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Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers™

The NCAA is wrapping up March Madness and the Easter Bunny has come and gone. But we teachers are just starting the spring sprint. As you launch your final round of long range planning, let TeachersFirst help with a burst of spring energy.


Cutting through the Edge
If you like free, web-based tools to create and collaborate, don’t miss the TeachersFirst Edge. Make posters, comics, calendars, and maps. Tell stories with digital media or share a presentation online. Find teacher-reviewed tools—and helpful tips for using them—to meet any creative need. Once you enter the Edge, click on the left sidebar for different types of tools, from animation to wikis. These same Edge tools are included throughout TeachersFirst when you look for resources my subject, grade, or keyword. The Edge area simply makes it easy to browse by tool type. You can find it fast from the Home page or the What’s Hot menu.


Hot and hotter
Speaking of What’s Hot, you probably get behind reading the Update and Featured Sites. Did you know you can find all the past Featured Sites in the Features Sites Archive—also in the What’s Hot menu? You really can catch up on the good stuff. It’s almost as good as your DVR!


April showers
You think March is filled with madness? April showers us with special events and learning opportunities.  It’s Poetry Month (and no, poetry isn’t just for English class). It is also Autism Awareness Month. Plan ahead for late April events: Earth Day (April 22), Take Your Child to Work Day (April 25),  and TV Turn-Off Week (April 28-May 4). See these and many more events on the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar.


Opinion piece
Find strategies to address Common Core in For the Sake of Argument: Another Common Core Shift, the latest in our series of articles about addressing Common Core in elementary, written by an experienced library/media specialist. March into Common Core where writing and reading become hand-in-hand partners.


More and more
April’s TogetheRead theme from our sister site, TeachersAndFamilies is More, Please (Series Books). Discover TogetheRead for family literacy. This free feature offers books for all ages around a common theme—and free or low-cost activity ideas to go along with them. Hook families on reading together! With TV Turn-Off week in late April, this is the perfect time to share TogetheRead.


Teacher evaluations
Are you currently mentoring a student teacher? A project at University of Connecticut is looking for cooperating teachers to participate in a study to develop better tools to evaluate student teacher performance. Participation will take about two hours of your time, for which you will be compensated. To learn more visit http://gas.uconn.edu/  or contact uconnscaling@gmail.com.


As you follow the end of March Madness or fill up on Easter eggs, don’t miss a chance to keep your basket of learning full, too. Color your lessons brightly for spring. Sign up for a free session of OK2Ask live, online sessions for teacher self-directed professional development. Registration is now open for ALL remaining spring OK2Ask® sessions. Find times and descriptions to register:

Now I See! Infographics as content scaffold and creative, formative assessment, even if you don’t think visually; Tuesday, April 9

One to One: Ideas and Tips for Teaching in a 1:1 Classroom; Monday April 29

Ready, Set, Summer: Student Tools to Stay Fresh and Teacher Professional “Refreshments”; Monday May 6


Spring flowers
Share a touch of spring with students in other places with Across the World Once a Week (#xw1w). Your responses about life where you live help others learn—and vice versa. This quick activity uses microblogging and something called a hashtag. It’s easy! Get started now with these simple directions and FAQ. XW1W for the week of March 31: What flower blooms first in spring at your home?


Geo and Meri are in Geneva, hoping you will join them as they learn about global warming on Globetracker’s Mission. Follow their adventure with your students as they wrap up the final weeks—and plot twists—of Globetracker’s Mission, Ready to Go any time at bottom center on the TeachersFirst home page.


Writing Time
How quickly do you grade and return a writing assignment? Share your response via the weekly teacher poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find a basket full of variety:

  • Primary sources from U.S. history
  • Compound word practice
  • A cool calendar tool
  • Word study
  • Art lesson ideas
  • Gamified English learning
  • Videos for quick understanding
  • An education search engine
  • A collaborative web “collector”
  • Financial aid info for final choices

And MORE. IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this April 7 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived March 31 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.


May the clarity and succinctness of poetry echo in your students’ words this week.

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