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March 30, 2014

Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers®

April Fools! Are you dreading having students on April Fools Day? Maybe you are one of the lucky ones who has Spring Break over April Fools! Teaching on this “special” day is a true test of your suitability for the teaching profession. You can either frustrate yourself trying to suppress all the silly urges that erupt from your students or you can embrace them. Why not allow a little productive humor to add energy to class routine. Take a deep breath and have a laugh.

Bring science to LIFE in your middle school classroom!
TeachersFirst and our parent company, The Source for Learning, invite middle school science teachers to join MySciLife® for the 2015-16 school year. MySciLife is a FREE, safe, 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. For three years, MySciLife® pilot teachers have had great success working through the process of using MySciLife® to deliver their school’s science curriculum. We are now accepting applications for qualified, U.S. middle level science teachers for the 2015-16 school year.

All teachers beginning in MySciLife must complete a total of 15 hours of online Boot Camp prior to starting with students. The Boot Camp is a combination of independent modules you complete on your own time and live, online meetings (offered at many times). MySciLife teachers receive Professional Development certificates and are eligible to become MySciLife Certified teachers, all for FREE.

If you or one of your friends is a creative middle level (gr 6-9) science teacher who enjoys student-centered learning, please read the details, watch our introductory video, and browse our exciting research findings. Then submit your information now via the link to “To apply online” at the bottom of the page. Spaces are limited, so apply NOW. MySciLife® brings science to life.


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.


April is no Fool!
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.


OK2Ask – Spring 2015 Sessions
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.

  • 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


Spring Break?
Many schools are (finally) having a week off or at least a long weekend soon. Maybe your school already had a spring break? Or maybe the many snow days took place of (what was supposed to be) your break? This week’s teacher poll asks: Will your school have a spring break this year? Place your vote on the teacher poll on the TeachersFirst home page.


Adventures through Europe
Geo and Meri are enjoying England, Germany, Sweden, and more! 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.


Math, Government, or Physical Education?  
What is the favorite school subject? Why? Maybe you enjoy the traditional academic subjects like algebra or biology. Or maybe you like physical education, family and consumer science, or chorus? The XW1W question for the week of March 29: What is your favorite school subject? Why? 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.


Cool Tools – Edge "U-V"
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 two edge categories: Utilities and Video. Utilities are tools that don’t necessarily fit into any of the other specified edge categories, but do offer a specific task: for example, a url shortener! Video tools can be used to curate, create, or edit new (or existing) vides. 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 Science Careers, Math Fair Fun, and Team work:

  • Virtual Post-its
  • New England History and Art
  • Exercise for the Young
  • Shrunken Homes
  • Know and Learn More
  • Online Sketchbook
  • Interactive Simon (test your memory)
  • Ducks
  • And more

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are reading this April 5 or later, the link above will take you to the Featured Sites for the current week. Find the archived March 29 Features here, and don’t miss our many other recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured Sites page.


May your week bring laughter and learning together.

The TeachersFirst Team