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Slowing the Summer Slide--Part II: Math

As we discussed in a previous post, the typical American student enjoys a three-month break from school for summer vacation, providing well-deserved rest from the rigors of academia. But studies suggest the summer fun may also come at a price. According to a 2011 study by researchers at the RAND Corporation called “Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children’s Learning,” summer break – albeit necessary and beneficial in many aspects – could potentially set some students back two to three full months of grade-level equivalency if not supplemented with additional summer learning support. The RAND study also indicates that the summer slide is more pronounced in mathematics, a subject in which learning decay occurs more rapidly over summer vacation simply because of math inactivity. Students may read over summer vacation, but few practice their math skills.
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Educated Risks: Getting Out of the Teaching Comfort Zone

A guest post by Ashley Porter 7th-grade math teacher, Webster Groves School District, Missouri Imagine Learning now publishes monthly guest posts in order to stimulate conversations about K12 education across the country. Opinions expressed herein are those of the individual author and may not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Imagine Learning.   Think back to the college years when you were choosing your major. Education? Check. As to age group, you would have noted four basic categories: early childhood, elementary, middle, or high school students. Each had its merits, but you could only pick one. Check. I chose the math path--middle school first, followed by high school math later. I decided on math because it was in my comfort zone. That's what most middle school and high school teachers do; they choose the area they're most comfortable with. Yay! No more science, world studies, or English for me, right? My first teaching assignment was at a high school, teaching all levels of algebra. There was a big push, as there should be, to get students to graduate on time. Some teachers were assigned as "graduation coaches," and I was one of them. It was my job to work with students, build a relationship, help them catch up, and get them to a timely graduation. These students were struggling, behind on credits, and risked not graduating at all (or certainly not on time). So, as a graduation coach, I was encouraged to help students in all their areas of struggle. At this point, I received some of the best advice I ever got as an educator.
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Imagine Learning Talks About the Common Core Standards

At 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.
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Do Math Video Games Really Improve Mathematical Skills?

Math can be a frustrating challenge for some kids. Less so for most adults, generally because age and experience make math easier to comprehend. It’s not always so simple for kids. Each child has a unique learning style. Some children learn to add by counting on their fingers. Others may make up a song to help them with their times tables. The best teachers accommodate all learning styles. However, even when teachers use multiple strategies to teach basic addition and subtraction skills, it's sometimes hard to tell if kids are truly fluent in math facts. Flash forward to video games. They've been around a long time and are a huge hit with kids and teenagers. To many teachers (and parents), video games may seem like a complete waste of time. Because kids love them, they want to spend a lot of time playing--sometimes to the exclusion of other worthwhile activities. Enter game-based learning strategies, aka video-based math games. Educators may wonder if these, too, are a waste of time--or if they actually help kids learn. Current brain research seems to indicate the latter outcome.  A Case Study: Timez Attack Big Brainz is a case in point. Its designer, Ben Harrison, was tired of hearing his young daughter come home each day saying that she was "stupid." As she struggled with math, Ben knew there had to be a better way to give his daughter the math skills she needed to feel confident and successful.
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Language Acquisition and the Mathematics Classroom

A guest post by Linda Hardman President of Linda A. Hardman Consulting, Inc., teacher, and developer of multiple award-winning K12 math products Imagine Learning now publishes monthly guest posts in order to stimulate conversations about K12 education across the country. Opinions expressed herein are those of the individual author and may not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Imagine Learning.   According to the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the percentage of English language learners (ELL) in US public schools grew in the 2012–2013 school year by 9.2 percent (i.e., 4.4 million students) compared to the prior school year. Additionally, a new Pew Research Center study reported that a near-record 13.9 percent of the US population today is foreign born, with 45 million immigrants residing here. A diverse group of young students Because of these trends, students are significantly challenged to master academic language across the US. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for mathematics are also placing high demands in mathematics regarding abstract and quantitative reasoning, constructing viable arguments and critiquing the reasoning of others, and looking for/expressing regularity in repeated reasoning. Students and educators are even more challenged with the acquisition of academic language as a tool for mastering conceptual and procedural understanding of mathematical standards and practices. As a result of the increasing amount of ELL students and the challenges presented by the CCSS for mathematics, it is important for students to acquire both academic language skills and mathematical fluency. Moreover, the same essential reading components and first-language supports provided in reading classes also belong in the mathematics classroom.
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