February Celebrations

African American History Month  

During February, students will learn about and celebrate African-American History through the implementation of Mosaica Education’s African-American History Guide.  In the first section, students learn why African Americans are honored in February, and are introduced to the genre of biography.  Students will learn the features of a biography and carry out an interview of a classmate to help them learn one way in which information is collected for a biography.  In Section 2, students will begin to apply the skills they learned in Section 1 by interviewing and writing a “personal biography” about someone in their lives whom they admire.  They will be responsible for interviewing this person, accessing at least one photograph of this person, and turning their notes into a short biography.  In the third section, students learn how to write a biography about a famous person who may not be living and/or whom they can not interview.  They will select an African American who particularly impresses them, carry out research, and complete a polished biography of this person.  By the end of the unit, students will have learned about many African Americans and how to write biographies. 
We invite you to extend this learning of biography to encompass George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and our current president, Barack Obama.          

More Power with Paragon: Identifying the Qualities of Great Leadership-Home Connections

Great leaders, remarkably creative individuals, extraordinarily courageous citizens, unsung heroes—people who have made a difference—all are integral to the Paragon Curriculum.  A major goal of the Paragon Curriculum is to showcase great people, past and present, and around the globe.  We want students to recognize the qualities of greatness, to identify the deeds and actions of great people, and to understand the societal and historical impact such people have had.  In doing so, we want students to see that they possess some of those same qualities, or that they are being raised under similar conditions, or that they too have a burning desire to right a wrong or make a big change.  We want them to recognize their own greatness and have the confidence to know they can positively impact their family, community, city, state, nation, or even the world!  Here are some ways in which you can share in your student’s learning: 
There are a number of activities you and your student may engage in to explore biography.  The first step is researching the individual, whether Washington, Lincoln, another American president, or any famous African-American (a partial list of websites is provided, but encourage your student to go beyond, as there are numerous available websites).  Here are some of the things you and your student may do after the research is completed:
Role-play an Interview.  Either you or your student takes on the persona of the person being interviewed and the other becomes the modern-day interviewer.  If possible, let your student dress up like Washington or Lincoln—have fun too!
Write a Poem or Song.  Invite your student to write a poem or a song about the person s/he researched.  Challenge him or her to try and capture the essence of the individual in a creative form.  Make sure your student reads aloud or sings his or her poem/song to you and your family.

On-the-Scene Reporter.  Ask your student to select one dramatic event in the life of the person s/he has researched.  Then, have him or her imagine s/he’s an on-the-scene reporter giving a detailed account of the event.  For example, maybe it will be Washington’s courageous encampment at Valley Forge and the commentary could begin like:  “This has to be the coldest, most bitter weather I have ever experienced in my life!  Yet, for two months now, General George Washington and his troops are …”
George Washington First President


George Washington 
Abraham Lincoln Online
Lincoln Net
The White House:  Presidents 

Speech.  Select an important and famous speech by Washington, Lincoln, or an African American and read it carefully with your student.  Discuss the message being conveyed, as well as the meaning of particular vocabulary and phrases.  Depending on your student’s age, challenge him or her to memorize the speech and present it.  Be sure to use props and encourage your student to infuse it with drama.  If possible, record your student’s rendering and play it back!  
American Rhetoric:  Top 100 Speeches


Portraiture Art.  Leaders often have portraits painted of them, which capture the character of the person.  First, you and your student can explore American portraiture art at the following website: 
Smithsonian:  National Portrait Gallery  

Then, explain to your student that s/he is going to do an art project that shows his or her favorite leaders from American history and captures the values and principles of our democracy.  Explain that s/he will be making a collage!  The collage may show one American leader or many, and the collage may include actual images of the people (downloaded and printed from the Internet or from magazines), symbols, and/or words.  Your student may set his or her collage within the shape of the United States, or select any other shape such as an oval (many portraits from the past were set in ovals), etc. 
Provide poster board, magazines for cutting, scissors, glue, and any other materials that would be useful.  When your student has finished his or her collage, ask him or her to present it to you and explain why s/he chose the images s/he did.  Hang the collage in your home for all to enjoy.

Analyzing Quotations  
Great people often say great things that are circulated and shared as memorable quotations.  Quotations have the quality of conveying something very important and inspiring with only a few words (quotations are usually one or two sentences in length).  Through the study of quotations, the reader can imagine the character of the speaker as well as the qualities s/he possesses.  With your student, read these famous quotations by George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and President Barack Obama.  Discuss their meanings and then abstract out the kind of person each speaker was/is.  What does each value?  Is he stating and upholding democratic principles?  Does his quotation provide other information about who he is?  If yes, what does it suggest?  Do you think these three men share any of the same leadership qualities?  If yes, what are they?    
“Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.”
– George Washington
“Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can aspire.” 
– George Washington
“Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.”
– George Washington
“As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.  This expresses my idea of democracy.  Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.”
– Abraham Lincoln
“I am rather inclined to silence, and whether that be wise or not, it is at least more unusual nowadays to find a man who can hold his tongue than to find one who cannot.”
– Abraham Lincoln
“Whenever I hear any one arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.”
– Abraham Lincoln
“There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America—there’s the United States of America.”
– Barack Obama 

“We need to internalize this idea of excellence. Not many folks spend a lot of time trying to be excellent.”
– Barack Obama 
“Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope?”
– Barack Obama  

May your student recognize his or her greatness through this exploration and celebration of President’s Day and African-American History Month! 

Dawn D. Eidelman, Ph.D.
Chief Education Officer
President, Paragon Division
Mosaica Education, Inc.