Homework tips, counselors, Peace Corps, algebra
Californians overwhelmingly believe that having more guidance counselors in every school would be more effective than hiring armed police officers (source: The California Endowment, a nonprofit health foundation). California, unfortunately, has one of the worst ratios of counselors per student in the nation. In California, on average, there was one counselor for every 810 students in 2009-10. The Association of Counselors recommends a ratio of 1:250. At Sonoma Valley High School, there is one counselor for every 418 students. The high school also has a College & Career Center, however, with 1.3 full-time employees and they also provide college counseling that can, in some ways, be counted toward the total counseling staff.
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California is abandoning its requirement that all eighth-graders take algebra ... due in large part to its desire to adhere to the new Common Core standards. The state will now allow eighth-graders to take either algebra 1 or an alternate Common Core course that includes some algebra. Supporters like that there will now be two tracks of math for eighth-graders, but others fear that the new standard will let schools avoid offering rigorous courses for all. The change is controversial because success in algebra 1 is thought to be the single best predictor of college graduation. In Sonoma Valley schools, according to the district, eighth-graders have the opportunity to enroll in numerous math courses including pre-algebra, algebra I and geometry, so the change in the state requirement will not impact the program offerings in the district. At Sonoma Valley High, both this year and last, all ninth-grade students are enrolled in algebra I or a higher level math course, so, again, there should be no impact to the program.
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On Saturday, March 9, at 6 p.m. at the Sonoma Valley Veterans Memorial Building, there will be a Mardi Gras Cajun Boil hosted by SOS (Save Our Sports, in partnership with Sonoma Valley Education Foundation). Tickets are $45 a person ($50 at door) for dinner, raffle and dancing to music by Backtrax. Tickets can be purchased at either middle school. All proceeds fund the 2013-14 sports programs at Adele and Altimira.
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Congratulations to Sonoma Valley High School junior Maya Harris who created a gorgeous poster for the high school’s literary magazine. Look for her poster (of an owl) around campus. Kudos also to Sonoma Valley High School drama student and senior, Sarah Stanley, for her gorgeous poster art for the high school “Beauty and the Beast” production coming in March. The posters are now up all over town.
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Sonoma Charter School currently rents its playground area and it recently learned that the land is being developed and that the parcel adjoining their property is being turned into 60 units of mixed-use housing. Current plans reportedly call for the school to continue sharing part of the space. School officials are meeting with the district and with the architects to communicate its needs for this shared space. There are preliminary drawings at the school and the community is welcome to come take a look.
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I recently read five succinct homework tips for parents, courtesy of Margaret Yau, an intern at ed.gov.
• Study space: Set up a quiet, well-lit area for your child to complete his or her homework. Try to remove any distractions from the surrounding area, like televisions, computers (unless used for the assignment) and loud conversations.
• Imitation: Children imitate their parents. When your child is focusing on homework, join them in a similar, focused activity. Crack open a favorite novel while they complete their reading assignment, or balance your checkbook while they work through their multiplication tables.
• Time management: Teach your child how to manage their time. Schedule events, homework and tasks at home. For instance, after school, set a specific time as “homework time” and for tasks at home give them time limits.
• Encourage independence: Some homework assignments are meant to be done by the student alone, and hovering can take away from the child’s learning process. Try to step back, and if intervention is really needed, make sure to provide guidance, not just answers.
• Tackle a challenge: Teach your child how to identify the difference between the “hard” homework questions and the “easy” ones. Have them set aside the easier questions for later and tackle the hard ones first.”
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Sonoma Charter School’s Spaghetti Feed and Talent Show this year will be held at Altimira Middle School on Saturday, March 9. The doors will open at 4 p.m. and dinner will be served at 5 p.m. Volunteers are needed. Tickets are on sale at the school. Contact Holli Harvey at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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At last week’s engineering competition at Sonoma Valley High School, the winning team was composed of freshmen Freddy Padilla, MacLean Meyn and Andy Purdom. Freshmen Teresa Chavez and Nichole Pho placed second in the competition. Both winning teams won a pizza party last week. The purpose of the event was to expose freshman students to the engineering, design and technology pathway. The high school also hosted an information night for parents last week.
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Gov. Jerry Brown recently announced the California Community College Online Initiative, aimed at increasing student access to courses and increasing rates of degree attainment. Specifics of the plan include the creation of a centralized “virtual campus” that brings together online course providers into a single hosting system with a 24/7 support center for students. The plan also features the ability for students to take free online courses and earn credit based on exam results. According to the governor’s office, 27 percent of California community college students already take at least one course online each year and almost half of all classes currently offered involve some online components.
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More than 90 students competed in the St. Francis Solano School science fair last month. Students from grades six through eight worked for four months on their projects and 12 students were chosen by the school to go on to the Sonoma County Science Fair, which will be held on Saturday, Feb. 23, at Sonoma State University. Those chosen were:
• Eighth Grade
First Place – Dylan Cavaz: Super Solar Power: An experiment on the types of solar panels, and the amount of energy produced through the day, for a solar sar.
Second Place – Grace Cutting: Soda Sobriety: An experiment determining how students’ opinions about their soda consumption will be affected after viewing a tangible model of the amount of sugar in a can of soda.
Third Place – Quinn Cordero: Oil Spill!: A project on polypropylene vs. natural products absorbing oil.
Honorable Mention – Campbell Martin: Oh Shoot!: An experiment on whether or not video games affect one’s accuracy in recreational target shooting
• Seventh Grade
First Place – Nathaniel Silva: What’s the Max?: An experiment on hydraulic fluids and how much weight they can lift.
Second Place – Nicole Hanson: See It, Hear It, Touch It!: An experiment to determine the most effective way of learning.
Third Place – Nick Biaggi: Blast Off! An experiment on the altitudes and aerodynamics of model rockets.
Honorable Mention – Nathan Momsen: Need a Chemical Reaction?: Dry ice vs. baking soda.
• Sixth Grade
First Place – Alison Perkins: Stain, Stain, Go Away: An experiment on stain remover effectiveness.
Second Place – Marco Della Santina: Cookin’ Colors: An experiment to determine which color absorbs the greatest amount of thermal energy.
Third Place – Nick George: A Question of Light!: An experiment on whether to use hydroponic light or natural sunlight for the fastest plant growth.
Honorable Mention – Julia Sangiacomo: Going for Mold: An experiment on what type of bread molds the most.
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QuotEd (99 cents) is an SAT prep application for your phone that is designed specifically to be read on a phone. The app focuses on reading comprehension, which is a good thing as SAT reading scores nationwide are the lowest they have ever been in 40 years. The app sends out one reading comprehension question a day based on quotes from famous poems, intellectual essays and other sources.
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The Depot Park Museum, operated by the Sonoma Valley Historical Society, offers free school tours to local students by appointment. About 450 to 500 children tour each year to learn about the old Depot, tour the interior of the caboose, ring the loud bell, operate a working telegraph, as well as see a view of an old one-room schoolhouse. Children in the fourth grade learn about the Bear Flag Republic, and view a large painting that shows the Bear Flag being raised in the Plaza in 1846. Tours are tailored to age groups and there is something for everyone. To set up a tour, call the museum director at 938-1762.
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Pivot Charter School North Bay, a free public charter school for grades 6 through 12, will have a local information session about its hybrid learning program at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 1577 Farmers Lane in Santa Rosa. The school offers part-time site-based school in Santa Rosa as well as a virtual option. Pivotnorthbay.com.