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As 2013 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 next Tuesday, Jan. 7.

To improve school climate, examine recess
Edutopia (commentary)
As we look at ways to create environments that allow teaching and learning to thrive, it's time to take a long, hard look at the critical role of recess in our schools. Recess has the potential to transform schools, and groups are finally speaking out about the powerful role it has in the school day, including the American Academy of Pediatrics which, earlier this year, released a policy statement to this effect.
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Is the Common Core initiative in trouble?
The Washington Post
Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently met with Chamber of Commerce leaders and urged them to be more vocal and forceful in defending the Common Core State Standards. Why? Duncan made the appeal, which was reported by Education Week, because the initiative — a set of common standards adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia designed to raise student achievement — has come under such withering attack in recent months that what once seemed like a major policy success for the Obama administration now looks troubled.
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5 common myths about school administration
eSchool News
It's not always teachers who face criticism in the U.S. Many school administrators say that misconceptions about their career motivations and the position in general still exist today — and many myths have survived for decades. Even though administrators don't always have to face some of the misconceptions teachers do, such as "Those who can't do, teach," the world of school administration faces its own set of stereotypes that are often times incorrect.
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Should schools still teach cursive?
MindShift
Sophomore Andrew Forbes of Nashville, Tenn., used cursive everyday in elementary school, from third grade through eighth grade. He was required to write out all his papers, worksheets, and notes in the flowing line of slanted script. He finds cursive so much faster and easier than printing, he still uses it daily in high school.
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8 principal leadership tips for the new year
Connected Principals Blog
Justin Tarte, a contributor for Connected Principals Blog, writes: "I recently had the opportunity to hear Andy Greene, Middle School Principal from New York, speak to us about collaboration and the PLC process. From as soon as I walked in the room, I knew Andy's session was going to be good. Here are some of the highlights that really had an impact on me."
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States pull back from Common Core
U.S. News & World Report
Lawmakers in some states hope to halt the transition to the Common Core State Standards, even as school districts across the country are rolling them out. In Alabama, senators are considering a bill to repeal the standards, which the state's Board of Education adopted in 2010. Alabama schools are already using the new math standards, which aim to give the subject context by teaching high school students to use mathematical models to analyze everyday situations, and are set to implement the English standards before the start of the next school year.
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Is it better to have a great teacher or a small class?
The Atlantic
When it comes to student success, "smaller is better" has been the conventional wisdom on class size, despite a less-than-persuasive body of research. But what if that concept were turned on its head, with more students per classroom — provided they're being taught by the most effective teachers? That's the question a new study out today from the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute set out to answer, using data on teachers and students in North Carolina in grades 4 through 8 over four academic years. While the results are based on a theoretical simulation rather than actually reconfiguring classroom assignments in order to measure the academic outcomes, the findings are worth considering.
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School shooting drills: How realistic should they be?
The Associated Press via The Huffington Post
"I want to see my kids! Bang! Bang!" the man shouted as he stormed into the front office of a South Carolina elementary school and pointed a handgun at a secretary and custodian. Both went limp at the verbal gunshots, and the "shooter," a police officer taking part in a school safety drill, continued his rampage. While an assistant principal dialed 911, the gunman took aim at two students and their principal. All fell to the floor with bloody, fake wounds.
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20 must-use education technology tools
The Huffington Post (commentary)
Educators may feel sometimes like they're on an island with little help in sight. But as technology teaching resources go, it may encourage you to learn that there are a number of online solutions available to help promote education from teaching reading basics to organizing classroom activities and encouraging civic involvement. Here are 20 of the most promising new apps, websites and online education technology tools or services every teacher should be using to help improve classroom learning.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    These days, school lunch hours are more like 15 minutes (NPR)
How to get students to love reading (Edudemic)
Passive aggression in the classroom: Student vs. student (Psychology Today)
Don't make these mistakes with flipped learning (eSchool News)
Report: How to grow a farm team for principals (Education Week)

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Sorting kids at school: the return of ability grouping
Desert News
A new report shows that ability grouping in schools is on the rise, and prior research shows that teaching students in groups of like ability improves success for low and high achievers. There are important caveats, though.
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Debating iPads or Chromebooks for 1:1? Why not both?
THE Journal
As more school districts consider 1:1 initiatives, they are faced with the decision of which device to roll out. Chromebooks and iPads are two popular choices, but instead of choosing between them, some innovative school districts are deploying both. Spring Lake Public Schools in Michigan, Sioux Falls School District in South Dakota, Winneconne Community School District in Wisconsin, and the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a nonprofit organization that manages 25 Chicago Public Schools, have implemented or plan to implement both iPads and Chromebooks in the classroom.
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From the principal's office: 6 steps for curbing email miscommunication
Tech&Learning
How many times have you sent an email and immediately regretted doing so after pushing the send button? How many times have you sent an email, and the receiver of that email got it all wrong about what you meant to say? The media is replete with stories of politicians, public officials and celebrities who make the news because they sent an insensitive email or distasteful joke. When these things happen, the problem isn't with the email. It does what it's supposed to do. The problem is a lack of mindfulness when reading, composing and sending email.
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How many hours do educators actually work?
EdTech Magazine
If you were offered a job that paid an average annual salary of $49,000 and required you to work 12- to 16-hour days, would you take it? Sounds like a lot of work for not much pay. But, as a new infographic shows, that's about what the average U.S. teacher can expect when walking into a classroom. Despite the conventional wisdom that K–12 teachers work shorter days (the average U.S. school day is 6.7 hours, according to the National Center for Education Statistics), the graphic, from BusyTeacher.org, shows that the average teacher workday is much longer than that.
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Schools avoid saying, 'Go see the principal'
The Associated Press via Winona Daily News
Often the last resort of frustrated teachers, the command "Go to the principal's office" is dreaded by students. But Minnesota schools are trying new ways to keep students in the classroom and out of trouble. State education officials are training teachers to better help students understand how to behave in school and encouraging principals to come up with alternatives to suspension. It's all part of a Minnesota Department of Education initiative called Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports, or PBIS, Minnesota Public Radio reported.
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New Common Core resources for educators
eClassroom News
New resources link Common Core-aligned curriculum with any school system's assessment data, and what's more, these resources for educators are also 100 percent free. The resources, housed on Activate Instruction, are part of an open platform where educators can browse, search, rate, add, share and organize their favorite Common Core-aligned resources, and put them together in personalized playlists for students. Parents and students can follow sets of resources educators have prescribed, or can search for the resource they like best.
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What learning cursive does for your brain
Psychology Today
Dr. William Klemm, a Professor of Neuroscience at Texas A&M University, writes: "Ever try to read your physician's prescriptions? Children increasingly print their writing because they don't know cursive or theirs is unreadable. I have a middle-school grandson who has trouble reading his own cursive. Grandparents may find that their grandchildren can't read the notes they send. Our new U.S. Secretary of the Treasury can't (or won't) write his own name on the new money being printed."
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4 steps to close the achievement gap
Principal (Commentary)
Gail Connelly, NAESP Executive Director, writes: "Most educators agree that achievement gaps resulting from race and socioeconomic status are a moral imperative that we have a responsibility to address. We know that principals play a key role in closing achievement gaps. Research over the past 30 years shows that strong school leadership is second only to teaching among school influences on student success and is most significant in schools with the greatest need. As the role of the principal expands, and becomes more and more complex, it may help to keep a focus on four key things that principals can do to improve learning conditions for students and create a school culture that helps close the gap."
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10 things we've learned about learning
Smithsonian Magazine
It's the time of year when learning seems remarkably possible. Students are excited, teachers are motivated — let the learnfest begin. But by next month, it will become clear once again that the teaching/learning routine is a tricky dance, that all kinds of things, both in our heads and in our lives, can knock it off balance. Fortunately, scientists have kept busy analyzing how and why people learn. Here are 10 examples of recent research into what works and what doesn't.
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Schools avoid saying, 'Go see the principal'
The Associated Press via Winona Daily News
Often the last resort of frustrated teachers, the command "Go to the principal's office" is dreaded by students. But Minnesota schools are trying new ways to keep students in the classroom and out of trouble.

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New Common Core resources for educators
eClassroom News
New resources released this month link Common Core-aligned curriculum with any school system’s assessment data, and what's more, these resources for educators are also 100 percent free. The resources, housed on Activate Instruction, are part of an open platform where educators can browse, search, rate, add, share and organize their favorite Common Core-aligned resources, and put them together in personalized playlists for students.

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The state of the Common Core
Edutopia
Millions of teachers and thousands of districts in 45 states are currently undergoing a sea change in the way that they teach and assess students. The new Common Core Standards for learning have been phased into states and districts since 2010, and the digitized Common Core Assessments are scheduled to deploy in states that have adopted them as early as the 2014-2015 school year.

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Priming principal pipelines
District Administration Magazine
Most principals today are hard pressed to find time for the multitasking they are expected to do, from overseeing the daily operation of their schools and interacting with parents to evaluating teachers and providing them with professional development to do their jobs at a high level. What these principals have frequently been lacking, say experts in the field, is sufficient professional development for themselves. In fact, a 2008 survey by the National Association of Elementary School Principals found that its members allocated just 2 percent of their school time, on average, to their own continuing education as school leaders.
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School districts struggle to get principals to stay put
NPR
At Milwaukee Parkside School for the Arts on the south side of Milwaukee, kids are back in class and getting their bearings in the sprawling building. So is Lila Hillman, the school's brand-new principal. She has to figure out where everything is, who everyone is, how to run a school — and how to answer everyone's questions. As Hillman walks through the halls, one teacher wants to know where to hang a cutout of a tree trunk. A few steps later, a janitor asks why all the lights went out in the school the night before. Even though the job at Parkside, a kindergarten through eighth grade school, is demanding, Hillman says it feels right to her. The mother of two was a middle-school teacher for 10 years and an assistant principal for seven.
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Early absenteeism in school can point to later problems in life
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
It's just kindergarten. Maybe you had that thought when your 5-year-old woke up with a tummy ache or when you wanted to take your youngster on a trip for a few days or when your child missed the school bus. What's the harm in missing a day — or two or three — of school? Consider this: Children who miss a significant number of days in kindergarten often continue to miss a significant number of days in first grade. By third grade, fewer than 1 in 5 of those significantly absent in kindergarten and first grade are at grade level in reading. By fourth grade, when reading is required to learn just about everything, many never catch up. They may disengage from learning, have behavior problems and later drop out.
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New guides for school districts to better support principals
The Wallace Foundation
The University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership just released a set of three tools designed for school district central office leaders, especially principal supervisors, to help principals improve teaching and learning in every school across the district. Commissioned by The Wallace Foundation, the Central Office Transformation Toolkit includes three guides: Readiness Assessment, Creating Your Theory of Action, and Principal Instructional Leadership. A free copy of the toolkit is available online.
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Georgia school shooting averted by a brave bookkeeper — and prayer
The Christian Science Monitor
A 20-year-old gunman who was talked into surrendering his assault rifle by a cool-as-a-cucumber bookkeeper after he allegedly stormed a school in Dekalb County, Ga., on Tuesday told police afterwards, "I'm sorry, I'm off my meds." Coming as America's schoolchildren begin filtering back to school for a new year, the shots fired at the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy by a possibly unstable young man with a deadly arsenal may have only reinforced perceptions that people experiencing mental illness pose a serious risk to children's safety.
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Does grouping by ability work?
Daily Record
The idea of grouping students by ability levels in the classroom — placing high-achievers in one cluster, average students in another and poor performers in still another — was common in more than three-quarters of the nation's classrooms from the early 1960s through the late 1980s. But by the late 1980s and early 1990s, ability grouping had fallen out of favor. Critics argued it stigmatized some students, pigeonholed them throughout their school careers and tended to become self-fulfilling prophecies.
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5 open education resources for K-5 Common Core math
Edutopia
There is an abundance of math open educational resources on the Web. So many, in fact, that Education Week asked, "Why is There More Open Content for Math than English?" Common Core is driving a lot of the growth in open education production and curation, with new databases and sources popping up left and right. It can be overwhelming to wade through everything, and find a source that works for your classroom. With that in mind, here are some math open education resources for elementary educators.
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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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