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June 2, 2014

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

June is beginnings and endings. We begin the summer, end a school year, and plan ahead for a little time away and a lot of summer learning. After a bit of a break (which will come very late for some schools this year due to all the snow days), we teachers begin to plan ahead for “next year” that will be here before we know it. Whether you are ending or beginning, TeachersFirst is working day in and day out to offer just what you need, just when you need it.


Talking about TeachersFirst?
If you share TeachersFirst in teacher professional development workshops, teach a grad class, or coach teachers as a technology integration specialist, TeachersFirst wants to help with your workshops and PD sessions. Complete this form telling us where you plan to feature TeachersFirst. We will send out TeachersFirst cards and an ever-popular Thinking Teacher T-shirt for qualifying sessions. Complete the form NOW to be sure supplies do not run out.


Wow them!
If you like to share your tech “finds” with students or colleagues on your blog, wiki, or web site, now you can look really smart. Embed the TeachersFirst Featured Sites widget and have new “finds” every week without lifting a finger. If you can copy/paste, you can embed something. Find the code to copy/paste here. Never embedded anything? Make this the summer you learn how. We have a resource for that, too! Better yet, ask a teenager!


Summer OK2Ask®
OK2Ask, our free series of online sessions for teacher self-directed professional development, resumes for six weeks on Tuesdays and Thursdays during July and August. Registration is now open for all summer sessions. Please read descriptions carefully to be sure you have prerequisites and/or the appropriate technology comfort levels BEFORE you signup. Note that ALL summer certificates will be issued at the end of the summer. No exceptions. All summer sessions begin at 6 pm EDT. Learn more about OK2Ask. The full downloadable summer schedule in pdf format is also available. Mark your calendar for the professional development YOU choose!


Live from Atlanta
The Thinking Teachers of TeachersFirst will be at ISTE in Atlanta next month, helping to host the new Coaching Playground, presenting about Nourishing Gifted with Technology in Any Classroom, and of course talking to teachers like you at our booth (#3118). If you are going, plan to meet us there. You could even earn a coveted Thinking Teacher T-shirt! If a trip to Atlanta is out of the question, you can still join the ISTE experience with our OK2Ask® LIVE webcast on Monday, June 30, 2014, at 3:30 pm Eastern time. It’s almost like being there—without the airfare! Mark your calendar and click on the OK2Ask® LIVE link front and center on the TeachersFirst home page just in time for the webcast!


Want to know more?
Learn on your own or with a buddy by watching archived OK2Ask sessions on dozens of technology integration and teaching topics. Although we cannot offer certificates for watching a recording, you could watch one together with your grade level team or department as a self-structured PD day, and your school might offer you the “credit.” It’s OK2Ask, after all!


Catch up on Common Core—and more
Set aside some time this summer to read up on Common Core, classroom read-alouds, and more. This series of read-aloud selections, articles, and lesson ideas for elementary teachers includes ways to engage boys in reading, mini-research projects, oral histories, and much more. Many of the ideas are easily adaptable for middle grades. For more professional information provided by professional organizations every teacher ought to know, use our handy links to Outside Organizations and Professional Organizations for Teachers.


WANTED! Middle school science teachers
If you are a creative, middle level science teacher (gr 6-9) who enjoys student-centered learning, MySciLife® wants YOU. Apply now -- for FREE -- to be part of MySciLife, an exciting, new way for your students to be successful science learners. Since summer, 2012, TeachersFirst has been conducting a research pilot of MySciLife, an online social learning environment where students interact with their peers across the U.S. Students create an identity as a science concept --such as an organism, animal, object, scientist, or force -- and develop their identity via status updates, interactions, and creative technology tools familiar to today’s youth. It all takes place within the safe MySciLife community. If you know Facebook, you can imagine MySciLife. MySciLife Pilot Teacher Ambassadors have had great success using MySciLife® to deliver their school’s science curriculum. Read about the research results, watch the video, and APPLY NOW to be part of the next exciting phase of this project. Submit your information via the link to the online application form on the MySciLife page. Time and space are limited. MySciLife® brings science to life.

DAT’s it!
Are you preparing for a BYOD (or 1:1) initiative next year, and you have no idea where to start? Begin by exploring the TeachersFirst’s BYOD Dream Tools, a collection of reviewed, device agnostic tools (DATs) gathered by TeachersFirst so all your students can use the same free tool, no matter what device they have. DATs allow everyone to use the same tool for the creative task at hand, thereby minimizing time spent “playing around” to find the tool that fits the task. Your students can focus on the class content, not just on tech toys! TeachersFirst continually adds to this collection, so mark it in your favorites!

Summer is coming (Uh-oh! So is the "slide!")
Some schools have just days of school left. If you are preparing for an early June 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
This week (June 6) is the 70th anniversary of D-Day. This is the year to spend a little extra time on D-Day and WWII, and TeachersFirst has the resources to help. Find ideas for saluting the flag on Flag Day (June 14) and resources for Father’s Day (June 15) on the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar, ready for date-related learning throughout the school year.


Travel plans
Some people travel; others do not. Share the XW1W question for the week of June 1 to learn about travel plans from different places and people: How far from home will you travel this summer? Help your students stop and think about life in other places with #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.


Summer dreams
Which is closest to your dream summer vacation? Click your choice in the poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Saying thank you
If you are struggling to find a way to thank all your school helpers or to create clever (free) gifts for Father’s Day, check out TeachersFirst's Editors’ Choice Special Occasion Ideas. These reviewed tools will help you and your students make creative thank you gifts for FREE!


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find new views and handy tools:

  • A new look at an ancient site
  • A handy quizmaker
  • Honey bees
  • Places for young authors to publish
  • Practice for spelling and synonyms
  • A sobering look at poverty
  • Maps and globes
  • Collaborative homework help

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this JUNE 8 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived June 1 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.


May you begin something exciting this week.

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