Sun09142014

News

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week approved the installation of two new directional signs on Foothill Expressway pointing motorists to the Woodland Plaza Shopping District.

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimou...

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Schools

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Edsel Clark, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, above, facilitates a junior high mathematics curriculum meeting last week.

Edsel Clark, Ed.D., new assistant superintend...

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Community

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China


From IncredibleTravelPhotos.com
Jacque Kae’s “Mischievous” is one of the many photographs on display at Foothill College this month.

Photographs of the land and culture of Huangshan and Zhangjiajie, China, are on exhibit through Sept. 26 at t...

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Sports

Spartans shine in opener

Spartans shine in opener


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Frank Kapp snares a touchdown pass from quarterback Owen Mountford in Friday’s win.

Leading by a point at halftime, the Mountain View High football team outscored visiting Del Mar 20-0 the rest of...

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Comment

A look ahead to the Nov. 4 election: Editorial

Election season is upon us. In Los Altos, we have three major local races ahead – two seats on the Los Altos City Council, and three seats each on the Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District boards of tr...

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Special Sections

Renovation complete,  Villa Siena looks to future

Renovation complete, Villa Siena looks to future


Above and Below Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Left Photo Courtesy of Villa Siena
Villa Siena in Mountain View recently underwent a $35 million face-lift. The five-year project expanded their senior living community’s space and ability to serv...

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Business

Transitioning from postage to pets

Transitioning from postage to pets


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A new Pet Food Express store is scheduled to open at the Blossom Valley Shopping Center this month.

A site that previously existed to meet postal service needs will soon have an entirely different purpose – serving pe...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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People

JEANNE PACKARD

After suffering a stroke in May, Jeanne Packard died August 10, 2014 at age 83. She was born in 1931 in Berlin, Germany, the only child of Emily Channel and Frank Howe Packard of Chicago, IL. Jeanne is survived by 5 great grandchildren. She was a lon...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos


Courtesy of Los
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, from left, Mylissa Malley as Lin, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty, and Christina Bolognini as Pickles. Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company...

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Spiritual Life

9/11 survivor Michael Hingson finds purpose

Imagine walking down 78 flights of stairs – 1,463 individual steps. You are in imminent danger as you walk, unsure whether you can make it out of the building before it collapses or explodes. Struggling for each breath, you smell the heavy sten...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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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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