Thu10302014

News

Police stress need for low speed in school zones

Police stress need for low speed in school zones


Town Crier File Photo
After two recent accidents involving cyclists and motorists, police urge caution – on both sides.

After two recent incidents of vehicles striking student bicyclists, Los Altos Police urge residents to exercise caution whe...

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Schools

Gardner Bullis School debuts new Grizzly Student Center

Gardner Bullis School debuts new Grizzly Student Center


Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Students line up to check books out of the library in the new Grizzly Student Center at Gardner Bullis School.

Gardner Bullis School opened its new Grizzly Student Center earlier this month, introducing a lea...

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Community

Home improvement workshop scheduled Wednesday (Oct. 29)

The County of Santa Clara is hosting a free informational workshop on 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Los Altos Hills Town Hall, 26379 Fremont Road.

The workshop will offer ways single-family homeowners can increase their homes’ energy efficiency. Eligible i...

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Comment

Off the fence: TC recommends 'yes' on N

The Town Crier initially offered no position on the controversial $150 million Measure N bond on Tuesday’s ballot. But some of the reasons we gave in our Oct. 15 editorial were, on reflection, overly critical and based on inaccurate information.

We ...

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Special Sections

Long-term solutions emerge as water conservation goes mainstream

Long-term solutions emerge as water conservation goes mainstream


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Forrest Linebarger, right, installed greywater and rainwater harvesting systems at his Los Altos Hills home.

With more brown than green visible in her Los Altos backyard, Kacey Fitzpatrick admits that she’s a little e...

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Business

Local realtors scare up money for charity

Local realtors scare up money for charity


Photo courtesy of SILVAR
Realtors Gary Campi and Jordan Legge, from left, joined Nancy Domich, SILVAR President Dave Tonna and Joe Brown to raise funds for the Silicon Valley Realtors Charitable Foundation.

Los Altos and Mountain View realtors raise...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

DAVID S. NIVISON

DAVID S. NIVISON

David S. Nivison, 91 years old, and a resident of Los Altos, California since 1952, died Oct. 16, 2014 at home.  His neighbors had recently honored him as the “Mayor of Russell Ave., in recognition of 62 years of distinguished living” on that ...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

ECYS opens season Sunday

ECYS opens season Sunday


Ramya Krishna/Special to the Town Crier
The El Camino Youth Symphony rehearses for Sunday’s concert, above.

The El Camino Youth Symphony – under new conductor Jindong Cai – is scheduled to perform its season-opening concert 4 p.m....

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Spiritual Life

Christian Science Reading Room hosts webinar on prayer and healing

Christian Science practitioner and teacher Evan Mehlenbacher is scheduled to present a live Internet webinar lecture, “Prayer That Heals,” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Christian Science Reading Room, 60 Main St., Los Altos.

Those interested ...

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Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Local schools roll out Common Core instruction


Town Crier File Photo
Curriculum standards in California are undergoing a face-lift this year with the implementation of Common Core State Standards, which establish educational benchmarks at each grade level that prepare students for college and careers.

Local teachers officially began the transition to Common Core State Standards, a new state-adopted curriculum, at the start of the 2013-2014 academic year.

Common Core is a state-led initiative that establishes a single set of educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics. To date, 45 states have adopted the standards, which seek to bring diverse state curricula into alignment by following the principles of standards-based education reform.

According to the initiative’s leaders – the nation’s governors and education commissioners – the standards are designed to be “robust” and “relevant” to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that young people need for success in college and careers. Common Core’s backers claim that with American students fully prepared for the future, communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.

‘Less teaching, more learning’

Locally, school officials said teachers were already headed toward the Common Core route.

“We truly believe that Common Core is a road map, but it’s something that we have been doing over the last couple of years,” said Nancy Davis, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

Los Altos School District teachers have been moving toward project-based learning and design-thinking objectives, Davis said, which aligns with Common Core goals.

“It’s going more in-depth in fewer concepts,” she said. “‘Less teaching and more learning’ is the mantra. We need to give our children opportunities to explore and enjoy what they are learning and just go in-depth so that it really means something to them. Then they can take that knowledge and apply it to different things.”

Davis described the standards as a “stairstep” of skills that promotes interconnectedness among grade levels.

“The skills build upon each other grade level to grade level,” she said. “In Los Altos, there are 10 anchor standards, and each grade level will build upon the depth of each anchor standard.”

While shifts in math concepts and skills have raised questions, Davis said the Los Altos School District has communicated frequently with the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District to ensure that its math instruction transitions seamlessly to the high school level.

The elementary and high school districts have chosen to stay with traditional mathematics classes (Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II) but are working to fit the Common Core Standards, which are much less sequential and more integrated through grade levels, into their classic courses.

“I see this as a great opportunity for us to work more closely with our partner districts,” said Brigitte Sarraf, MVLA’s associate superintendent for educational services. “The Common Core is spiraling from kindergarten all the way to the early years of college. Our students are going to experience a much more coherent curriculum than they ever have before.”

Seamless transition

Sarraf said Common Core Standards are consistent with the district’s teaching progression.

“I’m not nervous about Common Core at all,” she said. “It is very consistent with the philosophy we have had in the district for many years. It is a seamless migration from one thing to another.”

Sarraf described Common Core as a way for teachers to delve deeply into several concepts.

“It allows teachers to go much deeper with the concepts,” she said, adding that Common Core presents much more coherent thinking skills. “There was never enough time to give students the opportunity to fully understand. We are getting away from that fascination. Now we are making students really, really understand.”

Carmen Gomez, new teacher coordinator for MVLA, said Common Core allows teachers to collaborate across subjects to reinforce the standards for students.

“The Common Core Standards focus on literary nonfiction as well as fiction literature,” she said. “Therefore, English teachers are looking at speeches, essays and other nonfiction texts to integrate into their lessons. There is collaboration between English and the social sciences. The skills are taught in various classes in different ways.”

Student assessments

The shift in curriculum introduces a new way to measure student success with the Smarter Balance Assessment. The adoption of student assessment, still under discussion in the California State Legislature, may begin in the 2014-2015 school year.

Davis described the testing as “very different” from the current state standardized testing.

“The Smarter Balance Assessment is heavily dependent on text questions and informational reading,” she said. “The test will ask you thoughtful questions, not just about an algorithm.”

Both Davis and Sarraf said their districts’ teachers are reviewing the tests to ensure that students are prepared to take them.

For more information, visit corestandards.org.

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