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A Guide to Math Picture Books in the Classroom

If you're an elementary teacher, you've probably seen these two kinds of students in your classroom: Students who understand and enjoy math. Students who are frustrated by math because they don't understand it. It's your job to help those in the second group find their way into the first group. Luckily, picture books about math can really help. The 'Why' of Math Picture Books It's human nature to enjoy stories. By relating to a character who feels the way they do, students can gain the confidence to move through their own challenges--both in and outside the classroom. Even more importantly, there's a tangible link between reading and math. It stands to reason that doing one can help the other. When teachers use picture books containing math themes (either implicit or explicit), they offer students a contextualized experience with mathematics generally. Plus, a good story can comfort the heart of any student who's afraid of math.
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Myth or Truth? Accepting Cultural Differences for a Global Mindset

A guest post by Deborah Cochran ESOL Teacher for grades K-5 at Craig Elementary School, Parkway School District in St. Louis, MO 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. *The following article is an updated version of a prior post by the author.   Multiculturalism is a hot topic in education today; just ask any teacher. As more multicultural students enter the classroom, educators have to continually challenge old ways of thinking about culture. But where to start? Like it or not, most assumptions about other cultures arise from cultural stereotypes or complete myths. And debunking those myths is an important first step when entering the pathway to a global mindset.
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Teach Children Math the Fun Way

Mention the words "math" and "fun" in one breath and you might prompt a few raised eyebrows from those around you. But the truth remains that math actually can be fun. All the same, a negative view of math tends to prevail in America; even in the latest flurry over STEAM-based learning initiatives. For one thing, too many parents' own experiences with math were less than stellar. Similarly, teachers may feel anxious about motivating youngsters in their classrooms if they aren't already huge math fans themselves. What to do? Don't worry. Here are a few ways you can help children (and yourself) see math as a fun experience right from the start.
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Can Technology Stimulate Mental Development in Young Children?

A guest post by Dr. Eugene Emmer, medical entrepreneur and author 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.   As a physiologist and parent, I have long been interested in the impact of early childhood education on the child's developing brain. Over the years, an increasing number of scientists have devoted lab research to brain development and function. Their findings are not only fascinating, they also show how important proper stimulation is for the developing brain. For example, years ago I read an intriguing study that demonstrated a marked increase in hippocampal neurons in adult mice living in an enriched environment. Basically, the study showed that young rats raised in a stimulating environment had better-developed brains than rats raised in unstimulating environments. During this study, scientists raised two groups of rats. One group lived in an enriched environment that included toys, tunnels, wheels, and so on; the other group was raised in an empty cage with only food. Scientists showed that the rats raised in the enriched environment developed more hippocampal neurons than the rats raised in an empty cage. The stimulating environment had developed each rat's young brain much the same way that lifting weights develops muscle.
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How to Choose a Fun and Effective Math Video Game

Let’s face it—not many kids are interested in reciting their multiplication tables or practicing addition when they’ve got video games to play, TV to watch, and technology to explore. Unfortunately, too many parents and educators automatically assume that video games are mere time wasters, as mentioned in our earlier discussion about game-based learning. Of course, sorting out the effective math games from the mediocre ones can be a challenge. Not every game is equal when it comes to producing lasting learning. So, what to do?
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How Do You Say Your Name? Thoughts on Student Identity

A new boy shows up at school. As he walks through the classroom door, the teacher welcomes him by saying, "Tell us your name." The boy, who has just moved to America from the Philippines, announces his name as Banoy Pamatmat. Whereupon the teacher asks, "Could you repeat that?" Welcome to an increasingly common scenario in today's schools. As more immigrants relocate to America, educators encounter a wider array of new names and faces. And many of those names are challenging to pronounce.
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Imagine Learning Talks About the Common Core Standards

At Imagine Learning, we're quite familiar with the variety of opinions surrounding the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Although our own programs are aligned with multiple state standards (and not just the CCSS), we know what most educators are thinking on the subject. Here, we share a few of our findings. What the Data Say In August of 2015 a nationwide PDK/Gallup poll revealed that a majority of respondents oppose the teaching of Common Core. Interestingly, black and Hispanic respondents showed a lower level of opposition, at just 35 and 50 percent respectively. In an earlier (2013) poll by PDK/Gallup, 72 percent of those polled indicated that they trust public school educators. But the same respondents also assume most educators oppose the CCSS, a view not aligned with the data. In reality, 75 percent of educators support CCSS standards.
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It's a Grand Old Flag! 10 Facts about the Stars & Stripes

Betsy Ross and the flag People around the world recognize it as one of a kind. Officers salute it, children pledge allegiance in front of it, and citizens honor it. It's arguably our most famous national symbol--the flag of the United States of America. While Americans and world citizens alike may know our country's flag, everyone can still learn more about its history and use. For young and old, here are ten important facts to remember on Flag Day, Independence Day, or any other time of year when the flag passes by. Flag History 1. Many flag historians believe that the first American flag combined the Union Jack (British flag) with the 13-striped Colonial Merchant ensign. At that time, posting the Union Jack without authorization was an illegal act, but the Continental Army ignored the statute and flew the flag as an act of rebellion against the British Crown.
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Imagine Learning Teaches Figurative Language

  Sleep like a rock Light as a feather Cream of the crop As big as a bus     The above phrases are examples of figurative language, all of which are commonly used in day-to-day English. Any student--especially any English language learner--can struggle with such figurative speech, particularly when the implied meaning (i.e., idiom) does not translate to the student's first language. The concept of figurative language is also difficult for struggling readers to understand, but all students need to be able to identify and use it in reading and conversation.
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Math Teachers Who Undermine Math Fact Memorization

A guest post by Ben Harrison Developer of Big Brainz math-fact fluency software 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(s) and may not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Imagine Learning. The following article was originally posted in February, 2015 on the Big Brainz Blog.   Every once in a while I encounter a savvy educator who is opposed to memorizing math facts--or at least he or she appears to be. Just today I saw a fearful article that exclaimed "memorization can inhibit fluency" and "memorization . . . can be damaging." Of course, educators are doing a wonderful job of championing number sense, comprehension, and problem-solving, but by attacking the vital skill of automaticity, they unwittingly undermine the very processes they intend to champion. From Where I Sit Before I go any further, let me jump to the punchline, because I know that if you're one of these educators, you're already getting ready to give me your very passionate point of view. So . . . if, as an educator, you have a negativity towards memorization, I would suggest that it's because you haven't seen it done well.
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