Volume XII, Issue 23: January 3, 2014

Halfy New Year!!
Although we had our first meeting of 2014 last week, New Year’s Day marks the midpoint of the Rotary Year. And at last year’s at PETS (President-Elect Training Seminar), President Jessica learned there are three very special meetings. “Two have already happened,” she said, “and the third is today – the first meeting following the new year.” She said that it is an opportunity for us to recommit to Rotary and the experience of being a Rotarian, and to Engage Rotary anew. Jessica said that there are three things she hopes to continue through the remainder of her Year, and three things she is really looking forward to:

First, she is committed to maintaining the open communication we have had this year. She plans to continue providing minutes and agendas for Board Meetings to sharing information from our District and from Rotary International.

Second, Jessica said that she is proud of the work of our Recognitions and Programs Committees. They have succeeded in making our weekly meetings interesting and fun.

Third, she applauded us – for getting up each Friday morning, for engaging in Rotary each and every week, and for finding ways to engage Rotary even if we miss a meeting.

What she is looking forward to are our Club’s 22nd birthday in February. We will have a great Charter Night party (details will be available soon). Second, we have our (arrgh?) always-amazing Spring Fundraiser coming in March. This Friday’s meeting will be largely devoted to launching that particular Pirate Ship. And the third event that has Jessica excited is April’s “Every 15 Minutes” program to be held at Arcata High School.

“We have done a lot in the first six months of this Rotary Year,” Jessica said, “and we will continue to do so in the next six months – Engage Rotary, and Change Lives!”

The Holidays With Alex
Our Exchange Student from France, Alex Rialet, told us that he enjoyed the holidays. A few days before Christmas, he and his host family (the Baciagaluppis) cooked crab. He said that he had a great Christmas, and a few days later, he joined Lori Breyer and family for a day hiking the North Coast, including a stop at Agate Beach. He rang in the New Year with the Baciagaluppis, and he was planning to make a weekend move to his new host family,

Alex thanked all of us for his Christmas gifts – the Arcata High School yearbook, and all the gift cards he received from individual Sunrisers. He said that he was very happy to spend this Christmas with all of us.

If you paid your 2013-2014 Club dues on the installment plan, heads up – the final payment is due now. Please get your check or money order to Treasurer Bryan Reeser. Cash is also accepted. Smiles are welcome, but cannot be used as legal tender.

Our next meeting (January 10th) will be a Club Assembly, focusing on the Spring Fundraiser. The event comes pretty early this year – on Saturday, March 8th. The theme will be the Pirates’ Ball, and we will be discussing many ideas about decor, activities, and more.

The next Board Meeting will take place at the Golden Harvest Cafe on Tuesday, January 14th. All Sunrisers are welcome to attend and kibitz.

The weekend of January 24-26 is reserved for the annual Youth Exchange Ski Trip. Since the winter has been so dry (so far), the skiing may be limited or relocated, but the meeting will take place. That is the weekend that next year’s Outbound Exchange Students learn which country they will be heading for in the fall.

Jessica read a note from Jim Ritter, thanking us for our support of the recent fundraising breakfast for the AHS Career & College Center. The event, held in conjunction with the AIBT, is the main source of outside funding for the program.


Rina and her Father

Angelo Baciagaluppi was our Recognitions Host last Friday. He had a photo of Rina Brodhag with a distinguished older gentleman, whom she identified as “my fiance”. Actually, it was her father, who turned 76 in December. The family went to the Sea Grill for “a lovely evening”. Rina and her husband Steve arrived early, and chatted with friends and acquaintances at the bar. Following dinner, Rina’s dad took off to the Elks Lodge for a night of dancing, while Rina and Steve went home. “Sad, isn’t it?” she asked.

Gratitude in a Jar

On Facebook, Brandi Easter posted a photo of a two-quart jar containing pieces of paper. From the beginning of the year, she has written down good things as they happened, and eventually filled the jar. She sat down on Christmas morning and read them all. The post received a lot of “Likes”, and “I think I inspired a lot of people” to start their own “Gratitude Jars”.

Kyle Visser announced that his company, ShredTec, would hold a “Free
Shred Day” in honor of its five-year anniverary. Although the event took
place before the publication of this week’s Sunrise Spirit, we want to congratulate Kyle and his crew on their success and wish them many more prosperous years to follow! President Jessica added her congratulations and noted that ShredTec’s panel from “Pastels on the Plaza” has survived since October.

George Cavinta turned 51 on December 29th, while he was caught up in aftermath of Christmas and the impending New Year’s celebration. “I probably barbecued something,” he said, “and had my in-laws over. They gave me a hundred dollar bill, which I just handed over [to Bryan Reeser] to pay my dues.”

Ron Sharp’s birthday was December 31st, and he had “a mellow evening, staying at home, going for a walk in Blue Lake”. He spent part of the day preparing for a fundraiser for another group he is involved in. “It was a nice day, though.” he said.

Revising the Test: Common Core State Standards
It’s always interesting when the week’s Featured Speaker is “one of our own”, and last Friday was no exception. Sunriser Lori Breyer is the Coordinator of School Support and Accountability for the Humboldt County Office of Education. She provided an overview of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), which have been adopted (at least in part) in 46 states, the District of Columbia, and four territories.

Lori ‘Splains It All

Standards have been developed for English Language Arts (ELA) and Math, to provide clear expectations of what students should know upon completion of each grade level. They are intended to give teachers clear direction regarding the skills and concepts their students will need to succeed in college and in the workplace.

The ELA standards define literacy, and give a framework for helping students develop skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. These skills form a broad foundation for student success. In a similar vein, the Math standards are intended to instill a deeper understanding of both the concepts and the application of mathematics.

Both sets of standards are largely based on those developed in California and Massachusetts. This has meant an easier transition for California educators, since the CCSS is similar to the previous framework.

The CCSS movement has been led by the states, not the federal government. The development of the CCSS will be helpful for students who move from one state to another (assuming that both follow the new standards). Knowing that the expectations for their grade level are the same, at least in two subject areas, should make a student’s transition a bit easier.

The standards were developed by groups consisting of parents, educators, education experts and researchers, national organizations, and community groups. The process provided many opportunities for the public to weigh in on the standards. Business leaders were also involved, to ensure that the standards included the skills needed for success in the workforce.

The overarching goal of the CCSS is to better prepare students for college and the modern workplace. The intent is to achieve this goal by increasing academic rigor and  building consensus on the knowledge required at each level in school.

California and some other states have added criteria to the CCSS. The Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association stated that such additions are acceptable, so long as the standards are not increased by more than 15%. This limitation helps to maintain the consistency of content provided in the various states.

Lori said that, although the CCSS establish expectations regarding the information needed by students, it does not tell teachers how that information is to be imparted – the methods will vary by teacher, and by student. In addition, although they establish a shared set of goals and expectations, the CCSS does not establish a “national curriculum” for schools.

She said that the ELA standards group writing skills into three topical “buckets”: 

  1. Opinion/Argument – Writing to persuade, to change the reader’s point of view, or to bring about some action.
  2. Informational/Explanatory – Writing to increase the reader’s knowledge of a subject, to make a subject more understandable, or to enhance the reader’s comprehension of a topic.
  3. Narrative – Writing to convey experience, either real or imaginary. In history classes, students learn to write about individuals, while in science classes students may write step-by-step narratives about procedures in experiments or investigations.

The new Math standards include a set of eight practices that students are encouraged to develop. Each practice begins with a verb that describes a way for the student to interact with mathematics.

  1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
  3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
  4. Model with mathematics.
  5. Use appropriate tools strategically.
  6. Attend to precision.
  7. Look for and make use of structure.
  8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

Lori noted that some local high schools are moving away from the traditional mathematics pathway of Algebra I to Geometry to Algebra II. The newer pathway integrates the two main sujbjects

Testing for the new standards (the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) allows for rapid feedback, allowing teachers to use test results to help shape future lessons. STAR Test results have not been available until after the end of the school year, but results from the new tests could be back in as few as two weeks. Lori said that this will provide a greater impact for the students. The tests will be machine-scored, which allows for the rapid turnaround. When asked, Lori said that computer evaluations of written material has proven to favorably compare with tests scored by hand.

The breakdown for scoring the new tests are 40% multiple choice, 40% short answer, and 20% performance-based. The results will provide a clear window on a whether a student’s knowledge and abilities are on track for graduation. These assessments will be in place for the 2014-2015 school year.  28 states, including California, have adopted the Smarter Balanced Assessments. To take your shot at a sample test, click here. If you don’t pass, you will receive a visit from a Truancy Officer and compelled to return to school.

For more information, visit corestandards.org.