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November 17, 2014

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

This week is American Education Week. Just as we teachers muster our strength to survive a bit longer until Thanksgiving, America pauses to “celebrate public education and honor individuals who are making a difference in ensuring that every child receives a quality education.” Take a deep breath and appreciate being appreciated. TeachersFirst appreciates each and every teacher who discovers us—and the friends you bring with you!


Time, time, time
We never have enough of it. But you CAN use TeachersFirst’s Editor's Choice Online Tools and Timesavers to eek out just a few minutes here and there, possibly a lot more! This collection of reviewed resources is selected to help teachers and students save time using handy online tools that get the job done and make your classroom run smoothly. Find tools for organizing and communicating, managing your classroom, do-it-yourself creating, sharing links, useful utilities, saving paper, and much more.


Geo and Meri are following clues on a cliff in Argentina this week on Globetracker's Mission. Will they ever find Dewey, the truth-sniffing dog? The mission continues with your assistance. Vote to help them decide their next move. Social studies students in grades 2-6 learn map skills, geography, landmarks, landforms, and much more through the teens’ blogging adventure. Join the journey across seven continents from now through early May. New episodes appear every Sunday. Check out complete teacher information, standards, and lesson ideas for using the mission. There are even Google Earth files for you to “watch” the Mission unfold. For extra fun, set your class Twitter account to follow the teens Twitter account, @geoandmeri.


Food for thought
What better way to venerate the Bard than to throw a party in his honor! This year, the 450th anniversary of the birth of the Bard, is a perfect time to plan a feast to rival Thanksgiving. TeachersFirst’s Shakespearean Feast lesson plan will make any Shakespeare unit memorable. For food to nourish hungry minds throughout your Shakespeare unit, try TeacherFirst's Shakespeare Resources.


Speaking of food
November is the month of feasts! Take a healthy approach to food and literacy in your elementary class with Food, Glorious Food! Serving Up Common Core Connections. This read-aloud from TeachersFirst provides resources and suggestions of books and activities on the theme of Foods and Nutrition. With the current focus on childhood obesity, the popularity of school gardens and farm-to-school initiatives, and the campaign to “eat local,” the connection to food-related books is compelling. What would the pilgrims say?


Day, week, or month
November is Native American Heritage Month. Why not try our Native American Crafts Unit for hands-on ideas? This week is Geography Awareness Week, a chance to explore geography and the relationships between natural resources, maps, landforms, climate, and human activity. Look for these and more calendar-related resources throughout the year, even for Thanksgiving!


Writers unblocked
You will never again have to look for ideas to spark young writers. See TeachersFirst’s collection of Resources for Writing Prompts. These include visual, musical, and opinion pieces to ignite the fire in writers of any age. Many are science and social studies related so you can build CCSS writing skills across all disciplines. If you are looking for places to share student writing, be sure to check out our Blog Basics for the Classroom and the TeachersFirst’s Wiki Walk-through.


In retrospect
Teachers are often asked how we feel about our choice of profession. On a bad day, you may waver before responding. This week’s teacher poll asks, If you had it to do again, would you be a teacher? Respond using the poll choices on the TeachersFirst home page.


The last OK2Ask® for 2014
Our final OK2Ask session for 2014 meets this week. Enjoy this FREE, live, online “snack session” for teacher self-directed professional development and earn PD certificate for learning among a friendly group of teachers. Registration is open for this final 2014 offering if you do it NOW. Sneak a peek at the winter and spring offerings. We will open registration for January/February sessions in early December. Please be sure to read the detailed descriptions and suggested technology comfort levels BEFORE you register for the best match for your learning needs. Read our FAQ for information about certificates, etc. All sessions meet from 7:00-8:30 pm EASTERN time:

Tech it Out: Twitter for Teachers (and the classroom)
Tuesday November 18, 2014
*Appropriate for teachers at Intermediate technology comfort levels.


Feeling a chill
Some like it hot, others like it cold. Share the XW1W question for the week of November 16 to learn about temperatures in other places: About how many days/year is it below freezing when you get up? Why not make this the year you make a class Twitter account to learn from classes near and far? Your students can hear about life in other places and cultures through #XW1W. The Across the World Once a Week (#xw1w) project uses simple tweets (or links to blog posts) to share the responses to a weekly question. Help your class “see” what life is like in other places. It all works because of something called a hashtag. Learn how to get started with these simple directions and FAQ.


How’s the weather?
Brace yourself for the weather with our CurriConnects list of books about storm phenomena, weather disasters, climate change, and weather's causes and effects. Encourage students to select from this list for independent reading during a unit on disasters, weather, or the Earth's atmosphere. The list includes options from picture books through high school so every student can read on an appropriate level. We even provide Lexiles®.


Space for reading
If you teach about space and space exploration—or simply have been hearing a lot of questions since the Virgin Galactic crash—we have a brand new CurriConnects list for you: Solar System and Space. Launch into books about space and space exploration. Delve into black holes, or get to know famous astronomers. This list includes books at all levels from young "astronauts to be" to high school space scholars. Include this booklist as you count down to a unit on space so each student can do some personal exploration - and sharing. There are books at all interest and reading levels, so every student can reach for the stars. As with all CurriConnects lists, we even provide Lexiles®.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find professional tools and thought-provokers:

  • A zip code analyzer
  • Math a whole new way
  • Historic US images on a map
  • Do it yourself professional “coaching”
  • Wright Brothers
  • A BYOD class tool
  • Earth’s energy
  • World wide winds and weather
  • Homeroom ideas
  • The big picture of the Universe
  • Double Thanksgiving?
  • ... and more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this Nov 23 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived November 16 Features here, and don’t miss our many other recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured Sites page.


This American Education week, ask your students what they value most about their school. May you be surprised by some thoughtful answers.

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