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Weekly wrap-up and weekend links

Well, it's been a pretty exciting week here at Imagine Learning. We've shared two more amazing one year later stories from Seleny and Khalid. We've also celebrated some exciting holidays: International Thank You Day, National Letter Writing Week, and my personal favorite, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. After all that sharing, we're ready for a quick break. So we're signing off until Monday, when we'll be back with two exciting posts: one about new tools for getting your kids Common Core-ready, and another about an innovative new education project in New York City. To tide you over until we come back next week, here are some interesting links we stumbled across in our research this week: Technology replaces textbooks An easy way to reduce test stress More schools embrace the iPad New action brief on ELL challenges and pre-K-3rd solutions Happy weekend, evereyone! We'll see you back here on Monday.
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Language = Power

With the national holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday approaching, I took the opportunity to listen to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which I had never listened to in its entirety. Listening to that speech reminded me of something: I love language. I love words and the art of finding the perfect words to express the exact thought I want to communicate. I love hearing others use words to paint colorful visions, persuade my thinking, touch my emotions, and communicate truth to my soul. For me, language and the ability to truly communicate are very special and cherished gifts. I lost that gift once, and it was quite a traumatic experience.
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A quick note about National Letter Writing Week

Dear Blog Readers, I know my friend Rob wrote to tell you about International Thank You Day yesterday, but I just wanted to let you know about another fun holiday that’s happening right now. It’s National Letter Writing Week! Yep, that’s write right—a whole week devoted to epistles, missives, notes, and messages. It's the perfect excuse to make someone's mailbox a little brighter. So write some fan mail to your favorite author, drop a line to your best friend, or send a postcard to your long-lost cousin Irving. Long or short, typed or handwritten, everyone loves a letter! Wishing you the very best, PS: If you do send a letter this week, I'd love to hear about it. Just leave me a message in the comments section.
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The difference a year makes: Seleny's story

As part of our One Year Later series, we’re sharing the stories of four students who have made remarkable progress with Imagine Learning English in just one year. This is the third post in a four-part series; read part one here and part two here. Seleny Seleny, a third grader, was introduced to Imagine Learning English through an after-school program at her school in the fall of 2009. Her parents spoke only Spanish and her little brother - who had just started kindergarten - had very limited English skills.
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Why International Thank You Day matters

I love special days: holidays, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries . . . you name it. For me, any excuse to break with the old routine and do something different is what makes all the less-than-groovy days worth all the work. At Imagine Learning, December was a month overflowing with celebrations. Maybe I’m just suffering from holiday season withdrawals, but a few days back I thought, “When is the next celebration?” Perhaps you’re feeling something similar. Like Batman to his Batcave, to the Internet I went. After just a few minutes of searching, I was thrilled to find that the calendar is actually packed with holidays, festivals, anniversaries, and civic observances. Take today, for instance.
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The difference a year makes: Khalid's story

As part of our One Year Later series, we’re sharing the stories of four students who have made remarkable progress with Imagine Learning English in just one year. This is the second post in a four-part series; read part one here. In November 2009, I met Khalid Ali. We hadn't actually planned on filming Khalid's story - his teacher, Susan Rudolph, was speaking with us about a different student, but in the course of our interview she mentioned a boy from Yemen who was using Imagine Learning English.
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Kids are what they eat: Getting your students excited about new and healthy foods

If you’re looking for a fun classroom activity that’s related to one of our favorite pastimes—eating—then we’ve got an idea for you. To get your kids excited about trying new foods or eating more healthy foods, ask each of your students to bring in a favorite dish for a classroom potluck lunch. If you have students from different ethnic backgrounds, invite them to bring a favorite family dish for everyone to try. To add a healthy flair to the project, teach your students about healthy eating and why it's important to choose good foods to eat. Then ask students to think about how they can make their dish healthier—perhaps by substituting honey or agave nectar for sugar, using whole grain components, or using fresh fruits and vegetables. On the day of your potluck, ask for volunteers to talk about their dish, why it’s so special to them, and why it’s healthy. Then have students share their recipes (and dishes) with the rest of the class. To help you get started, here’s a recipe for a healthy parfait that kids can make themselves:
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A fresh start: Tips for decluttering your classroom in 2011

Before I began working for Imagine Learning, I substitute taught at several elementary and middle schools. Each classroom I entered revealed an interesting—but logical—pattern: classrooms that were neat and tidy at the beginning of the school year became a cluttered chaos by the new year. And, generally, any semblance of organization diminished completely from that point until the end of the academic year. Fortunately, organizational chaos is evitable—and now is the perfect time to get your classroom back in order. So, if you are a teacher who can barely see your desk beneath mounds of papers and clutter, read on for tips on starting 2011 back on the clutter-free track.
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The difference a year makes: Alexis's story

As part of our One Year Later series, we’re sharing the stories of four students who have made remarkable progress with Imagine Learning English in just one year. This is the first of four posts in the series. If you’re like me, you’re wondering where 2010 has gone. The new year always seems to sneak up on me, and I’ll probably be dating my checks wrong well into February. At the same time that I wonder where the year has gone, I also like to take a moment to reflect on what a difference one year makes. One year ago no one knew what Wikileaks was. One year ago LeBron James was beloved in Cleveland. And one year ago no one knew that something called an iPad would become the best-selling electronic device in history. One year later One year can also make a big difference in the life of a student. Recently, Imagine Learning had the chance to catch up with four students we had first visited in November 2009, when the students were just beginning to use Imagine Learning English. In November of 2010, the video team returned to see the progress these students had made in just one year with Imagine Learning English.
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Do some (web) surfing this winter

So winter break is here, and you’ve just settled down for a much-deserved long winter’s nap—or at least a little rest and relaxation. You have some great book recommendations (both educational and just for fun), and you have a list of great Imagine This! posts to catch up on. What else do you need? More educational resources? Some news resources so you can catch up on what’s going on around the world? Maybe a few fun time-wasters? Then this is the post for you, my friend. Here are a few of my personal favorite websites, with plenty to keep you occupied until school is back in session. You might even get some good ideas for lesson plans in the coming new year!
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