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Do Math Video Games Really Improve Math Skills?

Math can be a frustrating challenge for some kids. Less so for most adults, generally because age and experience make math easier to comprehend. It’s not always so simple for kids. Each child has a unique learning style. Some children learn to add by counting on their fingers. Others may make up a song to help them with their times tables. The best teachers accommodate all learning styles. However, even when teachers use multiple strategies to teach basic addition and subtraction skills, it's sometimes hard to tell if kids are truly fluent in math facts. Flash forward to video games. They've been around a long time and are a huge hit with kids and teenagers. To many teachers (and parents), video games may seem like a complete waste of time. Because kids love them, they want to spend a lot of time playing--sometimes to the exclusion of other worthwhile activities. Enter game-based learning strategies, aka video-based math games. Educators may wonder if these, too, are a waste of time--or if they actually help kids learn. Current brain research seems to indicate the latter outcome.  A Case Study: Timez Attack Big Brainz is a case in point. Its designer, Ben Harrison, was tired of hearing his young daughter come home each day saying that she was "stupid." As she struggled with math, Ben knew there had to be a better way to give his daughter the math skills she needed to feel confident and successful.
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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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Math Facts Games: The Easy Way to Math 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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Content Spotlight: Vocab Dash

Students are tested on their knowledge of new vocabulary as they "dash" through the activity With the recent update to v14.4, Imagine Learning released a variety of brand new activities packed full of great content. Today we spotlight one of these new activities to provide a taste of Imagine Learning's expanding curriculum.
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Rules of engagement

Our new Cloud product allows students to create their own virtual environment. Are video games a waste of time? Educators and parents alike are concerned about the time spent on video games and the growing lack of engagement in schools. But are video games a total waste? Some researchers have found that the principles behind video game creation can teach valuable lessons when it comes to educating and engaging our students. Imagine Learning Product Manager, Carter Durham, addresses the key findings in a webinar titled “Rules of Engagement: The Potential Impact of Video Games on Education.” You can view the full webinar here, or, if you’re short on time, read the summary below.
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