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Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers™

March arrives on the wind this week, and we are simply blown away by all the activity at TeachersFirst. We feel a bit wind-tousled, but we hope all the ideas that are whipping around will power your classes as you sail ahead.


Free—or not?
TeachersFirst only reviews sites that are free or that have a significant free area, useful for teachers and students. That is, all our reviewed resources were free when we wrote the reviews. Sometimes sites change their terms overnight. As pressure on the "freebie" web-based tools heats up in a highly competitive market, we hope you will let us know if you notice any reviewed resources that are no longer free. Use your (free) TeachersFirst membership to post a comment on the review so we can correct it. Of course, TeachersFirst will always be free and ad-free for teachers. No midnight changes here. We promise. Read about how we remain free and how you can say, “Thank you.”


Are you a TeachersFirst friend?
TeachersFirst knows that many teachers use Facebook to share with their friends. Now you can visit our new Facebook page, post a hello on our wall, and be- “friend” the Thinking Teachers of TeachersFirst. Why would a free web site have a Facebook page, you ask? We want to give you an easy way to spread the world about TeachersFirst to teachers and teachers-to-be who may not know us. Tell others about why you like TeachersFirst by posting your story on our wall. Help a free site earn some free, teacher-friendly publicity just by being “friendly.” How many friends can you send in one week?


Who Did It?
 TeachersFirst’s exclusive, standards-aligned forensics unit for middle school science includes lesson plans, handouts, and homework. Make science the talk of the school with this engaging unit.


YouTube help
If your school blocks YouTube (and many do), you might want to share this information about YouTube for Schools, a way that your tech folks can unblock ONLY the educational content within YouTube. This process does require cooperation of your technology coordinator and YouTube to set up the “safe” space.  It cannot be done by a savvy teacher alone. Why not share this information in a friendly way in hopes that your classes could use YouTube videos without teacher monitoring or teacher-only access. Your technology director’s concerns may have more to do with using lots of network bandwidth than filtering out “bad” videos, but it is worth a try. If you are reading this at school, the links to YouTube for Schools probably won't work. Read this paragraph at home or simply copy/paste this entire link: YouTube for Schools and paste into an email to your tech folks! Want to know more about web filters? See Sifting Through the Filters.


March: Here comes the lion
March blows in this week with Dr. Seuss’s birthday, Women's History Month, Pi Day, Music in our Schools Month, and other events. Plan ahead with the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar: trusted resources, served up just in time.


Thinking Teacher? Wear it proudly!
Your free TeachersFirst membership allows you to rate and comment on reviewed resources. Tell others how you used a resource in your class and what happened when you did. We draw a teacher name each month from among those who submit helpful comments on TeachersFirst. The winner receives a Thinking Teacher T-shirt. Share your thoughts and win!


Are they ready?
Are kindergarten students at your school ready for the rigors they face? Your opinions can help shape the future of early education and school readiness for all. How much do K-12 teachers know about what happens before kindergarten? TeachersFirst’s non-profit parent company, The Source for Learning, Inc., is collaborating with the National Head Start Association on a School Readiness Summit to expand and deepen the connection between national school readiness goals, Common Core, and Head Start programs around the country. We need opinions from educators at all levels about school readiness. We all wish our students would come to us better prepared, even in high school. Share what you know and believe about learning before kindergarten. Please help by responding to this survey prior to March 20.


Speaking of preK
If you teach preK or have students who are at a preK level, you probably search TeachersFirst for kindergarten resources that are useful with younger students. We have recently added a preK tag to our resource database to help you locate appropriate resources more easily. If you see the preK tag at the end of a review, you know that resource has preK appropriate activities. Click the tag to find even more.


Cell or not?
How many of your students bring cell phones to class? Click your thoughts on the weekly poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Keys to find Louie?
Geo and Meri are in the Florida Keys this week on Globetracker’s Mission. As they blog and search for Louie, your students learn about standards-based map skills, geography and North America.  Follow Globetracker’s Mission and vote for Geo and Meri’s next move. Maybe this week will bring the key to this yearlong mystery.


OK2Ask®: nutrition for your teaching mind
Warm up to spring with OK2Ask®. Try Great Ideas to learn more about the FREE “riches” within TeachersFirst. Later in March, see a new offering featuring some of our editors’ favorite tools to create projects. Don’t miss these upcoming OK2Ask® sessions: free, online teacher professional development “snack sessions” to “consume” from the comfort of your own computer. Check out the full OK2Ask® schedule for the rest of the school year.

Great Ideas: Exploring the Resources of TeachersFirst 3.0 to Plan Effective, Technology-Infused Lessons; Thursday, March 8, 2012 at two times; Read the details and register

Editors’ Choices from the TeachersFirst Edge: TeachersFirst Editors’ Top Picks; Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at two times; Read the details and register



Around the World Once a Week (#xw1w)
XW1W  for the week of Feb 26: How many hours/minutes are you IN school each day?  Across the World Once a Week (XW1W) uses microblogging or blogging tools to share responses about everyday life from any corner of the world. The XW1W FAQ page explains it all. Make today’s instant communications an instant learning experience.


Featured Sites
 This week in our Featured Sites, find simple tools and visual ways to learn:

  • Two great finds for early grades (even PreK!)
  • A tool to stay on task and on time
  • Collaborative web searching
  • A QR hunt generator
  • A web AND iPad based whiteboard video tool
  • SOUNDS -- shared
  • Digital Citizenship lessons
  • An “idea bin” tool
  • 3D Bio videos

And more. Don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.


May this week bring both gentle breezes and great gusts of understanding in your classes.


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