Is hunger affecting your students?

“When I started sixth grade, the other kids made fun of Brian and me because we were so skinny. . . . At lunchtime, when other kids unwrapped their sandwiches or bought hot meals . . . I told people that I had forgotten to bring my lunch. No one believed me, so I started hiding in the bathroom during lunch hour.

“When other girls came in and threw away their lunch bags in the garbage pails, I’d go retrieve them. I couldn’t get over the way kids tossed out all this perfectly good food.” – Jeanette Walls, The Glass Castle (2005)

Unfortunately, journalist and author Jeannette Walls isn’t the only American student who has struggled with severe, debilitating hunger. According to a recent national survey, 63 percent of teachers surveyed reported an increase in the number of students who regularly come to school hungry.

That number is significant. But does hunger pose any real threats to your students? Read more »

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This week in education: Links you won’t want to miss

What a week for education! In the past seven days, Oscar-winner The King’s Speech brought stuttering issues to the forefront, and Apple unveiled a new iPad that changed the way we think about bringing technology into the classroom. And at Imagine Learning, we had some paradigm-shifting news of our own: a donation to Rising Star India showed us, once again, how critical English language skills are to students’ success, and we celebrated 10,000 downloads for our free mobile reading app, Bookster.

Just in case that wasn’t quite enough action for one week, here are four education links you just can’t miss. Be sure to check out the first three–each represents a different perspective in the education reform debate that’s riling up teachers, policymakers, and celebrities across the country.

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Free reading app is making a difference at home and in the classroom

A few months ago Imagine Learning released its first mobile learning app, Bookster. The response has been better than we had hoped for. Parents and teachers around the world have been downloading Bookster at a consistently high rate. This week we were thrilled to see Bookster surpass 10,000 downloads!

Bookster is essentially a reading app. It features one of the books from Imagine Learning English, and it contains many of the same instructional components, including sync-highlighted text, vocabulary words that you can tap to hear again, and a read and record feature that lets users record and listen to their voices. The story features dynamic artwork by New York Times best-selling illustrator Maryn Roos.

Both parents and teachers have been putting Bookster to good use. Here are a few of the ways they’re doing it:

Read more »

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What does the iPad 2 mean for educators?

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPad 2 today, he introduced a tablet that’s faster and leaner than iPad 1, with two cameras, better graphics, and a better case to boot. So does that mean it will be better for education?

Bells and whistles aside, the iPad represents a pretty big change in the way people use tablets, computers, and other electronic devices. When Apple introduced iPad 1 last year, many, including myself, were skeptical. iPad? What kind of a name is that? Isn’t that an awkward size—bigger than an iPod but smaller than a computer? Who will buy that?

As it turns out, pretty much everyone wanted to buy it.

Read more »

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India’s rising stars: teaching English to children of the leprosy-affected

In 2010, Imagine Learning employees Talmadge, Noah, and Eli Eyre, along with their wives, volunteered at a school in a leprosy colony in India. Because the brothers all work for Imagine Learning, helping children overcome obstacles was already big part of their lives. But seeing the immense need of these children of the leprosy-affected was a different matter altogether.

If you live in India today and you contract leprosy, here’s the good news: leprosy is easily curable, and has been for nearly a century.

Here’s the bad news: although you may live a full, healthy life, it may seem more like a life sentence. Your community will probably ostracize you. Your parents may shun you. Your spouse might abandon you. No company will employ you, and so you will be forced to beg for money and food. You will have no choice but to live in poverty in one of the leprosy colonies dotting southern India.

Fighting leprosy isn’t nearly as difficult as fighting the stigma associated with the disease. Because leprosy is perceived by many people in India as a curse, many communities ostracize even those who have been completely cured. Children of the leprosy-affected are also subjected to this discrimination.

In 2004, Rising Star Outreach was founded, an organization that strives to overcome this stigma by providing social and economic opportunities for the leprosy-affected and their children. During their time volunteering, the Eyre brothers realized that language and literacy software from Imagine Learning could be of great benefit to the children in Rising Star Outreach schools. And so recently, Imagine Learning partnered with Rising Star Outreach to teach English to the children of the leprosy-affected. Read more »

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