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April 21, 2014

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

By the rude bridge that arched the flood...
If you studied the Battle of Concord (and its companion in Lexington), you may recall this opening line of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Concord Hymn.” As the anniversary of those battles—and Massachusetts’ observance of Patriots Day—land on Easter weekend and amid the celebration of Passover, there are many reasons to stop and reflect. The world is also thinking about our friends in Boston as the marathon returns to a city united in its resolve. Stopping to think is as important to learning as anything we do as teachers. May you have a chance to stop for a few moments yourself this week. The Thinking Teachers at TeachersFirst will be there with you.


The need to read
Whether you teach first grade or high school seniors, your students need to read to be successful. TeachersFirst has loads of reading resources, from interactive audio books to a Lifetime Reading List. Find them all on our Reading for All page.


Boston Strong
Geo and Meri are among many people witnessing Boston Strong this week in the climactic conclusion of Globetracker’s Mission for this school year. If your class has been following the mission, you can now find review activities to recap the year, including printables and answer keys where appropriate. Find the link to Review Activities in the sidebar of the Teachers edition of Globetracker. If you did not join us this year, take a look to see what Globetracker’s Mission is like so you can plan to use it next year to teach map skills, landforms, and geography in grades 2-6.


Math Fair
Looking for ideas to make math a little more lively this spring? Now is the time to plan an end of year math celebration (designed for grade 4-8). Since this event requires some judges and other help, why not make it a grade level-wide activity and include some parents or the principal?


On the calendar
We are well into National Poetry Month and Autism Awareness month. Earth Day is this week, as is Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day (April 24), the perfect occasion for students to build career awareness. Turn to the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar throughout April.


Hands on Poetry
TeachersFirst has loads of poetic resources. Our Editor’s choices for National Poetry Month are just the beginning. A recent post on our editor’s blog offers an idea for teachers to approach Common Core “close reading” of texts via poetry in ANY subject: Poetry in the Black: Adding (meaning) by subtracting. Every day, students from around the world explore poetry interactively with our popular TeachersFirst exclusives, the Interactive Raven and The Highwayman. These are great for your BYOD classroom, even on tablets. For a more traditional poetry lesson with technology options, try Music is Poetry, designed for eighth grade but adaptable for other levels.


Dynamic duo, and hot summer ahead!
Our two remaining spring offerings from OK2Ask®, our free, online professional development series, share cool tools and cool ideas for hot summer days. Please be sure to READ the descriptions and double check that you have the prerequisites (if any) and/or technology comfort levels. Choose your favorite “snack session(s)” and register NOW (all at 7:00pm Eastern Daylight time).

Important note: We will announce our OK2Ask summer schedule during May.

  • 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


Everybody needs to find their way, but different people use different tools. Share the XW1W question for the week of April 20: Do you ever use printed maps? 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.


Social studies shift?
Are social studies a lower priority in your school since it is not tested under NCLB/CCSS? Tell us in the poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find great content, experimentation, and very helpful tools:

  • The archives of the Golden Gate
  • A much improved free add-on and app to “clean up” reading
  • Shapes to help young ones write
  • African American people to know- and learn about
  • A collaborative writing tool with version control
  • An easy calendar tool to get organized
  • Instant image collages
  • A lens to look at your Twitter account
  • Inquiry about ecosystems
  • Do it yourself, easy code writing
  • Designing contraptions
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this April 27 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived April 20 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.

Thinking Teachers -- Teaching Thinkers is the TeachersFirst tag line. May you have time to stop and think this week.

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