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US permanently relaxes rules aimed at healthier school meals
Reuters
U.S. regulators said they were permanently relaxing school meal rules that were designed to combat childhood obesity by reining in calories and portion sizes but aroused complaints the policies caused students to go hungry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture had initially loosened the rules in late 2012, suspending daily and weekly maximum amounts for grains and meat or meal alternatives. That allowed school districts to service larger portions without penalty.
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Students with a disability more likely to be restrained, secluded in school
Medical News Today
The restraint and seclusion of students in U.S. public schools in response to student behavior problems are used much more frequently on students with a disability than on students without a disability, and especially in affluent school districts, according to new research at the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire. Restraint is a practice that uses physical or mechanical means to restrict a student's freedom of motion. Seclusion is a practice that usually involves the involuntary isolation of a student for a period of several minutes.
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The Common Core is tough on kids who are still learning English
The Atlantic
Remarkable things are happening at Laurel Street Elementary School in Los Angeles. Ninety percent of its 580 students are eligible for free or reduced lunch. More than 60 percent of its students are classified as English learners. And yet the school has established a stellar record of success: a national Title I Distinguished School Award in 2012 in recognition of its high academic achievement, a Golden Bell Award for its innovative writing program, and a Dispelling the Myth award from the nonprofit Education Trust.
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Creating learning environments
Edutopia (commentary)
Ben Johnson, a high school principal, consultant, author and instructional learning coach, writes: "A while ago I witnessed students taking computer-based classes passing their tests with ease until I figured out what they were doing. They had two screens open — one was the computer-based course and the other screen was Google, Wikipedia, or Ask Jeeves. When they ran across a question they did not know, they just looked up the answer on one of those other sites (we shut that capacity down in a jiffy)."
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ELL reading development: Modified guided reading, interventions, support
By Beth Crumpler
Guided reading is an instructional method that allows students to learn how to read and comprehend text. As students progress in their reading abilities and understanding, the difficulty of the text is increased. English language learners often struggle with reading. They struggle with decoding the text, pronouncing the words, fluency and understanding the content. For these reasons, ELLs usually have difficulty following along and being actively engaged during the learning process in standard guided reading groups.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    Study: US schools' approach to student data threatens privacy (Reuters)
Elementary and Secondary Education Act flexibility waivers (Center for American Progress)
Building technology fluency: Preparing students to be digital learners (Edutopia)
Learning science concepts using the iPad (The Boston Globe)
Report outlines strategies for recruiting and retaining teachers (THE Journal)

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From the principal's office: Be present
Tech & Learning
Eric Sheninger, a contributor for Tech & Learning, writes: "There is no better way to get the pulse of a school as a leader than to be in classrooms. I have never considered myself one to be tied to a desk and/or office, but the managerial aspects of the position and ridiculous amounts of paperwork catch up to you at some point. This year educators in N.J., like many other states across the nation, are still adjusting to new mandates related to teacher evaluation and tenure changes. Here we call it Achieve N.J. The toll that all of these new directives — from SGO's, to SGP's to PDP's — has taken on administrators and teachers has been quite dramatic. In my case, none more than the never-ending time sap dedicated to paperwork and meetings. This is our new reality."
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Looking for similar articles? Search here, keyword EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY.


Letting go of the reins to allow for student self-advocacy
Education Week (commentary)
Starr Sackstein, a Nationally Board Certified Teacher in New York City and the author of "Teaching Mythology Exposed," writes: "Control, the false sense of knowing the outcome as the plan is put into action. Tightly holding the reins, manipulating the space to achieve a perceived understanding of success, all to maintain the illusion. Does this sound familiar? This is how I'd characterize my early teaching experience and I thought it worked pretty well. Whether it was determining learning objectives for the whole or developing assignments that allotted for the greatest student achievement, there was a determination to stick to the plan."
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Closing the 'word gap' between rich and poor
NPR
In the early 1990s, a team of researchers decided to follow about 40 volunteer families — some poor, some middle class, some rich — during the first three years of their new children's lives. Every month, the researchers recorded an hour of sound from the families' homes. Later in the lab, the team listened back and painstakingly tallied up the total number of words spoken in each household.
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A window into the classroom
Connected Principals Blog (commentary)
Shawn Blankenship, a contributor for Connected Principals Blog, writes: "Many times, grading papers and student projects is something a teacher does in isolation. In other words, no one other than the teacher sees the student's work. What if analyzing student work became a collaborative process in your school? How would looking at student work provide a clear window into the classroom? As we transition to more rigorous standards in my state, we have been collecting student outcomes to analyze the quality of lessons and units intended to address these new standards and expectations."
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When teachers favor attractive kids
CNN
It's not news that looks matter. Depending on how attractive people think we are, we may have at times found ourselves dateless or overwhelmed with unwanted attention. Studies have indeed shown that people attribute more intelligence and competence to taller, well-turned-out or otherwise good-looking people. However, a new briefing paper by the Council on Contemporary Families tell us life's uneven distribution of beauty counts in an even more poignant place than we may have considered: in school evaluations of our children by teachers and peers.
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The business of: 9 ways to better manage energy in your district
District Administration Magazine
Focusing on energy management can bring large savings to a district. From using special software to enlisting the help of outside advising firms, district leaders can leverage tools and best practices to manage their energy consumption and thereby reduce costs.
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Home (and hungry) for the holidays: Families struggle to feed kids during school break
NBC News
The snow was blowing sideways in New York City last Saturday, but parents still streamed in to New York Common Pantry, some leading as many as four or five children by the hand while they sat with volunteers and chose their food on an iPad. "I'm here to stock up," said pantry client Theresa Garcia. In one week, Garcia's three children, who attend public school, would be home for an eight-day holiday break, a long stretch of going without the two free meals they eat in school every day.
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There's a cheaper, more effective way to train teachers
The Atlantic
We don't know exactly how much money was spent training Will in his first year of Teach for America, but we know it was a lot. We would guess the total sum is above $50,000, a figure that includes district training costs, school training costs, the money Teach for America spent, and Will's master degree classes. Although new teachers like Will are receiving tens of thousands of dollars worth of training, few are learning real skills that will help them become better teachers. According to a 2008 study, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent training roughly 200,000 new teachers each year, but there is still a shortage of teachers of "sufficient quality or quantity." Teacher development programs show "little if any impact." Education schools are languishing as an "industry of mediocrity." Teacher turnover is high.
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The challenge of training teachers to teach — And students to learn
The Huffington Post
Those of us who have spent our professional lives as educators know that the most essential ingredient in learning is a great teacher; one who has the ability to engage students, to make math and science interesting as well as instructive and to make the lessons of history both fun and a foundation for our journey through life, making good decisions and learning from our mistakes.
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Race to Top States still have lots of money to spend
Education Week
With states well into their final year of Race to the Top implementation, the 12 winners still have a lot of money to spend, according to the latest financial reports by the U.S. Department of Education. The state with the largest share of its award left? New York, with 59 percent of its $700 million still sitting in the bank as of Nov. 30, according to the latest federal spending report. Meanwhile, Delaware has just 31 percent left. Combined, the 12 Race to the Top states have $1.8 billion of their $4 billion in winnings left, or about 46 percent. The Obama administration's signature education-improvement effort was designed — for the most part — to be a four-year program. Awards were made in 2010.
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When teachers favor attractive kids
CNN
It's not news that looks matter. Depending on how attractive people think we are, we may have at times found ourselves dateless or overwhelmed with unwanted attention.

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How much teachers get paid — State by state
The Washington Post
How much do teachers across the United States get paid? Here is data, state by state, collected from the National Center for Education Statistics by Jon Boeckenstedt, associate vice president at DePaul University in Chicago.

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5 common myths about school administration
eSchool News
It's not always teachers who face criticism in the U.S. Many school administrators say that misconceptions about their career motivations and the position in general still exist today — and many myths have survived for decades.

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Showdown brews as Congress turns focus to K-12 spending
Education Week
Big questions loom about just how much money Congress will steer to individual programs — including the Obama administration's marquee competitive-grant initiatives — with lawmakers on House and Senate appropriations committees facing a Jan. 15 deadline to fill in details on the current year's spending plan or face another government shutdown. School districts that have been chafing under across-the-board federal cuts known as sequestration for nearly a year got a two-year reprieve under the agreement approved last month that effectively scales back the sequestration cuts to education by 87 percent over that period, according to an analysis by the Committee for Education Funding, a lobbying coalition in Washington.
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CPS, most suburban school districts closed for the day
Chicago Tribune
Prolonged subzero temperatures across the region have prompted city and suburban schools to close rather than force parents, students and teachers through the cold authorities are warning people against. The temperatures — 9 degrees below zero — are causing major public transportation problems and have shut down roads in Northwest Indiana. Joining school districts across the region, Chicago Public Schools decided to close all city schools Jan.7 because of the threat of dangerously cold temperatures and high winds.
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As schools give students computers, price of Los Angeles' program stands out
Los Angeles Times
The Perris Union High School District is paying $344 apiece for a Chromebook for every student. Nearby, Riverside Unified purchased a variety of devices, including the Kindle Fire and iPad Mini, for as low as $150 each. In San Diego Unified, some students are using a $200 tablet. The Los Angeles Unified School District, however, is paying $768 per device for its students, teachers and administrators, making it one of the nation's most expensive technology programs. The reason: L.A. Unified selected a relatively costly product — a higher-end Apple iPad — and also paid for a new math and English curriculum installed on the tablets.
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What one urban school district can teach the country about stress relief
The Huffington Post
At a school district where 61 percent of its student population qualifies for the federally funded free or reduced lunch program, it's not surprising if San Francisco Unified gives pause to "public education and academic excellence." High numbers of minorities and families living in poverty aside, their Academic Performance Index continues to rise and meet yearly state and federal benchmarks. While there's no silver bullet, SF Unified boasts a unique approach to tackling the biggest threat to student achievement: stress.
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Fostering continuous improvement
eSchool News
Over the last several years, the Aldine Independent School District in Texas has raised students' average reading scores by 18 percent, brought up math scores by 29 percent, increased its four-year graduation rate by 11 percentage points, and saved more than $100,000 per year in transportation costs alone. Each of these successes was achieved by adhering to a simple concept, district leaders say: focusing on continuous improvement.
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School tech staffs work fast during calm of holidays
The Columbus Dispatch
The hallways and classrooms at Maryland Avenue Elementary were mostly silent during a two-week winter break. But in a small room tucked in the school library, Tracy Fowler faced hours of work. Before him loomed a mess of wires and plugs taller than he is — the nerve center of all computers in the Bexley school, linking one to the other and to the Internet. After months of hasty rearrangements, the door-size switchboard had become a web of cables, and it was Fowler's job to impose order.
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Tweetchat on copyright issues today
NAESP
Join NAESP and the American Library Association for a tweetchat on copyright issues for educators today, January 7. From 6:00-7:00 p.m. (Eastern), Carrie Russell, director of the American Library Association Program on Public Access to Information, will field copyright questions from school administrators. The chat's hashtag will be #k12copylaw.
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NAESP releases two surveys on the Common Core
NAESP
NAESP released two surveys that examined principals' views of the Common Core State Standards initiative, as well as their preparation and ongoing support for implementation of the higher standards. The surveys, which reflect the views of 1,000 principals in 14 states that have adopted CCSS, reveal that principals overwhelmingly support the CCSS initiative and have a strong willingness to continue to engage deeply in instructional leadership activities as states move forward with the new standards.
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Before the Bell is a benefit of your membership in the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). For information about other member benefits, visit www.naesp.org or contact us at naesp@naesp.org.

Before the Bell is a digest of the most important news selected for NAESP from thousands of sources by the editors of MultiBriefs, an independent organization that also manages and sells advertising. The presence of such advertising does not endorse, or imply endorsement of, any products or services by NAESP. Neither NAESP nor Multiview is liable for the use of or reliance on any information contained in this briefing.

Feedback about an article? Contact NAESP Liaison Meredith Barnett at MBarnett@naesp.org.
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