Snapshots: September/October 2014

Fast Fact:

Students who miss 2 to 4 days of school in September are 5 times more likely to be chronically absent for the rest of the year.
—The Baltimore Education Research Consortium

Read All About It

Ipads and tablets may be changing the way students read (and online assessments are shifting how students interact with what they read), but the long-term value of reading hasn’t changed. Read on for four new lessons science is teaching us about literacy.

Literacy still matters in later grades. Typically, third grade is regarded as the year students move from learning to read to reading to learn—mastering fluency to absorb more complicated content. But, when Dartmouth College researcher Donna Coch tested brainwave activity in third-, fourth-, and fifth- graders, she found that even the older students were still mastering literacy processing. “[S]ome teachers in fifth and sixth grade have not thought of themselves as reading instructors. Now we can see from brain waves that students in those grades are still learning to process words automatically,” says Coch. Her work was published in the July 2014 issue of Developmental Science.

Math and reading (and genetics) are all tied. According to researchers from Munich, Germany’s Ludwig- Maximilians-Universität, students who have difficulty learning math may also struggle with reading. In a study published this July, researchers found that 57 percent of children with an arithmetic- related learning disorder also had a reading or spelling disability.

A recent study published in Nature Communications might indicate why: It turns out that about half the genes that influence how well a child can read also play a role in their math abilities, according to a study by The University of Oxford and King’s College London.

Reading plus running? Not as crazy as it seems. Just 12 minutes of exercise can improve students’ reading comprehension and attention, according to research published in the June issue of Frontiers in Psychology. For the study, Dartmouth researchers invited adolescents to jog in place for 12 minutes and then complete a reading task. Low-income students experienced the biggest boost.

5 Tactics to Promote Schoolwide Creativity

2014 marks the fourth year NAESP and Crayola have collaborated on the Champion Creatively Alive Children supplement (accompanying this issue of Principal), which explores how educators can use art-integration to enhance student learning. Peek inside to discover art-infused ideas to try in your school, like these:

  • Spark student storytelling by modelling, sketching, or drawing characters. (Page 6 of the supplement)
  • Support students as “constructors of knowledge” with the Reggio Emilia approach to teaching. (Page 10)
  • Teach students visual thinking strategies to help them articulate their observations. (Page13)
  • Explore traditional arts such as quilting to connect students with history and your community. (Page 16)
  • Craft a common arts-based vocabulary for your PLCs. (Page 21)

5 Culture-Building To-Dos

This fall, try these strategies from Todd and Beth Whitaker’s session at the 2014 NAESP Annual Conference.

  1. Engage your students! This must be intentional and purposeful.
  2. Remember to SPARKLE: Sharing Powerful Activities Really Keeps Learners Engaged.
  3. Shift your weekly staff communication to be more positive. For instance, send a Friday Focus memo that celebrates that week’s successes.
  4. Focus your communication on the future. Bragging about a teacher’s accomplishments may seem like it’s focusing on the past, but it’s actually setting expectations for future behavior.
  5. Be the lead learner, and be visible. Participate in the learning and enjoy your building.

Appy Hour

2014 NAESP Annual Conference attendees and presenters swear by these time-saving, task-managing apps. Cheers!

VOXER. “Vox” is quickly becoming a verb. This walkie-talkie program that records audio, text, and pictures takes collaboration to a new level. Free.

TODOIST. PC Magazine calls this cross-platform task-management behemoth a must-have for every organized person. Presenter Justin Baeder recommends it. Free.

NOTABILITY. In his session, “The Innovative Administrator,” James Richardson reported that this powerful note-taking app can make observations a cinch. $4.99, iPad/iPhone.

TOUCHCAST. Flipping communication? Peter DeWitt recommends using this app to create videos overlaid with Web pages, maps, and more. Free, iPad/iPhone.

REMIND. Finally: a safe, free, easy-to-use app to text students and parents. Presenter Dan Butler says it can foster positive relationships. Free.


What’s one leadership mantra for principals to keep in mind this school year? Attendees of #naesp14 weigh in.

@ehuthsimpson: “In our programs, we need to give people exposure to great educators and leaders! Learn from the best. What does great look like?”

@billsterrett: “Principals, don’t cause ‘initiative fatigue’ by returning from a conference with more work for teachers. Focus your efforts.”

@danpbutler: “Principals are CEOs: Chief Example for Others. Such a great thought. I love this acronym.”

@ldw4bama: “What we offer to our students tells them what we value. What are you offering?”

What’s your leadership motto for 2014-2015? Tweet it to us @NAESP

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