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Where are the nation's 'most productive' school districts?
Education Week
Is your school district spending its likely tight budget on the right things? New reports suggest many aren't. Three reports by the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank, examine whether districts are properly targeting their budgets to areas that will most effectively address academic success for students. The reports are a follow-up to a similar assessment the group completed in 2011.
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Overdue notice: Transforming libraries into learning commons
By: Brian Stack
With stacks of books, card catalogs, microfiche readers and overhead projectors, many school libraries look more like museums featuring relics of the past and less like 21st-century student-centered classroom spaces. With the increased access to technology by teachers and students, some schools are contemplating whether it is time to close the library doors for good and find a better way to use the space that was once the information hub of the school. For school libraries — much like the newspaper industry — staying relevant in the 21st century has been the story of reinvention.
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Are multiplayer games the future of education?
The Atlantic
It was just supposed to be a quick trip to Beijing, a touristy group thing to take in the sights. It wasn't supposed to go down like this. There wasn't supposed to be a lost manuscript; the travelers weren't supposed to turn on each other. The only good, if any, to be found in this godforsaken quest, this unholy mission, was that by the end of it, they would all know how to speak Mandarin.
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Why storytelling in the classroom matters
Edutopia (commentary)
What is "storytelling"? Telling stories, of course! In 2014, there are so many diverse, wonderful, and sometimes overwhelming ways to do this. What I want to explore is traditional, oral storytelling, which has been a part of human life since we first left Africa 200,000 or more years ago. Perhaps storytelling was the reason language developed in the first place, as our minds began to inquire, wonder, think.
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How much multitasking should be done in the classroom?
Edudemic
"Ability to multitask." That phrase is seen on nearly every job description that I've ever read. It doesn't matter what industry you're in or what job you're applying for — everyone expects everyone to be able to multitask. But what does that mean, exactly? Does it mean being able to work on three things at once? Let's be real here, you can't write three different emails at once — multitasking usually means something more along the lines of rapidly switching gears from one project to another. But does multitasking actually help you get more done, or is it eating away at your actual productivity?
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Activists take teacher tenure battle to more states
U.S. News & World Report
Parents, students and legislators are challenging teacher tenure laws in an increasing number of states, as the influence of a landmark decision in California begins to ripple throughout the country. Groups are turning their attention to filing copycat lawsuits after the Vergara v. California ruling reignited tenure debates in states including New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. "This is unprecedented," says William Koski, a professor of education and law at Stanford University. "It is relatively unusual for courts to get involved in the nitty-gritty of any educational policies, much less teacher employment rules like this."
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Districts debate merits of master's for teachers
The Associated Press via ABC News
Efforts to eliminate extra pay for teachers who earn advanced degrees are gaining momentum in a small but growing number of U.S. schools, stirring a national debate about how best to compensate quality educators and angering teachers who say the extra training is valuable. More than half of the nation's teachers have master's degrees or higher, but the changing salary structure is giving pause to others considering the same path.
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Outdoor play promotes physical activity in youth
Medical News Today
The World Health Organization recommends that youth participate in a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. Studies have shown that youth experience most of their MVPA during school hours. Therefore, it stands to reason that increasing outdoor time after school hours would increase MVPA. In a new study in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers confirmed that time spent outdoors after school was positively associated with MVPA.
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Dare to dream of change
Connected Principals (commentary)
John Marschhausen, a contributor for Connected Principals blog, writes: "We must recognize differences as we assess students — there is no single test to measure every student's mastery. How we provide instruction, inspire creativity, embrace diversity and empower greatness must be personalized ... education can't take place on an assembly line. We are not preparing students for the industrial age; we are cultivating students to be problem solvers, creative thinkers and inspired leaders."
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5 anti-bully apps you should know about
eSchool News
No matter what generation you're from, it's evident that bullying has consistently played a role in the educational system. In movies, it's usually the stereotypical intimidating character going for children's lunch money, or in some cases, it's the popular kids bullying less-popular students. But for today's generation, bullies have become more of an unstoppable obstacle for students. While mobile phones have improved communication, they also have heightened the lengths of what being bullied can entail.
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Why middle school should be abolished
The Daily Beast (commentary)
America should do away with middle schools, which are educational wastelands. We need to cut the middle out of middle schools, either by combining them with the guidance and nurturing that children find in elementary school, or with the focus on adult success that we expect from our high schools. For much as half of middle schools across the country, national statistics show substantial performance gaps, especially in math and reading achievement, between middle school and high school. It's time to admit that middle school models do not work — instead, they are places where academics stall and languish.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    Advice for districts on 'recalibrating' principals' roles in schools (Education Week)
New Obama initiative stresses equal access to good teachers (The Huffington Post)
5 tips for keeping your school iPads safe (and not cracked) (Edudemic)
How to read education data without jumping to conclusions (The Atlantic)
Where have all the summer reading assignments gone? (eSchool News)

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


How districts divvy up cloud services
EdTech Magazine
Some school leaders put everything in the cloud, while others eschew the technology altogether. "I probably fall in between the two extremes, because I certainly understand the benefits and the concerns," says Dr. Ramiro Zuniga, chief of technology for the Port Arthur Independent School District in Texas. Port Arthur ISD's cloud-based parent notification system, for example, lets him contact parents within seconds in case of emergency. "There's a tremendous benefit for something like that," he says.
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Teacher evaluation support report released
District Administration Magazine
School Improvement Network, the leader in educator effectiveness systems, announced a report on teacher professional development policy in all 50 states showing a dearth of guiding support for districts in the majority of states. Taken as a whole, the report findings indicate that schools, districts, and states lack the professional development and support needed to make soon mandated teacher evaluations a meaningful part of professional growth towards educator effectiveness.
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FCC approves $2 billion boost for Wi-Fi in schools
Bloomberg
The Federal Communications Commission approved a plan to spend $2 billion to boost wireless Internet connectivity in U.S. schools and libraries during the next two years. "We're at a watershed moment," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said during a hearing in Washington in which the panel voted 3-2 to approve the plan he proposed in April. "Because of what we do today 10 million kids will be connected next year who otherwise wouldn't. That's a good days work." The move will phase out funding under a program known as E-rate for old technologies like pagers and dial-up phone service in order to subsidize broadband and wireless Internet connections in classrooms and libraries.
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Why did the GOP flip flop on Common Core?
The Hechinger Report
For the first time in recent memory, K-12 education is emerging as a top tier issue in the coming presidential race, at least among Republicans. That, for people who care deeply about schools, is the good news. The bad news is that the political conversation is almost entirely focused on the ever-more contentious topic of Common Core, and the rhetoric is so long on blanket ideology and short on specific policy that it often feels like politicians aren't talking about what kids are learning, or not learning, at all.
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Are nutrition standards for school meals too tough?
The Christian Science Monitor
A food fight is brewing on Capitol Hill. Stronger nutritional standards for school meals have been phasing in since 2012, touted by everyone from pediatricians to Michelle Obama as a major way to boost children's health. But now Congress is considering temporary waivers for some school districts or suspension of certain requirements that many districts say will be a struggle to meet. The School Nutrition Association, representing 55,000 school nutrition professionals, is leading the push to delay or tweak some of the standards.
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Report urges more active state role in Common Core
EdSource
The move to local control under the state's new funding and accountability system has given school districts much leeway in adopting the Common Core State Standards, the challenging math and English language arts standards that California and 41 other states and Washington, D.C., have adopted. And that flexibility, concludes a new report by researchers from Stanford University's Graduate School of Education, has the potential to create disparities in implementation the state should reduce.
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Outdoor play promotes physical activity in youth
Medical News Today
The World Health Organization recommends that youth participate in a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. Studies have shown that youth experience most of their MVPA during school hours.

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read more
7 steps to authentic learning
eSchool News
Why authentic learning? There are so many reasons to choose from, some of the most important being: providing deep purpose for learning, empowering students, providing differentiation and choice options in learning, connecting students to others locally and globally, and allowing opportunities to develop empathy, creativity and innovation skills.

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Can 12 minutes of exercise make a difference for students?
Psych Central
A new study shows that 12 minutes of exercise can improve attention and reading comprehension in low-income adolescents.

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Recess time under review in Nashville, Tenn., schools
The Tennessean
Is recess a ritual of the past or might it reclaim its place in Davidson County? Or did it ever really get pushed aside? Time allotted for kids to play outside seems to run the gamut from very little at some Nashville, Tennessee, elementary schools to more than the state requires. Individual schools, usually principals, make the final call. Now, amid calls by some parents and school board members to extend physical activity, Metro Nashville Public Schools is conducting an audit of recess in each school, with plans to release findings to the board of education.
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Top strategies from NAESP 2014 Annual Conference speakers
NAESP
NAESP's 2014 Annual Conference just wrapped up in Nashville. Visit the Session Notes page to read The Wrap, NAESP's series of top takeaways from each session. Discover productivity tips from Justin Baeder, school culture strategies from Todd and Beth Whitaker, ideas from Susan Cain for working with introverts, and more.
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Tweet like a pirate: Takeaways from NAESP's #TLAP chat
NAESP
At the 2014 Annual Conference, NAESP hosted a second discussion on Dave Burgess's best-selling book, "Teach Like a PIRATE." Burgess himself even dropped in (virtually) to swap strategies with principals. Read this Storify wrap-up of the chat's best takeaways and ideas.
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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.

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