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New Common Core State Standards will bring many changes to current school curriculum

by Serina Fang

The 2014-2015 school year will fully implement the Common Core State Standards,common core pic.jpg a new set of educational benchmarks that are aligned with college and work expectations, include more challenging course content and application of knowledge through high-order skills, and built upon the strengths of our current state standards. English Language Arts, Mathematics and Sciences will see changes to their syllabi, and the CST will be replaced with an entirely different exam. 

 

Although the standards will not be in effect until the fall of 2014, teachers at Lincoln are already preparing to meet the new requirements. 

 

The shift to the Common Core State Standards will increase the difficulty in classes with the main changes happening in ELA and Mathematics. In ELA, heavier emphasis will be placed on synthesis essays, text-based discussions and developing an advanced academic vocabulary. Texts will be more rigorous with lengthier stories, complex themes and more challenging vocabulary. English classes will also include more non-fiction texts so students will be able to read a balance of informational and literary tests. 

According to the instructional reform facilitator at SFUSD Amy Bloodgood, the Common Core Standards for ELA will allow “students to build knowledge about the world through text rather than the teacher or activities.” 

Critical thinking skills will be emphasized through more document-based essays and discussions, and literacy skills will be incorporated not only in English, but also other subjects such as science and history.

 

The new standards for mathematics include developing the ability to make sense of problems and solve them, to reason both quantitatively and abstractly, to model with math, and to look for structures and how to use them in math problems as well as seek and show consistency in repeated reasoning. The Standards for Mathematical Content lists all the high school math classes students should take in preparation for college and career, but they do not dictate a particular sequence of math courses. 

 

Aligned to the Common Core State Standards in ELA and mathematics, the CST will be replaced by a new test called the Smarter Balanced Assessment which will also start in the 2014-2015 school year. The Smarter Balanced test differs from the CST by having a computer-based multiple choice, short and extended constructed responses, and various performance tasks that allow students to demonstrate real-world analytical and problem solving skills. It assesses the full range of Common Core Standards in ELA and math, and will lay heavier emphasis on critical thinking and analyzing. 

 

Lincoln English teacher Shamira Gratch believes that students should not need to worry about the higher difficulty level of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. “Once teachers see the test, it’ll affect instruction because they’ll prepare students for it as much as possible,” says Gratch. 

 

The SFUSD ELA PK-12 Core Curriculum will also ready students for the new exam.

 

While the new standards benefit students by preparing them better for the arduous work in college and the workforce, the potential problem of the difficulty level of the CCSS frustrating students and discouraging them from truly enjoying the course contents might prove hard to finesse. Regarding the changes to ELA curriculum, Gratch says, “I think it’s a great idea to increase the rigor of text, but it’ll be a challenge to second-language students and kids who aren’t reading at grade level anyways. On one hand, I think it’s a good idea, but it might turn kids off from reading.”

 

However, reform facilitators at SFUSD are confident that students will be able to adapt to the Common Core changes and make them the normal expectations for school. “I think students in SFUSD will be able to handle these new standards,” says Amy Bloodgood. “And it is our job as teachers and as a district to prepare them to be successful through this transition.”  

Lincoln support group tackles issues at school and home

by Liping Huang 

High school is a challenging place. girls group 1 color.jpgThe difficulties coming from a student’s personal life can often impair their academic success. At Lincoln, in order to address these issues, a girls group calledBlack Girls Rock has emerged.

Senior Nicki Hatfield is one of the facilitators of the group. Hatfield says, "The group was started by Mr. Payne and Jen from the Wellness Center." She explains, "They started the group because they noticed that the lower classes, mainly freshmen/sophomore Black girls weren't as productive academically. So they formed it to help them get back on track."

Principal Barnaby Payne supported the creation of Black Girls Rock. "One data-proven method of increasing student achievement is through support groups, and that goes for any group on campus. It can be a boys group, girls group, or groups arranged by grade level, ethnicity, religious affiliation or by anything. But many studies have shown that support groups help students become more successful."                                                                                                        During the meetings, Hatfield talks about problems in society, at home and in school. "We talk about personal issues. We talk about social justice, as well as home life and how not to let home life affect you in your schoolwork. We talk about so many things."                           The group is confidential and a place where the students can be themselves.                                

Although Payne has not been to any of the meetings, he gives details on his reasons for not supervising the meetings, "A critical component of a successful group is that it be somewhat exclusive in the sense that you can't have people come in and out. People who have to be a part of the group have to be a part of the group, every time."

Hatfield confirms the exclusivity, as "Our room is basically a place for these young Black women to be themselves. Even if they are angry, be angry in that group: let us help you. If you're sad, be sad in here…It is all about being who you are and not being afraid to show it."                      

Payne believes that "one of the most successful types of support groups is when you have older mentors and younger students…and especially if the older mentors have been through the similar experience as the younger have been. [Past support groups] have had success in the past when they had freshman leaders. That is why we're bringing it back." Payne also says that he would support students that want to make a support group.                                                         

Participating in a group or club often brings positive qualities into someone’s life. Hatfield stated, "I agreed to facilitate it because I thought it would be kind of a self therapy for me, to just help my lower classmen as well as really get the knowledge, as well as facilitating. Being a positive person, being productive, responsible, and taking accountability: me teaching that helps me do it as well."                                                                                                                         Starting a new club or group in school can be difficult. "When we first got [to the support group] everybody was really stand-offish," admitted Hatfield about the beginning of Black Girls Rock. "But now that we are progressing, everyone is starting to get to know one another a little bit better, opening up a little bit more, getting a little less rude."                                                                 

The future looks bright for the group and its members.Hatfield claims,"I see growth in every one of them. Overall I think they are learning how to be adults.”                                       

Hatfield, along with the other facilitators hope that this group can improve the lives of the struggling Lincoln students.                                                                                                                  Payne discussed the necessity of needing help in school. "Everybody needs help. Lincoln is a big school. Lincoln is a difficult school academically, difficult school socially. Everybody in this building needs help. For me I need help, all the way down to a new freshman on campus, and everybody in between. Everybody needs help, in school and in life."

Lincoln high club team, Hassle Free, competes at National Junior Weightlifting Championships

by Andrew Tang

The National Weightlifting Championships for 20 and under was hosted by Lincoln’s club team, Hassle Free, DSCN0052.JPGon Febuary 16th and 17th, at the Crowne Plazza Hotel in Foster City. Hassle Free is a USAW (United States of America Weightlfting) team that competes with other Pacific USAW clubs at meets.

The competition requires individuals to meet qualifying standards of lifting a certain amount of combined weight from the snatch and clean and jerk. An example of a qualifying weight would be a woman of the 48kg weight class having to lift a total of 81kg to qualify for the championship.

Teams as well as individuals who have met the requirements at a sanctioned meet from across the country were present and competed as the best 20 and under weightlifters in the nation.

Lincoln’s Hassle Free members who displayed their athleticism were seniors, Beth Tom and Angeline Chemel, and juniors, Deanna Zheng, Mia Thompson and Aleanor Amidei. Lincoln’s alumni were D’Angelo Osario (class of ’11), Tao Bui (class of ’11), Jenny Lam (class of ’11) and Cathy Cai (class of ’12). Kevin Doherty is the USAW coach of the team.

The snatch, clean and jerk and combined weight had awards for those who placed first, second and third of each weight class.  Hassle Free got a few placings, so a few of the athletes are the best Junior Weightlifters in the nation and world. Cathy Cai came in third place for the snatch of the 75kg weight class, lifting 68kg. Osario of the 84kg weight class came in second for the snatch and clean and jerk, with 142kg and 180kg for the clean and jerk.

Most of the competitors on the team who did not place ranked in the middle of the ranking board. So, in the world they are valuable weightlifters that are worth competing against.

A Hassle Free coach, Greg Foote says, “Weightlifting is about numbers, and it is very impressive to see people set new records or come close.”

Osarior and Cai were some of the best that day. Their lifts were the highlights of the team’s performance.