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Table of Contents

  • Curriculum News
  • Assessment News
  • Washington D.C Trip
  • Student Achievements 
  • Tiger Tribune

Dates to Remember

April 1: Student Council Meeting
April 13: Prom
April 19-26: Spring Break

April Fool s

CWCS April 2019 Newsletter

Blossoms with Butterflies

Curriculum News

With all this rain, some may be wondering if spring will ever come, but rest assured, spring is around the corner, and with spring comes thinking about next year. We have some exciting things in store for next year. Keep these things in mind when you start planning your curriculum for next year.

We are getting ready to stock our Resource Centers with great curriculum to supplement your favorite subjects. Be sure to watch for Listserves for dates when the centers will be open for next year’s checkout.

Social Studies Curriculum:

Last year, California State adopted a new Social Studies curriculum. The adopted programs can be viewed on the California Department of Education Curriculum Page.  Our team of specialists worked hard to review and select the program that best fits in our setting based on online use, home use, and 1:1 teaching.  We are excited about the new Pearson textbooks, and we have received great feedback from our students, parents and instructors.  The online videos and support materials are very engaging.  Look for the Pearson My World K-12 program at our Resource Centers.

Getting Ready for Science

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are new content standards for Science, fully implemented by California in 2016-17.  The current state standards for English Language Arts include literacy components in science, but they do not include the content that are the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS). The last California Science Standards were adopted in 1998. In the last 20 years, there have been significant advances in science and technology; therefore, updated science standards are necessary for students of California. The good news is these standards focus more on hands-on science than just learning facts. That’s something our kids will have fun with!  Our students will be completing the first operational test with the new NGSS standards this year during state testing. Students in grades 5, 8, and once in high school will complete a science test based on NGSS and will receive a score.  The assessments will be cumulative of material in the grade spans (Grade 5 will cover material in K-5, Grade 8 will cover material in 6-8, and high school will cover material in the High School discipline sciences Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Earth Science).

Be sure when selecting curriculum, you look for ways to implement the cornerstones of NGSS: Core Disciplinary Ideas, along with Cross Cutting Concepts (how do the sciences relate to other sciences and subjects), Practices (scientific thinking and behaviors), and Engineering Practices.

Here are some resources to help your science planning for next year: 

California just adopted NEW Science Textbooks in November.  The adopted programs can be found on the California Department of Education Curriculum Page.  Our specialists will be reviewing samples of the programs to help with recommendations. Samples will also be available soon at our centers for parents to review.

Curriculum Support

Be sure to ask your ES about other curriculum supports we created, such as our Collections Companion project and our “I Can” Math support guides to strengthen your student’s English Language Arts and Math development.

Concepts and Skills Review & Student Achievement

Everyone has been working hard this year on grade level concepts and skills. Students are making great progress and the recent data from the school-wide benchmarks reflect it, showing that the personalized learning model charter students can perform just as well or better than traditional-school students.  Keep up the great work!

In planning your student’s grade level concepts and skills review programs for next year, keep in mind our recommendations: Study Island, MobyMax, Common Core Coach, Core Skills, On Core, and now, Education Galaxy are all great choices.  Be sure to ask your ES about these great options.

Be sure to review our schools’ Dashboard Data to see how our students are performing.  A video of what the California Dashboard is all about can be viewed here.

Spotlight on Curriculum: Parents’ Choice

The below curriculum programs were ranked “top notch” by our parents through a survey. Thanks for the feedback and the willingness to network with fellow Personalized Learning Parents!


English Language Arts

Program & Publisher

Things Parents Love

Potential Challenges

Moving Beyond the Page by Epiphany Curriculum (K-12)

Hands on projects; good books to read; great activities; connections between subjects; critical and creative thinking

There is an abundance of materials that might make it difficult to finish in the duration of the school year.

Oak Meadow by Oak Meadow (K-12)

Works with child's developmental stages; very in-depth with content and process; encourages creativity, critical thinking, and independent problem solving

Curriculum requires a lot of interaction and engagement on the part of the parent, in the early years.

Collections by Houghton Mifflin (6-12)

Mini grammar classes to help improve writing; activities to analyze writing and model techniques; guided performance tasks; engaging videos and stories

Should be used with the CWCS Companion if using it independently to access all activities.  



Program & Publisher

Things Parents Love

Potential Challenges

Singapore Math by Marshall Cavendish (K-8)

Uses the Singapore approach; heavily based on the concrete-pictorial-abstract learning progression; relies heavily on mental math; rigorous.

Several books to juggle: Home Instructor's Guide, a workbook and a texbook for each level at a minimum.

Math in Focus by Houghton Mifflin (K-8)

Uses the Singapore approach; heavily based on the concrete-pictorial-abstract learning progression; relies heavily on mental math; extra practice and support components available; rigorous and CA Standards Aligned.

None listed

Go Math! (K-8) and Analyze, Connect, and Explore Algebra by Houghton Mifflin

Great instructional videos; rigorous; engaging; personalized practice through Personal Trainer feature. teacher edition lays lessons out nicely.

Draws on critical thinking and empowers students to understand there is more than one way to do math, so some lessons will push parents to think about math differently in the delivery. Must use the teacher’s edition.

AoPS by Art of Problem Solving (6-12)

Problem solving based math; rigorous; engaging lessons; live classes available; develops strong critical thinking

More challenging than a typical math curriculum



Program & Publisher

Things Parents Love

Potential Challenges

Mystery Science by Mystery Science (online program) (K-5)

Engaging videos; well scripted lessons; covers multiple domains; lessons are “open and go” with little prep needed; aligned to NGSS

All web-based so requires a lot of printing

Exploration Education by Exploration Education (K-10)

Hands-on Physical Science Program; engaging; great for tactile/kinesthetic learners; videos and project materials included

Doesn’t focus on domains outside of Physical Science; some inconsistencies with workbook and videos; some experiments were not all-inclusive with supplied materials.

Science Fusion by Houghton Mifflin (K-8)

Engaging videos and virtual labs; develops critical thinking; Video Based Projects; includes  real-world challenges; has a STEM focus

Difficult to use if you don’t purchase the entire kit; must use the online component


Social Science

Program & Publisher

Things Parents Love

Potential Challenges

A History of US by Joy Hakim (5-8)

Engaging; encourages reading and writing; lesson plans and teaching guide is available; develops critical thinking

Doesn’t cover World History; Some biased telling of history noted.

Oak Meadow by Oak Meadow (K-12)

Lesson plans and student guides are easy to use; rigorous; offers all courses K-12; intellectual development through hands-on activities; digital options available

Curriculum requires a lot of interaction and engagement on the part of the parent, in the early years.

Story of the World by  Peace Hill Press (K-5)

Includes audio books, workbook for activities & test books; kid-friendly; history told in story form; activities can be adjusted for grade level

Many components to the program can make it cumbersome.

If you have any questions regarding curriculum, please feel free to contact me via phone or e-mail at any time. You can reach me, Shoni Johnson, Curriculum & Assessment Director, at or call me at 209-874-1119.

Assessment News

Online CAI Programs

Just 15-30 minutes a day is all it takes for your student to close skill gaps and get closer to grade level.  If you would like additional support on your student’s Computer Aided Instructional (CAI) program, I can provide additional clarity and/or assistance for Let’s Go Learn reading and math, i-Ready reading and math, and Ascend math as well as Study Island, Moby Max, or Education Galaxy.  Let’s make sure your student is using their program to the max and getting the absolute most of every minute spent!  Email Jamie Ulloa, RtI Coordinator, at or call Monday through Friday between 10am-3pm at (209) 874-1119, ext. 296.

Washington DC Trip

Only 11 spots left!  I will be leading a group of students to Washington, D.C. during the week of April 13-19, 2020, next school year!  This trip is open to all students of Connecting Waters Charter Schools.  Students in grades 7-12 may travel on their own, and students grade 6 and below must travel with a parent or a chaperone.  The 5-day/4-night, all-inclusive trip is just $1,999 per student and includes everything; airfare and travel expenses, hotel accommodations, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and all entrance fees.  This incredible opportunity at this price won’t last long so register today!

Online: To enroll, go to Explore America 

By Phone:
Call EF Explore America’s Traveler Support at 888-333-9756 and enroll with our tour code: 2207540CF (Office is located on the East Coast so please call before 2:30 pm PST if you plan to enroll by phone.) 

We are very excited about the trip and hope you'll join us!  Have more questions?  Please contact Jamie Ulloa at or (209) 874-1119, ext. 296 for additional information.

Student Achievements

Isabelle Yu

My mom was a poet and passionate teacher to young children.  Immigrating to the U.S. posed many challenges to her own cultural background; she was uncomfortable verbalizing her ideas in the English language and fitting in with the American lifestyle.  In time, she attained much knowledge about her new home and worked hard to become successful in her career.  My dad was affected by polio, which caused paralysis in his right leg when he was a child.  However, this did not cause him to sit in the care of others and disregard far-fetched possibilities.  My dad ignored his “limits” and taught himself to drive, swim, and build and ride bicycles in his youth.  My parents are advocates for welcoming challenges and working hard.

I was homeschooled ever since the second grade, which meant that my mom taught and supervised me (with help from outside resources) the majority of my elementary to middle school education.  From the start of my first baby noises, my mom immersed me into the world of reading.  We went through stacks and stacks of library books every bedtime.  I grew up going to the library and it still holds a special place in my heart. Along with my love for reading, I also expressed myself through art.  But despite my love for creativity and imagination, there was one thing I loathed completely: math.  It was this reoccurring, non-negotiable creature of horrors which caused my teacher (alias, mom) and I strain in our relationship and studies.  As the math transmogrified in quantity, so did my tantrums.  There was no day in “school” that I did not cry about merely numbers.  Soon the words “hate” and “math” could not be heard any longer by my mother’s ears and she consulted my education specialist (ES) for help.  To my mother’s thankfulness, my ES offered to assist me with math.  It started with her walking me through questions from my online math classes, to being my private math tutor for almost the whole of middle school!  I always remember how she pulled out the quirks of mathematical word problems and laughed at them with me.  She highlighted my progress and never forgot to remind me of my potential.  With her encouragement, this once-hidden potential grew clearer to my sight; I started learning math with more confidence and was able to complete math work on my own. 


Being once on the receiving end of tutoring, I have experienced how life-changing it is when you take the time to help others.


I do not consider myself as “math-wired,” nor have I reached this point of confidence.  Math is yet to become my strong subject.  I admit, I am still figuring out if I “love” the subject.  However, I can surely say that I appreciate how it’s always been a challenge waiting for me to take on.  I strongly believe that with the right mindset and resources, you can succeed in any subject you choose to make yours.