Skip to main content

Music and Learning: The Songs of Imagine Español

Have you ever caught yourself humming the tune to a song you heard years ago? If so, you've tapped into the power of music and long-term memory. The fact is, music makes learning stick. Just ask a neuroscientist. But first: a word or two on long-term memory. Inherent to long-term memory are explicit (or declarative) and implicit (non-declarative) memory. If you consciously think of a specific memory, you're tapping into explicit/declarative memory. By contrast, implicit/non-declarative memory requires no conscious effort. When the brain is exposed to music and words together, that information becomes a part of the brain's explicit and implicit memory. This helps explain why dementia patients who seemingly have little or no explicit memory can still remember tunes and words to songs they knew decades earlier. Imagine Learning designers recognize that developing brains are open to myriad learning cues from an early age. In a semi-literal way, young brains are like sponges as they soak up information from multiple sources. That's why during the development of Imagine Español learning activities, designers worked closely with musicians, actors, and sound engineers to create an optimal learning environment--one in which music plays a critical role.
Read More

Share

Math and Charitable Giving: The Perfect Sum

On any given day, at any given hour, somewhere in America a student is completing a math lesson on Imagine Math (formerly Think Through Math). But math isn't the only problem they're helping to solve. Ask any math teacher: math can solve real-life problems. Need to balance your checkbook? That's a math solution. Building a house? You need math skills to ensure a sound construction. And if you're donating to a good cause, math helps you calculate the bottom line and deliver the goods as promised.
Read More

Share

Black History Month Activities for the Classroom

During Black History Month each February, K-12 teachers across the country take a special look at their lesson plans. Will it be a guest speaker this year, or a lecture on Harriet Tubman? Although some prominent black Americans question the need for a Black History Month, Americans as a whole think it's worth commemorating. And all cultural backgrounds can benefit by learning about the black experience--then, and now. But to really engage students, this occasion requires thoughtful planning. Here are six ideas for making black history come alive in the classroom. Move Beyond Familiar Historical Figures Alonzo Herndon While names like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. are important, they shouldn't eclipse the names of unsung black Americans. The recent success of the movie "Hidden Figures" illustrates this point well. Depending on the ages of those you teach, why not craft a lesson around black inventors--or ask students if they have a lesser-known hero they'd like to discuss? Ask a local historian for further ideas. You can even talk about and play musical excerpts by black composers. Or profile black musicians in general. The point is: get creative. Learn More About the Underground Railroad Make history come alive by seeing how former slaves escaped to freedom via the Underground Railroad.
Read More

Share

Math Journaling: Success in writing through math problems

During January 2017, we asked math educators all across the country to send us their best student journal entries for Imagine Math (formerly Think Through Math). And we weren't disappointed! So what is "Journaling January" all about? In a nutshell, we asked student/teacher teams to send us an Imagine Math journal page that illustrated how students broke down a math problem and solved for the correct answer. Journaling January--Weekly Winners Through great teamwork, these winners took their math understanding to the next level. Congratulations to the winning student/teacher teams from these schools:
Read More

Share

Academic Language: What is it and why teach it?

Every day in American schools, teachers welcome more students whose first language is something other than English. According to the Pew Research Center, this demographic trend will only grow exponentially in coming years. In fact, Pew estimates up to 93% of our population will come from immigrant populations and their children by the year 2050. What do these numbers mean for schools? Here's the short answer: schools will need better ways to teach language generally, and academic language in particular. Why the importance? When students don't master academic language, they're at greater risk for falling behind or even dropping out of school. The Language of Textbooks Learning to speak, read, and write in English can be challenging enough. But without knowing academic language (e.g., general-instruction words like "summarize," math words like "times" as another way to say "multiplied by," or science words like "hypothesis"), English language learners can quickly fall behind in their progress.
Read More

Share

Effective Math Activities: Using Multiplication Worksheets to Assess Fluency

Multiplication worksheets. Schools commonly use these to measure math fact fluency, yet aggregating response times is tricky, especially given the typical number of math facts measured. What's more, the resulting data rarely tells you which math facts a student knows fluently compared with facts they are still calculating. How to Maximize Effectiveness When it comes to multiplication worksheets, use these tips to maximize your effectiveness in the classroom: 1. Assess each individual fact. You can use a stopwatch or let a program like Timez Attack do the job for you automatically; but at some point, it's critical to measure which facts students can recall automatically and which ones they have to stop and calculate. If you don't measure each fact accurately, you won't fix it.
Read More

Share

Holiday Giving 2016: Imagine Learning Gives Back

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!  
Read More

Share

Holiday Wishes from Imagine Learning to Educators Everywhere

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!
Read More

Share

Building 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?
Read More

Share

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.
Read More

Share