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March 23, 2014

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

Rolling, rolling, rolling: is it spring break yet? Getting through March can often feel like a survival test. As teachers, we are busy preparing our students for state testing. The weather is warmer and spring sports are starting again. Students (and maybe even teachers) are starting to get the “summer itch.” Hang in there and keep rolling along, surely a long weekend is just around the corner.


Animals and Habitats
Travel to exotic locations and meet many new creatures. Our newest installment of CurriConnects explores animals and their habitats. This collection could accompany a unit (or lesson) about landforms, habitats, weather, coping strategies, and more. Use CurriConnects leveled lists to find books related to curriculum topics or subject areas. Build student literacy skills, reinforce the place of curriculum concepts in other contexts, and help students build the important reading strategy of connecting what they read to prior knowledge. Any student can find a book on the topic at the appropriate interest and Lexile® level.


Marching into April
We are wrapping up Music in our Schools Month and Women’s History Month. Learn more about World Water Day and the Google Science Fair. It will soon be the opening of baseball season and the start of April. Prepare now for National Poetry Month, Easter, Earth Day, Autism Awareness, and more. Dreading having school on April Fool’s Day? Have no more fears! Find resources to create comics and cartoons in the spirit of the day (while still learning). Turn to the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar for April and throughout the entire year.


This week the spring season of TeachersFirst’s FREE OK2Ask® webinars continues. Check out the many offerings from OK2Ask in 2015. Registration is OPEN for all spring sessions. Read our FAQ for general information about certificates, etc. Please be sure to read the detailed descriptions and suggested technology comfort levels BEFORE you register for the best match for your learning needs. Most sessions meet from 7:00-8:30 pm EASTERN time.

  • Teacher Timesaver and Online Tools; Tue Mar. 24
  • Tour of TeachersFirst Edge Tools and Ideas; Thu Apr. 9
  • Google Advanced Cool Tools; Mon Apr. 13
  • Building Ethical Digital Citizens; Tue Apr. 28
  • Ready. Set. Summer: Student Tools to Stay Fresh and Teacher Professional “Refreshments”; Mon May 4


Water Everywhere?
This week is the official kickoff for the U.N.’s World Water Monitoring Challenge! March 22nd is World Water Day. Find a lake, bay, stream, or any other nearby body of water and your class can participate! This week’s teacher poll asks: Are you participating in the World Water Monitoring Challenge? Place your vote on the teacher poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Adventures through Europe
Geo and Meri are enjoying exploring Europe. Join the teen bloggers as they continue their mission to find Dewey: the Truth-Sniffing Dog. Find out where they will explore on Globetracker’s Mission. Help students (grades 2-6) learn more by joining the Mission in 2015 to learn map skills, geography, landmarks, landforms, and much more. Your kids will love traveling the world through the eyes of teens Geo and Meri. 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.


Science Fair—has gone Google!
Does your school have an annual Science Fair? Share this additional challenge with your students. The Google Science Fair (for ages 13-18 only) has begun! Submissions will be accepted until May. Learn more about this annual competition in our TeachersFirst review.


Weather Better?
What is the weather like where you live? Does it still feel like winter? Or has spring “sprung?” Share the XW1W question for the week of March 22: What is the average temperature where you live in March? 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. TeachersFirst’s 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.


Been There, Done That
Teachers rarely have a free hour to explore and learn throughout the day. But sometimes, the best learning comes in small tidbits. Discovers handy ways to make your tech-infused lessons go more smoothly with TeachersFirst’s Been There, Done That tech tips. Savor a clever idea or two from experienced, Thinking Teachers, or share the entire batch with colleagues who need a little extra confidence.


Professional Exploration—Differentiation
NOW is the time to explore the various ideas for differentiating instruction for all students. Find strategies for ESL/ELL students, Autism and Asperger's resources, ways to nourish gifted students with technology, and more!


Cool Tools—Edge "S-T"
The TeachersFirst Edge features teacher-reviewed, free, online tools (many with free app versions) to help you and your students create projects or simply make your digital life a little easier. This week we are highlighting Stickies/walls, Study Aid Creators, and Timelines. Although we list these tools under the appropriate subjects where they might fit, the little turquoise “E” icon in the review means this is a tool where you or your students can create or collaborate in making something of your own.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites find Cool Tools, Geography, and Myths:

  • Money, Money
  • Melody Maker—with raindrops?
  • Myths for all grades
  • Science gone YouTube
  • Mapping challenges
  • ESL/ELL—Hungry to learn
  • Design a WebRoom
  • Easy comics
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this March 29 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived March 22 Features here, and don’t miss our many other recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured Sites page.


Keep the wheels of learning rolling in your classroom as you prepare for spring sports, testing season, and (hopefully) a long weekend!


The TeachersFirst Team