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5 new ways to use your most powerful tech tools

Everyone’s talking about integrating more technology in the classroom. But finding time to sift through tons of new tech tools and decide which to use can be difficult. So why not simply make the most of two powerful tools you’re already using? Interactive whiteboards are an easy-to-use tech tool that gets the whole class out of their seats and engaged in learning. Pair your whiteboard with another great tool--Imagine Learning English--to create simple, effective, technology-integrated lesson plans. Here are five ways to do it:
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Author spotlight: A simple way to get your kids excited about writing

Having a hard time getting your students excited about writing? Get them motivated to write by talking about a real-life writer. Here's an author spotlight to help you get started--an interview with Shar Petersen, one of our favorite authors here at Imagine Learning. Read the interview out loud with your class, then get your students talking about how they would answer some of the questions--like what they like about writing and what they would tell other writers. You can even use the questions to help students create their very own about the author pages for their writing projects. When students think of themselves as authors, they're more likely to take pride in the writing they create. And writing is a lot more exciting when you're creating something you care about rather than something that's just due. Enjoy this author spotlight, and look for a new interview every month or so.
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Need a tech tutor? Ask a student!

As Carter previously stated, October is Computer Learning Month. Have you started celebrating? Computer Learning Month got me thinking about computer learning, especially in the classroom. With all the technology kids use every day, they often possess computer and technology skills that match or even exceed those of adults. I know that my younger siblings, still in junior high and high school, are always showing me tricks on their iPods that I never knew mine could do. So why not enlist students in helping you bring technology into the classroom? If you're struggling to learn a new computer or technology skill, try finding a tutor—a student tutor.
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Another reason why I love my job

One of the great things about being a videographer is traveling to places that you would never visit otherwise. I’ve rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous in an ornate Beverly Hills mansion. I’ve seen the devastation of Hurricane Katrina firsthand in New Orleans and Mississippi. And I’ve enjoyed a grilled brie and goat cheese sandwich at Nanny Goat’s Café in Kilgore, Texas. But as a videographer for an educational software company, I’ve derived even greater pleasure from seeing children use the software program that my company creates. As part of my job, I get to travel to schools across the country, where I film testimonial videos. It’s a thrill to see a child at the computer learning English from a video that I produced! When I visit schools and see computers being integrated into the classroom so successfully, my admiration grows for the educators who have the courage to implement our software into their curriculum.  Technology can be intimidating, but teachers across the nation and around the world are embracing the power of technology to teach. Teachers like Nancy Bergbower in Winona, Texas--a small town that's making big progress with Imagine Learning English.
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Thank you, teachers

At Imagine Learning, we are inspired by courageous teachers and consider it a privilege to work with them in helping their students succeed.  For World Teachers' Day, we wanted to do something special to say thank you to all the teachers who make a difference in students' lives every day. You certainly made a difference in ours. [flv image="/sites/institutional/files/blog/2010/10/Thank_You.jpg"]rtmp://sas-Flash.OnstreamMedia.com/ondemand/FlashDMSP/imaginelearn/Twitter/Thank_You.flv[/flv] Watch on YouTube We invite you to honor teachers who have changed your life by sharing their names or stories with us in the comments section.
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World Teachers' Day: Recovery begins with teachers

When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast five years ago, many hundreds lost their lives. Thousands more lost their homes and jobs. What was a child to do in the midst of such destruction? A child who may have been missing family or friends. A favorite book. A safe, warm bed. Stability. Certainty. With so much loss, what could have brought some familiarity or normalcy back into those children's lives? In Pascagoula, Mississippi, recovery began with teachers.
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1,800 things that motivate my daughter to read

As parents and educators, we’re always looking for ways to get our children even more excited about reading. This is especially true if that child is at-risk, has special needs, or is an English language learner. For homework every evening, my seven-year-old reads out loud for thirty minutes. Thankfully, she enjoys reading for reading’s sake. But there are times when she needs an extra dose of motivation to get through that thirty minutes. Recently, I've found just the thing to get her motivated to keep reading. And I discovered it in the most unlikely of places. What is it?
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8 ways to celebrate National Punctuation Day with your students

Do you know what today is? Besides being a Friday, and besides being September 24 (and my brother’s birthday), it’s National Punctuation Day. Founded in 2004 by newsletter writer Jeff Rubin, National Punctuation Day is a “celebration of the lowly comma, correctly used quotation marks, and other proper uses of periods, semicolons, and the ever-mysterious ellipsis.” To promote proper punctuation awareness, Jeff and his wife, Norma, maintain their website, nationalpunctuationday.com. They also visit elementary schools, where they perform a punctuation assembly. Their theme: “Punctuation is important in helping children learn to read and write with clarity.” Dressed as a caped punctuation superhero, Jeff shows kids how learning punctuation can be fun. So what can you do to make learning punctuation fun for your students?
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Announcing our funniest stories giveaway winner

Before we announce the winner of our funniest classroom stories contest, we want to thank everyone who shared their humorous classroom experiences. They were a blast to read! Check out all the entries in the comments section of this post. The winner of the $25 gift card is Tiffanie Brown with her story of curious students on a field trip. Congratulations, Tiffanie! Contact me at taylor.rose@imaginelearning.com to claim your prize. In case you missed it, here's Tiffanie's winning story:
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Should your ELs be speaking English at home?

There appear to be at least two schools of thought about which language English learners (ELs) should be speaking at home. While some encourage parents of ELs to speak English with their children, Judie Haynes makes a convincing argument for parents speaking their first language at home, even while their children are learning English at school.
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