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May 19, 2014

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

Sometimes staying “connected” is more about the people than the devices. As warm weather blows through the windows, set a timer on your screen time. Even TeachersFirst can wait until you have a chance to go outside and play. You will come back refreshed by the laughter and friends. We will still be here, ready to help you find what you need for this week’s lessons.


OK2Ask® Summer is coming soon
Plan now for summer learning, just for YOU. Summer OK2Ask sessions resume in early July and will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays for six weeks. All summer sessions begin at 6 pm EDT. OK2Ask® is a series of free, online session for teacher self-directed professional development. Learn more about OK2Ask. The full downloadable summer schedule is available now, and registrations will open by the end of May. Mark your calendar for the professional development YOU choose.


Middle school science teachers ONLY
Now is your chance to be part of MySciLife®, an exciting, new way to teach—for FREE. Since summer, 2012, TeachersFirst has been conducting a research pilot of this online social learning environment where students create an identity as a science concept, such as an organism, animal, object, scientist, or force: What would it be like to live life as a cell? Students develop this identity and maintain the role of this science concept via status updates, interactions, and tools familiar to today’s youth—safely within the 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. We are now accepting applications for a few additional middle school science teachers for the 2014-15 school year. If you or one of your friends is a creative, middle level science teacher (gr 6-9) who enjoys student-centered learning, please read the details, watch our introductory video, and browse our exciting research findings. Submit your information now via the link to the online application form on the MySciLife page. Time and space are limited. MySciLife® brings science to life.

Sparking Summer Learning
Whether you have days or weeks of school left, prepare your students and parents NOW to preserve learning over the summer with this handpicked collection of interactives, creative tools, and clever sites for all ages: TeachersFirst’s Summer Sparklers. 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 and kids will actually have fun.


On the calendar
Looking for creative thank you gifts to school staff, parent volunteers, and others who help your classroom function and your student learn? Planning a final push for your history class studying D-Day (June 6)? Saluting the flag for Flag Day (June 14?) Find resources and ideas for these and other date-related events on the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar throughout the school year.


See you in Atlanta?
The Thinking Teachers of TeachersFirst are headed to the ISTE conference in June. If you are going, plan to meet us there (more details in June Updates). You might even earn a coveted Thinking Teacher T-shirt! If you cannot afford a trip to Atlanta, we can help. On Monday, June 30, 2014, at 3:30 pm Eastern time, we will be doing an OK2Ask® LIVE webcast from ISTE. Plan to watch and listen to teachers as they share their fabulous ISTE discoveries. It’s almost like being there—without the airfare! Mark your calendar. The OK2Ask® LIVE link will be front and center on the TeachersFirst home page.


Learn something new - NOW 'n later
Whether you are waiting for summer’s OK2Ask sessions to begin or you simply want to learn, you can access OK2Ask archived recordings anytime. These 75 to 120-minute recordings open in Adobe Connect (an online “classroom” space) and let you start, stop, and pause to learn about many teaching topics. Because we cannot assess your learning from an archived session, we are not able to grant certificates for watching a recording. But you will LOVE being able to watch and learn with OK2Ask. Why not watch with a friend or take OK2Ask to your school’s professional development days! See the full archive listing here.


Summer Reading is not just for kids
Maybe you prefer a more traditional way to learn: sitting on the beach with a book. Now is the time to start collecting that stack of reading, and TeachersFirst is here to help. We know that in your day-to-day teaching life you might not have time to read all you’d like for your own professional growth and emotional well-being, but this article shares books and blogs to re-ignite your teaching flame.


Go outside and play?
Games tell us much about a culture. Share the XW1W question for the week of May 18 to learn about games in different places: What outdoor games do you play in spring?? Help your students experience life in distant 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.


How many?
How many different teaching assignments have you had in your career? REPLY in the poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find ideas for now and later:

  • Native Americans - with a slant to note
  • America’s car ads
  • Optics
  • Media literacy
  • A no-membership poll creator
  • Shapes
  • Roman numerals
  • Weather
  • Awesome blogging ideas
  • Twitter connections for learning
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this May 25 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived May 18 Features here, and don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.

May you and your students have a chance to connect with the incoming summer breezes this week. You might be surprised what a breath of fresh air will do.

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