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Yule blog: Season's greetings from Imagine Learning

Season's greetings to all the teachers, administrators, and parents who help teach our kids. Happy holidays from everyone at Imagine Learning! To watch this video on YouTube, click here.
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Using music to help struggling readers: Guest post

Today we're sharing a guest post from Elizabeth M. Peterson, fourth-grade teacher and host of the Inspired Classroom, a blog about using music and arts education to enhance student learning. For more information about Elizabeth, check out her bio at the end of the post. Our students come to us with many interests and talents. Music is one of them. Whether it’s Beethoven, the Beatles, Bon Jovi or (Justin) Bieber, tapping into their love of listening to music can help students become better readers. The two disciplines are innately very similar, and teachers and parents can take advantage of these similarities to help struggling readers become motivated learners.
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How social media saved winter break

It happens every year. Just when your students have gotten into the groove of schedules and studying, along comes winter break, ready to derail your efforts. This January, avoid the blank stares and cricket chirps by keeping your students engaged in learning throughout the holidays. If you've got a few minutes this break, we've got 50 simple solutions (from 5 social media sites) that will bring an end to winter break's intellectual breakdown. Because if you and your students are already planning to be on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogger, or Flickr this holiday season, you might as well be learning something at the same time.
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Why talking in class could help your English learners make even bigger gains

Keep talking! Louder, please. It's too quiet in here! You probably don't find yourself saying things like this to your students very often, but new research on how children acquire second languages might soon have you asking your students to make a little more noise in class. Neuroscientists at the University of Washington's Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, or I-LABS, recently published a study that confirms what educators have long suspected: social engagement is a vital component of language learning. In other words, encouraging your English learners to converse with teachers and students could be the secret weapon you need to help them make some serious gains.
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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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