Before The Bell
May. 5, 2015

School leaders: Tips for coaching your super teachers
Edutopia (commentary)
Ben Johnson, a contributor for Edutopia, writes: "Anyone who is willing to be a teacher is a superhero in my book. I admire and honor any person that is willing to interact with students of any age and openly engage with students who are interested, oblivious and even antagonistic. Super teachers come in all shapes and sizes, but I would like to discuss three specific types: the super in-need teacher: Spiderman, the super stoic teacher: Silver Surfer, the super imaginative teacher: The Green Lantern."More

Standardized test backlash: More parents pull kids from exams as protest
The Christian Science Monitor
It had never really occurred to Chantal Kovach to keep her fifth-grade son from taking Colorado's new annual assessments, until an e-mail started circulating among parents. Kovach became concerned that the test would be measuring material her son's class hadn't covered yet, that the results wouldn't be available to his teacher until the fall. She also was worried that the class would have to devote significant hours to taking the test, and then more hours later in the spring taking other tests on the material they had studied. But it wasn't until she went to the teacher, wondering if it might still be useful to her son as practice, that she made up her mind.More

Beating the Common Core
Scholastic Administration Magazine
The Common Core State Standards are designed to help students build a solid foundation of knowledge and skills in preparation for both college and career. To help students meet the expectations of these more rigorous standards, it is important for educators to focus on the standards that students struggle with most. Based on i-Ready diagnostic data from more than 750,000 students, Curriculum Associates has identified four standards as the most difficult in reading and math. These findings are shared below to help educators better plan and maximize their instructional time, accelerate student progress, and create learning environments in which all students can succeed.More

Building STEM excitement with hands-on, real-world classroom activities
Scholastic Administration Magazine
At the heart of the Next Generation Science Standards — the first major revision of school science standards in more than 15 years — is project based learning, or the practice of learning by doing. Developed by science education groups, including the National Science Teachers Association, researchers and individual science teachers, NGSS supports classroom instruction that pushes students to take an active role in the practices of science. This new focus means a shift from teacher-centered learning to student-oriented learning.More

What we talk about when we talk about best practices: Reading and writing
By: Debra Josephson Abrams
In previous articles, we have explored best practices in curricula, methods and approaches, multiple instructional approaches, choosing materials and assessment. In this article — the final in the series — we examine the content elements necessary for inclusion in a best practices-based curriculum. There is no dispute that a broad and deep vocabulary is necessary for academic success, just as there is no dispute that ELLs generally have a paucity of vocabulary.More

Choice in books may help kids' reading score over summer
Reuters
Allowing young children to choose books they'd like to read over the summer break from school may hone their reading skills and prevent "summer slide" in reading scores, suggests new research. Kids who were allowed to select books to take home at the end of the spring term had better reading scores when they returned to school in the fall, compared to kids who received books they had not chosen, researchers found.More

The plan to give e-books to poor kids
NPR
Brown Bear, Brown Bear what do you see? I see a blue horse, a purple cat, and a new program — unveiled by President Barack Obama — with one goal in mind: To put good books in the hands of low-income kids. More specifically, $250 million worth of e-books available to young, low-income readers — free. The effort will work through a new app, being developed by the New York Public Library, that has the buy-in of all the major publishers. "Children should not be unable to get reading materials because their parents don't have money," says Carolyn Reidy, president and CEO of Simon & Schuster, which has offered up all of its titles for kids from 4 to 14.More

Educational vacations versus standardized testing
The Atlantic
Perhaps many of the parents who are disillusioned with America's hyper-standardized education system are channeling the famous scene from the 1976 film Network, when a news anchor — in the midst of an epic on-air soliloquy about modern society — declares, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore." Michael Rossi — the author of a now-famous letter to the principal of his children's school — probably wasn't as fed-up as the character in the film. But looking at his letter, he may have been close to it. Rossi and his wife Cindy brought their two young children — Jack and Victoria, who attend Rydal Elementary School in Pennsylvania — to Boston earlier this month to watch Rossi compete in this year's marathon. That meant the kids missed three days of school.More

Report: Majority of teachers purchase school supplies for students
THE Journal
This year 91 percent of teachers used some of their own money to pay for school supplies, and 38 percent used only their own money, according to a new report from The NPD Group. The report, "Today's Teachers: School Supply Purchasing Dynamics and Behaviors," surveyed almost 1,000 K-12 public and private school teachers in the United States about their purchasing behaviors. The online survey was conducted in February 2015. According to the report, teachers expect to spend a total of about $500 on school supplies by the end of this school year, 47 percent of which will come from their own pockets. About one third of teachers expect to spend more on school supplies this year than last.More

School gardens can help kids learn better and eat healthier. So why aren't they everywhere?
The Huffington Post
The case for garden-based learning in schools seems simple, even obvious, at first: What harm could there be in encouraging young children to connect with nature and learn more about the ecology around them, including where the food they eat comes from? But given the ever-growing demands on teachers' time and the poor financial health many of the nation's school districts are in, the obstacles facing the school garden movement in the U.S. are clear.More

Segregation of the nation's children starts with preschool, new report finds
The Washington Post
Publicly funded preschools across the country are largely segregated by race and income, and poor children are typically enrolled in the lowest quality programs, according to a new report by researchers at the National Center for Children and Families at Teachers College, Columbia University. While states more than doubled their investments in preschool between 2003 and 2013, when 1.3 million 3- and 4-year-olds were enrolled at a cost of $5.4 billion, most classrooms were economically segregated, the researchers found.More

What are IT leaders worried about? Assessment readiness and money
eSchool News
For the past three years, CoSN — the Consortium for School Networking — has conducted the K-12 IT Leadership Survey seeking to identify major trends and challenges, and provide a picture of these leaders. What are the key technology trends in education according to leadership in our school systems? What do the data tell us? Assessment readiness is again the No. 1 priority for IT Leaders. The growing imperative about being assessment ready isn't likely a surprise for those living in states adopting the Common Core. However, regardless of where you live, all states are increasingly moving their high-stakes assessments online. And, they are doing it quickly.More

Study: Far fewer new teachers are leaving the profession than previously thought
The Washington Post
New teachers are far less likely to leave the profession than previously thought, according to federal data. Ten percent of teachers who began their careers in 2007-2008 left teaching after their first year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. But attrition then leveled off, and five years into their careers, 83 percent were still teaching. That figure — indicating that just 17 percent of new teachers left their jobs in the first five years — stands in stark contrast to the attrition statistic that has been repeated (and lamented) for years: That between 40 percent and 50 percent of teachers leave the profession within their first five years.More

Testing gives 3rd-graders upset stomachs, tears and even fevers
The Hechinger Report
This year was the first year that Mississippi teachers taught the Common Core standards in grades kindergarten through 12th grade. It was also the first year using a new computer-based end of year exam, which the state Board of Education voted in January to toss out after this year. And to add to the host of changes, this year was also the first for the "third-grade gate" test, which will check reading ability and prevent third graders from going to fourth grade if they can't read on grade level. The Hechinger Report sat down with Darla Miller, a third grade teacher in east Mississippi, to talk about the changes and challenges that she has experienced in this year of reforms.More

Study: Kids overeat when they're stressed
TIME
Next time you watch "Bambi" with your kids, you may want to hide the ice cream: A new study shows that 5-to-7-year-old children tend to eat more when they're sad. According to a new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, kids are more likely to overeat when they are upset, especially if their parents have used food as a reward in the past. The study notes that stress eating is a learned and unnatural behavior, since stress and emotional turmoil usually reduce appetite, rather than increasing it. The fact that children were found to have stress eating tendencies at this age suggests that emotional overeating is something children learn in early childhood, perhaps because of the way their parents feed them.More

The 3 trust questions to ask every education technology vendor
eSchool News
The educational technology procurement market is enormous: $13 billion is spent annually. Just last year a historic $2 billion of investment capital was pumped into ed tech startups. As an educator, how do you know who to trust when it comes to meeting your district's technology needs? Do you trust the established companies fighting ever harder to keep their market share? Can you trust their overpowering marketing machines? Should you trust the new, innovative, and exciting startups? Do they have bandwidth and capacity to keep us "online?"More

After Baltimore rioting, Obama urges focus on education programs
Education Week
President Barack Obama condemned rioters who looted and set ablaze several businesses in Baltimore following the funeral for Freddie Gray, an unarmed black man who died of a spinal cord injury in police custody this month. But in remarks, he also urged federal, state and local governments to put a priority on programs to eradicate the root causes of such incidents — programs often grounded in education.More

Vendors at odds over Nevada testing problems
Education Week
When breakdowns disrupted Nevada's online testing last month, state officials were left searching for answers — and they blamed a vendor charged with administering the test, as well as the consortium of states that designed the Common Core aligned exams. But the testing provider accused of botching the assessments, Measured Progress, has said the responsibility lies at least partly with another vendor, the American Institutes for Research, which it claims was late in delivering critical software needed to make sure the exams could be administered smoothly.More

Arkansas launches $13 million school broadband upgrade
eSchool News
As school broadband access becomes critical for student success, states are beginning to evaluate their broadband infrastructure to determine if upgrades and modernization are necessary. Arkansas started investing in technology for its K-12 system in the early 1990s through the development of the Arkansas Public School Computer Network. The network linked schools together, but in 2015, broadband internet connectivity is lacking.More

Apply for a creativity grant from Crayola and NAESP
NAESP
Strengthen arts education in your school with a 2015 Champion Creatively Alive Children grant. Crayola will award up to 20 grants, which include a $2,500 monetary award and $1,000 worth of Crayola products. The deadline to apply is Monday, June 22.More

Nominations for 2015 Bammy Awards still open
NAESP
Principals work every day with great teachers, superintendents, school nurses, and other caring school staff and community stakeholders. That's why NAESP is delighted to partner with the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences to celebrate the 2015 Bammy Awards. Help recognize the great work of educators by visiting www.bammyawards.org to nominate someone in your school or community who has made a difference.More