  • World War I propaganda
  • Spelling
  • Spirograph
  • Email organizer
  • Grammar galore
  • More Common Core
  • Images
  • Interactives for the very young
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this January 18 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived January 11 Features here, and don’t miss our many other recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured Sites page.


May this long stretch of learning offer countless opportunities to share cool ideas, and to make lasting impressions on the young minds in your classroom.

The TeachersFirst Team