Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Jog-a-thon September 28th

Here are the students doing the jog-a-thon to raise money for extra school activities.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Chicken Little

By Rebecca Emberly
No the sky is not falling, but there are many challenges for AE due to California school budget cuts. One at Alvarado is class size. Class size in all grades can be up to 34 students. This includes kindergarten. In the last few years kindergarten and 1st grades had been limited to 20 students. This is a huge change for teachers and students. Last year 2nd and 3rd grade were limited to 25 students. This is no more. Because of the size of classes are so large, it means fewer regular teachers are needed. Therefore some familiar faces around AE will be missing. Some teachers received pink slips and were released from New Haven. Some were assigned to other schools in the district. The smile of Rachna Lindstrom will be missed by students and staff. She will be teaching 4th grade in San Leandro School District. Matt Speakman and Junelle Mallari will no longer be at Alvarado at this writing. However, there are no empty classrooms as 6 new classrooms are now occupied by special education students. Some of these students come from the Cabello facility which was closed at the end of the last school year 2012.

Clinton Puckett

Clinton Puckett will be the new Assistant Principal. Clinton has been teaching a variety of grades for the last few years. He also taught the after school dance class and the Color Guard. Vince Lindain, a long time 1st grade teacher, will teach 3rd grade this year. Cathy Hampton, a long time 3rd grade teacher, will be teaching a 3/4 class this year.

After much discussion by district personnel about how to handle library cuts, media/library classes will be non existent for grades k, 1, 2, and 3.  Fourth and fifth grades will have somewhat regular media classes. Alisha Valine, the media specialist/librarian will only be at AE on Monday afternoon, Tuesday all day, and Friday afternoon. On Monday mornings she will be a Kitayama and also all day on Thursday. On Wednesday she will be all day at Pioneer and then again in the morning on Friday. She will do her best to maintain services for the teachers and the classes she teaches, but at this time only 4th and 5th grade students will be able to checkout books. This may still be somewhat tenative because often prep schedules need to be adjusted. Keep an eye on Mrs. Valine's website at Miss Media, to see any changes.

Monday - KIT in the AM, AES in the PM
Tuesday - AES all day
 Wednesday - PIO all day
 Thursday - KIT all day
 Friday - PIO in the AM, AES in the PM

It's going to be a challenge for teachers and students to adjust, but Alvarado teachers know they have a job to do and they will do it to the best of their ability.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Welcome Back to School 2012-2013

There are always going to be changes in schools. Some good and some more challenging, but let's see what's happened to those coming back to school this fall. The staff will be happy to see Sonia Wong back from her year long tour. She took a sabbatical to learn more about Asian world. Sonia visited Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, South Korea and more.

Cathy Hampton is back from her summer "Great Americana"  train trip to see some of the US National Parks. Visiting every national park is on her bucket list.  She went to Tucson, Saguaro National Park; San Antonio, the Alamo; New Orleans; and Monticello, Shenandoah National Park. Shenandoah was her 31st national park to visit.  She also visited Boston, Philadelphia, New York, and in Maine, Acadia National Park. Going on she went to Niagara Falls, Lake Michigan, and in Montana, Glacier National Park.

Liberty Bell

Brooklyn Bridge

These staff members took a short but fabulous vacation.  Here is Maureen Tecson, Vince Lindain, and Letty Munoz-Gonzales snorkeling on their holiday in Bermuda.

Maureen, Vince, Letty

Greg Snelling has returned from his first family backpacking trip in the Eastern Sierras, Inyo National Forest, John Muir Wilderness, enduring mosquito bites and rain, but enjoying the beautiful lakes and valleys.

Greg Snelling and family

Betty Silva is ready to go back to work after returning from her Yosemite trip with her grandson, Michael.  They had a great time enjoying the beauty of the park.

Sukhy Gill spent a wonderful family vacation in India and visited some of India's famous landmarks.

Suhky Gill and family

Dave Trier and Rachel Saucedo Jones both had babies. Dave's wife actually had the baby. Dave's son, Luke, was born on June 27th and Rachel's son, Xavier, was born on Aug. 12th. Congratulations to both of you!

Someone reminded me that AE's 4th grade teacher, Laurie Koehler, got married in Hawaii at the beginning of the summer. How could I forget?  What a lovely bride! Best wishes to you and your new husband.

Now its back to work. School begins on Wednesday August 29th.  The Alvarado Family Potluck is on Monday, the 27th of August. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Joy of School Library Lessons

There are few moments more joyful for the students and the librarian than when the class has finished a Readers Theater where EVERY student has successfully read his or her part. Each student's part is carefully selected by the librarian to push the student just a little above his or her reading level. Sometimes the student is assigned a choral reading with 2, 3, 4, or 5 classmates. For some this is a necessary confidence builder. Sometimes the student has a part alone. The first few readings are a little nerve racking for some, but once students see that no one will make fun of their skills or their voice they enjoy the process. Students learn the strategies for effective readers theater, namely reading with expression, reading loud enough for all to hear, standing up straight, listening while others read, and following all the parts, not just their own. After experiencing a few Readers Theaters with their class, students often burst out clapping at the end. By the end of the year when they have a choice day, they may choose to do a readers theater. They gather a group of students, pick a script, sit in a circle, assign parts, and read with expression, all without assistance of the librarian. As a community of learners, students go back to class with a smile on their face. Can you think of other strategies to help students appreciate the joy of reading?

Speech and visual and performing arts are part of the new California Common Core Standards.  I soon realized it was best to write or adapt an online readers theater so that there were parts where a group of students could read together. Sometimes the group was as small as two students and sometimes as many as five. This ensured that every student had a part. This is really critical for readers theater. There should be no students just listening. Having everyone read ensures students are following the script and listening to the class.  Plus students learning from other students is the best way for the class to realize how to use their voice effectively when reading.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Partially Open Media Centers

As of this date, it looks like the libraries/media centers will be open part time in the elementary schools. Some of the media specialists have been assigned to 3 schools so the schools will have 10 hours of media a week, basically to check in and out books in 20 minute periods, or have teacher signups for checkout. Alisha Valine has been assigned to Alvarado, Pioneer, and Kitayama.

 Alisha Valine

Carol Engberg from Eastin has been assigned to Hillview Crest, Searles, and Emmanuel.  Beth Morris Wong from Hillview Crest will teach 20 periods of science and 10 periods of media at Eastin. Carolyn Vranjes of Kitayama has been assigned to teach science at an elementary school. Paula Figdor from Pioneer is going to be a classroom teacher. Media specialists will checkout textbooks to the students. Textbooks are now barcoded.

It will not be usual media classes that students have had in the past. Perhaps principals can figure out how to make time for lessons, which in the past have included the Dewey Decimal System, alphabetizing, readers theater, technology, such as Photoshop, Goggle Earth, or Internet searching and safety; author studies, non fiction research and the development of new knowledge, and building a student network of connections with the teacher's core curriculum. This is still up for discussion. Students in K-2 will probably not be able to check out books.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Budget Cuts Affect Academics

School begins this year with a minimum day on August 29th. The school year will be again 175 days the same as last year but less than the usual 180 days. Teachers have given up nine workdays to try to make up for the State of California's fiscal education cuts. Teachers will have no time to prepare for the beginning of school as two of their preparation days have been eliminated. All employees are taking an 1% paycut in addition to paycuts from last year. Classified employees also have a reducted work year.

As of this date students will still have Physical Education, Music, and Science. However a credentialed librarian, media specialist, will no longer be available for the students at any of New Haven's elementary schools. The librarians will be assigned to a classroom. This ends a thirty year tradition of librarians in all the elementary schools. High school assignment of a librarian will be 35% and middle school will be 25%. The rest of the time the librarian will be a classroom teacher. This comes at a time when the emphasis for students is critical literacy for which a qualified librarian is essential. This is a black time for New Haven students.