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Report: Schools should focus more on soft skills
THE Journal
A new study from Wainhouse Research finds that a large minority, 39 percent, of education stakeholders say their schools should be doing a better job of preparing students for the workforce. Among more than 1,000 administrators, teachers, students and parents surveyed from North America and the United Kingdom, "many" said they "believe that schools are doing a decent job focusing on the 3 R's: reading, writing and mathematics, but are not doing as good a job focusing on other aspects of education essential to preparing learners for entering the workforce," according to the report.
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3 ways technology can support positive behavior in schools
eSchool News
According to the federal Education Department, more than 19,000 U.S. schools are using School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, an evidence-based framework to reduce disciplinary infractions, improve the school climate, and increase student achievement. Similar to Response to Intervention, PBIS takes a three-tiered approach to instilling positive behavior in schools. Tier 1 focuses on interventions used on a school-wide basis for all students, such as actively teaching and reinforcing appropriate behaviors. Tier 2 applies more targeted approaches to students who need additional support, while the third tier is for students who have significant behavioral problems and may require an individual behavior plan and perhaps wraparound services.
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Motivating for math
Scholastic Administration Magazine
"Why do we have to learn this?" When it comes to math, this is the question so many young students ask their parents, themselves, and of course, their teachers. Students argue that they won't need math for a career in acting, car racing or construction. While there may be some truth to this, it is our responsibility as teachers to help students understand the practical everyday applications for math that go well beyond what may be required for a particular job or career.
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Report debunks 'earlier is better' academic instruction for young children
The Washington Post
The debate about appropriate curriculum for young children generally centers on two options: free play and basic activities vs. straight academics (which is what many kindergartens across the country have adopted, often reducing or eliminating time for play). A new report, "Lively Minds: Distinctions between academic versus intellectual goals for young children," offers a new way to look at what is appropriate in early childhood education.
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6 early childhood tips ... From a 5th grade teacher?
Edutopia (commentary)
Michael Gervais, a fifth grade teacher at Community Roots Charter School, writes: "Last year, the seven-year itch hit me hard, and after being quoted many times saying, 'I was made for first grade,' I decided that it was time for me to make a change and move up, way up to fifth grade. I thought my transition would be cut and dried, like how you end dinner and begin dessert — but as with a lot of other changes in life, it was much messier than that. Now, seven months later, I'm still finding myself stuck somewhere between the lower-grade and upper-grade worlds, with a savvy co-teacher and 25 eager ten-year-olds by my side."
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How memory, focus and good teaching can work together to help kids learn
MindShift
Everyone has a pet theory on how to improve public education: better professional development for teachers, more money, better curriculum, testing for accountability, teacher incentives, technology, streamlined bureaucracy. Policymakers have been trying these solutions for years with mixed results. But those who study the brain have their own ideas for improving how kids learn: focus on teaching kids how to learn.
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Kindergartners who shared iPads in class scored higher on achievement tests
International Communication Association via Science Daily
Using tech, like iPads, in schools has turned into a heated political debate. Los Angeles infamously spent $1.3 billion on a program to give iPads to each student that has subsequently been plagued with problems. In the United Kingdom the head of the National Association of Head Teachers claimed he was dubious about using tech as a teaching aid in non-IT classes. One solution could be using shared tech in classrooms. A promising study by a researcher at Northwestern University found that kindergartners in classes with shared iPads significantly outscored their peers on achievement tests who were in classes that had no iPads or classes with iPads for each student (1:1).
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A playground design that fights playground politics
Eric Peterson
Teachers and staff at Lakeview Elementary in Hoffman Estates know recess is meant for exercise, so the new playground design fights politics and conflicts. But they’d searched fruitlessly for a way to encourage the former and discourage the latter among students. Then a staff member whose own child attends school in St. Charles heard of a program in use there that she thought might just be of help at Lakeview.
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The 4 C's of 21st century learning for ELLs: Creativity
By: Erick Herrmann
In this last article of this four-part series, creativity and innovation will be discussed — with a particular emphasis on English learners. Creativity and innovation have been linked to job creation over the past decade. The rise of technology and other emerging industries rely on creativity: the ability to think outside of the box and unconventionally, to question assumptions and standard ways of doing things, and to imagine new products and solutions to problems.
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Where kids learn more outside their classrooms than in them
The Atlantic
It's time for the morning meeting at Pittsfield Elementary School, and several kindergartners jostle for a spot on the carpet next to 16-year-old Anitrea Provencher, who is helping out in their classroom this semester. As the students settle into a circle, their teacher, Lenore Coombs, starts off the day's discussion with a question: What's something you've never done before that you would like to try? That's something Provencher — a sophomore at the neighboring Pittsfield Middle High School — is actively trying to answer for herself as part of a program that awards students' academic course credit for engaging in learning experiences outside of the traditional classroom setting.
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Field poll finds strong support for breakfast in the classroom
LA School Report
Nearly two-thirds of California voters support legislation requiring schools to integrate breakfast into the school day, according to the latest statewide Field Poll. Four questions on breakfast in the classroom were included in the poll on behalf of California Food Policy Advocates, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the health and well-being of low-income Californians by increasing access to nutritious, affordable food. Support was strong among all voters, regardless of ethnicity, age, gender or geography, the poll found.
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Report: 39,000 immigrant kids coming to US
Newsday
About 39,000 immigrant children are expected to enter the country illegally as unaccompanied minors this federal fiscal year, reaching the second-highest level of that migration since 2008, says an analysis issued by a research group in Washington, D.C. The estimate by the Migration Policy Institute, a nonprofit that studies the movement of people across international borders, is based on apprehension figures issued by U.S. Customs and Border Protection for the first five months of the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, 2014, and ends Sept. 30. Many of the children coming from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala likely will be resettled where there are established Central American communities, such as Long Island's Nassau and Suffolk counties, said Marc Rosenblum, the report's author.
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Children take more risks crossing streets than parents think
Reuters
Children may cut things closer than their parents realize when it comes to guessing how far cars are from an intersection or how long it takes to safely reach the other side, a small study suggests. Using virtual reality, researchers tested how often kids might walk into oncoming traffic in real life. The results show that "parents may be over-estimating how careful their children are" and missing opportunities to teach kids safer habits, study author Dr. Barbara Morrongiello, a psychology professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario, said.
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Religious-freedom laws add to schools' complex duties
Education Week
Adriel Arocha was a kindergartner with long braids in 2008 when his American Indian religious beliefs and those of his father, Kenney, ran smack into the grooming policy of the Needville, Texas, school system — and led to a federal court ruling centered on that state's religious-freedom law. The law, the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, is among the varied, but similarly named, statutes in 20 other states now under intense public scrutiny in the wake of controversies in Arkansas and Indiana over whether they would allow business owners to discriminate against people based on sexual orientation.
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Senate plan retains testing cap for students with disabilities
Disability Scoop
A bipartisan plan to reshape the nation's primary education law would maintain strict limits on the number of students with disabilities taking less rigorous tests. After months of negotiation, the top Republican and Democrat on the U.S. Senate education committee released a joint proposal to update the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known as No Child Left Behind. The Senate education panel is slated to consider the bill next week. Currently, students with severe cognitive disabilities are allowed to take alternate assessments in lieu of the general, grade-level tests mandated for most children. However, only 1 percent of all students — or about 10 percent of those with disabilities — may be counted as proficient by schools for taking alternate exams.
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5 tips to help get the most out of E-rate 2.0
EdTech Magazine
Schools and districts have the opportunity to take advantage of increased funding available through E-rate — a federal program intended to ensure that K–12 schools and libraries, particularly those in low-income or rural areas, have affordable access to telecommunications and Internet services. Changes to the program in 2014 by the Federal Communications Commission increased funding from $2.4 billion to $3.9 billion. Schools and districts looking to take advantage of this increase should consider some best practices and tips when applying for E-rate funding.
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No Child Left Behind: An overview
Education Week
The No Child Left Behind law—the 2002 update of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act — effectively scaled up the federal role in holding schools accountable for student outcomes. It was the product of a collaboration between civil rights and business groups, as well as both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill and the Bush administration, which sought to advance American competitiveness and close the achievement gap between poor and minority students and their more advantaged peers. Since 2002, it's had an outsized impact on teaching, learning, and school improvement — and become increasingly controversial with educators and the general public.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    Wanted: A great principal (Center For Teaching Quality)
Creating a visitor management system (Scholastic Administrator Magazine)
Should teachers have a national standardized text? (By: Archita Datta Majumdar)
Reading by 3rd grade: Impacts of early education extend beyond classroom (Holland Sentinel)
Well-designed classrooms can boost learning progress in primary school pupils by up to 16 percent in a single year, research reveals (University of Salford via Science Daily)

Don't be left behind. Click here to see what else you missed.


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This district is trying to improve student achievement by making kids feel good about themselves
The Huffington Post
Students who distract peers with stories and jokes aren't labeled "class clowns" at Ducketts Lane Elementary School in Maryland. Instead, they’re lauded for having "presence." And when parents and students meet with teachers to discuss student progress, teachers rarely focus on students' deficiencies. Instead, they discuss the students' major strengths and how they could work to grow those strengths. For nearly two years, this elementary school in the Howard County Public School System has been participating in a districtwide initiative designed to highlight the personality strengths of students and teachers. The initiative is part of a partnership with Gallup that began in 2013 to boost student and teacher strengths and engagement. Preliminary results show the approach seems to be working so far.
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New York budget accord seeks to tighten rules on teacher quality
Education Week
A last-minute budget deal in New York will have major implications for how the state's teachers are trained, evaluated and granted tenure — even as many of its implications for the 200,000-plus-member teaching force still have to be worked out. The bill, approved by the legislature March 31, represents a win on some levels for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who had sought to tighten the reins on teacher-quality policies. It does away with much local flexibility on teacher evaluation, centralizing at the state level key elements of how teachers will be graded.
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Principals groups celebrate Assistant Principals Week, April 13-17
NAESP
The National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and the American Federation of School Administrators have declared the week of April 13-17 as National Assistant Principals Week to honor and recognize the contributions of assistant principals to the success of students in schools across the United States. The week will include recognition of the state assistant principals of the year and national finalists, who will visit Capitol Hill to discuss ESEA reauthorization with their elected officials.
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Closure: The case for engaging end-of-year activities
NAESP
Imagine you're five years old, getting ready for the last day of kindergarten summer school, expecting a busy day with lots to do. Your class just learned about the letters "Y" and "Z," but instead of conducting activities about letters or numbers, your teacher passes out popcorn and says, "Class, I have a special treat for you today. We are going to watch 'Charlotte's Web.'" She pushes play and then proceeds to pack up supplies in the back of the room.
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