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January 13, 2104

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

Just as things freeze up, we teachers have to be even more flexible. Weather events change school schedules, and when we are in school, so many students are out sick! As you seek ways to stay flexible and still complete the curriculum, turn to TeachersFirst for resources that can reinforce, challenge, and extend learning. The best thing about technology is that it works from almost anywhere!


What matters
Helping students connect to history is tough. The facts mean nothing out of context. Help students build their own understanding of “today in history” events by following the question prompts in mobile-friendly Dates That Matter. Placing historic events in the context of personal experience makes all the difference. Dates That Matter works on ANY mobile device and is perfect for your projector or interactive whiteboard!


If Twitter could talk
Based on the number of tweets of this page, we can tell it is VERY helpful for teachers. In case you missed it, check out our BYOD Dream Tools collection. These FREE, reviewed tools allow users to create and access projects using the same app, no matter what kind of device they have. If your school has Bring Your Own Device, make your teaching life easier with these tools in common.


Many ways to serve
Martin Luther King Day is a week away (Jan 20). Find loads of resources and lesson ideas for all levels in TeachersFirst’s Resources for Martin Luther King, Jr, including the TeachersFirst Exclusive collection of elementary plans about MLK and a unit entitled They Had a Dream, Too. Why not involve your school in a service project to honor MLK?


A squall of resources
Ugh. The weather has been just plain brutal. Plan ahead by adding some Snow Day Resources to your class web page for those inevitable school closures. This page includes ideas for both online collaboration and snow-related learning. Looking ahead, the 100th Day of School occurs soon. Of course you’ll want to connect your curriculum to the Sochi Olympics beginning in early February. Turn to the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar for a blizzard of timely teaching ideas.


Cabin fever cure
Need a boost during chilly January? Why not learn something new and avoid “cabin fever”? OK2Ask® sessions provide free, online professional development “snack sessions” for teachers everywhere. Register NOW for all Jan/Feb sessions (all at 7:00pm Eastern time). Please be sure to READ the descriptions to be sure you have the prerequisites (if any) and/or technology comfort levels:

  • Sharing and Solutions for Technology Coaches; Thurs. Jan 16, 2014  *Note that this less structured session is intended for those who play the role of “edtech coach,” either formally or informally.
  • Google Series (Part 3): Google for Every Classroom Tues. Jan. 21, 2014
  • Building Ethical Digital Citizens; Thurs. Jan. 30, 2014
  • Be the Best: Professional Resources; Thurs. Feb. 6, 2014
  • Google Series (Part 4): Using Google Templates; Tues. Feb 18, 2014
  • Juggling the BYOD or 1:1 Classroom; Mon. Feb 24, 2014


On the trail
Geo and Meri are traveling in North Carolina this week on the Appalachian Trail! Brrr. They are hunting for Louie, the focus of this year’s Globetracker’s Mission. If you missed an installment during break, simply “rewind” using the <<episode link at the top. Read new posts every Sunday so your students (grades 2-6) can learn standards-based geography, landforms, and major U.S. landmarks. Vote each week, telling the teens what to do next.


Weather or not?
Nothing affects culture like weather! Share the XW1W question for the week of January 12: Does our school ever have weather closings/delays? Help your students experience life in far off 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.


Weather, absentees, indoor recess?
What is your pet teaching peeve in January? Vote for the most annoying in the teacher poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Take TeachersFirst with you
Did you know that TeachersFirst is a device-agnostic tool? Open TeachersFirst on your tablet or smartphone. Our site “senses” if you are on a small screen and serves you our mobile version so you can search and browse teaching resources wherever you are. You will also see a warning if a reviewed site requires Flash (and therefore may not work on iOS devices). Make TeachersFirst EASY to find on your mobile device. Open the site in the web browser and click on the “send” icon. Choose “Make a shortcut on your homescreen.” You will now see our familiar small puzzle piece logo just like an app, ready for you any time!


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find a wide variety from helpful practice to quirky finds:

  • Math at home, work, and school
  • Two sites that tell “stories” through maps, including U.S. history!
  • Obscure to quirky science history
  • Newsy science—great for informational text
  • Elite open courses
  • Digital citizenship lessons
  • Women and media
  • A cool—and EASY—animation tool
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this January 19 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived January 12 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.


May minds and muscles flex this week, despite the winter woes. (Oh my, is that iambic?)

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