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Help your boys become reading champs

Have you ever noticed a significant gap in reading achievement between the girls and boys in your class? If you have, you're not alone. Research by the Ontario Ministry of Education indicates that although educators do their best to ensure equal learning opportunities for both genders, boys seem to be at a disadvantage when it comes to reading. Here are some interesting facts about the gap between boys and girls:
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Giving back, giving thanks

Imagine going to school without a backpack, school supplies, or even the smallest necessities—socks, or even shoes. For some families, buying back-to-school supplies, including essentials, just isn't in the budget. We were reminded of this reality at our annual company-wide conference in July when a local educator told the story of a young student who wouldn't go to class. [flv image="/sites/institutional/files/blog/2010/11/TheRoadHome.jpg"]rtmp://sas-Flash.OnstreamMedia.com/ondemand/FlashDMSP/imaginelearn/Blog/TheRoadHome.flv[/flv]
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Are you breaking cultural barriers in your classroom?

‘Tis the season for cultural holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, and if you're like most teachers, you probably have a class full of students who all celebrate the holidays a little differently. But no matter where your students are from or what language they speak at home, they come together in your classroom every day, so creating a community and breaking cultural barriers is a must. How do you do it? With books, of course.
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Know-stalgia: Links to my favorite educational clips

If you were a typical kid in the seventies, you watched a lot of Sesame Street and The Electric Company. These two children’s programs taught us how to spell and read using humorous sketches, cartoons, fuzzy puppets, and catchy songs. I spent many afterschool hours in front of the TV watching Big Bird, Grover, Cookie Monster, and Bert & Ernie on Sesame Street. After that, The Electric Company’s stars, Bill Cosby, Morgan Freeman, and Rita Moreno, taught me about reading while making me laugh. These many years later, I still remember (and sometimes can sing along to) my favorite clips. Whether you work with English learners, students with disabilities, or early childhood education students, these clips are still a great resource for introducing new literacy, spelling, and punctuation concepts in a fun way. Here’s a list of five of my favorites:
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Helping your English learners take advantage of the Internet

The world today has been changed by the Internet. Directions, maps, news, movies, entertainment, social networking, recipes—what can’t we access online? No one can doubt the Internet’s impressive impact on education, either. There are hundreds of educational websites, helpful blogs, tips for teachers and students, and resources for school papers and reports to be found online. Whether we’re using the Internet for education, work, or entertainment, we all frequently rely on the information we obtain from the web. Now imagine if you could only access a third of the material the Internet has to offer (and not the third you could choose, either). A little discouraging, isn’t it? But for some of your students, this limited Internet is a reality.
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Tips for making your classroom a stress-free learning zone

Bring a dog to class to increase children’s literacy? Yeah, right. That was my first thought when I read a recent study suggesting that bringing canines into classrooms helps significantly increase student performance. I didn’t understand how dogs could possibly help, but I soon discovered that I had entirely missed the important principle underlying the argument--that making your classroom a stress-free zone can be an important key to accelerating your English learners' literacy.
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National Novel Writing Month: Creative writing exercises for students

November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for the abbreviation-lovers out there. Every November, writers all over the world take on the challenge of writing a 50,000-word draft of a novel. Yes, you read that right: 50,000 words in 30 days. Crazy, I know, but last year, nearly 170,000 people participated in the event, writing a total of more than 2.4 billion words. Your students or children might not be to the novel-writing stage yet, but this is a wonderful time to introduce them to the joys of creative writing. After all, each one of those 170,000 people had to start somewhere. For me, my start was in the second grade when I wrote the book pictured here. It wasn’t exactly a best-seller, trust me. But no matter how rough their first efforts are, it’s never too early to get your young learners ready to become the next great novelist. Here are some tips and starting points for getting them writing.
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A monster way to get students reading all year round

Monsters may be best known for destroying cities, terrorizing villages, and devouring countryside, but they can also be a great tool for getting your kids excited about reading. Think back to when you were a child: how many Saturday nights did you spend under the covers watching Creature Features on local TV? So why do kids love monsters so much? I think it’s because they offer something for everyone--especially young readers and struggling readers. Monster stories provide a unique experience that makes reading especially exciting: engaging and lively visuals, bizarre new sounds, and a whole array of sensations (fear, laughter, pity, curiosity) make these books monstrously fun. Perhaps that's why I found 4,915 children’s books related to monsters on Amazon.com. Of course, that pales in comparison to the 88,193 books related to animals. (Then again, those animals actually exist.) So get your kids excited about reading by making monsters a classroom staple. Here are a few ways to do it:
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5 ways to celebrate Lady Liberty's birthday

On October 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World was unveiled to the American people and dedicated in New York Harbor. There, she welcomes all visitors, immigrants, and Americans returning  to the United States. She has become a symbol of friendship, freedom, democracy, and hope. And in two days, the Statue of Liberty will celebrate her 124th birthday. So let’s celebrate! Here are five ways to make October 28th a monumental day in your classroom:
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Best practices for helping your stutterers

Quiz: What do actress Marilyn Monroe, statesman Winston Churchill, singer Carly Simon, actor James Earl Jones (the voice of Darth Vader), and television journalist John Stossel have in common? Besides being famous, they have all struggled with stuttering. When I learned that tomorrow (October 22) is International Stuttering Awareness Day, I decided to get a little more informed on the topic and share what I learned. In my research, I learned what stuttering is (and what it isn’t), what causes it, what some of the common misconceptions about stuttering are, and what a parent or teacher can do to help a stuttering child. I also learned what children who struggle with stuttering have to say about it.
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