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Imagine Learning Gives Back in 2016 - Holiday Edition

Every day, caring educators give their all to help kids everywhere succeed, learn, and grow. At Imagine Learning, we enjoy helping educators do all three of these things. But what about kids in the local community--particularly during the holidays? Here's our report for late 2016: Aquarium book box Startup Santa During November and early December of 2016, Imagine Learning employees gathered 1,138 books (some new, some gently used) to donate to United Way's "Startup Santa" project. As part of the fun, employees were invited to decorate a box of books. Ours went swimmingly, as you can see! Stansbury Elementary Each December, Imagine Learning employees give back to disadvantaged kids who otherwise might not get holiday gifts. For example, Stansbury Elementary (Salt Lake City, UT) welcomes many low-income students through its doors daily. Because of donations from Imagine Learning employees, 70 Stansbury students were able to have a happy holiday season in 2016. And we look forward to helping again in 2017! Sponsored Families The holiday season was also a little brighter for 15 other Utah children in four families, thanks to several of our Imagine elves who gathered clothing items, toys, and books for each child on the list. In some cases, employees purchased more than one gift for these kids--and some offered cash donations. We love and appreciate our generous Imagine Learning team for all they do to help children and families each year. Happy New Year!  
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Taking Flight: An Educator's Holiday Wish

The holiday season is a busy time for educators. One day it could be an intense new project for the first-graders; the next day it might be a food drive that involves the entire school. During times like these, exhaustion hits hard--and the holiday break can't come soon enough. But every now and then, a word of encouragement to a struggling student can make all the difference. Who knows--that extra boost might just help a struggling student triumph over a hard math problem. Or help a shy student speak up in class. Or help an English language learner read at grade level for the first time. To all who work so hard to nurture the minds and hearts of kids, please enjoy the video below--and happy holidays!
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Think Through Math Students Donate to No Kid Hungry

As the newest member of the Imagine Learning family, Think Through Math (TTM) regularly rewards students by allowing them to donate to a charity of their choice. During November 2016, TTM students chose to donate to the Share Our Strength - No Kid Hungry organization. So how much did TTM students donate? The donations totaled $7,500--an amazing sum that also represents over 60,000 lessons completed and 1.8 million math problems solved. What a great way to combine math with giving!
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How to Build Empathy and Gratitude at School

Ah, Thanksgiving. That time of year when students celebrate life's bounty by creating paper turkeys filled with colorful 'gratitude' feathers. Meanwhile, older students may collect canned goods for the local food bank or gather coats for the homeless shelter. As everyone buzzes with holiday anticipation, it's pretty easy to feel grateful. However, the holidays aren't always rosy for everyone, including low-income students, students with disabilities, and those who live in negative or dangerous circumstances. Even students with the greatest advantages can struggle with ingratitude, despite holiday activities that remind them to count their blessings. What's the solution?
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Common Core and Multiplication Tables

Much has been said and written about the use of Common Core standards in today's classrooms, particularly when it comes to CCSS math standards. Case in point: some educators claim that mastering multiplication tables is less important in the Common Core. But is this claim really true? Let's take a deeper look. Multiplication and the Common Core When it comes to multiplication standards, here's what Common Core has to say: CCSS.Math.Content.3.OA.C.7 Fluently multiply and divide within 100, using strategies such as the relationship between multiplication and division (e.g., knowing that 8 × 5 = 40, one knows 40 ÷ 5 = 8) or properties of operations. By the end of Grade 3, know from memory all products of two one-digit numbers. In a nutshell, the more you care about developing higher-order mathematics, the more important fluency becomes. Now, let's deconstruct a few Common Core assumptions as they relate to math.
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Educated Risks: Getting Out of the Teaching Comfort Zone

A guest post by Ashley Porter 7th-grade math teacher, Webster Groves School District, Missouri Imagine Learning now publishes monthly guest posts in order to stimulate conversations about K12 education across the country. Opinions expressed herein are those of the individual author and may not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Imagine Learning.   Think back to the college years when you were choosing your major. Education? Check. As to age group, you would have noted four basic categories: early childhood, elementary, middle, or high school students. Each had its merits, but you could only pick one. Check. I chose the math path--middle school first, followed by high school math later. I decided on math because it was in my comfort zone. That's what most middle school and high school teachers do; they choose the area they're most comfortable with. Yay! No more science, world studies, or English for me, right? My first teaching assignment was at a high school, teaching all levels of algebra. There was a big push, as there should be, to get students to graduate on time. Some teachers were assigned as "graduation coaches," and I was one of them. It was my job to work with students, build a relationship, help them catch up, and get them to a timely graduation. These students were struggling, behind on credits, and risked not graduating at all (or certainly not on time). So, as a graduation coach, I was encouraged to help students in all their areas of struggle. At this point, I received some of the best advice I ever got as an educator.
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Literary Halloween Costumes for Every Book Lover

Halloween time is here. Is your costume ready to go? If you're a book lover, you can answer that question in the affirmative, thanks to our book-inspired Halloween costumes! Costumes from Childhood Books When seeking inspiration for a literary Halloween costume, no need to look further than the books you loved as a child. Here are a few basics: Fairytales (Jack and the Beanstalk, Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, and so on) Dr. Seuss (Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, The Lorax, Horton Hears a Who) Roald Dahl (Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach) Shel Silverstein (The Giving Tree, Where the Sidewalk Ends, etc.)
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Brain Science 101: What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Smarter

In a 2011 Scientific American article, behavioral therapist Andrea Kuszewski reinforced a concept that continues to gain traction today--namely, that it's possible to improve one's native intelligence. In the past, even respected scientists assumed that intelligence was purely genetic and unlikely to change over time. Nowadays, neuroscientists and cognitive therapists recognize that fluid intelligence (e.g., the capacity to learn and process new information) is the reality. More importantly, people can boost their fluid intelligence by improving their working memory. But how? Five Principles According to Kuszewski, you don't have to be a genius to improve cognition. Even those with low IQs can grow in fluid intelligence. To quote the author, "what doesn't kill you (will make) you smarter."
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Represent, Act, Engage: How Universal Design for Learning Works

Peeked inside a typical classroom lately? If so, you're likely to see one teacher surrounded by an increasingly diverse group of students--each with unique learning needs. What's more, that 'typical' classroom is filled with students who are anything but typical. For one thing, there's really no such thing as an average student. Each class might contain students who struggle with reading or math, students who don't yet speak English, and students with disabilities. On the other end of the spectrum are the gifted students who may need more challenges to stay engaged. How on earth can one teacher meet the needs of all these diverse learners?
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How to Bring the World into Math Class

A guest post by Lori Breyfogle K-6 Elementary Math Specialist in Missouri Imagine Learning now publishes monthly guest posts in order to stimulate conversations about K12 education across the country. Opinions expressed herein are those of the individual author and may not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Imagine Learning.     When you were a student in math class, how many times did you ask yourself, "When will I ever use this?" And how often do you ask the same question about the math you are teaching now?
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