Five Fun Winter Break Activities That Won't Feel Like Homework
You can almost hear the groans already; no student likes to be told they have a school project to do over winter  break.

"It's a break for a reason," they might argue, and they wouldn't be wrong, but when you're ready to assign homework for the duration of winter break, you're doing it in their best interests, even if they don't agree.
So here's five winter break activities to get your students excited about homework this Christmas:
1. A Book Report on a book of their choosing, presented as they choose.
It could be "Dr. Seuss" or "War and Peace"-whatever they like, as long as they present it to the class in a fun and creative way.

Suggest a glamorized poster board detailing the events of the story, or perhaps screen a movie adaptation and talk about the differences between the film and the literature. Maybe students would like to form groups to read the same book, and perform a skit or film a video of some of their favorite scenes for the rest of the class?

The due date for the assignment doesn't need to be right when they return from break, but if you assign it the Friday before, they'll have a week of free time to be excited about what to read and how to show it to their classmates.    >>READ MORE 
Top 10 Christmas Gifts for Teachers
Talk to any teacher and they'll willingly give a list of their most perfect presents for Christmas. While you can't give them more free time, better pay or parents who are more involved, you can make their Christmas special with a gift that lets them know just how much you appreciate their efforts. After all, they put up with your kid five days a week, nine months out of the year, right? Teachers love simple and thoughtful gifts that make their sometimes difficult job easier. From art supplies like markers, paints, craft paper and crayons to posters that motivate them and their students, there are so many options for great Christmas gifts for teachers. Don't worry, we've shopped with your budget in mind so you'll find a varied list of ideas for as little as ten bucks that will make a big impact on the teachers in your kids' lives.

Interesting, inspirational and fun, check out our Top 10 Best Christmas Gifts for Teachers.  >>READ MORE
Holiday Stress Relief Tips and Tricks
Though the holidays are filled with joy and family, they can also be a very stressful time. Work schedules are jumbled, exercise routines are compromised and often, travel is involved. We spoke to Dr. Simon Rego, director of Psychology Training at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, to get some tips on managing stress during the holiday season-and we rounded up some apps for additional help.

Know (and Anticipate) Your Triggers
Next time you are feeling stressed, it's good to take a second to notice what triggered it.

"People tend to have specific triggers that recur in their lives (rent due at the beginning of each month, family visits over the holidays, etc.)," explains Dr. Rego. "So if you can raise your awareness of when you're most vulnerable, you can make a plan-in advance-on how you can deal with the trigger."

In the case of the holidays, this may mean that time-crunches stress you out. In that case, allot more time for cooking so you don't feel rushed between recipes.    >>READ MORE 
It turns out Legos aren't just toys for kids (or the  worst nightmares for barefoot parents). In Alycia Zimmerman's classroom, they are important tools for learning.

Zimmerman, who teaches third grade at Chelsea Prep in New York, uses Legos to help her students learn math. "In the classroom, the tiny bricks are now my favorite possibility-packed math manipulative!" she wrote in a blog for Scholastic in 2013.

Her use of the classic toy recently picked up speed,  thanks to Bored Panda. On Dec. 8, the site shared Zimmerman's ideas in a post on Facebook that has been liked more than 40,000 times in two days.

Zimmerman uses the building bricks to explain math concepts like fractions, multiplication and division. She wrote on her blog that if parents take Legos beyond the playroom, they can make a big impact.

"Find some LEGO bricks in a storage closet or basement, and take some time exploring how they work," she wrote. "Count the studs, explore the dimensions, build some towers. And I guarantee, you'll now be thinking... MATH!"  
U.S. Department of Education Releases 2016 National Education Technology Plan   
The U.S. Department of Education  announced today the release of the 2016 National Education Technology Plan and new commitments to support personalized professional learning for district leaders across the country working to improve teaching and student achievement through the effective use of technology.

Updated every five years, the plan is the flagship educational technology policy document for the United States. The 2016 plan outlines a vision of equity, active use, and collaborative leadership to make everywhere, all-the-time learning possible. While acknowledging the continuing need to provide greater equity of access to technology itself, the plan goes further to call upon all involved in American education to ensure equity of access to transformational learning experiences enabled by technology.

"Technology has the potential to bring remarkable new possibilities to teaching and learning by providing teachers with opportunities to share best practices, and offer parents platforms for engaging more deeply and immediately in their children's learning," said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. "It can change the experiences of students in the most challenging circumstances by helping educators to personalize the learning experience based on students' needs and interests-meeting our students where they are and challenging them to reach even higher. This year's update to the National Education Technology Plan includes a strong focus on equity because every student deserves an equal chance to engage in educational experiences powered by technology that can support and accelerate learning."
How many deer would a reindeer reign
if a reindeer could reign deer?

Eleven elves licked eleven little licorice lollipops.

Frosty fell on frozen frost freezing his fiddly fingers.

Build your school's spirit this year with a large, custom display banner. Call M. H. West & Co., Inc. for pricing and size options.    ( 804.782.1938)

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Springboard, a startup that aims to put a human twist on online education, has raised $1.7 million and has a few big name backers including LinkedIn co-founder Allen Blue. The bet: Online education success rates can improve with human mentors.

Online education holds a lot of promise as a way to democratize learning, go global and improve returns for students, who currently have to take on ridiculous levels of debt to complete degrees. The problem: Online education is missing its secret sauce. Dropout rates are high and students can struggle with a broadcast model of education.
U.S. High School Graduation Rate Hits New Record High
America's students are graduating from high school at a higher rate than ever before, reaching 82 percent in 2013-14!

What's more, the gap between white students and black and Hispanic students receiving high school diplomas continues to narrow, and traditionally underserved populations like English language learners and students with disabilities continue to make gains, the data show.  >>READ MORE 
Investing in Innovation (i3) Program Announces Grants
The 13 finalists for i3 grants - Investing in Innovation - have been announced, and now the organizations await the formalization of their grants for education improvements.

Assuming that each organization receives the required matching donations from private funding, The United States Department of Education will be splitting $113 million in Investing in Innovation (i3) funding among these 13 organizations. The money will go toward programs for student achievement, college readiness, improved science education, low-performing schools, and teacher and administrator effectiveness.  >>READ MORE  


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If you don't have time to do it right,
when will you have time to do it over?
- John Wooden