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Mathematical Olympiads for Elementary and Middle Schools

Math Problem solving contests for teams of up to 35 students in grades 4 through 8.

 





5 facts about America's students
Pew Research Center
In a few weeks, America's roughly 53.5 million K-12 students will head to the classroom. Trading in swimming pools and summer jobs for math problems and history homework, these students will hit the books at one of more than 129,200 schools across the country, including about 5,700 charter schools and 30,900 private schools. Pew Research Center has found today's American students as a whole to be more diverse — and on track to be better educated — than their parents and grandparents.
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Raising autism awareness on the school bus
School Transportation News
With one in 68 children being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, the condition is evidently on the rise across the country. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention, this current autism diagnosis rate represents a 30-percent increase since 2008. In order to raise ASD awareness and assistance, the National School Transportation Association and the Autism Society have partnered to provide school bus contractors the necessary training and information about the disorder.
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Common Core's focus on concepts is key to improving math education, report says
Education Week
The Common Core State Standards' emphasis on conceptual understanding in math will improve students' problem-solving skills and ultimately help prepare them for jobs of the future, argues a new report by the Center for American Progress, a Washington-based think tank. Math instruction in the United States has traditionally focused on algorithms and procedures, explain Catherine Brown and Max Marchitello, the authors of the report. Under the common core, students spend more time learning the underlying math concepts and how to apply them. "As a result, students become stronger critical thinkers and problem solvers and will be better prepared for the rigorousness of today's job market," they write.
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How much homework is too much?
The Christian Science Monitor
If kids had less homework, would they spend more time with family or in front of the television? Would they suffer on standardized tests because they lack practice, or would they thrive because they haven't gotten burned out? In the debate over the merits of sending kids home for a "second shift" of school, these are the questions that plague parents and school officials. A recent study published in the American Journal of Family Therapy found that early elementary school students are doing far more homework than they should be. "It was unsettling to find that in our study population, first and second grade children had three times the homework load recommended," the study said.
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Coding schools are at the center of an education revolution
EdTech Magazine
Coding has become cool again. But most schools are not equipped to deal with the sudden onslaught of students hungry to learn the language of machines. "I think this is becoming one of the biggest shifts we've ever seen in education in our country," says Adam Enbar, co-founder and president of the New York–based Flatiron School. "When was the last time an entirely new subject matter was added to the curriculum?" Flatiron School is one of several coding schools across the country that have found success by teaching adults — and now students — the basics of web and mobile software development through courses that last just a few weeks. This year, the school expanded its pre-college program to Chicago, Ill., Miami, Fla., Los Angeles, Calif., and Austin, Texas.
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4 tactics that take cheating prevention to the next level
Education Dive
The time that students, especially in K-12, spend preparing for standardized exams has been a source of controversy in education for well over a decade now. With the increase of technology in schools, moves to digital platforms and other factors, the lengths to which schools go to prevent students from cheating has also garnered a fair amount of attention. While some cases have infamously involved educators themselves fudging scores in an attempt to avoid high-stakes consequences associated with students' scores, efforts by faculty and administrators worldwide to prevent academic dishonesty have run the gamut from Big Brother-esque invasions of privacy to over-the-top headgear. Read on for four of the more attention-grabbing examples in recent years.
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Cultural competence in the classroom: A key 21st-century skill
By: Erick Herrmann
Schools today are becoming increasingly diverse. Any educator who has been working in schools for a long time has likely seen the differences between students who were in their classrooms 20 years ago and students who are in their classrooms today. As racial, ethnic and linguistic diversity in the classroom and school widens, so does the need for educators to be responsive to diverse student and family needs, beliefs, values and attitudes.
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PRODUCT SHOWCASE
  Stop Bullying/Help Prevent Suicide

Learn more about these new online training programs to help improve the climate and culture in your schools. Based on the movie, Contest, Stand Up Say No to Bullying teaches students how to handle conflict and bullying. Signs Matter helps teachers and administrators identify students who may be contemplating suicide. You can help save lives.
 


Beyond the pros and cons of redshirting
The Atlantic (commentary)
If you've read Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers", you probably remember the argument he makes in the book's first chapter: In competitive situations, a person who's relatively older than the others will probably be the one who wins. Gladwell centers on a real-world example in which almost all of the players who had been selected for a Canadian Hockey League team had birthdays in the first four months of the year. Why? In Canada, Gladwell reasons, the cut-off age for participating in the sport is almost always Jan. 1. A child who, say, turns 11 on Jan. 4 would still play alongside a child who turns 11 much later in the year — and at that stage in life, there are typically significant distinctions in physical characteristics and abilities between two such kids.
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Cultivating creativity in standards-based classrooms
Edutopia
How do students learn to challenge ideas and think beyond the status quo? Can creativity be fostered in classrooms that follow Common Core standards and test for conformity? At first glance, these questions may seem at odds. And, in fact, many educators believe that today's schools have abandoned the concept of creativity. Yet teachers can and do foster creativity in standards-based classrooms every day.
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Why you shouldn't waste your time with 'learning styles'
EdSurge (commentary)
"I'm a visual learner, so I need to see it to understand." How many times have you heard something like this? The sad thing is that many people cling to their learning styles talisman and impose their demands on educators. There are many ways to create effective instruction and meet individual learner needs, but learning styles should not be one of the tools you use.
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What does it mean to have your whole middle-school curriculum designed around games?
The Hechinger Report
One morning, just before classes at New York City's Quest to Learn Middle School broke for lunch, Etai Kurtzman found himself transformed into a lemon tree. It was a warm day in late April, and his chatty sixth-grade class had been corralled from a narrow hallway into a classroom at the end of a short hall. Etai, tall and lanky, lugged a gray backpack to a desk that had been pushed up against a wall. Each student had been cast for a role-playing game either as a honeybee sent out from the hive or as a plant. In a flurry of organized chaos, the students simulated the pollination process: student honey bees, wearing pipe-cleaner antennae, approached classmates pretending to be plants and received small, colored building blocks.
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Changing the conversation: Rethinking how we talk about students
Tech&Learning (commentary)
Minimal. Basic. Low. Why are these words used to describe children who are anything but? Reporting on a narrow set of skills (primarily reading and math), by using numbers reflective of achievement rather than growth, can make teachers feel complicit in a system that overlooks many students' interests, talents and growth. Of course academic achievement is an important priority. However, when it becomes the singular focus at the expense of the whole child or acknowledging academic growth, it is problematic.
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It's no secret that most professional development for teachers is awful. Less well known is that some of it is great.
The Washington Post (commentary)
It's no secret that a lot of professional development given to teachers is worthless. Teachers themselves have complained about it for years. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has repeatedly declared that PD is largely a waste of billions of dollars a year. A 2013 report by the National School Boards Association's Center for Public Education noted that most teachers aren't given the kind of professional development that would actually help them, and it called the most prevalent model of PD nothing short of "abysmal." And early this month a study of 10,000 teachers by the nonprofit TNTP said that teacher workshops and training that cost taxpayers billions of dollars each year is largely a waste (although some critics took issue with the methodology of the study).
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PRODUCT SHOWCASE
  Pilot Program: World Cultures Curriculum

All Around This World,
an experiential global music and world cultures program for kids, seeks elementary schools to pilot its “Explore Everywhere” classroom curriculum in '15-'16. Participating schools recevie full scholarship to Africa and Latin America series (up to 20 weeks each). Teacher training videos/webinars included. FUN! Intrigued? Click here.
 


Study: Warmth, not punishment, helps middle-school students learn
MLive.com
If parents want their middle-school students to succeed in school, the best way is to avoid harsh punishments and to create a home environment that stimulates learning, University of Michigan researchers say. The findings of Sandra Tang and Pamela Davis-Kean appear in the current issue of the Journal of Family Psychology. Lecturing and restricting activities as punishment for young teens who earn low grades can lead to lower achievement in the next five years, the study says.
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Looking for similar articles? Search here, keywords SCHOOL.


Teachers empowered by the ability to discover and share interactive courses for their classrooms
K-12 TechDecision
With online learning becoming an integral part of the K-12 educational experience, the ability for teachers to create online content for their classrooms is pivotal in maintaining students’ engagement. Versal, an interactive online course creation and publishing company, recognizes this importance and looks to empower teachers even further with the launch of their new teacher-powered Gadget Market.
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A really, really well-written set of classroom rules
Te@chThought (commentary)
Terry Heick, a contributor for Te@chThougth, writes: "Well, actually 2. You could make the argument that they're too simple I guess. Or that they seem elementary and wouldn't work beyond 4th grade. But I'm not so sure. It all boils down to your approach to 'classroom management,' or rather promoting the tone to learning and personal interaction your students deserve. Some teachers believe they need to be specific — that 'Be respectful' is too vague, and that listing all the things one shouldn't do in order to be respectful. And that approach works for them."
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Education Department awards more than $16.2 million in grants to improve school leadership at lowest-performing schools
U.S. Department of Education
The U.S. Department of Education awarded more than $16.2 million to eight grantees to develop and implement or enhance and implement a leadership pipeline that selects, prepares, places, supports and retains school leaders or leadership teams at low-performing schools that need the most help in meeting the academic needs of its students. Under the Turnaround School Leaders Program, grantees develop systems at the school district level that are designed to provide high-quality training to selected new school leaders and current school leaders to prepare them to successfully lead turnaround efforts in School Improvement Grant schools and/or SIG-eligible schools.
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Handcuffing of students reignites debate on use of restraint
Education Week
Restraint and seclusion in schools, particularly when used with students with disabilities, has been a simmering national issue for years. But when video of a Kentucky school resource officer handcuffing an 8-year-old boy was released by the American Civil Liberties Union, debate over the practice of restraining students erupted anew. The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the school resource officer, Kevin Sumner, and his employer, the Kenton County, Ky., sheriff's department.
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It's almost fall. Do you know where your textbooks are?
eSchool News
Two years ago Consolidated Unit School District 300 in Algonquin, Ill., was facing a pretty daunting challenge across its 26 schools. When it came to recording the inventory of assets like textbooks, some of the district's numbers were incorrect. "We'd start a new school year thinking that we had the appropriate supplies for our students, only to find out that our inventory system didn't reflect what we actually had on hand," said Susan Harkin, chief operating officer for the 26-school, 21,000-student district. A student who wasn't matched up with an algebra book, for example, would often have to wait a week or two for it to be ordered and delivered to the classroom. And for some of the outdated books that are no longer being published, the district could spend months trying to hunt down the textbooks.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    The movement From STEM to STEAM (By: Brian Stack)
New tests push schools to redefine 'good enough' (NPR)
Study: Most teens start school too early in morning to get enough sleep (USA Today)
Teacher shortages spur a nationwide hiring scramble (credentials optional) (The New York Times)
Listening to teachers: How school districts can adopt meaningful change (MindShift)


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




New principal? Join the National Panel of New Principals
NAESP
NAESP's new principal panel is the first and only national program dedicated to gathering and sharing the experiences of new principals in rural, urban and suburban schools across the country. Panelists participate in six online surveys each year on a relevant topic, which take less than 10 minutes to complete. Panelists receive the survey results and resource recommendations from their peers, and for each survey completed, panelists also receive a $10 credit for the National Principals Resource Center online store or merchandise from national sponsors such as Scholastic.
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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 2015-2016 Editorial Calendar and submission guidelines for more information.
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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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