Mon10202014

News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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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

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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Spiritual Life

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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