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US principals to gather in Seattle
The Seattle Times    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Elementary and middle-school principals from around the country will gather in Seattle this week to discuss school leadership, including how to combat bullying. The annual convention of the National Association of Elementary School Principals will take place at the Washington State Convention Center. The event will include speeches by education notables like historian Diane Ravitch, evaluation expert Charlotte Danielson and teacher Rafe Esquith. Bullying will be a focus. The principals will also participate in a community-service project to build a new playground for Columbia City's Hawthorne Elementary School. More

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Survey finds teachers don't trust annual state skills tests
USA Today    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Despite years of rhetoric from lawmakers and education reformers about the importance of tying teacher pay to student test scores, fewer teachers now believe the move will keep good teachers in the classroom. A new online survey of 10,000 U.S. teachers finds that only 16 percent believe linking student performance and teacher pay is "absolutely essential" or "very important" in retaining good teachers. That's down from 28 percent in 2010. In all, only 52 percent of teachers say it'll make any difference at all, down from 65 percent two years ago, the first year the survey was done. More



Physical exercise goes high-tech
Mindshift    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Jumping jacks, team sports and laps around the school yard are still primarily how kids are getting physical exercise at school, but the use of technology is seeping into P.E. class too. Beyond just bringing Dance Dance Revolution to P.E., some schools are integrating gym-style circuits, heart-rate monitors and pedometers to encourage students to develop a sense of being physically fit. More

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Why bilinguals are smarter
The New York Times    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Speaking two languages rather than just one has obvious practical benefits in an increasingly globalized world. But in recent years, scientists have begun to show that the advantages of bilingualism are even more fundamental than being able to converse with a wider range of people. Being bilingual, it turns out, makes you smarter. It can have a profound effect on your brain, improving cognitive skills not related to language and even shielding against dementia in old age. This view of bilingualism is remarkably different from the understanding of bilingualism through much of the 20th century. Researchers, educators and policy makers long considered a second language to be an interference, cognitively speaking, that hindered a child's academic and intellectual development. More

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What robots can teach us about learning
eSchool News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
It's common knowledge that many kids love the idea of robots, but does asking them to describe their dream robots lead to useful insight into how kids learn? According to a new study, the way kids view robotics can help schools design better 21st century lessons and create more productive classrooms. The study, titled Robots @School, was conducted by international research consultancy Latitude, and it asked children across the world to write and illustrate a short story answering this question: "What if robots were a part of your everyday life — at school and beyond?" More



How to bring teachers up to speed with technology
The Journal    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
It's not enough to fill K-12 classrooms with technology and hope that teachers will embrace the new tools and integrate them into their daily lessons. In fact, if there's one thing that districts have learned during this information age it's this: Without adequate support and motivation educators will retreat to their old ways of teaching. The good news is that technology-oriented professional development tools and processes have emerged almost as quickly as the equipment, software and applications themselves have. Whether the programs are created and managed in-house, supplied by product vendors, or handled by third parties, professional development is both accessible and affordable. More

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Study asks: Where should student teachers teach?
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Teacher educators disagree about whether it is better for teachers-to-be — especially those who intend to teach in the most challenging schools — to have their pre-service teacher practice in easy-to-staff, high-functioning schools or in the toughest teaching environments. Tougher schools might provide critical exposure to the realities of working with disadvantaged students, especially for teacher wannabes from more-privileged backgrounds; easier-to-staff schools may provide stronger mentor teachers and a better learning environment for young teachers. Either claim might make intuitive sense, but neither is backed up by significant research. More

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Surprise: Teachers crave evaluation
The Christian Science Monitor    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Read education headlines these days, and the take-away might be that it's teachers versus reformers on most key issues. But a new report from Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation paints a very different picture of teachers and their views. Having surveyed more than 10,000 teachers, the report offers a nuanced look at how they feel about their profession, testing, controversial reforms and what needs to change. More

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5 ways to turn PD into 'personal transformation'
District Administrator    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
We haven't seen this big a change in education in 500 years. Every learner with an Internet connection can build a personalized, global network of people and information. It's a shift that Robert Darnton, a Harvard University history professor, compares to watershed moments like the invention of the printing press. To stay current, every educator needs to dive into these networks ASAP. As Bob Dylan once sang, "You better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone." But the truth is that most of us are just treading water, and that's because traditional professional development isn't changing our entrenched patterns of learning. Sure, we've joined Facebook and LinkedIn, but we still think of learning as "the classroom" — structured, linear, static and standardized — and we find it hard to grapple with an online learning environment that is daily, continuous, personalized and just-in-time. More

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Beyond the PTA, how to raise funds for your classroom
Mindshift    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Few schools and teachers have access to all the funds they need or want to outfit their classroom. According to a PBS survey last year, only 1 in 5 teachers say they have the updated technology they need. But with some creativity, educators can go beyond the typical PTA fundraiser and earn funding for specific classroom needs. Here are some ways teachers have filled their classroom coffers. More

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School spankings still allowed in 19 states
The Huffington Post    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
While punishing students by spanking them with paddles at school seems like a scene from "Little House on the Prairie," it's still a reality for students in 19 states across the U.S., an NPR report reveals. Whether it's a wooden paddle or fiberglass board, students in states like Florida endure the punishments on a daily basis, according to the Center for Effective Discipline. More



Policymakers weigh gathering more data for NAEP
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
As many experts raise questions about the future of "the nation's report card," the governing board for the assessment program is exploring changes aimed at leveraging the achievement data to better inform education policy and practice. The core idea, outlined in a report to the board, is to expand and make far greater use of the background information collected when the National Assessment of Educational Progress is given. In doing so, the report suggests, NAEP could identify factors that may differentiate high-performing states and urban districts from low performers. More

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Education department pursues NCLB waivers for districts
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The U.S. Department of Education, which is in the middle of granting waivers to states from many of the core tenets of the No Child Left Behind Act, already is thinking ahead to how it can offer the same flexibility to school districts in states that choose not to seek a waiver. Top Education Department officials are signaling that once states are given a chance to apply for waivers in September during a third round of judging, the department plans to open up some sort of flexibility options for districts, too. More



Nation's state teacher pension funds significantly underfunded in parts of the country
The Associated Press via The Washington Post    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
As a new generation of teachers replaces retiring baby boomers, financially strapped states face a quandary — what to do about teacher pensions. A majority of states' teacher retirement funds are underfunded, some significantly below rates considered solvent, according to a recent analysis by the National Council on Teacher Quality, a research and policy group that seeks to improve the quality of teachers. The situation has stoked political fights in statehouses across the country as legislators weigh options such as moving teachers from a traditional defined benefit pension to a 401(k)-style plan, raising the retirement age or making teachers wait a decade to be vested in their plans. More

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Indiana to revamp its school principal certification exam
The Indianapolis Star    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Indiana is poised to dramatically overhaul the way it determines whether educators are qualified to become principals. Starting in the fall of 2013, Indiana will abandon its mostly multiple-choice test to receive the administrator license required to become a principal or vice principal. Instead, the new test will feature "real practical, applicable scenarios — case-study kinds of things — that actually show that you know what you're talking about," said Marg Mast, director of educator effectiveness and leadership in Indiana's state department of education. More

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Texas schools cope as classes expand and staffs shrink
The Texas Tribune    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Ask Phyllis Causey what time she goes to lunch, and the third-grade teacher will give a very specific answer: 11:55 a.m. "I live on a timer," she said. Every minute is accounted for in her meticulously planned workdays. To some extent, that is true every school year. But last fall, for the first time in her 12 years of teaching, 23 students were enrolled in her San Antonio elementary school class — making those minutes even more precious. More

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More than 20,000 California teachers pink-slipped
San Francisco Chronicle    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
More than 20,000 public school teachers in California opened their mailboxes over the last few days to find a pink slip inside as districts met the state's deadline for dispensing the dreaded news to the educators that they may not have a job in the fall. The layoff notices are preliminary, the districts' best guess at the amount of money they will get to educate kids next year after the Legislature concludes its annual budget fight this summer. But a proposed tax measure on the November ballot offers more uncertainty than usual. More

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Utah governor vetoes bill to curb sex education in schools
Reuters    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert vetoed a controversial bill banning public schools from teaching contraception as a way of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The bill, which also sought to bar instruction on homosexuality or other aspects of human sexuality other than the teaching of abstinence, would have been the first of its kind in the nation if it had become law. It had previously cleared Utah's Republican-controlled House and Senate, and Herbert was widely expected to sign it. More



Tornado-hit Indiana district finishing plans for return of elementary students
The Associated Press via The Republic    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A southern Indiana school district is putting the finishing touches on plans to get about 700 elementary students whose school was damaged by a wave of tornadoes back in the classroom at a temporary site. Deputy superintendent John Reed of West Clark Community Schools says the only thing that could prevent the kindergarten through sixth-grade students from returning to school would be problems with their new bus routes. More

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Check out NAESP Convention News Online
NAESP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The NAESP Annual Conference and Expo — BEST PRACTICES FOR BETTER SCHOOLS™ — is just days away. Whether you'll be in Seattle or not, keep up with all the latest conference happenings with Convention News Online. It's your hotspot for daily articles, blog posts and photos from the event. Don't forget to check out conference tweets with the hashtag #NAESP12. More

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Help us grow and win $100 in Crayola products for your school
NAESP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
NAESP Members: Commit to recruiting JUST ONE new member and you'll be entered in this month's drawing to win $100 in Crayola products. It's that easy. Join JUST ONE today. More
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Educational Summit on Handwriting Instruction
Educators and researchers gathered January 23 in Washington, D.C., to examine the continuing controversy over the role of handwriting instruction, especially cursive, in schools. Review the research and learn more about Handwriting in the 21st Century? An Educational Summit, sponsored by Zaner-Bloser in partnership with American Association of School Administrators.
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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 Cynthia Rosso at crosso@naesp.org.
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