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Are you breaking cultural barriers in your classroom?

‘Tis the season for cultural holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, and if you're like most teachers, you probably have a class full of students who all celebrate the holidays a little differently. But no matter where your students are from or what language they speak at home, they come together in your classroom every day, so creating a community and breaking cultural barriers is a must. How do you do it? With books, of course.
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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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Summer reading: Helping young readers find a "just right" book

Over the summer months, you may find yourself making a few extra trips to the library. Though your children will enjoy finding their own books, they are bound to choose some titles that are beyond their reading levels. Attempting to read beyond their levels may be fun for awhile, but can also become discouraging. You may be tempted to help choose the books they read in order to avoid this problem. However, allowing them to select their own books is extremely important.
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15 ways to motivate struggling students this summer

The progress your struggling readers have made this year can be far too easily undone in one summer spent in front of the television. A few days ago, we posted some ideas for helping parents successfully teach reading at home, adapted from a 2003 article by Linda Baker. What Baker’s research also noted, aside from the importance of teaching reading at home, is the importance of motivating struggling readers to read at home. If students are motivated to read, they're likely to keep reading and progressing on their own. But without the extrinsic motivators your classroom provides—things like recognition, grades, and competition—your readers might do significantly less reading (and make significantly less progress) over the summer break. Luckily, your students will have access to another powerful motivator: their parents.
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English learners learn a new culture too

Susan Rudolph is the Newcomer teacher at Place Bridge Academy in Denver, Colorado.  Most of her students are refugees from countries such as Nepal, Burma, and poor African nations.  These students often need education beyond reading and writing – many of them need to be taught how to turn on the lights or use an indoor restroom.  Ms. Rudolph is constantly reminded how different each cultures is. “We were talking about why a book needs a cover,” Ms. Rudolph recalled, “and one of my students said, ‘So the ants don’t eat the pages.’  Who would think of that here?  But when you live in a place where ants are a major part of your life, you think of such things.” We know many of you can relate to Susan Rudolph.  Being a teacher goes beyond the textbook.  Your kids are fortunate to have you!
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