January 2013

posted Jan 8, 2013, 10:54 AM by Anna Saunders   [ updated Jan 8, 2013, 10:54 AM by PFC Webmaster ]

Happy 2013, Walnut Acres Parents!

I hope your families created wonderful memories over the holiday and that your children are happily returning to school to continue their learning adventures. The Walnut Acres’ staff eagerly welcomes students back to make the most of the excellent learning months before us.

As the new year unfolds, our teachers will be spending focused time on understanding the “new” Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The CCSS were developed through a voluntary state-led effort coordinated by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, with stakeholders from nearly every state in the country contributing to their development in 2009. The CCSS were officially implemented in CA in 2010, but were largely ignored until 2012. Focus on the standards has heightened as two new national assessments (Smarter Balance and PACE), designed to measure student learning of CCSS, are being developed and piloted for 2014-15 implementation.

What are the Common Core State Standards? The CCSS specify what students should know and be able to do at each grade level to be fully prepared for college and career. Most exciting for us at Walnut Acres is the reality that the skills and knowledge foundational to CCSS mirror those of 21st century learning development. So our efforts to enhance critical and creative thinking, as well as collaboration and communication, through the infusion of technology and increased content integration, are redoubled rather than defused by the CCSS movement.

MDUSD leadership has provided an introductory presentation to all district teachers and we will now focus on deeper understanding of the CCSS. That work will begin in earnest on our next professional development day, 1/28/13, when we will contrast the CA standards and CCSS then begin the process of unpacking the Common Core standards. As we study the distinction between the old standards and CCSS we will be assessing the differences between each set of standards and how those differences will focus our 21st century learning development. We will also initiate the long and detailed process of unpacking the standards by asking particular questions about the essentialness of each standard and then deconstructing the most essential by restating the standard in student-friendly vocabulary, articulating rigor, format and assessment for mastery, detailing prior skills for learning, establishing enrichment for standards, and formulating an initial scope and sequence for learning.

To learn more about the Common Core State Standards go to the Contra Costa County Office of Education website (click here) or the California Department of Education (CDE) website (click here). Here is a link to the introductory video presentation on the CDE website (click here).

Before signing off, I want to remind you of a few exciting opportunities offered this month within our busy learning community. Your participation at these events is welcomed and encouraged:


Do you want to know what is going at school and in the PFC?

HOW: PFC meeting

WHEN: 1/15/13 at 7:00 p.m.

WHERE: in the library

WHO: All PFC members


Do you want to help your child enhance social skills?

HOW: workshop that will offer strategies for peer conflict resolution at home or in the community

WHEN: 1/17/13 at 1 p.m.

WHERE:  in A-1

WHO: Our school counselor, Alma Spring

Do you want to help your young child learn to read at home?

HOW: attend workshop that will offer strategies for early literacy skill development

(Bring a child so you can practice each strategy that is shared with you)

WHEN: 1/22/13 from 6:45-7:30 p.m.

WHERE: in A-1 at Walnut Acres

WHO: Our reading specialist, Lindsay McCormick

Do you want to help deepen your child’s understanding of material read?

HOW: attend workshop that will offer techniques to enhance reading comprehension

(Bring a child so you can practice each strategy that is shared with you)

WHEN: 1/29/13 from 6:45-7:30 p.m.

WHERE: in A-1 at Walnut Acres

WHO: Our reading specialist, Lindsay McCormick


Would you like to learn more about programming in the company of other learners?  

HOW: a fledgling programming club comprised of both adults and students is now active under WHEN: TBA by group

WHERE: TBA by group

WHO: Patty Galindo, our Site Tech II.  To join this adventure, contact Mrs. Galindo at galindop@mdusd.org with programming club as your subject.  


And one more upcoming meeting that I have not mentioned to you previously, the Walnut Acres safety committee will review the current safety plan on Thursday, 1/22/13 in A-1 at 3:00 p.m.  Please contact the office if you would like to attend the meeting.

May 2013 be a safe and exciting learning year for all of our Walnut Acres community members! I thank you, parents, for your continued work with staff to support our children in becoming the best they can be. Here’s to learning and growing together as a 21st Century learning community as we implement CCSS, preparing our students for success in college and beyond!

Best wishes,

Colleen Dowd