Before The Bell
Aug. 30, 2013

New accessible playground rules may not go far enough
Last year, the federal government made accessibility standards at playgrounds mandatory under the Americans with Disabilities Act so that children with disabilities can more easily play alongside typical kids. But whether children with disabilities are able to enjoy their new civil rights to play may depend on where they live, and the design decisions their cities and towns made when they built local playgrounds. For 3-year-old Emmanuel Soto, who has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair, the local playground's design doesn't work.More

CDC: US schools show progress in healthy behaviors
HealthDay News
Schools across America are showing progress in key areas related to health, including nutrition, physical education and smoking, federal health officials reported. The results of a 2012 comprehensive survey of school health policies showed some encouraging trends, according to the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.More

New Common Core resources for educators
eClassroom News
New resources link Common Core-aligned curriculum with any school system's assessment data, and what's more, these resources for educators are also 100 percent free. The resources, housed on Activate Instruction, are part of an open platform where educators can browse, search, rate, add, share and organize their favorite Common Core-aligned resources, and put them together in personalized playlists for students. Parents and students can follow sets of resources educators have prescribed, or can search for the resource they like best.More

Will gaming save education, or just waste time?
THE Journal
If the use of technology in education is about meeting students where they are, it seems like gaming would be a good place to start. After all, as far back as 2008, the Pew Internet & American Life Project reported that 97 percent of kids ages 12 to 17 were playing some kind of digital game every week; about half played daily. And why not? When Neil Postman wrote his classic, "Amusing Ourselves to Death," about the shift from a typographically focused society to one that was ruled by television, his title could just as easily have been foretelling the increasing use of gamelike activities in all aspects of life. Consumers spent about $21 billion on the game industry last year.More

Calculator use on exams to shift with Common Core
Education Week
Although calculators have not figured prominently in discussions of the Common Core math standards, it's likely the complementary tests will result in far greater uniformity in their use on state exams across the nation. Policies emerging from the two state consortia developing Common Core assessments would prohibit most students from using calculators on the grades 3-5 tests, for example. At grades 6 and above, they call for calculator "on" and "off" sections and set restrictions on what functionality is allowed. More

How tablets can enable meaningful connections for students and teachers
In this four-part series, MindShift have been charting a course for teachers working in classrooms with tablets. We began by looking at the consumption of content — the default uses of tablets — and then progresses through the the curation of learning artifacts, and the creation of new projects or activities. In this final piece, we examine the final of our four Cs: connection — using tablets to put our students in conversations with fellow learners of all ages around the world.More

Magic — We all have the power
Connected Principals Blogs (commentary)
John Marschhausen, a contributor for Connected Principals Blogs, writes: "'Write the way you talk.' That was what she said to me, and I never forgot it. Her name was Nancy Peterson (Mrs. Peterson to the seventh-grade version of me) and in that moment — for me — I felt it: magic. The light bulb went off; the lesson made sense; my confidence grew. In that moment, Mrs. Peterson literally changed my life, and that is the type of magic that happens daily at Hilliard City Schools. Who influenced you? Who helped mold and shape the person you are today?"More

How to create a student-centered digital classroom
eClassroom News
Someone recently inquired if there is a time in the classroom when you just know that everything is right. She asked me to envision that time and to describe it. "When is it great?" she wondered. It didn't take long for me to picture a recent day, when my seventh-grade students created that perfect 50 minutes of class. It was magical, but it had little to do with their teacher. Twenty-five 12-year-olds were scattered about the room, some at desktop computers and others on mobile devices.More

Get ready: MOOCs are coming to K-12
THE Journal
Innovation usually inspires some measure of misunderstanding, and the growing phenomenon of massively open online courses is no different. One misconception is that MOOC creators are out to replace teachers and schools. "MOOCs are not intended to do that," confirms Howard Lurie, vice president for external affairs at edX in Cambridge, MA. "We are looking to enhance teaching and learning." In his role with edX, a not-for-profit initiative created by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lurie works with partners around the world in what he calls an ongoing grand experiment. Part of that experiment may ultimately include offering portions of MOOCs to augment the high school advanced placement curriculum. More

Half of teachers report hunger is a serious problem in their classrooms
Teachers spend $37 a month of their own money buying food for hungry students. That's $300 a school year or roughly five tanks of gas. "Child hunger is a serious problem that negatively affected my students’ self-esteem, ability to learn, and behavior," Princess Moss, an elementary school teacher from Virginia and National Education Association Executive Committee member, says. "I would always keep snacks in my class for students that were hungry and who were having trouble concentrating during instructional time."More

In the digital age, how to get students excited about going outdoors
In the opening pages of his moving book Last Child in the Woods, journalist Richard Louv quotes a prescient fourth-grader who told him, "I like to play indoors better, cause that's where all the electrical outlets are." Since the book came out in 2005, describing the numbers of kids consistently choosing video games and television over building forts and riding bikes, recent research suggests kids are being exposed to less nature. A comprehensive report of outdoor activity released this year by the Outdoor Foundation says that only 38 percent of participants ages 6-12, and 26 percent of kids ages 13-17 reported doing things outside like running, hiking and biking.More

Good questions are powerful tools
Education Week (commentary)
The school year has begun for many across the nation. They are several weeks into 2013-2014. The rest of us are preparing to begin next week. It is still early enough in the year to set our goals for this year and move forward with a beginner's enthusiasm and purpose. We tend to set goals based on data and on the past.More

10 school solutions for mobile device management
eSchool News
Schools usually never do anything on a small scale, and that includes the recent boom in "bring your own device" initiatives. From smartphones to tablets and iPads, mobile device management has never been more vital for a successful school BYOD program. However, choosing a mobile device management solution can be a daunting task, especially in light of already-strained school IT resources and limited administrator knowledge beyond what device to implement.More

Arne Duncan attaches more strings to NCLB waiver renewals
Education Week
Two years after offering states waivers under the No Child Left Behind Act, the U.S. Department of Education is expecting states to up the ante on teacher quality if they want another two years of flexibility. Barring a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the current version of the law, this waiver renewal process marks the last opportunity for the Obama administration to put its stamp on the ESEA and shape a future law. To get a two-year extension of their waivers, states must reaffirm their commitment to college- and career-ready standards and tests, and to implementing differentiated accountability systems that focus on closing achievement gaps, according to new state guidance issued.More

Get ready: MOOCs are coming to K-12
THE Journal
Innovation usually inspires some measure of misunderstanding, and the growing phenomenon of massively open online courses is no different. One misconception is that MOOC creators are out to replace teachers and schools. More

8 ways kindergarten holds the key to 21st century instruction
eSchool News
Sam Gliksman, a contributor for eSchool News, writes: "I was recently giving a workshop at a local elementary school. While walking around and speaking to teachers and children, it suddenly dawned on me that several of the 'revolutionary' educational changes we've been calling for have actually been around for quite a while — just talk a stroll down to the kindergarten classes.More

Newer teachers most likely to be engaged at work
U.S. teachers for grades K-12 with less than one year of experience are the most engaged at work, at 35.1 percent. Engagement drops to 30.9 percent for teachers who have been on the job for one to three years and falls further to 27.9 percent for educators with three to five years of experience.More

Education and civil rights, 50 years after the march on Washington Blog (commentary)
The Secretary of Education Arne Duncan writes: "I've often said that education is the civil rights issue of our time. I'm not the first to say it. But what does that mean? Civil rights means having the same opportunities that other people do — regardless of what you look like, where you come from, or whom you love. And in today's world, to have real opportunity, you need a world-class education. Fifty years after the March on Washington, how far has the struggle for young people's civil rights come?"More

Study: Waivers leave behind at-risk students
The Associated Press via ABC News
Millions of at-risk students could fall through the cracks as the Education Department gives states permission to ignore parts of No Child Left Behind, according to a study education advocates. The Education Department has been giving states waivers from the education law's requirements, including those to collect and publish data about students from poor families, students whose native language is not English, those with learning disabilities and minority students.More

States granted waivers from No Child Left Behind allowed to reapply for renewal for 2014 and 2015 school years
U.S. Department of Education
As students and educators go back to school across the country, and as Congress continues to debate how to fix the law commonly known as No Child Left Behind, the U.S. Department of Education announced that states whose waivers from certain provisions of federal education law will expire at the end of the 2013-2014 school year will soon be able to request renewals of their reform plans, for up to two more years.More

Judge delays release of Los Angeles teacher ratings
Los Angeles Times
The performance ratings of individual teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District will be kept confidential until a legal battle over them is resolved, a judge decided. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant ruled earlier this month that the ratings must be released to the Los Angeles Times because public interest in them outweighed any teacher privacy rights under the California Public Records Act. But L.A. Unified and United Teachers Los Angeles joined to ask Chalfant to delay the release until they could appeal the ruling. More

Schools pilot color-coded student personality tests
The Denver Post
Colors have taken on a new meaning in the Douglas County School District in Colorado. Children are not just learning about the vibrant green hue that comes from mixing yellow and blue on a color wheel. They are using colors to describe the way they think, behave and learn. The 65,000-student school district is piloting a program at 14 campuses in which sixth-graders answer 84 questions that include how comfortable they are with switching back and forth between tasks, whether they will start a project before they have a plan and if they worry about how their actions affect others.More

Apply for $5,00 Sharing the Dream grant
NAESP has again partnered with the MetLife Foundation to offer the Sharing the Dream grant program. Schools have an opportunity to win $5,000 grants to support global learning projects that engage children in transformative, multidisciplinary learning experiences. The deadline for submitting a proposal is Sept. 11. More

Club Connect: What educators need to know
Club Connect, a new program from United Way and NAESP, encourages literacy and service, all while supporting your school. Families and students join Club Connect, an online platform with engaging, family-friendly fun, including celebrity book readings, games, contests and inspirational stories of kids making a difference to inspire community service. Members also receive more than $500 worth of coupons and product discounts throughout the year.More