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May 12, 2014

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

Happy Mothers’ Day!
As a teacher, you are surrogate parent to many. If you are both a teacher and a mom, make sure you get double hugs this week. If you are blessed to still have your own mom, thank her for helping you get where you are today. As a teacher, don’t forget to thank all the moms who come through to support you: the ones who nag their kids about homework, ask you questions showing that they really care about their child’s education, and send in whatever you ask for. You may only have a few moms supporting your class, but every supportive mom is worth her weight in tissues—and ten times the time she gives. Thank a mom today. We couldn’t teach without them.


Seeking a few great science teachers
For the past two school years, TeachersFirst and our parent company, The Source for Learning, have been conducting a research pilot of MySciLife®. MySciLife is a FREE online social learning environment where students create an identity as a science concept, such as an organism, animal, object, scientist, or force: What would it be like to live life as a cell?  Students develop this identity and maintain the role of this science concept via status updates, interactions, and tools familiar to today’s youth—safely within the MySciLife® community. MySciLife® Pilot Teacher Ambassadors have had great success working through the process of using MySciLife® to deliver their school’s science curriculum.  We are now accepting applications for a few additional middle school science teachers for the 2014-15 school year. If you or one of your friends is a creative middle level (gr 6-9) science teacher who enjoys student-centered learning, please read the details, watch our introductory video, and browse our exciting research findings. Then submit your information now via the link to the online application form on the MySciLife page. Time and space are limited. MySciLife® brings science to life.

Summer is coming (Uh-oh! So is the "slide!")
Some schools have just weeks of school left. If you are preparing for a May exit, NOW is the time to share the TeachersFirst Summer Sparklers with parents and students. Prevent “summer slide” while inspiring creativity (and learning) with this handpicked collection of interactives, creative tools, and clever sites for all ages. Put the link on your summer learning web page and share it in your e-newsletter before the sun sets on another school year. Parents will appreciate it!


On the calendar
May and June are the time for thank you gifts to school staff, parent volunteers, and others who help your classroom function and your student learn. May 17 is the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. Find resources and ideas for these and other date-related events on the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar throughout the school year.


ISTE bound
As always, TeachersFirst is headed to the ISTE conference in June. If you are going, plan to meet up with us there (more details in June Updates). If you cannot afford a trip to Atlanta, we can help. On Monday, June 30, 2014, at 3:30 pm Eastern time, we will be doing an OK2Ask® LIVE webcast from ISTE. Plan to watch and listen to teachers as they share their fabulous ISTE discoveries. It’s almost like being there—without the airfare! Mark your calendar. The OK2Ask® LIVE link will be front and center on the TeachersFirst home page.


OK2Ask® Summer schedule is out!
We have plans for you! Summer OK2Ask sessions resume in early July and will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays for six weeks. All summer sessions begin at 6 pm EDT. OK2Ask® is a series of free, online session for teacher self-directed professional development. Learn more about OK2Ask. The pdf of the summer schedule is posted now, and registrations will open by the end of May. Mark your calendars for summer learning YOU choose.


Learn something new - NOW 'n later
Whether you are waiting for summer’s OK2Ask sessions to begin or you simply want to learn, you can access OK2Ask archived recordings anytime. These 75-minute recordings open in Adobe Connect (an online “classroom” space) and let you start, stop, and pause to learn about many teaching topics. Because we cannot assess your learning from an archived session, we are not able to grant certificates for watching a recording. But you will LOVE being able to watch and learn with OK2Ask. Why not watch with a friend or take OK2Ask to your school’s professional development days!
See the full archive listing here.


When people talk about Twitter, do you nod politely and secretly wonder why they bother? Make this the summer you learn about the professional learning power of Twitter. Start with TeachersFirst's Twitter for Teachers page. Then plan to build your personal learning network (via Twitter of course) throughout the summer. Don’t forget to follow @teachersfirst and our editors, @cshively and @mhenning.


Summer Reading is not just for kids
Maybe you prefer a more traditional way to learn: sitting on the beach with a book. Now is the time to start collecting that stack of reading, and TeachersFirst is here to help.  We know that in your day-to-day teaching life you might not have time to read all you’d like for your own professional growth and emotional well-being, but this article shares books and blogs to re-ignite your teaching flame.


Does it matter?
We hear from students all the time that what they do in school does not matter. Make history relevant to them with Dates That Matter. This daily history feature (mobile friendly, by the way) offers a prompt for them to figure out ad questions that help connect it to what they know. Even adults enjoy making the connection that is more than just a factoid about an event on today’s date. Your students will enjoy this bit of mystery with a bit of history, including why it matters.


Mom's treat
Moms are moms everywhere, but their idea of a “treat” may vary depending on the culture. Share the XW1W question for the week of May 11 to learn about moms in different places: What is your mom's favorite treat? 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.


Mother's Day question
What do/did you do for Mother's Day? CLICK about it in the poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Review and Reflect
Your students learned much from this year’s Globetracker's Mission. Make sure you check out the review activities to reflect about the mission. Find the link to Review Activities in the sidebar of the Teacher’s edition of Globetracker.  Even if you did not follow the mission this year, take a look to see what Globetracker’s Mission is like and plan to use it next year to teach map skills, landforms, and geography in grades 2-6. Hint: next year Geo and Meri will be traveling all seven continents!


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find things practical and things thought-provoking:

  • A tool to find Twitter-using experts
  • Two very different polling tools
  • A SIMPLE collaborative drawing board
  • Differentiated project rubrics
  • Interactives for math and ALL subjects
  • Hands-on science fun
  • Colonial America
  • Instantly easy websites
  • Cold War history (timely?)
  • A great anti-bullying resource
  • Prom planning- for next year?
  • And more

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

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