By Joan Moss, Catherine D. Bruce, Bev Caswell, Tara Flynn, and Zachary Hawes
Our journey began when we conducted an extensive literature review at the outset of the project (Bruce, Flynn, & Moss, 2012) and learned about the crucial importance of spatial reasoning. This theme was consistent across many research disciplines, including biology, cognitive sciences, psychology, developmental sciences, education, as well as educational neuroscience—an emerging transdisciplinary ﬁeld which sits at the intersection of these other disciplines and aims for a collaborative approach in which educational theory and practice are informed by new ﬁndings in the cognitive sciences, and vice versa (Fisher, 2009). We also learned—and have experienced in our careers as mathematics educators and researchers—that spatial reasoning is a curiously unacknowledged and neglected area of the curriculum. During our involvement with the M4YC project, we have become more and more convinced of reasons why we should pay attention to spatial reasoning in early years mathematics. Below we offer our Top Five reasons why, as educators, we should care about spatial thinking when we plan, observe, and assess mathematics in our classrooms.
Source: Five Compelling Reasons For Teaching Spatial Reasoning To Young Children | MindShift | KQED News
By John Glidden
Vallejo school district officials announced the start of a new initiative Thursday, aimed at providing an opportunity for “positive student and staff expression.”
The campaign, named Strength in Unity, emphasizes that the Vallejo City Unified School District and Vallejo community need to work together for the betterment of everyone, officials said.
“The Strength in Unity Campaign provides an opportunity for all of us to celebrate our students, staff and community and highlight our best practices,” said VCUSD spokesperson Alana Shackelford, in a follow-up email to the Times-Herald.
Each school site, for the following school year, and possibly during the 2017-18 school year, will engage in several activities, Shackelford added.
Source: VCUSD begins new campaign that focusses on unity
By Richard Bammer
The California economy is slowing down, and school districts should exercise “extreme caution,” Jared Austin, executive director of Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy, said during Wednesday’s board of directors meeting.
Noting that he and two other officials from the independent charter school attended Tuesday’s annual Governor’s Budget Workshop in Sacramento, Austin said School Services of California leaders, who sponsored the workshop, advised district leaders to consider fiscal restraint during the 2017-18 budget-planning process.
“Don’t commit to anything ongoing,” requiring funding year over year, was one piece of advice, Austin noted during the meeting in the Elm Street campus’ library.
Additionally, state fiscal leaders said the new cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, will be 1.48 percent, he said.
Source: Kairos exec director: State economy slowing, time for fiscal restraint
By Pat Maio
With two days remaining before President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, the U.S. Department of Education has rejected California’s request to begin administering online tests this spring based on new science standards, in lieu of a test based on standards established in 1998.
The state’s final administrative appeal following a six-months-long battle over science testing in California was denied Wednesday in a Jan. 18 letter sent by Ann Whalen, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary of Education John King Jr., to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and State Board of Education President Michael Kirst.
Whalen wrote that she made her ruling based on concerns about the lack of transparency of science testing data during California’s transition from online pilot testing to fully operational tests set for the 2018-19 school year.
Source: U.S. Education Department rejects California’s science testing plans | EdSource
By Mayrene Bates
There’s so much gloom and doom around these days that it’s hard sometimes to find a bit of cheer anywhere, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be this way. Maybe we just need to look at things in a different way and focus on what we as an individual can do to spread a bit of cheer here and there.
The other day the phone rang and it was my friend Becky Lum who called to say that she hadn’t seen Jim and me in a while and wanted to know if we were OK. The other reason was that she has been walking past a table in her house with a Christmas and a birthday card from me and she wanted to thank me for thinking about her. We hadn’t spoken or seen each other in several months, so I, too, was pleased to hear from her as well.
Source: We can all do 1 kind thing
By Richard Bammer
Buckingham Charter Magnet High School officials have begun to accept enrollment applications for the 2017-2018 school year.
Enrollment is open to all high school-aged students, no matter where they live, and will continue through 3 p.m. Jan. 31.
Buckingham, a charter school within Vacaville Unified with a focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics), offers a curriculum that prepares students for the 21st-century college experience or workplace, Jennifer Leonard, the district’s public information officer, wrote in a press release issued Wednesday.
Students also will learn the importance of respect, civic responsibility, global awareness and appreciation of social and cultural diversity, she added in the prepared statement.
Source: Buckingham Charter High begins open enrollment
By Richard Bammer
Vacaville Unified’s new school start times plans are increasingly taking shape.
Secondary schools, that is, high schools and middle schools, will start no earlier than 8:20 a.m., with elementary school start times beginning no earlier than 8 a.m., Mark Frazier, the district’s chief academic officer, told the governing board last week.
As he did in previous updates on this matter, he noted that research supports delaying start times for secondary students, since a vast majority of them are sleep-deprived, findings that align with the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Costs are expected to be “neutral,” according to the text of his slide presentation, “or increase our costs by no more than $50,000 as compared to current costs for the 2016-17” academic year, Frazier noted during a computerized slide presentation Thursday in the Educational Services Center.
Source: Vacaville Unified’s new school start times taking shape
By Fermin Leal
In his proposed budget for the coming year, Gov. Jerry Brown indicated that he wants California to continue addressing the statewide shortage of qualified teachers with ongoing initiatives rather than by funding new reforms.
The initial 2017-18 budget Brown released last week doesn’t include any new money to combat the state’s teacher shortage. Instead, it highlights the $35 million in programs allocated this year to help school districts recruit new teachers.
“No additional investments are being proposed in the governor’s budget, given both the investments that were made (in the 2016-17 budget) as well as the fiscal pressures now facing the state,” said H.D Palmer, a spokesman for the Department of Finance.
Source: Gov. Brown’s proposed budget lacks new funds to combat teacher shortage | EdSource
By Louise Feedberg
Aspects of President-elect Donald Trump’s proposal for a massive $20 billion “school choice” program are running into resistance from an unexpected source: charter school advocates in at least two states.
According to the plan he announced last September, the goal would to allow parents to use federal and state dollars to enroll their children “in the local public, private, charter or magnet school that is best for them.”
The plan would include provide parents with tax-payer supported vouchers that could be used to pay for private school tuition. That has been a central passion of Betsy DeVos, Trump’s multibillionaire nominee to be secretary of education, who will testify before the Senate Health, Labor, Pensions and Education Committee at her confirmation hearing beginning at 2 p.m. PST on Tuesday. She has also been a vigorous supporter of charter schools, and has been a driving force in promoting charter schools in her home state of Michigan. Her husband, Dick DeVos, the son of Amway co-founder Richard DeVos, even started one, the West Michigan Aviation Academy in Grand Rapids.
Source: Charter school advocates in two states oppose aspects of Trump ‘school choice’ proposal | EdSource
By Nick Sestanovich
The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District will hear a further overview on Benicia Unified School District students’ responses to the Relationships, Effort, Aspirations, Cognitions, Heart (REACH) survey at Thursday’s board meeting.
The REACH survey is considered a supplement to the California Healthy Kids Survey and further examines the relationships between students and teachers and identifies internal assets known to increase achievement. The survey was issued for the first time in the 2015-2016 school year, and Dr. Carolyn Patton— the district’s special services director— presented an overview at the Sept. 1 meeting. Benicia Middle School, Benicia High School and Liberty High School students were polled on the following five categories:
*Relationships: Do teachers believe in their students?
*Effort: How students view their own intelligence influences the effort they put into their school work.
*Aspirations: Do students have positive visions of their futures and set and work toward their goals?
Source: School board to hear additional data of REACH Survey at Thursday’s meeting
By Nick Sestanovich
The method of learning by doing is certainly true of poetry. After all, one can learn a lot about becoming a great poet by immersing oneself in the great poetic works and performing them for an audience.
That is the basic premise of Poetry Out Loud, a national poetry recitation contest founded by California Poet Laureate Dana Gioia which teaches poetry to high schoolers through memorization and recitation. The competitions begin at the local level, then move on to the county competitions, the state competitions and finally the National Finals in Washington, D.C.
Benicia High School and Liberty High School have participated for a number of years and had some success, including in 2012 when Austin Carr made it to the state finals. This is the first year students will be advised by Benicia High English teacher Michele Lesko, who has a lot of experience in the field. She is the founding editor of IthacaLit.com, a quarterly online journal that publishes poetry and visual art. Additionally, Lesko herself is a professional writer whose poems and short stories in journals, and one of them won a Reader’s Choice Award from Pedestal Magazine. She also has taught creative writing and incorporates poetry as part of her English curriculum.
Source: Benicia high schoolers gearing up for poetry competition
By John Glidden
The Vallejo City Unified School District is seeking to replace its internal paging system, a move which is estimated to cost about $200,000 to $250,000.
The VCUSD Board of Education will review the request during its meeting Wednesday night.
“For general announcements and emergency pages, it is recommended that wall-mounted speakers designed specifically for paging purposes be installed and tied into a paging system that is housed locally at the site, but can be monitored and administered centrally, according to a district staff report. “In addition, several schools are utilizing paging systems that are more than 30 years old and cannot be administered centrally.”
District staff is recommending that a control system, along with wiring, and speakers be installed at each school site to allow for paging services and emergency broadcasts.
Source: VCUSD eyes replacing paging system
By Jasmine Weis
One of the many privileges of being a student at Benicia High School is having the opportunity to enroll in any number of the diverse range of clubs the school has to offer. In recent years, several computer and technology based clubs have made their way onto the list, keeping in pace with the increasing popularity of technical careers and growing number of tech-savvy consumers. I had the opportunity to talk with Maddie Beyer and Victoria Travao, both juniors involved in tech clubs, and gained some insight into what these clubs have to offer.
In search of something to keep her occupied with after school, and with a little encouragement from her teacher, Mr. Andreas Kaiser, Beyer decided to join the Computer Refurbishing Club. The club was established a few years ago by Mr. Kaiser, after the science department was granted new laptops, leading to an influx of old laptops with no place to go. Members of the club are allowed to take the computers home, where they first wipe the drives, then install new software and better operating systems to make them run faster. For people like Beyer, who entered the club with little prior experience dealing with computers, the process is broken down by more experienced members, one of whom even, according to Maddie, “made an instructional manual for the newbies.”
Source: Benicia High offers computer clubs for tech-savvy students
By Richard Freedman
Tom Olson didn’t have to be at Vallejo High School on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Then again, being a retired contractor, Olson didn’t really have to be anywhere. But there he was — with about 70 others — helping work some magic around the Vallejo High School campus on Monday on behalf of Rebuilding Together Solano County.
It’s basically a pay-it-forward type deal, Olson said.
“I have one son who is handicapped and people have done a lot for him,” Olson said. “I figure I’m going to give back.”
Olson, 72, also volunteers for Habitat for Humanity.
“I’ve done this for years,” he said of volunteering.
By John Glidden
Vallejo High School will be the recipient of Rebuilding Together Solano County’s 8th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, it was announced this week.
Sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, Home Depot, and Recology Vallejo, numerous volunteers on Monday are expected to make improvements to the faculty lounge, clean the auditorium, and perform weeding and other yard work at the high school.
The workday will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Vallejo High School, 840 Nebraska St. with a prep-workday scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Source: Vallejo High School to benefit from MLK workday
By Richard Bammer
An increasing number of Vacaville High students are college-ready and the building of new classrooms at the West Monte Vista Avenue school will get under way in the coming days, Principal Ed Santopadre told Vacaville Unified leaders during his twice-yearly report about the campus he oversees.
As part of a 20-minute slide presentation Thursday in the Educational Services Center, Santopadre updated the seven-member governing board on myriad aspects of the school, from the mission and Advance Placement test results to standardized test results and graduation/dropout rates to school climate and multimillion-dollar Measure A projects. As expected, his news was mostly upbeat, with an eye cast on improvements in academic areas and responses to intervention for at-risk students.
Not quite midway through his presentation, he noted that the number of college-qualified VHS seniors has jumped from 26 percent in 2010 to 55 percent in 2015.
Source: VHS principal: Increasing number of grads are college-ready
By Jessica Rogness
Some opted out of their day off Monday to observe Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday with a “day on” working at local schools.
Employees from Kaiser Permanente’s Napa-Solano Region and volunteers from Rebuilding Together Solano County joined students, parents and school staff to spruce up the campus at Dan O. Root Elementary School in Suisun City.
While they raked debris, planted shrubs, spread mulch, washed windows and steam-cleaned the faculty room, some wore a Rebuilding Together shirt, while others opted for a turquoise shirt displaying King’s portrait and a declaration to “Make it a day on. Not a day off.”
Source: Volunteers donate day off to Dan O. Root school
By Ryan McCarthy
Trustees for the Fairfield-Suisun School District meet Tuesday when Superintendent Kris Corey discusses major district accomplishments and progress in achieving goals outlined by trustees during a prior evaluation.
The closed board session is part of the mid-year check-in of the superintendent’s evaluation.
Corey was selected as superintendent in April 2013 after the announced retirement of Jacki Cottingim-Dias.
Source: Superintendent, trustees meet Tuesday
By Susan Hiland
The Fairfield-Suisun CSEA Chapter 302 donated an estimated $100 in school supplies on Jan. 6.The mission of the California School Employees Association local is to “improve the lives of our members, students, and community.”
Shelbie Petersen, of Vacaville, a Biology and Honors Humanities major at Azusa Pacific University, served through the Center for Student Action during the fall semester in Local Ministries.
From assisting in food banks to providing after-school tutoring and mentoring, the Center for Student Action at Azusa Pacific mobilizes and educates students about community service through a collaborative network of offices and programs.
Source: District’s classified staff donate supplies
By Ryan McCarthy
A special school board meeting held in December went well, the president of the board of trustees for the Fairfield-Suisun School District said.
Judi Honeychurch said the Dec. 17 retreat at the school district administration building produced a revised governance handbook that trustees will take up Jan. 26.
“It was a very productive and positive day,” she said.
Honeychurch spoke at the board’s Jan. 12 meeting about the December workshop.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun school board retreat ‘very productive,’ president says