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May 27, 2013

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

Memorial Day is about heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice. This week we celebrate this holiday with a very recent reminder of another kind of heroes who serve in our classrooms: the teachers who protect and comfort children through terrifying circumstances like the Oklahoma tornados. Take a few moments before your picnic or swim to recognize our heroes, living or gone, who make the world a better place.


Impact matters
We NEED you to do one thing to help TeachersFirst: answer our annual user survey. We must document the impact that your use of TeachersFirst has on student learning and your own professional growth. Our funders want this information. If you spend time using TeachersFirst, PLEASE take five minutes to answer our annual user survey. Then remind your TeachersFirst-user colleagues to do the same. We need as many meaningful responses as we can get. Thank you. Please complete the survey no later than June 14.


Beyond dates and data to questions and connections
This July marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. But how do we help today’s students connect to events so long ago and far away? TeachersFirst is proud to announce Gettysburg by the Numbers, an interactive experience of the Battle of Gettysburg through numbers and infographics. We even ask the thought-provoking questions to inspire connections. Invite your students to move beyond dates and facts to questions that make the battle personally meaningful and real. Gettysburg by the Numbers builds understanding far more lasting than a three-day anniversary in July.


June 6 is the 69th anniversary of D-Day. Do you teach about World War II? Start your students thinking about the year leading to the 70th anniversary of this momentous day with TeachersFirst's D-Day Resources, easy to find on our handy Classroom Planning Calendar.


Summer sensations
Here are more summer “extras” to share with your students and their parents before they go:

  • TeachersFirst’s Summer Sparklers: engaging activities to review, create, and maintain learning
  • The weekly Brain Twister (elementary and middle school). Changes weekly (biweekly during July) on Fridays. Questions recap and challenge across the curriculum.
  • Special Occasion Ideas: TeachersFirst Editors' Choices Creative tools for gifts and sharing for Father’s Day, graduations, family vacation memories, and more.


Professionally packed
After you have had a chance to relax a bit, make this the summer you explore TeachersFirst’s packed professional area. You will be glad you did. Every teacher who finds it marvels at what is there to help, support, and inspire teachers in the trenches.


Summer OK2Ask®
Our catalog of summer OK2Ask® offerings is open for browsing and registration. Summer sessions begin in early July and last seven weeks! Summer sessions are slightly longer to allow more time for exploration and questions. Note that we have moved OK2Ask information and registration to a new location as of summer, so update your bookmarks. See the full summer catalog and register. Read more about OK2Ask, free online “snack sessions” for self-directed teacher professional development, including FAQs. Yes, we offer professional development certificates to those who meet participation criteria.


Picnic Fare
Picnics happen everywhere, but the food varied from place to place and culture to culture. Tell us about yours. See responses from other people in other places via 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 May 26: What do you eat at picnics? 


Summer's Start
Which event do you view of as the “official start” of summer? Share your view via the weekly teacher poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find professional sources for summer browsing and handy resources for now and later:

  • Test questions to customize and share
  • Free MOBILE web sites
  • Worldwide newspapers
  • An amazing digital library
  • Civics through literature
  • Roman teenagers
  • Two math blogs full of ideas
  • A clever tab timer
  • Rich Civil War artifacts

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this June 2 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived May 26 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.

May you witness something heroic this week.

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