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Amplifying Student Confidence in Arizona

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Imagine Learning partners with Mary Belle McCorkle Academy of Excellence, a leader in integrating educational technology
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Amplifying Student Confidence in Arizona

Today’s students know a life imbued with technology. Often referred to as “digital natives,” students in classrooms today are comfortable with technology, visually oriented, used to immediate responsiveness, and prefer to learn by doing. Educators understand the need to incorporate innovative and up-to-date educational technology into their lesson plans to engage students and personalize instruction. 


Leading the Way in Integrating Technology

Mary Belle McCorkle Academy of Excellence PreK-8 in Tucson, Arizona is no exception. In fact, the leadership and staff at McCorkle Academy have incorporated technology so effectively into their classrooms and curriculum that they have become a National Ambassador School for New Tech Network Project-based learning (PBL). 

“This means that we are now a training site for other schools to visit to experience our student culture—to look at how we integrate technology, how we integrate standards, and how we holistically do everything,” shared Sandra Thiffault, principal at McCorkle Academy and recipient of the 2019 Susan Schilling Legacy Award for exemplary leadership. In PBL, students collaborate on relevant projects that require critical thinking, creativity, and cooperation to solve complex problems and answer challenging questions. 

Enabling and Empowering Students

Thiffault explained that the McCorkle Academy administration worked to create “a culture that empowers students, technology that enables, teaching that engages, and outcomes that matter.” 

“Technology that enables and teaching that engages are important parts of our integration and we need students engaged in the software that we give them. One of the things we found that works for those two pillars is Imagine Learning. Not only [Imagine Language &] Literacy but the K-8 for math fluency and the math content [Imagine Math Facts and Imagine Math] as well,” explained Thiffault.

Closing the Gap with Engagement

Research has shown that an important part of student achievement is the ability to engage students in learning. Thiffault agrees, noting that because her students find Imagine Learning programs engaging, they are excited to use the programs, practice the skills being taught, and ultimately become stronger, more confident learners. 

“Because Imagine Learning programs provide an engagement component, it's an engaging curriculum the kids like to use,” stated Thiffault.

“They want to use it, and if they want to use it, they're going to practice. They're not only going to practice it here, but they're going to practice at home. The more they practice, the more they learn, and they continue to get better and better. So, it's going to close those gaps for them.”

Marisa Gallegos, a fifth-grade teacher at McCorkle Academy, explains that her students don’t want to stop using the programs, even when their time is up. “They're super engaged,” she shared. “They're not even noticing the time going by.”

The Voice of the Students

Camilla, a fifth-grader who uses Imagine Math, Imagine Math Facts, and Imagine Language & Literacy says the educational programs are “fun because they feel like a game that you’re playing.” 

Josh, a fifth-grader at McCorkle Academy, says he likes how whenever he levels up, he gets a reward like a trip to the digital museum or some time on related online games. “I think Imagine Language & Literacy is helping me on my reading because before I was bad at spelling and now, I got better.”

Dual Language Support

McCorkle Academy also offers a Two-Way Dual Language strand for students in kindergarten through grade seven that incorporates PBL instruction in a blended learning environment. To supplement the dual-language curriculum, teachers utilize Imagine Español.

“For our dual-language students to have the ability to practice the language and to hear the language of a native speaker with Imagine Español is really important,” explained Thiffault. “They can use [the program] at school or at home, and their parents are very thankful that we can provide that for them.” 

Georgina Georgelos, one of the dual language immersion teachers at McCorkle Academy and a finalist for the Raytheon Leaders in Education Award, said she’s seen her students grow and learn from using Imagine Español.

“I see them interacting, doing phonics. They are blending, they are decoding,” shared Georgelos. “I just love it. I know they're engaged. They're really working.”

Read more about Bilingualism, Biliteracy, and Best Practices in Dual-Language Instruction

Strengthening Classroom Instruction with Blended Learning

According to Thiffault, Imagine Learning programs are an integral part of McCorkle Academy’s approach to blended learning. 

“We look for programs that can give students additional practice on their skill set at their level. It's our responsibility to provide them with their grade level content and we can scaffold it by using technology programs,” said Thiffault. “Imagine Learning individualizes and personalizes student learning. It helps get students closer to grade-level content. [It shows where] some of our students have learning gaps. By using Imagine Learning and individualizing, [the programs] will show them where they're at. Then they'll continue to practice.”

Read more about the Benefits of Blended Learning

Making a Difference for Students

Ultimately, educators at McCorkle Academy have seen that integrating Imagine Learning’s digital programs into their blended learning classrooms helps students grow and achieve. 

“For us, Imagine Learning has worked,” stated Thiffault. “It's been the best of the best. We've been integrating it and using it and we look forward to continuing to use it. And why not give that opportunity to someone else and be able to have those students do that?”

Learn more about how Imagine Learning programs can help your students become stronger, more confident learners by visiting