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With Common Core tests, a lot at stake for 1st-year principal
The Christian Science Monitor
A week before their final round of Common Core tests, the fifth-graders at Sylvanie Williams College Prep, a charter school in New Orleans, are reviewing the procedures for solving a multi-part word problem in math. Their principal, Krystal Hardy, looks on. "Pay attention! I've seen these kinds of questions on the PARCC test," says math teacher Tiffany Labrie, referring to the Common Core tests that most students in Louisiana take this month. "This calls for converting ounces to pounds, so you can use your reference sheet," she tells them, indicating a handout on every desk.
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7 ways principals can support instructional coaches
Scholastic Administrator Magazine (commentary)
Jim Knight, a contributor for Scholastic Administrator Magazine, writes: "In the past decade, I have worked with more than 20,000 instructional coaches from six different continents. One of the most important things I've learned is that a principal's support or lack of support can make or break a coaching program."
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Why cursive mattered
The Atlantic (commentary)
Since the U.S. Department of Education dropped cursive writing from standard national curricula in 2011, the debate on the value of learning penmanship has raged. Some argue that the skill is obsolete, akin to learning how to use an abacus in the age of supercomputers. "[The] time kids spend learning to write curvy, connected words is time kids could be spending learning the basics of programming and any number of other technology skills they'll need in our increasingly connected world," wrote the blogger and podcast host Justin Pot in a spirited editorial rejecting the utility of such an "anachronistic skill."
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Learning with nature
Edutopia
In our time of fast-paced, exam-pressured, high-tech culture, where does learning with nature have a place? When adults are asked to recall a time in their youth when they were happiest, invariably they refer to times spent outdoors and with friends. Our clever screen world keeps us busy and on the go, but does not help us to communicate, feel loved, gain the satisfaction of the quiet mind, and relax. Time with others in nature does exactly that — and much, much more!
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The reading brain: Executive function hard at work
By: Linda R. Hecker
When I talk with educators across the country, they often lament that students don't read much anymore, especially in the face of ubiquitous social and multimedia distractions. Even students with intact decoding and fluency complain that reading is just too hard, not worth the effort. Why is reading such a challenge for so many? One often overlooked factor is the role that executive function plays when we engage with text. Broadly put, executive function describes the cognitive processes that regulate self-directed behavior toward a goal.
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Can technology get kids to play outside?
Education Week
Would you pay $230 for your toddler to take formal classes on making mud pies, catching bugs and climbing trees? That's the hope of Tinkergarten, a Northampton, Mass.-based startup that aims to use technology to re-connect young children to the outdoors via community-based classes led by instructors who have been recruited and trained online and given access to the company's extensive Web-based curriculum. "Ultimately, we want to be able to recreate the childhood that we had and that you most likely had: Go out the door, explore the world and come back," said co-founder Meghan Fitzgerald, a former principal and classroom teacher who heads Tinkergarten's educational operations.
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Can software spot a great essay?
District Administration Magazine
Three times each year, middle school students in Birmingham, Michigan, take a 30-minute, timed writing assessment online. The test is done through Criterion, an ETS online writing evaluation service. Student writers receive immediate feedback on their grammar and mechanics, as well as links to exemplary writing that displays techniques the test-takers need to work on. Remember, a computer tool, not the teacher, is doing this.
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Finishing strong...
Connected Principals (commentary)
Dan Kerr, a contributor for Connected Principals blog, writes: "So here we are, with less than a month to go before we head off for the summer holiday. I often marvel at how fast a school year goes by, and in many ways it seems like just yesterday that we were welcoming the kids off the buses on the first day of school. I've written before about how much I love this time of year, mostly because of the opportunity that we all have to reflect on ourselves as educators, on the learning that happened with our students, and on the personal and professional goals that we all set almost ten months ago."
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Districts tighten social media rules among teachers, students
eSchool News
School officials are tasked with trying to figure out how to embrace the seemingly limitless educational advantages of the internet and social media tools, but preventing them from being used to initiate and foster covert, inappropriate relationships among staff and students.
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School tools for creating a culture of wellness
By Dr. Melinda Bossenmeyer
Schools play an important role in helping children to be healthy and fit. A fast growing body of research indicates that student wellness and academic learning go hand-in-hand. Put simply, the benefits that can arise from proper nutrition and physical activity are a prerequisite to optimal learning and to avoiding and preventing chronic diseases. This webpage will provide free tools and messages for creating a culture of wellness in your school or organization.
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Promoted by By Dr. Melinda Bossenmeyer


6 of the nation's largest school districts dump polystyrene trays
The Washington Post
Six of the largest U.S. school districts have pooled their collective purchasing power to make significant changes to school lunch, and they’re starting by jettisoning the polystyrene tray. The Urban School Food Alliance, a coalition that includes the school systems of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami-Dade, Dallas and Orlando, has commissioned a school lunch dish that is made from recycled newsprint and can be turned into compost after use. The plate replaces trays made from polystyrene — most commonly known by the Dow Chemical brand name Styrofoam — a petroleum-based plastic that gets buried in landfills after use.
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How schools can help nurture students' mental health
MindShift
By the time he entered second grade, Eric had already witnessed graphic violence and watched as his family fell apart. He'd been moved to a new state and a new home, but he wasn't thriving, especially in school. Eric's reading level was measured in single digits — that is, below the 10th percentile for children his age. "He was so preoccupied by the trauma he'd experienced that it was impairing his learning," says Steve Lepinski, who followed Eric's progress.
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American kids are poorer than they were decades ago, education report shows
The Huffington Post
Poverty, which affects a growing number of American students, begins its negative impact on learning as early as the beginning of kindergarten, according to a National Center for Education Statistics report. Teachers reported that kindergarten students from affluent households in the 2010-2011 school year were more likely to have positive approaches to learning than those whose families live below the poverty line, according to the center's annual report, called The Condition of Education 2015. A positive approach to learning includes paying attention in class, keeping belongings organized and enthusiasm for learning.
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Global policy report touches on reduced testing reliance
eSchool News
ASCD has released its first Global Policy Agenda, which makes recommendations to promote the success of students, educators, schools and communities worldwide. "The needs to promote a whole child education and to reduce the overreliance on standardized testing are just two of many priorities that span all education systems across the globe," said David Griffith, ASCD director of public policy.
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How to head off kids' summer weight gain
USA Today
School's out or about to be out around the nation. In an ideal world — one many adults say they remember — kids would spend the next three months swimming, biking and running around outside. Each evening, they would come home to nutritious family dinners. In the real world, lots of kids will spend the summer watching more TV, playing more video games and, possibly, getting even less exercise than they do during the school year. Despite the dismal reputation of school food, many will eat junkier diets too. The result, studies suggest, is that summer is now prime time for excess weight gain — a serious health issue in a country where one third of children and teens are overweight or obese.
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Schools ratchet up safety protocol, but some lack basic infrastructure
U.S. News & World Report
Recently, police arrested a student at Burncoat High School in Massachusetts after they were called to respond to a report of a loaded gun found in the student's locker. It wasn't a security camera, metal detector or a tip from social media that alerted school officials to the potential threat. Rather, a teacher overheard the student talking about shooting a police officer. The teacher brought the student to the principal's office, as other administrators searched the locker and located the gun. It was the first time in at least two decades a gun was found in the Worcester Public Schools district, and the situation could have turned out quite differently.
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How grades 6-12 get robbed in federal education funding
The Washington Post
This graphic comes from a new report by the Alliance for Excellent Education called "Why ESEA Must Fill the Missing Middle," a reference to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which, in its current version is known as No Child Left Behind, and is now being rewritten by Congress. The report shows how federal funding is concentrated in the early years and in college — and gives "paltry" sums to middle and high school in comparison to early childhood, elementary schools and post-secondary education.
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School renovation becomes a teachable moment
Education Week
Rather than allow a large-scale construction project to derail student learning, administrators and teachers at a private school in Manchester, Massachusetts, incorporated the building process into the curricula — a partnership that also led the renovations to finish two months early. Adding construction themes to the lesson plans of the Brookwood School, a pre-K through eighth grade institution, was part of a collaboration between the school and the project's Beverly, Mass.-based overseer, Windover Construction, according to Nancy Evans, head of Brookwood's lower school.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    Let the kids learn through play (The New York Times)
Evolving principal role requires new professional development (District Administration Magazine)
Should teachers be held responsible for a student's character? (MindShift)
Why school leaders need the support of specific feedback to improve schools (Connected Principals Blog)
Are new Common Core tests really better than the old multiple-choice tests? (The Hechinger Report)

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




Principals groups commend White House, Education Department for school leadership focus
NAESP
The National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and New Leaders commend the White House and the U.S. Department of Education on a year of unprecedented federal focus on school leadership resulting in robust engagement with principals and the inclusion of diverse voices in federal policy conversations.
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Take part in 5K Fun Run/Walk at annual conference
NAESP
Start your week at the NAESP Annual Conference off on the right foot. Join your fellow educators in a timed 5K Fun Run/Walk along the scenic Shoreline Drive! This is the perfect opportunity to connect with your fellow educators while also enjoying views of the Queen Mary and the Los Angeles River. Register online here.
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