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Curriculum    School Leadership   Federal Advocacy & Policy   In the States   Association News   Buy Books   Contact NAESP


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As 2014 comes to a close, NAESP would like to wish its members, partners and other industry professionals a safe and happy holiday season. As we reflect on the past year for the industry, we would like to provide the readers of NAESP's Before the Bell, a look at the most accessed articles from the year. Our regular publication will resume Tuesday, Jan. 6.


Pros and cons of Common Core State Standards
By: Archita Datta Majumdar
From March 25: As the name suggests, Common Core State Standards mean an even and consistent educational standard across the country that will pave the way for equal learning opportunities. The initiative was designed to keep in mind that students need to be prepared for the real world and this comprehensive education will be their ally. However, the Common Core State Standards have faced a lot of opposition ever since they were announced. The reality is that like every new idea, this too has its pros and cons and needs to be evaluated and assessed properly.
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Grouping students: Heterogeneous, homogeneous and random structures
By: Erick Herrmann
From Jan. 17: What is the typical classroom seating arrangement? Are students seated in neat rows, in a U shape, in small groups of 4 or 5, at tables or at desks? Teachers have long recognized the power of grouping students together for a variety of reasons: to collaborate with each other on a project, for cooperative learning opportunities, to work with a small group of students on a particular skill and more. But how do teachers decide how to group students together, and when is a particular grouping structure best, given the learning or task at hand?
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School improvement requires more than just a plan
By: Thomas Van Soelen
From June 24: As educational leaders, we spend considerable time building plans for a variety of stakeholders. After that first, often arduous writing of the initial draft, many leaders struggle with how to revise the plan in meaningful, engaging ways. Chuck Bell, a second-year superintendent in Elbert County, Georgia, created his system's first-ever improvement plan then ran his summer leadership retreat and was stumped with what to do next. He chose to model a process that school leaders could immediately lift and use in their schools.
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Homework 2.0: It's time to upgrade our approach
By: Brian Stack
From June 17: In the 20th century, each student was assigned the same weekly assignment, because homework was a one-size-fits-all model. The educational community subscribed to research such as that by Walberg, Paschal and Weinstein who wrote about "Homework's Powerful Effects on Learning" in 1985. Fast-forward to today and few would argue the importance of homework. But in today's world, the purpose, amount and type of homework that teachers assign looks vastly different than 20 years ago. If we are to continue to use homework as an instructional tool in our modern world, then we must upgrade to this new understanding of homework — call it homework 2.0.
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Inclusion Corner: Begin with co-planning
By: Savanna Flakes
From Oct. 21: Co-teaching implemented with fidelity has a profound impact on a range of learners with and without disabilities from a variety of cultures. Co-teaching is often characterized as a "marriage" between a general education and a specialist. Formally defined, co-teaching is two or more educators sharing responsibility for teaching some or all of the students assigned to a classroom. According to Marilyn Friend and Lynne Cook, it involves the distribution of responsibility among people for planning, instruction and evaluation for a classroom of students.
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Recess redress: The importance of play in education
By: Suzanne Mason
From Sept. 5: Ask any child what his or her favorite subject is in school, and most will say recess. Yet a recent Gallup poll conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that up to 40 percent of U.S. school districts have reduced or eliminated recess to focus more on academics. Despite these changes, recess still remains an important part of a child's education. In fact, a new study by the University of Lethbridge in Canada showed that free play can help with the core essentials for development in the brain.
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Deconstructing the confusion surrounding the Common Core State Standards
By: Ryan Clark
From Aug. 12: Across the country, children, parents and teachers of applicable states are spending their summers dreading the return of the controversial Common Core State Standards Initiative. If recent poll results are any indication, the fervor of last spring's backlash against the standards hasn't died down.
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ELL reading development: Modified guided reading, interventions, support
By: Beth Crumpler
From Jan. 7: Guided reading is an instructional method that allows students to learn how to read and comprehend text. As students progress in their reading abilities and understanding, the difficulty of the text is increased. English language learners often struggle with reading. They struggle with decoding the text, pronouncing the words, fluency and understanding the content. For these reasons, ELLs usually have difficulty following along and being actively engaged during the learning process in standard guided reading groups.
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The online epidemic of cyberbullying
By: Ashley Welter
From July 22: Bullying has been a serious problem in schools and neighborhoods for as long as anyone can remember, and adolescents and teens are at the highest risk for becoming victims of this behavior. In junior high and high school, when kids are between the ages of 13 and 17, they often encounter malicious behavior from other students — either as a victim or an observer. In recent years, a new and even more damaging form of bullying has emerged — cyberbullying. Can you guess where a large portion of cyberbullying takes place? If you said social media, you're absolutely right.
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Easy listening exercise for ESL students
By: Douglas Magrath
From July 18: Students need to bridge the gap between short English as a second language exercises and real lectures. The trend is now to use authentic texts, radio broadcasts and real lectures to promote student learning by stressing communication skills and presenting culture in a natural way.
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Student self-assessment: Understanding with purpose
By: Pamela Hill
From Nov. 7: Student assessments drive education. Academics are carefully measured with every student to determine at what level he is learning and if any interventions are needed to assist him for improved learning. If a student demonstrates learning difficulties that persist after a systematic plan of interventions has been used and measured, the student may be referred for special education services. It is at this point that a student is examined in a deeper manner.
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Preventing gun violence in schools
By: Mark Bond
From March 14: Gun violence is a major social issue in America, and schools and university campuses have become targets of this gun violence. In recent years, dozens of students, faculty and staff have become victims of this gun violence while on campus, and the loss of life and serious injuries have been devastating to our communities. In response to recent campus violence, an idea to have schools adopt an armed security force to patrol campus grounds and buildings has been proposed to lawmakers, law enforcement and educational governing boards. This article will evaluate this controversial proposal and analyze the evidence to determine the benefits and concerns.
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How should we organize a kindergarten classroom of ELLs?
By: Alanna Mazzon
From June 27: I started teaching kindergarten in Beijing last year, and I've been thinking more about the best approach to teaching young children. Back in Canada, we used the full-day, play-based method for kindergarten. Here in Beijing — specifically at the school at which I work — we do not have a set program for kindergarten; it is up to the teacher to decide what works best. This left me wondering, what is the best way to organize a kindergarten classroom — especially one that is full of English language learners?
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Is regular exercise the best treatment for ADHD?
By: Denise A. Valenti
From Aug. 19: As summer winds to a close, the long days of playing, running, swimming and biking cease and are replaced by hours of sitting at a desk, eyes ahead. For some children this is problematic, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is common among children of school age. The causes of ADHD are not known, but studies looking into how genetics, environment, social surroundings, nutrition and brain injury contribute to the process. Another line of research is the relationship of physical activity to the symptoms of ADHD.
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Is math a universal language or a foreign language for ELLs?
By: Holly Hansen-Thomas
From Oct. 10: What do you think? When asked this question, most educators will fall on one side of the coin or another. There is evidence to support the fact that mathematics is indeed universal. But at the same time, there are irrefutable challenges that English language learners encounter when learning math through English — for them a foreign or second language. To illustrate this point, I'll share highlights from a contentious, but respectful interchange among math educators with whom I had the privilege of working recently.
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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.

Feedback about an article? Contact NAESP Liaison Meredith Barnett at MBarnett@naesp.org.
Colby Horton, Vice President of Publishing, 469.420.2601   Download media kit
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