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Postcards from the Common Core classroom
NPR
The Common Core State Standards have become a political hot potato. In some cases, a punching bag. But the fact remains that, in 43 states and the District of Columbia, the standards are being used — and big changes in what we expect of young students mean many teachers are also having to rethink what and how they teach. We asked a handful of local education reporters to each tell the story of a Core standard and to explain how it's being taught in their community. The resulting stories offer an impressionistic view of how the standards — which are more rigorous than many of the state standards they replaced — have forced teachers and students alike to stretch.
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Put down the cupcake: New ban hits school bake sales
The Wall Street Journal
At Chapman School in Nebraska, resourceful students hawk pizza and cookie dough to raise money for school supplies, field trips and an eighth-grade excursion to Washington. They peddle chocolate bars to help fund the yearbook. But the sales won't be so sweet starting this fall. Campus bake sales — a mainstay of school fundraisers — are going on a diet. A federal law that aims to curb childhood obesity means that, in dozens of states, bake sales must adhere to nutrition requirements that could replace cupcakes and brownies with fruit cups and granola bars.
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Keep supporting gifted and talented students
TES magazine
Differentiation is for everyone — including those at the top of the ability range. Follow these tips to get the most out of high-fliers. If education is the pursuit of excellence for all children then, at first glance, labeling a select few students as gifted and talented seems more than a little problematic. For a start, it suggests that the other children are neither gifted nor talented. That is a misconception, of course, but one that can be highly damaging. Second, giving this group more attention than the rest is, so some argue, immoral: everyone should have access to the same facilities and opportunities.
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A closer look at a math performance task from PARCC
Education Week
If you're a teacher in a state that will take the PARCC or Smarter Balanced Common Core aligned assessments next spring, you know by now that the performance tasks for math are going to be hard — likely much harder than standardized test items your students have seen in the past. But just how difficult will they be? And how many different skills will each task assess? Some teachers have seen these types of problems in field tests and online practice items, but others have had little exposure to them yet.
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Computer science in K-12 classrooms needs to catch up
The Huffington Post (commentary)
It's estimated that in the next decade the number of computer science jobs in the U.S. will outnumber qualified people by 1 million. That's 1 million jobs for the taking that Americans will miss out on because of inadequate skill sets. Despite this, only 10 percent of K-12 schools have computer science programs. So what gives? Traditional subjects like English and math receive a lot of play time in K-12 classrooms and they are considered "building blocks" for other subjects, like computer science.
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Motivation: The overlooked sixth component of reading
Edutopia
Trina is an eighth-grader trapped in her own prison. She has every excuse in the book and is often referred to as just unmotivated. But I don't buy that story. Not at all. To a five-year-old, learning is exciting. While some are academic naturals, others lag. Well-meaning educators intervene, and praise, rewards, and external incentives surface. Thus, we can see the sixth component of reading — motivation. But what of the adolescents who deflect their inability to keep up by throwing a pencil when you aren't looking, or by bullying others? Enter the "unmotivated" adolescent.
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Teaching kids skills for deep reading on digital devices
MindShift
There's no doubt that the experience of reading online is different than reading in print, but does it affect comprehension? While several studies have found student comprehension and retention are lower on digital devices, could it be that students just need to learn the right tools to enhance their digital reading? Maria Konnikova explores the research and theories behind reading in her New Yorker column.
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Back to school: Keeping kids safe on school buses
EmaxHealth
School is just around the corner. How will your kids come and go? Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center wants you to ensure your kids are safe, especially if they will be riding the school bus. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, there was an average of 137 fatalities related to school transportation between the years 2001 and 2010. But don't let the statistics frighten you. School buses are made with safety in mind. Per the American School Bus Council, they are tougher, cleaner and more diligently maintained than ever before. Large school buses are heavier and distribute crash forces differently than do passenger cars and light trucks.
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Common Core education standards: Why they're contested left and right
The Christian Science Monitor
When the final Common Core State Standards were released in 2010, they were notable, in part, for how little opposition they generated. After prior attempts to create uniform national standards had failed, that goal seemed to have finally been accomplished, and in a way that was bipartisan. Kentucky was the first state to sign on, and two months after the standards were released, more than two-thirds of states had adopted the standards. With few exceptions, educators hailed them as a big improvement for most states, a chance to give some uniformity to education expectations across the United States and ensure that students graduate from high school with a deeper understanding of subjects, better critical thinking skills and thorough preparation for college courses.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    What to do when district mistakes go viral (District Administration Magazine)
Learning to read may take longer than we thought (NPR)
5 essential ingredients for learning (SPLAT) (Connected Principals)
Can special education students keep up with the Common Core? (The Hechinger Report)
30 classroom procedures to head off behavior problems (Scholastic)

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


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4 ways games make it 'OK to play'
eSchool News
While technology is a powerful learning tool, there are still concerns about how tech tools are used, as well as how much screen time young children should experience. But devices such as tablets, smartphones, and computers can be a powerful part of child development, especially through interactive experiences and games.
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Being cool in middle school may not be good for your future
The Huffington Post
For those who reign in middle school hallways, it does not get better, according to a recent study. Researchers from the University of Virginia looked at the life outcomes for those who were considered popular in middle school — those who were more likely to engage in adult behaviors at a young age — and found they were less likely to have healthy relationships 10 years later or to have found success.
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Looking for similar articles? Search here, keyword MIDDLE SCHOOL.


Rolling out blended learning
District Administration Magazine
Blended and online learning platforms are changing K-12 pedagogy by providing students with some control over their path, time, pace and place of learning. This sharp departure from the traditional factory-based model of teaching and learning is increasing student engagement and freeing up time so that teachers can provide one-on-one instruction with each of their students.
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The end of paper-and-pencil exams?
The Atlantic
Are fourth-graders computer-savvy enough to have their writing skills measured in an online assessment? A new federal study suggests that they are, although it's not clear whether old-fashioned paper and pencil exams might still yield useful results. The National Assessment of Educational Progress, sometimes referred to as "The Nation's Report Card," is administered every two years to a representative sampling of students in grades 4, 8 and 12. Because each state uses its own mix of assessments, NAEP (along with the SAT and ACT college entrance exams) is one of the few ways of making comparisons nationally on student performance. NAEP expects to be a fully online assessment by 2017.
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The pros and cons of school vouchers
By: Archita Datta Majumdar
The school voucher program has always been controversial, but never has the debate raged as it is now. Also called educational vouchers, these are basically certificates issued by state governments that allow parents to take their child's portion of per-pupil spending and reallocate the funds to private schools instead of the public school in their assigned school districts. Of course, nothing is as simple as it sounds. There is a growing dichotomy between the pros and cons offered by this program.
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Segregated schools detrimental for first-graders
Medical News Today
A groundbreaking study from the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute has found that African-American students in first grade experience smaller gains in reading when they attend segregated schools — but the students' backgrounds likely are not the cause of the differences. According to the Center for Civil Rights, although the United States is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, segregation is still on the rise. To better understand segregation's impact on student performance, FPG scientists looked at nearly 4000 first graders in public schools nationwide.
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Select K-12 issues gained state legislative traction
Education Week
In a year when 46 states will hold legislative elections and 36 will select governors, lawmakers in various states pushed ahead on education priorities, including pre-K education, teacher evaluation, and revisions to school funding formulas. Those issues and others managed to break through despite continued ferment around the Common Core State Standards, including passage of a law repealing the standards in Oklahoma and a potential scaling-back of them in such states as Missouri and North Carolina.
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Protecting Student Privacy Act sets limits on use of school data
THE Journal
Legislation introduced in the United States Senate would restrict the use of students' personal data for commercial purposes, limit the transfer of such data and require records to be kept of any entities that have access to students' information. The bipartisan Protecting Student Privacy Act, introduced today by Senators Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, would amend the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. It aims to slow the propagation of student information without parental consent, curb the use of student data in commercial applications and secure data held by private companies.
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Schools set to adjust to revamped E-rate policies
Education Week
The Federal Communications Commission's recent makeover of the E-rate program is billed as a step toward transforming the fund from one focused on supporting 1990s-era telecommunication tools to one that accommodates 21st century technologies. Now, school officials are trying to gauge what the new policies will mean for teachers, students and their districts' bottom lines. The changes, approved in an FCC order on July 11, represent what some longtime observers of the E-rate describe as the most sweeping revisions in the program's 18-year history.
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Legislatures taking state education into their own hands
The Washington Post
The backlash against the Common Core has prompted lawmakers in at least 12 states to get more involved in setting their own K-12 academic standards, injecting politics into a process usually conducted in obscurity by bureaucrats. In several states, legislators have placed new restrictions on state boards of education, which typically write and update academic standards. In others, lawmakers have opened up the development of standards to greater scrutiny, requiring that proposals receive public vetting. And in Oklahoma, which has embarked on an extreme makeover of its standards process, lawmakers passed a law that lets them rewrite any standards they don't like.
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Study says more money hasn't helped Philadelphia schools
The Philadelphia Inquirer
The day after state legislators canceled a vote on a cigarette tax to benefit Philadelphia schools, a Harrisburg think tank released a report that said the additional money the district has received in the past had not helped. The fiscally conservative Commonwealth Foundation said its analysis showed that while the district's annual budget had grown by $1 billion since 2002, student achievement has lagged: 80 percent of students cannot read or do math at grade level.
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Select K-12 issues gained state legislative traction
Education Week
In a year when 46 states will hold legislative elections and 36 will select governors, lawmakers in various states pushed ahead on education priorities, including pre-K education, teacher evaluation, and revisions to school funding formulas.

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Maximizing PLC time to flip your class
District Administration Magazine
Recently, we have been talking with a number of people about how to best implement flipped learning, and one hurdle mentioned over and over by teachers is that they do not have enough time.

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5 apps for today's administrators
eSchool News
Leading a school or a school district is, understandably, an important and critical job. Today's school administrators must keep up to date with learning trends, instructional strategies, technology initiatives, and everything in between.

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Huge confusion in Mississippi over Common Core
The Hechinger Report
It's been called a federal curriculum, the end of literature lessons, and even, here in Mississippi, a "Muslim takeover of schools." The Common Core, a set of math and English language arts standards that spells out what skills students are expected to master in kindergarten through twelfth grade, will be rolled out in every Mississippi school this year. The new standards are not a curriculum; instead they set benchmarks for math and English achievement in each grade. In 2010, 45 states and Washington, D.C., adopted the standards, hoping they will increase rigor in earlier grades and then build a strong foundation for higher-level English and math courses. Since then, a handful of states have dropped them.
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Welcome to Epic, a school where students are heroes on a quest
MindShift
Students starting in sixth grade at Epic charter school in Oakland, California will begin their first step on a hero's journey. Over the course of three years, students will tackle complex quests, earn points, level up to more difficult tasks up until the time they graduate eighth grade. The school opens August 25 in the Fruitvale neighborhood, a tough part of town known for its high crime rate. It's part of the Education For Change charter management organization, which has seven other schools in the neighborhood. But Epic is different from its sister schools — the whole school is one big game.
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Write for Principal magazine
NAESP
No one knows a principal's job better than you do. You know the challenges, the rewards, the humor, and the successes. How about sharing some of those experiences with your colleagues? Writing for our magazine is a great way to help other principals while giving you fresh insights into your own professional development. View the 2014-2015 Editorial Calendar and submission guidelines for more information.
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Back-to-school strategies: Digital safety
NAESP
Earlier this year, NAESP hosted a Digital Learning Day tweetchat to explore digital safety. Over 100 educators joined the #digisafety chat, exploring how to guide parents through digital safety issues, develop Acceptable Use Policies, and serve as a tech role model for students and staff. As you gear up for this school year, review these strategies to keep your students safe online.
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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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