St. Francis students explore world on virtual-reality trips

To introduce the concept of ecosystems, St. Francis High School biology teacher Roberta Chisam “whisked” her classes away to the coast of Tanzania, where she instructed students to scrutinize the wildlife and vegetation they see there.

After their excursion to Tanzania, Chisam and her students hopscotched around the world, exploring the Galapagos Islands, Yellowstone National Park and Australia. At each stop, she asked them what they could deduce from their observations.


CSMA talk focuses on college applications

The Community School of Music and Arts has scheduled the presentation “Successful College Applications: Showcase Your Achievements in the Arts” 7 p.m. Dec. 7 at CSMA’s Finn Center, 230 San Antonio Circle, Mountain View.

The event, the first in CSMA’s new Parent Education series, will feature Harriet Katz of Creative Kid College Coach. Katz will address how parents can learn the benefits of an arts education and how students can position the arts for competitive advantage when applying to college. The talk will focus on highlighting the arts experience for students applying to any college, as well as those with special arts programs. Topics will include applying to visual and performing arts programs, the mechanics of a college application, how to use special skills to augment a college application and career opportunities for students who have studied the arts.


St. Francis High hosts annual holiday fundraiser

St. Francis High School is set to celebrate its 60th anniversary and host its 27th annual fundraiser, “Christmas at Our House,” next month.

Proceeds from “Christmas at Our House” support financial aid programs at the school. This year’s home tours – with the theme “I’ll be Home For Christmas” – are scheduled in Woodside and Portola Valley.


Schools Briefs

Blach holds annual Holiday Faire

Blach Intermediate School has scheduled its annual Holiday Faire 1-4 p.m. Dec. 4 at the school, 1120 Covington Road, Los Altos.

The event will feature holiday gifts and handcrafted items made by Blach students. The Holiday Faire will include more than 90 booths with students selling holiday decorations, jewelry, candy, food items, candles, toys, scarves and more.


Transition to standards-based grading proves 'frustrating' for LASD teachers

Courtesy of LASD
The district’s new grading scale eschews the traditional A-F format and moves toward a 1-4 scale, above, that aims to offer parents more detailed information.

The process of reporting student learning will be different for K-6 Los Altos School District teachers next week as parents head into their first parent-teacher conferences of the year. And the road hasn’t been easy, according to district teachers.

The revamped report card process began last year when the district agreed to contract with a learning management system, Haiku Learning, in an attempt to tie the district’s classroom technology together; improve communication among students, teachers and parents; and integrate standards-based reporting.


MVLA Foundation awards grants for innovative teacher projects

Megan V. WInslow/Town Crier
Los Altos High School chemistry teacher Danielle Paige, left, demonstrates for students how to pickle cucumbers and carrots, above, with equipment she received from her MVLA Foundation grant money.

The Mountain View-Los Altos High School Foundation is on a mission to encourage innovation in the classroom by awarding $75,000 in grants to individual teacher projects.

The foundation last month awarded 21 Innovative Learning Grants, ranging from $500 to $5,000, to teachers and teaching teams.


Google Education Symposium visits Almond

Traci Newell/Town Crier
An education official from Sweden interacts with students in an Almond School classroom last week during a tour showcasing how the Los Altos School District personalizes education while integrating technology.

Almond School hosted a contingent of more than 100 guests last week, including ministers of education from 22 countries who visited the school for Google Inc.’s Education Symposium.

Almond and the Los Altos School District collaborated with Google on the event through parent and Google employee Rajen Sheth, whose daughter is a kindergartner at the school.


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