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Skip the Apples--Here's What Teachers Really Want

It's that time of year when eager young students come to class with teacher gifts in hand. Those gifts might be anything from a fruit basket to a plate of brownies to a homemade card. Do teachers appreciate these gifts? Of course. But do they use them? Not always. The truth is, most teachers are just happy to be recognized for what they do. Still, it's hard to be completely thrilled by another "World's Greatest Teacher" mug. Or by anything that remotely resembles an apple. Top-rated teacher gifts can be simple Parents should be credited for wanting to show appreciation to their child's teacher. But instead of another scented candle, bottle of lotion, or expensive art piece, why not choose:
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How To Make Multiplication Tables Fun

Learning multiplication tables can be a challenge for children who struggle to grasp these concepts quickly. Luckily, kids are more likely to pick up math-fact skills by playing games that test their knowledge rather than by simply doing math homework. Here are 5 fun ways to help kids memorize times tables:   Play Bottle Cap Multiplication Write the times table equation on the top of a bottle cap and write the answer on the inside of the cap. Once the child answers the question correctly he or she can turn the bottle cap over. Time your child and see how quickly they can flip all the caps over! (Alternately, see how many caps they can flip over within an allotted time).
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Language Acquisition and the Mathematics Classroom

A guest post by Linda Hardman President of Linda A. Hardman Consulting, Inc., teacher, and developer of multiple award-winning K12 math products 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.   According to the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the percentage of English language learners (ELL) in US public schools grew in the 2012–2013 school year by 9.2 percent (i.e., 4.4 million students) compared to the prior school year. Additionally, a new Pew Research Center study reported that a near-record 13.9 percent of the US population today is foreign born, with 45 million immigrants residing here. A diverse group of young students Because of these trends, students are significantly challenged to master academic language across the US. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for mathematics are also placing high demands in mathematics regarding abstract and quantitative reasoning, constructing viable arguments and critiquing the reasoning of others, and looking for/expressing regularity in repeated reasoning. Students and educators are even more challenged with the acquisition of academic language as a tool for mastering conceptual and procedural understanding of mathematical standards and practices. As a result of the increasing amount of ELL students and the challenges presented by the CCSS for mathematics, it is important for students to acquire both academic language skills and mathematical fluency. Moreover, the same essential reading components and first-language supports provided in reading classes also belong in the mathematics classroom.
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Hang Tight, Teachers--Summer's Almost Here

It's almost time for school to end for the year. And--if you're like most educators--you're counting the days until summer vacation. But before you get there, why not take a little time to celebrate the great accomplishments of your class? Imagine Learning can help make the end-of-year transition less hectic and a lot more fun. Video fun Your students have done a lot of learning this year, thanks to you. Sounds like a great excuse to make a personalized video!
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Rhyme and Repeat: 5 Poetry Activities Kids Will Love

The cow jumped over the moon ... Hey diddle diddle ... You already finished the rhyme, didn't you. Ever wondered why those childhood poems stick in your brain? The answer is simple. Rhymes and poems have a beat. At its essence, poetry is the most kinesthetic of all written forms. We can dance to it, sing to it, and feel to it. Poetry and rhyming tap into each listener's heart and soul in ways that other texts may miss. Jabberwocky From an educational view, poetry also fosters social and emotional growth. Sharing poetry also builds a sense of community within a group of listeners and fosters creativity. Poems are great avenues for self-expression--among all cultures and languages. Students who don't speak English in the classroom can still listen to, read, or write a poem in their own language. Poetry is universal! Test it for yourself by reading the following lines aloud: 'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe. Thus begins one of the most beloved of children's poems, "Jabberwocky," by Lewis Carroll (from Alice Through the Looking Glass, and What She Saw There, 1872). National Poetry Month may be nearing an end; but luckily, you can use poetry in the classroom all year round. Simply rhyme and repeat any of these activities in your class!
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Fun Math Games For Kids This Summer

At Imagine Learning, we know that “fun” and “math” don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. This challenge makes learning basic math concepts a little difficult sometimes. However, we also know how important these basic math skills are––so we created a list of super fun math games to help your kids learn subtraction, addition, division, and multiplication this summer. Or anytime! Beach Ball Addition Supplies needed: Beach ball Permanent marker Instructions: Label a beach ball with numbers 1-12 (make sure to repeat numbers for practice adding doubles). Have your children toss the ball to each other. Before they can pass it on to the next person, they simply add whatever numbers are under their hands after they catch it.
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Earth Day Is Here--Are Your Students Ready?

Photo credit: Blue Marble Just when spring fever hits hard in classrooms across the country, Earth Day 2016 appears as a welcome friend on the horizon. How will you and your students celebrate Earth Day this Friday, April 22nd? Read more about the history of this important event before you decide. Why Earth Day? After a Wisconsin senator witnessed firsthand the toxic effects of a Santa Barbara, CA oil spill in 1969, he knew it was time to rally the public, inspiring all to protect the earth's environment. On April 22, 1970, the first-annual Earth Day was born. At the time, over 20 million people across America rallied for a cleaner environment. Year by year, participation increased and Earth Day events became more popular. When Earth Day went global in 1990, it was celebrated by over 200 million people worldwide. Each year, many important changes occur because of Earth Day celebrations. For example:
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Imagine Math Facts Games: The Easy Way to Automaticity

    If you're a teacher, you may notice that some students who struggle with reading also struggle with math automaticity. Can such students recall math facts when they move on to more challenging math tasks? And how do you know that your students are completely fluent? In January 2016, Imagine Learning acquired Big Brainz, a Utah-based company known for its effective math-fact fluency software. Since then, Big Brainz was re-named Imagine Math Facts. This blog post will describe what the software is and how it helps students become fluent in math facts.
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Imagine Learning That's Fun: Week of the Young Child 2016

Every year, the National Association for Education of the Young Child (NAEYC) celebrates early learners, parents, and teachers through a week-long celebration called the Week of the Young Child. This year's celebration will be April 11–15, 2016, and all children throughout the country are invited to celebrate! In keeping with tradition, every day during WOYC has a special theme: Music Monday - encourages children to enjoy songs, dances, rhythms, and movement at home and at school. Taco Tuesday - inspires kids and family members to prepare and eat healthy foods and stay physically fit. This day is really about more than just tacos! Work Together Wednesday - gives children an opportunity to work together to build something fun--from any material, indoors or out. Artsy Thursday - allows kids to use their own creativity and imaginations as they create an art project. Family Friday - brings families together and invites kids to show and tell their family stories. Teachers, students, and parents can use their ingenuity to come up with projects and activities for all ages to enjoy. This is a great time to involve even the youngest children in your family or your class!
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Meeting the Needs of Secondary Newcomer ELLs Through A Rigorous Curriculum

A guest post  Teresa Vignaroli, ELL Supervisor, Loudoun County Public Schools, Virginia; Julie Baye, ELL School Improvement and Accountability Specialist, Loudoun County Public Schools, Virginia; Giuliana Jahnsen Lewis, ELL Staff Development Trainer, Loudoun County Public Schools, Virginia 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.   Like many other districts in the nation, Loudoun County Public Schools has experienced an influx of older English Language Learners (ELLs). Currently, nearly twenty-seven percent of our high school ELLs are proficiency level 1 students; forty-five percent are combined proficiency levels 1 and 2 students. These students bring a myriad of situations and challenges that include varying ethnic backgrounds, low socioeconomic status, differing levels of formal education, and special needs status. The varying language learner types and their unique needs indicate that there is no one-size-fits-all service delivery model nor one intervention that addresses, in its entirety, the best practices in service delivery models for high school ELLs. Research, however, indicates that ELLs must have access to standards-aligned curriculum that is rigorous and grade-level appropriate.
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