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Imagine Learning releases version 14

Imagine Learning launched version 14 today, the latest update to its K–6 language and literacy software. Version 14 delivers the latest in optimized, individualized instruction: interoperability between devices, improved instructional design, new activities for older beginning students, and the new student Growth Reporting tool. Watch the video below to see all version 14 updates. Or, read the official press release. What's New V14 from Imagine Learning on Vimeo.  
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Imagine Learning Values: Be innovative and change our world

Imagine Learning’s second company value is to be innovative and change our world. We believe that to be a leader, we can never accept the status quo. We can never be comfortable. We are always pushing and exploring, developing and testing. We set goals that challenge us, because we know that by stretching to meet them, we’ll go farther than we ever expected. For us, being great today just isn’t good enough. We innovate to change our world. At Imagine Learning, our mission is to open doors of opportunity by teaching language and literacy to the children of the world. We want to change the world by giving students the language skills they need to succeed. How do we do that? By being innovative. But what does it mean to be innovative? This is the wall of iPads hanging in our production area. These iPads are running constantly to search out bugs in our product.
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Teacher Highlight: Tips from a TESOL kindergarten teacher in Shanghai

Catherine Lamb is a teacher in Shanghai, China and is, coincidentally, my mother! The beginning of her teaching career started with the birth of her first child, and continued until her youngest (that’s me!) was preparing to leave the nest. She then returned to the workforce. She currently works as a Primary Reception (Kindergarten) teacher and grade coordinator in a British international school. Because she is located in an international school in Shanghai, Mrs. Lamb’s students are often from many different countries. They speak many first languages but their knowledge of English varies from fluency to none at all. She has had students from Brazil, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Britain, America, China, etc. Her classroom is bilingual, and she team-teaches with a Mandarin speaking teacher; part of the day’s instruction is held in Mandarin and the rest is in English.       Mrs. Lamb, a teacher in Shanghai, China         Tips from the Teacher: 1. Repeat repeat repeat. Repetition is key with young kids. Don’t worry about boring them. The repetition will bring fluency and confidence. When I give instructions, I model them; I say the same line over and over and over and I circulate among the children. Sometimes I say something twenty-four times, “Johnny, now it is your turn to show us your living thing. Susy, now it is your turn to show us your living thing.” Repeat repeat. After the “reader of the day” reads, I always ask the same question: "Do you want to keep this in your reading folder or put it in the red bin?"  By the time a shy speaker reads, he knows that question is coming and what it means, so he will be ready for it and have a successful experience responding. 2. Follow a strict routine so they know what comes next. My students are tossed into a world where they can't understand what's happening. They are young too. Knowing what comes next comforts them.  Seeing the schedule and knowing when they will go home gives them a sense of security. Even now (when they've memorized the schedule better than I have) they look at it first upon arrival. If I haven't updated it for the day they want to help me get it ready. They question any new items. One of my students was struggling with being away from his mom everyday, so every day at noon he'd go through the schedule with me to ensure himself he got to go home. The ELL students learn how to spell class subject names because they learn quickly what each word means and they know exactly where to find those words on the schedule.
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Best books for summer reading

On the final day of summer break last year, my daughter devoured Caddie Woodlawn. Last week I wrote about the techniques I use to encourage my children to read. This week, I am sharing a list of our favorite books. Some of them are award-winners—but even better—all of them win the approval of my three unforgiving children. So pull out the hammock, spread out a blanket, or puff up a beanbag. These books are sure to draw you in! 0–2 years Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle Drummer Hoff, Barbara Emberly and Ed Emberly The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See, Bill Martin Jr. Guess How Much I Love You, Sam McBratney The Little Engine That Could, Watty Piper Good Night, Gorilla, Peggy Rathmann Quick as a Cricket, Audrey Wood Piggies, Audrey and Don Wood
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Spring into Action contest winners

Over the past month, we have been running a Spring into Action contest for Imagine Learning teachers and school site experts. Teachers were asked to try our new Action Areas™ tool, and then tell us how it worked to enter a contest for an iPad mini. We are happy to see that thousands of teachers are now using the Action Areas tool! Drum roll, please . . . . The new owners of an iPad mini are: Kasi Davis, a site expert from Asbell Elementary Raquel Jaeger, a teacher from Whittier Elementary   Congratulations to our winners! Winning an iPad is awesome, but knowing how to use the Action Areas tool is pretty great too. Teachers love the Action Areas tool because it pinpoints which skills students are struggling with and provides resources (printouts and activities) for immediate intervention. By grouping students together who are having trouble in the same area, the tool also forms instant intervention groups. So the Action Areas tool simplifies intervention. And simplified intervention means more happy teachers and more kids on track. Happy day.
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Jump into summer reading

One afternoon in June, I found my girls just like this. They had abandoned their water party for front porch reading. While summer is a perfect time for children to relax and enjoy travel and other activities, it can also be a time for young minds to become idle. This period of learning loss has been referred to as the "summer slide." But the only summer slide we want Imagine Learning students to experience is having fun on a slip-n-slide. So let's talk about summer reading! I have fond memories of childhood summertime reading. My sisters and I would read on a blanket under our large backyard tree, sprawled out on wet towels poolside, or in our gently swinging hammock. Since I recently inherited most of my mom’s large children’s book collection, my children are now reading the same books as I did. And many of the pages are spotted with evidence of summers past—greasy sunscreen fingerprints, dog-eared pages, and the occasional water spot. So how do you create a summer of reading? The first step to encouraging a summer full of reading is to get kids to make a summer reading goal. Children can decide how many books, pages, or minutes they want to read. Involve children in this process so they begin with excitement. Most libraries offer a summer reading challenge and often include an incentive for completing the challenge. But if your local library doesn't offer a summer reading program, you can always create your own.
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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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5 simple teacher appreciation ideas for kids

My mom is one of those amazing people who have chosen to be a middle school math and science teacher. After teaching for the last 22 years, she is retiring at the end of May. I may be biased, but she is truly a remarkable teacher. She works long hours, voluntarily tutors students before and after school, and insists on testing with explanation-type questions as opposed to multiple choice questions because she feels it is a better way to assess student understanding. This means she frequently brings home large stacks of papers to correct. I have seen how she worries about certain students and continually seeks to find new and better teaching methods. She tirelessly reaches out to parents and does an excellent job at communicating with them. And she even remains calm when working with the frazzled and sometimes mean you-must-be-doing-something-wrong-because-my-child-is-failing-math parents. She amazes me! Perhaps because I grew up observing what it takes to be a fantastic teacher, I have made a consistent effort to show gratitude and appreciation to the teachers of my own children throughout each school year.
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6 ways to teach with technology

Our post on post-literacy got me thinking about some ways to use technology as a tool in the classroom. Here are some ideas on using technology with your middle/high school students. These suggestions could both engage your students as well as introduce tech-savvy skills they don’t have yet. 1. Google it. If students have a question, join them in researching it online. Show them the best way to phrase their search with keywords. Google has a search engine specifically for research called “Google Scholar.” Direct your students to this for googling scholarly articles online. SweetSearch is another search engine created especially for teachers and students to use in research. It only searches on credible websites that have been reviewed by the experts of SweetSearch. 2. Analyze sources. Teach students how to recognize which websites/authors/publications are more reliable sources than others. Many teachers find that when assigning research to students, their bibliographies tend to be full of mostly Internet sources that aren't always accurate. Students are going to use the Internet, so show them where to go. Have them look at publishing companies, the author’s credentials, and the date of the information. This article shows some great questions to ask as you are analyzing the reliability of a source. A good example of showing how irreliable sources can look reliable would be to show your students The Onion. While the site looks very legitimate, it is completely satirical in content and would not be a reliable source for any research paper.
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Imagine Learning Values: Obsess over customers

  The Imagine Learning Values are showcased on a wall in the Imaginarium. At Imagine Learning, we believe in a central set of values that guide our decisions at every level. The first of these values is Obsess Over Customers. We believe providing solutions to our customers’ problems is the lifeblood of our business. And right at the core of this excellent customer service is our relationship with each partner. We are constantly identifying market problems so that we know exactly what kinds of solutions our customers will value most. We go above and beyond by creating a positive emotional experience for our customers. This sounds good and all, but what does this mean in the everyday hustle and bustle of Imagine Learning’s hardworking corporate team?
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