Parent Connection Blog
Thursday, March 31st, 2011
• To identify starting points for monitoring year-to-year academic development
• To help develop a personalized learning plan
• To determine how best to adapt materials and instructional practices to address each student’s needs
• To identify academic strengths and weaknesses in order to guide the learning process toward achievement of curriculum goals, including possible early intervention strategies
• To track on-going skill development in incremental measures
The School Community:
• To obtain information on which to base instructional decisions
• To determine instructional gaps that need to be addressed
• To offer content and teaching strategies that will ensure student mastery of the school’s academic standards
• To use results as one of many sources of data collection by which to gauge school effectiveness
• To promote student learning
What parents can do at home to prepare students for test taking:
1. Talk to your child’s teacher often about your child’s progress;
2. Make sure your child does his/her homework;
3. Have a variety of age appropriate books and magazines at
4. Don’t be overly anxious about test scores, but use them as a
point of reference;
5. Make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep and is well-
rested before test day;
6. Make sure that your child eats a well balanced diet. Hunger can
detract from a good test performance;
7. Encourage your child to prepare for tests by studying in a quiet
area, free from distractions;
8. Encourage your child to study over a period of time rather than
“cram” the night before;
9. Encourage your child to ask questions about topics s/he
10. If your child is nervous at test time, ask the teacher for tips on
helping your child to relax;
11. Make sure that your child is in school during the testing
sessions. Do not plan any doctor or dental appointments on
12. Encourage your child to listen carefully to all test-taking
directions given by the teacher and to ask questions about any directions that are unclear;
13. Make sure that you are aware of your child’s performance and that you can interpret the results when they become available
Special Note to Parents About Stress and Challenging Times:
Test times can be stressful times, even when students are well-prepared and parents have provided the best of support, as outlined above. There’s something about the departure from “normal” classroom activities that makes even the calmest student a little anxious. As we all know, there are many challenges in our world at large, as well. Ongoing economic worries may be reason for sustained anxiety in some families, while personal connections to or extensive news about catastrophic events, such as the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, may impact others. Even in the best of times, families can experience periods of stress for any number of reasons. During stressful times, it is important to think about the impact that parents’ anxiety has on children. Some of the very techniques for helping students be well prepared for tests may be just the ticket for the whole family at these times, too! Creating that sense of normalcy and stability is more important than ever. Eating a healthy meal together at home and making sure you and your child get enough sleep are just two of the ways to maintain a healthy mind, body, and perspective. Why not check out books from the library and read together or sit and talk about your day instead of engaging in a pricey evening activity? These activities help children find answers to questions that may worry them, so they feel both safe and empowered, and they contribute to a sense of stability at home, without tapping into the wallet. They also help boost academic achievement! Be sure to communicate with the school if you are experiencing challenges that may affect your student, as well. This communication can help us provide appropriate support for students at school and help you make connections to needed services. Remember that together, we can provide the stable and positive environment your child needs during test time and all the time!
The two websites below may be helpful to you whenever your family works through challenging times. The first site provides suggestions for families who are experiencing the effects of an economic crisis, but the ideas offered may be helpful during any time of heightened family stress.
The next site provides excellent information on talking with your children and helping them cope during events such as global disasters.
Dawn D. Eidelman, Ph.D.
Chief Education Officer
Mosaica Education, Inc.
Friday, February 25th, 2011
The study of women in history has only recently developed. Prior to the 1960s, men were the primary researchers and writers of history. All too often, the story of women was relegated to the sidelines of history and in footnotes. Today, much research into the lives of women in history has revealed new depths and dimensions to our shared past, and we are fortunate that it is available. Still, women’s role in history is taught often as an afterthought, not as part of the main event. Women’s History Month is an opportunity to teach what has been traditionally overlooked and to study it as an important part of the history of all of us.
A goal of the Paragon Plus (English Language Arts Supplement) Curriculum in March is for students to broaden their perspective and understanding of the great contributions women have made to our culture and world by studying the contributions, struggles, issues, and impact of great women around the globe and across time. We want all students, boys and girls, to recognize themselves in our curriculum and in history. With the focused study of women in March, we hope that your student will make a connection between women’s struggles and achievements and his or her own abilities to succeed in whatever s/he may try! Here are some ideas for sharing in your student’s learning:
For Younger Students. Check out the following picture books from your local library that feature strong women:
You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer!: A Very Improper Story, by Shana Corey. This colorful picture book gives the story of the 19th century women’s activist who not only started her own newspaper and fought for women’s right to vote, but also initiated a new and freer trend in women’s clothing. After reading the book, ask your student to list and describe the different things Amelia did that were “shocking” for her time. Have him or her explain how these things helped women then and today. What would they not be able to do if it wasn’t for Amelia Bloomer? Could girls wear pants?
My Name Is Georgia: A Portrait, by Jeanette Winter. This picture book portrays the life of artist, Georgia O’Keefe. The story describes the artist from her early days as a strong-minded, independent young girl to the 98-year-old remarkable artist who showed the world her point of view through her paintings. After reading the book, ask your student to describe her paintings—the subjects, colors, and style. Then, brainstorm and write down a list of ideas that your child would like to paint a picture of (remind him or her that O’Keefe often painted very commonplace things from nature). You may wish to go on a walk together to inspire ideas.
Ask: What did you see on our walk that you would like to paint a picture of?
Provide your student with paints, brushes, and paper and have him or her use the same rich colors and broad stokes as O’Keefe did to create a painting.
Paper Bag Princess, by Michael Martchenko. This updated fairy tale celebrates a strong female character—a princess who uses her wits to conquer dragons and rescue her kidnapped prince. After reading the story, ask your student to compare this story to other fairy tales s/he may have heard, such as Sleeping Beauty. Create a two-column chart or Venn diagram on the paper so that your student can describe what is the same and different between each. Encourage your child to describe and analyze the characters, the plot, and the ending. Which story does your student like better? Why? You may have your student describe his or her feelings in a journal.
Current Events. Women are making history everyday and are filling leadership positions faster than at any other time in history. Share newspaper and magazine articles that feature strong, intelligent women in leadership positions. For example, First Lady Michelle Obama is on the cover of many magazines; Hillary Clinton travels the world as Secretary of State; Nancy Pelosi was the first woman Speaker of the House and continues to serve as one of several women in Congress, and so on. Worldwide, women are speaking out in increasing numbers, as well. For instance, Egyptian women had a strong voice during the recent political protests and change in their country. Share the articles, discuss, and then create a bulletin board featuring all the accomplishments of women making history today.
Writing. Have your student create a small book about a woman in his or her life who is very special. Provide 6 – 10 half sheets of drawing paper and colored pencils and/or crayons. On each page, have your student write 1 – 3 sentences of text and draw accompanying illustrations. Your son or daughter can then make a cover out of construction paper and bind the book with yarn. Be sure to let your child share his or her book with the woman s/he wrote about!
Research. Solid research projects begin with broad questions that lead to smaller questions, which ultimately lead to a tighter focus. For example any of the following questions provide a broad base for beginning research:
- Why do we have Women’s History Month?
- When, why, and who started the women’s movement in the U.S.?
- Is there a women’s movement today? Who are some key players and what issues are they working on?
- Are there any significant women’s organizations today and what are their histories?
- I’ve heard of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony—what did they do, when, and why?
Once the broad question is formulated, research may begin. Through the process of research, the smaller questions will give rise to well-defined objectives. For example, the broad question, “When, why, and who started the women’s movement in the US?” may lead to a research project on Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
Together with your student, formulate 3 – 5 broad research questions that pertain to Women’s History Month. Through research, narrow the focus, identify objectives, and work together on a paper about your selected, focused topic. Any of the websites listed below are a good starting point:
National Women’s Hall of Fame
NOTE: This site is currently undergoing upgrades, and will restart on March 8, 2011, the day new Inductees to the National Women’s Hall of Fame are to be announced.
National Women’s History Project
The National Museum of Women in the Arts
International Museum of Women
Comparing & Analyzing Quotations. Have your student read the two quotations below, both by First Ladies—one by Abigail Adams in 1776 and the other by Hillary Clinton in 2008. How do these two quotes relate to one another? Did Abigail Adams’ prediction come to pass? Did women “foment a rebellion”? How did Hillary Clinton’s quotation affirm what Ms. Adams said? How do you think Abigail would feel about Hillary’s accomplishment? Does your student think we will have a woman President in his or her lifetime? Why or why not?
“If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”
- Abigail Adams, U.S. First Lady, 1776
“Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it’s got about 18 million cracks in it. And the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time.”
- Hillary Clinton, 2008
We hope you and your student enjoy Women’s History Month and that students broaden their perspective and understanding of the great strides women have made to achieve their dreams. We hope, also, that in their study of women’s history, all students will see a connection between women’s struggles and achievements and their own abilities to succeed in whatever they try!
Dawn D. Eidelman, Ph.D.
Chief Education Officer
Mosaica Education, Inc.
Thursday, January 20th, 2011
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
Abraham Lincoln Online
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.
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.
Thursday, December 23rd, 2010
Celebrations that Span the Globe
All around the world, people are joining together in various celebrations. Here are some of the celebrations your child will learn more about through Paragon this December, and some ways in which you can share their learning:
The Winter Solstice
December 21st is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. In ancient times, the growing darkness was cause for fear, and the return to longer days brought rejoicing. Across religions and cultures, people celebrate the bringing of light to the darkness, and hope in time of despair.
With your child, you can watch the days grow shorter as the Solstice approaches, then longer as it passes. Together, you may wish to note and mark on a calendar the exact time that the sun drops below the horizon and it becomes dark. Your student will marvel that this time changes every day! Together, you can ponder the importance of the sun and celebrate the hope that comes from sharing light and warmth and love.
The 2010 Solstice is a special one: it coincides with a total lunar eclipse. Whether or not you actually witness the eclipse, you will be able to find information on the Internet, including photos and explanations. (Start with the link at the Weather Channel: www.weather.com and then conduct a search for sites.)
Over 2 billion people observe Christianity throughout the world. There are many different churches, each with slightly different ways of worshipping. Christianity shares many of its beliefs and some of its scriptures with Judaism. The primary difference between the two faiths is that the Christians believe that Jesus, who was born about 2,000 years ago, is the Christ, or Son of God. Christmas, the celebration of Jesus’ birth, is one of Christianity’s holiest days. How Christmas is observed varies greatly from one part of the world to another, but it is always a time to celebrate new life and the hope for peace. Many Christmas traditions incorporate lights and candles to symbolize Jesus as the “light of the world.”
At home, you and your child may wish to make a special ornament to celebrate your family. If your family observes Christmas, perhaps you will want to talk about holiday traditions that have been passed down over time and what they mean to your family. It may be fun to bring out your Christmas photographs from previous years (the further back you can go all the better) and share them with your children. What has changed? What remains the same? What are you grateful for? It is always fun to gather with friends and neighbors and compare traditions, as you celebrate this special time.
Diwali: The Hindu Festival of Lights
Hinduism developed some 4,000 years ago. It is known for its rich and colorful mythology and epic tales. Diwali, the festival of lights, is the Hindus’ most celebratory winter festival. It celebrates good triumphing over evil, light over darkness, coming home, and the renewing of hopes, happiness, prosperity and success. This celebration is associated with the ancient Hindu epic poem, the Ramayana. For Diwali, Hindus clean their houses, wear new clothes, draw rangolis on their door steps, eat special sweets, sing, dance, and light dipas or oil lamps to honor Rama’s homecoming and the triumph of the “light.”
At home, you may wish to ask your child about the story of Rama, and talk about the similarities and differences between the Diwali celebration and your family’s holiday traditions. Perhaps you and your child will want to make your own colorful rangolis, which are a form of Hindu traditional art representing a warm welcome to guests and visitors. Please note that rangoli in themselves are not religious symbols; they are rather an artistic medium.
Buddhism: Finding the Light Within
Buddhism arose out of the Hindu tradition and is now primarily practiced in Southeast Asia, the Himalayas and Japan. Buddhists believe that “god” is within, rather than without and that by following a path of goodness (right thought, right understanding, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right concentration, and right contemplation), one can achieve “enlightenment.”
Buddhists often celebrate, as people of other traditions do, the coming of the New Year. Just as many people make resolutions, Buddhists look forward and start their New Year fresh, by cleaning their homes. They also look back, and, honoring their ancestry, make cards for their elder relatives.
At home, you may encourage your child to start off the New Year with a clean room—and to make their own cards for the people they love.
Hanukkah: a Miracle in Lights
Nearly 18 million people around the world observe the Jewish faith, which is called Judaism. The Jewish holiday, Hanukkah, is an eight-day mid-winter festival marked by the lighting of ritual candles. It celebrates the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem by Judas Maccabaeus after he recaptured it from an enemy army in 164 BC. As the story goes, when the people repaired the temple and prepared to relight its lamps, they found they had only enough lamp oil for a single night. Still, once lit, the lamps burned, miraculously, for eight days.
Hanukkah is a time to celebrate freedom, warmth, light, and peace, something we all need and hope for. For your own celebration, you and your child may wish to try your hand at making potato latkes (pancakes), a traditional food for this winter holiday.
Ramadan: the Muslim Holy Month
Islam is the third great monotheistic religion to come out of the Middle East. It began when the Angel Gabriel appeared to Muhammad circa AD 610 and ordered him to preach against false idols, and today it is practiced by more than 1.3 billion Muslims around the world.
Ramadan marks the time when Allah sent down the Koran (holy book) to Muhammad. Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan, and at the end of Ramadan, they celebrate with the festival of Id al-Fitr. As a part of this festival, besides eating delicious foods, Muslims send cards to their friends. It is a time of new beginnings and forgiveness.
Fasting is a part of many religious celebrations. You and your child may want to talk about how easy it is to take things for granted—and how giving something up requires sacrifice and helps one appreciate the good things one has.
Kwanzaa: a Celebration of African-American Values
Kwanzaa means “first fruits of the harvest” in the African language Kiswahili (or Swahili). This celebration of African-American values got its start in 1966 and has grown tremendously in popularity since then.
Kwanzaa is not a religious celebration, but like its religious counterparts, it too features light. Seven candles are found on the kinara lit for Kwanzaa: the black candle represents the faces of the African people and their descendents; the red represent the suffering and struggles of the people; and the green represent hope for the future.
During Kwanzaa, the people celebrate seven important values: Umojo (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-determination), Ujima (Collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith). You and your child can discuss the importance of these values to your everyday lives and for the world at large.
A Common Thread
Light in the darkness, hope and new beginnings, strong values, happiness and joy are a part of all of these celebrations. To learn more about these traditions, visit:
The economic realities of recent times have caused many families to rethink how they will celebrate the holidays. Perhaps you found opportunities over the past year to show your student that the best celebrations really are about light in the darkness, hope and new beginnings, strong values, happiness and joy-including the joy of giving in ways that are both economical and meaningful. If so, we encourage you to continue the tradition regardless of your current economic situation; if not, make this the year for a new tradition. This is what service learning is all about! Here are just a few suggestions to help you start or add to your fun and meaningful family celebrations:
- Many of the projects that your child will enjoy during our Holiday Festivals unit can be recreated at home and shared as decorations, gifts, or gift tags.
- Why not create an audiotape of you and your child reading a favorite story…and share it with grandparents and/or relatives who live far away?
- A family music video of favorite songs is another way to share with those who cannot visit-even with those stationed in the military, school, or jobs overseas!
- Decorate white paper placemats (white drawing paper will work just as well) with holiday or winter scenes; deliver them to a nursing home or other location that serves meals.
- Make “giving” wish lists instead of “getting” wish lists! Remind your student that giving time costs nothing but an hour or so—reading to senior citizens or young children; shoveling snow, walking pets, etc. make great gifts!
- Once you plant the idea, encourage each family member to come up with a meaningful and economical way to share the joys of the season!
Monday, October 11th, 2010
Paragon© propels student achievement in Mosaica Education schools; therefore, a cumulative understanding is best accomplished when your student continues with us throughout his or her elementary and middle school years. At every grade level, the fundamental skills of reading, writing, listening, communicating, and presenting are integral and ongoing. Paragon keeps building on prior knowledge so that your student will gain ground and accelerate achievement with each passing year, a trend that defies the odds in traditional public education.
In Middle School, students will delve into Paragon© Humanities, which is organized into four quarter units, rather than the eight units found in the elementary grades. This provides the opportunity for students to explore concepts and ideas in greater depth through research, primary source documents, literature, and hands-on learning. Like the elementary grades, the units are structured around essential questions in world history, civics, geography, economics, and social studies. Middle School students will also begin their studies of Paragon© World Literature. Each quarter, they will read a novel, biography, myth, collection of folk tales, or another genre that corresponds to the content in Paragon© Humanities. The interdisciplinary connections make the learning engaging, meaningful, and memorable for students.
Thursday, August 5th, 2010
Mosaica Education, Inc. would like to invite parents across the nation to enroll their children in one of our tuition-free, college prep, charter schools for the 2010-2011 school year.
Enrollment is now open to all Mosaica network schools, located in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., for students residing in the respective school districts.
All Mosaica school implements a thematic, interactive program that incorporates multiple learning styles. Mornings are dedicated to building solid skills in the core subject areas of reading, writing, math and science. While the afternoons are reserved for foreign language, music, physical education and a daily 90-minute block of the content-rich Paragon curriculum.
The Paragon curriculum is interdisciplinary, engaging, discovery-based and multi-cultural. The hands-on approach of Paragon addresses the multiple intelligences and individual learning styles. This enhances students’ communication skills, analysis and self-expression.
Mosaica schools also offer an emotionally and physically safe learning environment, access to computers and technology, committed and qualified teachers and staff and encourage parental involvement. Teachers will conduct regular goal setting conferences with individual children and their parents, to ensure the student’s success.
To find out more about each school and the grades offered, click here. It is imperative that parents submit enrollment applications for each student planning to enroll, as early as possible.
Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010
Welcome to the Parent Connection blog.