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Artist spotlight: A simple way to get your kids talking about art

We know that getting kids excited about art isn’t always easy. So to help you get your students a little more enthusiastic about art and the behind-the-scenes work that goes into creating illustrations and drawings, we're sharing an interview with Maryn Roos, one of our favorite illustrators here at Imagine Learning.  We hope you'll share this interview with your students and get them talking about what they like about art and drawing. You can even use the interview questions we asked Maryn to help your students create their own artist profiles for one of their very own art projects.
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Art activity: How to draw Booster

Do you have students who are interested in art and drawing? Help them draw like a professional with this post from Maryn Roos, one of our illustrators here at Imagine Learning. In this post, she walks you through the step-by-step process of creating your very own drawing of Booster. Once your Booster portraits are done, send us your drawings and we'll post them on the blog. You can scan or save your pictures as electronic files and link to them in the comments section below, or you can email your drawings to feedback@imaginelearning.com. Happy drawing!
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Why sign language is great for your (hearing) students

It seems logical that sign language—language that conveys meaning visually instead of acoustically—is the natural language of people who are deaf. But what does sign language have to do with your hearing students? Although they might not have a unique need for sign language like deaf children do, your hearing students can certainly still benefit from learning signs. Learning how to speak, to read, and to write are all very demanding and difficult tasks, but they can be fun and rewarding tasks, too. Teaching with sign language and finger spelling is an excellent way to make language learning enjoyable, and it can also help your students in these three areas:
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Culture clash? Not!

According to experts, whatever knowledge we acquire is acquired through language and culture. The two are so intricately intertwined that even trained scholars find it impossible to figure out where language ends and culture begins. When two or more cultures meet in a classroom, it’s a great learning opportunity for teachers and students alike.  Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) students can add to the language and culture in your classroom by providing you with opportunities to create meaningful learning experiences for all your students. So what can you do to make your classroom a multicultural comfort zone and create meaningful learning experiences for all your students?
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Activities to keep your students focused during the holiday season

December is an exciting month filled with holidays, treats, and gifts. But with all of that excitement in the air, you may find it difficult to hold your students’ attention for long—especially as it gets closer to winter break. At Imagine Learning, we’ve put our heads together to come up with some great ideas to help you keep your students focused during the holiday season.  Here are some of our favorites:
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Waiting for Superman: Worth the wait?

A few weeks ago I found my seat in a darkened theater, anxious to finally be seeing the film Waiting for Superman, the new documentary in which filmmaker Davis Guggenheim examines the failings of the US education system. I had heard a lot about the film, which was in limited release nationwide but had finally made its way to my town. So was Waiting for Superman worth the wait?
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New proof supporting summer reading programs

My dad looked like the proudest grandpa in the world as he told my mom and me about spending the afternoon with my seven-year-old niece. He told us about how she had completely wowed him by teaching him something new about orca whales— specifically, the methods they use to hunt. “I just don’t know how she knew all of that,” my dad said. And then my mom revealed the secret to my niece’s whale knowledge: my sister had assigned her children book reports over the summer to keep them school-ready for the coming year. As a seven-year-old, I probably would have considered this idea cruel and unusual punishment. As an adult and education advocate, all I could think was, “My sister is a genius!” And my niece isn’t the only proof that summer reading programs are working. School Library Journal recently released some interesting results about the proven effects of summer reading.
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We're grateful for lessons learned

A while back, we celebrated World Teachers' Day by thanking the teachers who made a difference in our lives. Today we're celebrating Thanksgiving by expressing our gratitude for the most important lessons we learned as students. So here's a short list of the lessons we're grateful to have learned over the years from wonderful educators who weren't just our teachers but were also our mentors, coaches, and friends. We're grateful we learned how to . . .
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An irresistible way to change lives with a book

We know books can shape lives in many ways.  Here is one easy way to bring that power to your elementary classroom or home. I learned this lesson my freshman year in high school.  I attended a diverse Chicago high school.  And I can tell you, there were plenty of students who wished they were anywhere but school. But one thing the school had going for it was a gifted veteran English teacher who knew the power of books.  And she gave us a gift some 35 years ago. She had us read the gothic romance novel Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.  (Not exactly the coolest book for a high school boy to read.  The cover looked like a romance novel your mom would read at the beauty shop.)  To my surprise, it was a great book.  But I was in for a much bigger surprise a few days later.
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Should your class jump on the blogwagon?

When a friend of mine first invited me to participate in her group blog about eight years ago, I was a little baffled about how to use it. And I couldn’t decide if I liked the format. The Bookity Book Book Club would hold online discussions of—yep, you got it—books. Even though I love reading and discussing books, my participation was minimal because I just didn’t get how to use the program, and, sadly, I was scared to learn something new. But then my husband and I started having children while living far from our families, and suddenly blogging took on a new importance. It was a way to stay connected—to show parents and grandparents what was happening in the lives of our daughters. And it was a way for me to share my feelings and ideas with a broader audience than just “dear diary.” There are other ways to use blogs beyond family life, and teachers around the world have discovered the value of classroom blogging as not only “an avenue for their communications, but also as a tool for giving voice to what their students are learning and how they are learning.” Have you considered the idea of starting a class blog? Maybe you’re not quite sure if it’s the right thing for your class, or how to start, or if it will be worth the effort when so many projects already tug at your time. To help out, I’ve done a little research for you. Here are ten reasons to have your class start blogging:
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