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Translating the twittertalk: A beginner's twittorial

You swore you'd never do it, but you finally took the plunge -- you signed up for Twitter. Now it's time to make sense of the symbols and acronyms, so you can follow what's going on in your newly created community. We've put together a list of the most common Twitter terms, the schedules for some of the best education-related chats, and some tips and notes on Twitter etiquette to help you get the most out of your new account.
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Twitter: Trivial pursuit or powerful research tool?

Last week, one of our curriculum designers ran into a problem. She needed more information on using blogs in elementary school classrooms, but wasn’t quite sure where to go for resources on this relatively new topic. So where did she turn for help? Not Google. Not her trusty resource guides. Nope—she turned to Twitter. “Need help!” @Stacy_Learning wrote. “Anyone use/know how to use blogs in elementary classrooms?” Within minutes, members of her Twitter network responded with links, resources, and research. Five hours later, she’d heard from numerous Twitter users and been pointed to a plethora of resources. “People just started responding to me,” she said. “In fact, one user said, ‘I can help you. Here’s where to go, here’s who you can follow, here’s who you can contact.’” Like many educators and administrators, Stacy was initially skeptical of Twitter. “I thought it would be really trivial,” she confessed. But her experience with Twitter taught her that the website is anything but a trivial timewaster. Now, instead of seeing Twitter as superficial social networking site, she sees it as one of her most powerful research and professional development tools.
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Your step-by-step guide to getting started on Twitter

[flv width="608" height="362" image="/sites/institutional/files/blog/2010/09/Twittorial.jpg"]rtmp://sas-Flash.OnstreamMedia.com/ondemand/FlashDMSP/imaginelearn/Twitter/Twittorial.flv[/flv] Watch on YouTube Need help getting started on Twitter? We'll have you signed up, tweeting, and building a network of users who share your interests in no time. Follow the steps outlined in the getting started video above. Or, if you'd rather read along than watch a video, just use the steps listed below: 1. Sign up: Go to Twitter and click the large, yellow sign up button. Enter your information (the shorter your username, the better—most people use iterations of their real names) and sign up. You’ll have the opportunity to browse interests, find friends, and search for friends who are already using Twitter. Next, create a profile. When you finish signing up, you’ll land on your Twitter home page. At the top of the screen, click Settings. Then click Profile to edit your profile—the information displayed in the right sidebar on your Twitter page. Be sure to fill out the Bio section and list your primary research and professional development interests. This will help other Twitter users identify you as someone who shares their interests. When you’re done, click Save.
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Funniest classroom stories giveaway

As President Obama told students in his back-to-school speech today, diversity is what makes life precious and wonderful. I think this is especially true in the classroom, where the unique students you work with every day make working in education so wonderful. For example, my sister-in-law just started her first year as a fourth-grade teacher. Amidst the stresses of lesson plans and getting acclimated to a new school and career, she found a moment of comic relief when a student commented that she  “looked like she was ready for picture day every day!” So in honor of all those unique students out there, we're hosting a giveaway and awarding a $25 gift card to the store of your chioce to the commenter with the best, zaniest, most hilarious story of working in education. To get inspired, check out a presentation of our favorite comics from The Learning Curve below. Each month, our writers and artists reflect on unique, ironic, and humorous classroom scenarios to create this comic strip. And every month, we share the comic with our customers in a monthly newsletter. But this month, we want to hear from you.
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Imagine Learning partners with Alliance for Multilingual Multicultural Education

Yesterday was International Literacy Day, a day established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1965. Worldwide, September 8 is an opportunity to recognize the importance of literacy in our lives, homes, and communities. Imagine Learning showed its support for literacy by announcing its partnership with the Alliance for Multilingual Multicultural Education, an organization dedicated to promoting multilingualism in education. Both Imagine Learning and AMME possess a commitment to educational equity for English learners throughout the nation. To read the press release announcing the partnership, click here. To find out more about how Imagine Learning can help improve language and literacy for your students, click here.
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Small steps with big effects

Have you ever done something you considered to be insignificant, only to find out later that it had a much greater impact than you thought? A couple of years ago I posted a video of "The Opposite Song" on YouTube. It was a song that helped children learn the concept of opposites. The video was part of a television program I helped produce here at Imagine Learning called Imagine Island. The show was designed to help English learners and pre-K kids learn the alphabet, build vocabulary, and master the basics of literacy. We created 26 half-hour episodes -- one for each letter of the alphabet. In recent months I realized that "The Opposite Song"  had been viewed over 20,000 times. This was quite surprising, as I hadn't really emailed the link to anyone or promoted it in any way. As the total views for the video continued to increase, we began receiving comments from viewers who used the video in their classrooms.  It was exciting to know that teachers were finding our video and putting it to use. But that fact was really driven home last week when I received a video response to "The Opposite Song."
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Imagine Learning supports students with disabilities

Using four exemplary practices that support cognitive growth, Imagine Learning English is a great way to help students with disabilities expand basic and academic vocabulary, increase reading grade levels, and master literacy and vocabulary. Screen and monitor student progress. Identify students' instructional needs and regularly monitor their progress. Elaborate on and model instructional tasks. Present tasks explicitly and systematically, so students are more able to perform and understand task parameters. Differentiate instruction based on assessments and ongoing monitoring. Deliver intensive daily instruction. More time and more intensity is required when instructing students with disabilities--the amount of time spent on learning tasks is the single best indicator of academic gains.
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Thirty-one book recommendations for Read-A-New-Book Month

The start of the school year is all about new things—new classrooms, new students, new friends, and that newly-sharpened pencil smell come to mind. The back-to-school season is also the perfect opportunity to find a new favorite book. September is Read-A-New-Book Month, and it’s the perfect time to challenge your students (and yourself!) to pick up a good book and have a new adventure. There are a lot of great resources out there with wonderful suggestions of books for struggling readers, English learners, students with disabilities, and early childhood education students. I’ve gathered a few suggestions here just to get you started, including award-winners, picks from the American Library Association, and favorites from some of us here at Imagine Learning. I've included thirty-one books—one for each day of Read-A-New-Book Month, plus a spare, just in case. If you have a book recommendation, please add it to the comments section!
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Five essential components of an effective program for struggling readers

If you were tasked with creating a program to help struggling readers, what would your program include? That’s a question that two researchers (Crystal Kelly, a teacher practitioner, and Linda Campbell, a university professor) set out to answer by comparing several struggling reading programs and interviewing teachers and reading specialists. They found that these sources agreed significantly on both the reasons why some students struggle with reading and the components an effective reading program must have.
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Three back-to-school ideas for pre-K English learners

Over the next few weeks, more than one million early childhood education students will head off to their very first day of school. And while most of these students will be nervous about meeting their teachers, finding their cubbies, and making new friends, some of them will be apprehensive about something else entirely: learning a whole new language. English learners at the pre-K level need support from their teachers just as much as English learners in K–6 grades. In fact, supporting young English learners in preschool is critical to their success in later years. NAESP President Barbara Chester notes that “when kids come to kindergarten unprepared, they struggle and continue to struggle.” In other words, getting off on the right foot with your young English learners can make a big difference as they progress to kindergarten and beyond. So how can you help your early childhood English learners feel welcome in your classroom and get ready for kindergarten? One of the beset things you can do is create a positive learning environment. Here are three tips for getting ready for a new school year with your linguistically and culturally diverse (LCD) students:
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