Why Teach Academic Language?

Every day in American schools, teachers welcome more students whose first language is something other than English.

According to the Pew Research Center, this demographic trend will only grow exponentially in coming years. In fact, Pew estimates up to 93% of our population will come from immigrant populations and their children by the year 2050.

academic language Imagine LearningWhat do these numbers mean for schools? Here’s the short answer: schools will need better ways to teach language generally, and academic language in particular.

Why the importance? When students don’t master academic language, they’re at greater risk for falling behind or even dropping out of school.

The Language of Textbooks

Learning to speak, read, and write in English can be challenging enough.

But without knowing academic language (e.g., general-instruction words like “summarize,” math words like “times” as another way to say “multiplied by,” or science words like “hypothesis”), English language learners can quickly fall behind in their progress. Read more »

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Represent, Act, Engage: How Universal Design for Learning Works

NAEYC Week of the Young Child 2016 Imagine Learning print concepts ABC song (space theme) from free the aliensPeeked inside a typical classroom lately? If so, you’re likely to see one teacher surrounded by an increasingly diverse group of students–each with unique learning needs.

What’s more, that ‘typical’ classroom is filled with students who are anything but typical.

Colombia activity, Imagine Learning EspañolFor one thing, there’s really no such thing as an average student.

Each class might contain students who struggle with reading or math, students who don’t yet speak English, and students with disabilities. On the other end of the spectrum are the gifted students who may need more challenges to stay engaged.

How on earth can one teacher meet the needs of all these diverse learners? Read more »

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How to Choose a Fun and Effective Math Video Game

video games, math fluency, Big Brainz, Timez Attack, choose best learning, effective math video, success, math fact automaticityLet’s face it—not many kids are interested in reciting their multiplication tables or practicing addition when they’ve got video games to play, TV to watch, and technology to explore.

Unfortunately, too many parents and educators automatically assume that video games are mere time wasters, as mentioned in our earlier discussion about game-based learning.

Of course, sorting out the effective math games from the mediocre ones can be a challenge. Not every game is equal when it comes to producing lasting learning. So, what to do? Read more »

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Imagine Learning Talks About the Common Core Standards

Common Core, Imagine Learning, state standards, advocates, opponents, CCSS, benefits, classroom, assessments, tests, fact or fictionAt Imagine Learning, we’re quite familiar with the variety of opinions surrounding the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Although our own programs are aligned with multiple state standards (and not just the CCSS), we know what most educators are thinking on the subject. Here, we share a few of our findings.

What the Data Say

In August of 2015 a nationwide PDK/Gallup poll revealed that a majority of respondents oppose the teaching of Common Core. Interestingly, black and Hispanic respondents showed a lower level of opposition, at just 35 and 50 percent respectively.

In an earlier (2013) poll by PDK/Gallup, 72 percent of those polled indicated that they trust public school educators. But the same respondents also assume most educators oppose the CCSS, a view not aligned with the data.

In reality, 75 percent of educators support CCSS standards. Read more »

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The Truth About Game-Based Educational Software

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Math-fact gamification

Ask a typical educator about game-based learning and video games in school, and expect at least some skeptical responses.

Many educators and parents worry about gaming as an educational tool.

Research on the educational worth of video games has been mixed, and some educators point out the fact that most data come from short-term studies.

While research on educational software is still young, increasing evidence points to positive outcomes for today’s students—despite the prevalence of headlines linking video games to bad behavior or lukewarm learning outcomes.

According to James Gee, an education professor at Arizona State University, blaming all video games for poor results is like blaming all food for the existence of obese people.1 Read more »

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