10 tips to help kids develop a love of reading

When I was six, I learned to read. The first book I remember reading was about a detective who loved pancakes. I haven’t stopped reading since. My family is a reading family. I remember first reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to my mom. That wizardly series quickly expanded and bonded my immediate and extended family. We had Halloween parties themed after Harry Potter, we went to the midnight releases of new books, and we cried together through the final book. When my family goes on a road trip, we each take a bag of books. I remember one long drive where my grandmother was listening to a Clive Cussler novel while I read my own book. I became quite practiced at tuning out outside distraction on that drive! When I was thirteen, I converted my best friend to reading simply because that was one of my favorite pastimes; now I’ve converted my husband as well. He recently told his mother how he has read thirteen books in the past thirteen months (she was very impressed).

However, with the growth of technology in our daily lives, our younger generation has many options for entertainment. With so many demands on their attention and so little time in the day, recreational reading seems to fall to the wayside. As a hobby that offers more than just a way to pass the time, here are some tips to get your kids to read. If you would like some tips specifically for teens, this article is a good source for ideas.

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We’re head over heels for Booster’s Valentine Creator

Share the love with your friends and family by using Booster’s Valentine Creator.

Booster’s Valentine Creator is an interactive webpage that helps you create customized valentines—all with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Here’s how to put a little pizzazz into your valentines this year:

Choose a character. All the Imagine Learning stars are here, from loveable Pete the Prairie Dog to chatterbox Mike the Microphone.

Select a colorful background. Roses are red and violets are blue; we’ve got a color that’s perfect for you.

Pick a memorable message. Using the arrows above the card, select the perfect sentiment.

Once you’ve completed your creation, download and print it, or email it to a lucky recipient.

Teachers, be sure to share the love with your class, as they will be absolutely smitten by this fun, interactive activity. So put some heart into it and make a sweet valentine for that special someone.

Happy Valentine’s Day from all your friends at Imagine Learning!


10 fun ways to use video creation in the classroom

Why not celebrate Digital Learning Day by instigating a video creation project in your classroom? Students enjoy working on video projects—they inspire creativity, allow for teamwork, and produce a final product the students can be proud of. Incorporating video projects in the classroom is one way to provide a rich blended learning experience for students.

  1. Divide students into groups to make a movie of a book they have read, retelling the elements of a plot. Or, ask students to create a video project about their favorite character or chapter instead of writing a book report.
  2. Create a song or rap video to help students remember math strategies, spelling words, or grammar rules.
  3. Turn student-written poems into artistically visual videos.
  4. Play charades by asking students to create a 30-second video. They can act out vocabulary words and have the rest of the class guess which word they represent.
  5. Design a movie about the history of your school or community. Have the children act it out.
  6. Produce a news segment of a special event, such as a guest speaker, a school 5K fun run, a beautification project, or a fund raiser.
  7. Ask students to highlight themselves in a one-minute get-to-know-you video.
  8. Invent a music video, using a song the students are learning in music class.
  9. Build a short documentary to explain a science project. Video is great to show time-lapse changes for experiments.
  10. Allow students to re-teach a unit using video. Students can create props and visuals to summarize what they learned about a given topic.


Useful Video Apps

Many students now have access to iPods, phones, and tablets which are equipped with great, portable cameras for taking video. The following movie-making apps are useful, inexpensive (most are under $2), and can take your student-created videos to the next level: ScriptWrite, iMovie, Game Your Video, Action Movie FX, Time Lapse Camera HD, Movie Looks HD, Avid Studio, SloPro, FiLMiC Pro, TiltShift Video, and Scrolling Credits.

Helpful Online Tools

Masher is a fun, free, tool for creating video mash-ups. Masher offers large collection of video clips, music, and effects from their gallery. You can also add your own images, video clips, and music clips through the Masher uploader. Masher allows you to insert text throughout your video. Using Masher is simple: just drag elements from the media gallery into the timeline editor. From there, you can arrange the sequence of elements, and when you are ready, you can publish and share your production.

Animoto is great for quickly making simple videos by using still images, music, and text. If you can make a slideshow presentation, you can make a video using Animoto. Animoto’s free service limits you to 30-second videos. By applying for an educational account, you can create longer videos.

Stupeflix is a service that allows users to create video montages using their favorite images and audio clips. Stupeflix allows users to drag and drop their images into a desired sequence. You will want to upload your own audio clips as Stupeflix offers only one default soundtrack. But an advantage of Stupeflix is that it allows you to use more than one audio clip within the same video.

Photo Peach is a new service that allows you to easily create an audio slideshow, with captions, from images in your Flickr, Picassa, or Facebook account. You can also use images saved on your local hard drive to create a slideshow. Adding captions is easy: simply type the text into the caption box. Also, changing the order of images is a simple drag and drop procedure.

Xtra Normal is a unique service that enables students to create animated, narrated movies just by typing the dialogue then dragging and dropping characters and set elements into the movies. There are free and paid plans for using Xtra Normal, but the standard plan should be more than adequate for most academic uses.

If your class uses these ideas or resources for making video, we would love to hear about it. What ideas do you have about incorporating video in the classroom?


4 ways to involve parents and net bigger gains for your students

When it comes to boosting achievement for students of all ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds, the simplest answer may be the best one. New research from The Center for Public Education shows that simply getting parents involved in their child’s education can significantly impact student success. So what’s the catch?

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