In The Levine Loop

Message From The Counselors' Office

All children are capable of extraordinary things. There is no happiness gene or success gene. The potential for happiness and greatness lies in all children, and will mean different things to each person. We can't change that our children will face challenges in life but we can give them the skills so these challenges are never able to break them. We can build their resilience. 

Resilience is being able to bounce back from stress, challenge, tragedy, trauma or adversity. When children are resilient, they are braver, more curious, more adaptable, and more able to extend their reach into the world.  Resilience is something that can be nurtured in all of us and strengthened at any age. 

Building children into healthy, thriving adults isn't about clearing adversity out of their way. A little bit of stress helps them to develop the skills they need to flourish. Research shows that in the context of a loving relationship with a caring adult, children have the opportunity to develop vital coping skills. This social support is associated with higher positive emotions, a sense of personal control and predictability, self-esteem, motivation, optimism, a resilience.

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Levine's Mission Extols Humanity

For eight months, I have been on countless Zoom calls. This is what I hear constantly from our community and civic leaders:

"Stay the course.

Hunker down.

Don't let up.

This thing is real."

Here is how I contextualize those messages for our school ...

Resist the temptation to sign your child up for indoor sports.

Pause and think twice about unmasked get togethers, parties, and that multifamily cabin weekender.

Consider moving your tutoring sessions, coach's visits, piano teacher, etc. to virtual experiences.

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Message From K-8 STEM Coordinator

This year marks the 3rd year of our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Initiative here at Levine Academy. 

In 2018, we embarked on a journey to rollout new-to-campus K-8 aligned curriculum, developed at Rice University, focusing on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  The Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education (CIJE) has been collaborating with our Judaic Studies department and extended its partnership to encompass STEM offerings. Additional partnerships have contributed to our success: UTD, Frontiers of Flight, The Heard, the Perot Museum, and many others.

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Message from Weinreb Early Childhood Director

Here in the EC, our pre-kindergarteners can tell you that we have been at school for 50+ days. That's pretty impressive. In the face of a pandemic and dealing with social distancing and mask wearing, I'm thrilled that we are still open and welcoming our children and teachers back to school every day. We all talk about the "New Normal" and how challenging it is for us as adults to adapt. But here's the thing... for our littles, this IS their normal. For some of our really young children, this is all they know.

Now, here is the good news. YOUR CHILDREN ARE AND WILL BE FINE!

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Message From The Counselors' Office

The upcoming election is generating a lot of discussion wherever you go, and here at Levine is no exception.  We want our students to know that even when we disagree, we can still be kind, thoughtful, and respectful. With that in mind, the counseling team is being proactive and has adapted the 3rd-8th Grade curriculum to include topics such as how to communicate respectfully to each other, how to create a peaceful community when we have different points of view, and how to resolve conflicts with each other.  We will also be talking about having what the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) refers to as a Brave Space. A Brave Space is, "a space where everyone feels that they can contribute, that they will be heard and they are willing to challenge and be challenged." 

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A Healthy Media Diet

A healthy media diet balances activities (games, social media, TV), time, and choices (YouTube, Minecraft, Star Wars) with offline activities (sports, face-to-face conversations, daydreaming).

Many parents struggle with exactly what's ok for their children and families. Is a half-hour show okay but a full-length movie "bad"? How much gaming should you allow when your child also uses his computer for homework? And when does a passion for video games become problematic? The truth is, there is no magic formula. Just as every family differs in what they eat, when they eat, and what they like, a healthy media diet is different for every family. The key is making sure that the things that are important to your family are fairly balanced over the long term.

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Message from K8 Principal

As we begin a new school year, we are delighted to welcome new families and new faculty to our Levine School Community. This will definitely be an unprecedented year, but we are all ready for the challenge, and together we will make it a great year for our students.

We are excited about the great things happening in STEM this year. STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM is more than just a grouping of subject areas; it is a movement to develop the deep mathematical and scientific foundations students need to be competitive in the 21st-century workforce. It is estimated that 80% of the jobs created in the next decade will require some form of math and science skills. STEM develops a set of thinking, reasoning, collaborative teamwork, and creative skills that students can use in all areas of their lives. Our science teachers will be employing the Engineering Design Process and 5E+AI (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate +Acceleration and Intervention) instruction model. A big focus of our K-4 STEM program will be integrating STEM into the general studies curriculum. The STEM coordinator and general studies teachers are identifying areas of curriculum for integration this school year. All K-8 STEM teachers will be using the STEMscopes curriculum.

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Conscious discipline vs. Punishment

Figuring out how to discipline our children can be one of the hardest parts of parenting. It is very easy to just react to what has happened without forethought or deliberation, but then later the question becomes, "Did I, as the adult, do the right thing?"

One of the most important mind shifts you can make as a parent is to be conscious and intentional in how you discipline your child instead of just being reactive. For me, the fundamental difference between conscious discipline and punishment is the outcome you want to achieve. Do you want the behavior to change? Or do you want retribution for the wrong behavior? If you just punish your child, it is likely that the behavior will occur again. If you want the behavior to change, you need the child to reflect on his/her actions, take personal responsibility, manage his/her emotions, and learn the missing skill.

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A New Mindset to Address Anxiety

As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks says, "I believe faith is not certainty but the courage to live with uncertainty."

So much has changed on our campus in the past 5 months. Take our parking lot for instance: numbered gates, a longer carpool route with A LOT more traffic cones, a COVID-19 message on our marquee, temperature checking in the vehicle, and everyone wearing masks. Inside the school, we have teachers teaching and students learning. This Monday we welcomed our Early Childhood through First Grade students back to campus and things are going great.

Going great? Wait -- stop and back up for a second ...

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Hi Levine community!

I am happy to be back with you, even virtually.  I was thinking about what might be helpful for you all to hear as we begin the new school year. Like many of you, when school shut down this past March, I was hopeful that we would be back soon in the same way that we had left.  I don't think at that point I could have wrapped my head around the idea that we would be beginning the new school year virtually as well, and when we are able to start in person, things will look very different than anything anyone could have imagined.  Understandably, many of us are anxious and uncertain about what the future holds.  

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Levine 1st-8th Grade Librarian Maureen Reister partnered with a group of volunteers at The Legacy Willow Bend Retirement Community to provide protective face masks for their 400+ residents and staff. Five of her former Middle School Sewing Class students jumped at the opportunity to help.

Thank you Andrea A., Rachel M., Danielle L., Eliana C., and Addison M., for participating in this important and meaningful project, and also to Levine 6th-8th Grade Counselor Barbara Carr-Goodman for her assistance and encouragement.

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This past Tuesday, [CLICK HERE TO SEE/HEAR THE RECORDED WEBINAR] I had the opportunity to sit on a panel and listen to the wonderful advice of Dr. Deborah Gilboa, who calls herself "Dr. G". Dr. G spoke about parenting during uncertainty and social distancing.  Her first question to the audience was, "25 years from now, how do you want to be able to describe your kids?"  Most answers consisted of character traits. How we wanted our children to be, not what we wanted them to be.  For example some answers were, "I want to be able to say he is a Mensch" or "I want my child to be a kind, caring adult, well adjusted, happy."

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How do we answer our children’s questions in this difficult time?

Our children have many questions in this new and difficult time and we, as grownups, sometimes struggle with how to answer when the answers are unknown. So what do we do?  Conscious Discipline has a guide to helping with these questions.

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I recently read a post on FaceBook from a teacher that I really liked.  In the post she tells parents not to stress about schoolwork.  She says a teacher’s main goal is to get the children back on track.  As parents our focus should be on our children's social/emotional well-being, without which the brain cannot learn.  The teacher asks parents to share their calm, strength and laughter and reminds parents the child is exactly where they need to be.  I loved this because it rings true for all of us in this very stressful situation. 

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As we get ready for Passover break, I can't help but think of the irony of celebrating a holiday that champions our freedom in a time when our freedom has been so curtailed by the coronavirus.  We are all experiencing many losses, and we need to acknowledge them and even grieve for them. I have felt the stages of grief: denial, this is really happening; bargaining, if I can only make it to Passover break; sadness; anger; acceptance.  And like any loss, this emotional cycle and can be experienced at any time. 

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Message from Andy Blum, Early Childhood-5th Grade Counselor

Dear Parents,

I write a parent blurb for the EC Buzz every month, and this month, I was going to write about the conscious discipline skill of maintaining Composure.  Conscious Discipline is an evidence based, trauma informed approach to social emotional learning.  In this crazy time that we are all now living in, I think it is even more relevant and appropriate to talk about Composure.  

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Oil and Water in Early Childhood

While Levine Academy's science program has adopted the Next Generation Science Standards throughout its curriculum, we know that science success begins with our youngest students. We respond boldly to that challenge in our Science Discovery Center, where our Early Childhood students are getting a fantastic foundation in core concepts.

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“Dvar Torah: Parshat Bo”

This is a transcript of the d’var torah delivered at Levine Academy’s Board Meeting on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 by two Levine Middle School students.

On behalf of both of us, I would like to thank the Board for all that they do and allowing us to come speak with you today.
The past few weeks we have been reading from Shemot, the second of five Books of the Torah. In these past weeks, we have seen Moshe grow from a newborn to an adult. This is a lot like the growth we are able to see in ourselves at Levine. We learned with Rabbi Litton and we searched for common themes between our growth process and Moshe’s.

Brenna- For instance, as a child Levine has protected me from the the bad in the world by outweighing it with the good. Moshe, in his early years was hidden by his mother and protected from the real world where he would have been killed. When he grew up, Moshe faced the real world with bravery ad courage, now that I am grown up, I am prepared to face the scary world of high school, with the same courage that Moshe has shown us.

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Middle School Students' Toy Drive Benefiting Family Gateway

The Middle School students' Toy Drive was a huge success this year! The initiative began with the coordination of our Levine MS Counselor Barbara Carr-Goodman, faculty, parents and students. Their mission was to live our values of Tzedakah; encouraging kindness and empathy for others in our community. This year’s toy drive benefited Family Gateway. Family Gateway is an organization in Dallas that provides housing, educational, and social services to families with children experiencing homelessness in Dallas County. They were incredibly appreciative of our efforts and welcome additional volunteerism in the future. 

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Message from Dean of Instruction

Each summer, our faculty reads a book and conducts a book study on a topic that we have identified as relevant to our work. Our reading this summer focused on learning more about how boys experience school, and how to teach so that they are successful academically, socially and emotionally. Gender plays a significant role in how children think, behave and learn. The Minds of Boys by Dr. Michael Gurian and Kathy Stevens, is a practical approach to helping boys succeed in educational environments, extracurricular activities and daily life.

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Reflections of Levine's Experiential DC and NYC Trip: Class of 2021 (Part 1 of 2)

Sunday, November 11, 2019
To start off the outstanding trip we were warmly welcomed by the National Museum of American Jewish Military History. A former military pilot, Sheldon A. Goldberg discussed and shared his experience in combat. Some things he said truly stood out to us, the fact that he served for 30 years and is still here today to share his stories. As a class, we all participated in writing cards to injured military members and created bags with basic necessities for a normal life during their recovery. For lunch, Rabbi Litton brought in the best kosher pizza I have ever had. We also had the option to have fries, brownies, soda, and salad. After lunch we went to visit the Lincoln and Vietnam Memorials. It was meaningful to be surrounded by Veterans and fallen soldiers’ families. -Caroline W.

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Message from Board President

Dear Levine Families,

Last week, prior to Tuesday's Ribbon Cutting ceremony and Wednesday's Grand Opening, I had the privilege of attending a preview event at the new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum.

"The Museum is dedicated to teaching the history of the Holocaust and advancing Human rights to combat prejudice, hatred and indifference."

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Message from K8 Principal

Dear Levine Community,

As we embark on a new school year we are delighted to welcome new families and new faculty to our Levine School Community. We are excited and enthusiastic about the school year ahead and look forward to a great year of teaching and learning.

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A Proud and Historical Welcome to Levine Academy 2019/2020!

Dear Levine Community,

Greetings to all and a cheerful welcome to the 2019/2020 school year, plus a proud Mazel Tov to Schechter/Levine: This year we are celebrating 40 years since our founding!

There is a lot of history to celebrate -- from our remarkable beginnings at Shearith Israel, to a small schoolhouse on Starbuck Drive, and then to a sleepy corner campus at Hillcrest and Frankford which initially, in the 1980's, had just a few structures, including a private home and a church, as our places of teaching and learning. Amazingly, among our twelve original 8th Grade graduates in 1988, were our current teachers Jodi (Frysh) Norton and Colette (Jonas) Lipszyc; current parents Loren Jacobson and Michael Reiman; and Dan Lewin, son of our current teacher Beverley Lewin (now entering her 40th year of teaching at Schechter/Levine!).

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Yasher Koach, Class of 2019!

Ann and Nate Levine Academy held its graduation ceremony last evening in Beit Aryeh. Head of School, Tom Elieff, officiated the event, which included a greeting from Neil Beckerman, on behalf of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. Principal Liz Lawlor introduced the graduates, and Levine Board President, Solomon Israel, accepted the Eighth Grade gift on behalf of the Levine community. Rabbi Ari Sunshine from Congregation Shearith Israel delivered the annual Me Dor L'Dor Recognition address, and Mr. E. followed with his Charge to the Graduates. School leaders and community Rabbis presented the diplomas, and Levine's Director of Jewish Life and Learning, Rabbi Jeremy Litton, led the audience in a closing song, Shir Lamaalot.

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Middle School Student Congress

We know you join us in the pride we feel for what these young leaders accomplished in 2018-2019!

This year Student Congress raised over $6,400 for numerous charities and volunteered many hours giving back to others.

These young leaders volunteered their time to help sell and serve food at our Annual Parent Association Bazaar, distributed and helped with Spirit Wear sales, welcomed new families and returning friends; plus, advocated and produced (with the help of the P.A.) three new water fountains, and led the Yom Ha’Atzmaut parade.

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Parshat Emor

In this week’s Torah portion Parshat Emor, we are at the moment in the midst of fulfilling one of the commands in this week’s Parsha - the counting of the Omer as the verse states:

“From the day after the Sabbath (the holiday of Shavuot), the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the L-RD”.

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Parshat Kedoshim

This week’s Torah portion Parshat Kedoshim begins with G‑d commanding the Jewish people to be kadosh (holy).

The obvious question is what is the meaning of the word holy? How can Shabbat be a holy day and a person is supposed to be holy?

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Levine Arts Program Emphasizes National Standards, Major Artists, and the Creative Process

Kindergarten through eighth grade students enjoy weekly art classes in a magnificent, spacious, and welcoming studio.  As students pass through the door, they enter a world of endless possibility, unlimited variation, and joyful participation in learning.  This is a place where confidence grows as students begin to envision new and exciting possibilities for themselves.  The strategy of trial and error is applauded, mistakes and innovation are celebrated, and obstacles become opportunities.

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As we head back to our new school life this week, we have an opportunity for a new start. Before break, it felt like we were thrown into a boat and told “row, this is your new reality.”  This reality was true for parents, teachers, administrators and our kids.  Public school had the benefit of spring break to get ready.  We did not. And we survived. And our kids learned.  Now we have some idea as to how to navigate “distance learning,” and Conscious Discipline offers some tips that may be helpful. 

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The Making of a Mensch-The Early Childhood Perspective

In early childhood at Levine Academy is instilling the morals of being a mensch. Along with our emphasis on social-emotional learning, academic innovation, and mindfulness, our youngest Levine students are learning the vital characteristics of the Levine Academy's core middot; Caring, Responsibility, Integrity, Respect, Holiness, Citizenship, and Justice. With the support of our teachers and families, we witness these important attributes in our students each day.

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Pursuing Cultural Connections: Levine Students Attend Dallas Symphony Orchestra Concert

This week Levine Academy brought students to one of Dallas’ premier cultural institutions—the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The cultural field trip is part of a school-wide effort to raise musical awareness among the younger elementary students in order to develop their love of music, expose them to an array of musical styles, and possibly ignite their interest in learning to play an instrument.

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What Does Literacy Look Like In Our Pre-K Program?

Exploration, curiosity, and intrigue can be heard and seen in our Levine Academy Pre-K hallway. Our Alphabet Museum/Letter of the Week literacy curriculum teaches letter recognition and enhances phonetic awareness. This curriculum is designed to teach various learning styles: visual/special, auditory/musical, verbal/linguistic and physical/kinesthetic learners.

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Reflections of Levine's Experiential DC and NYC Trip: Class of 2020 (Part 2 of 2)
Day 5: 
On Friday morning we woke up super early to go to the NBC Studio Tour. We got to see The Late Night Show and SNL sets. This was super cool. We bought awesome souvenirs at the NBC gift shop. After this amazing experience we went to the grand re-opening of FAO Schwartz at Rockefeller Center. All of us were interviewed by various news reporters. Click HERE to see the news clip!
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Reflections of Levine's Experiential DC and NYC Trip: Class of 2020 (Part 1 of 2)

Day One:
After waking up early in the morning we got to the airport and got on our plane. After a fun flight, and meeting new people, we made it to DC. When we arrived in DC we hopped on our bus and headed to Great Falls Park for a delicious picnic lunch and some sports. We had an amazing hike, with beautiful views. Then we went to the hotel, got situated and unpacked. We went for a fun dinner and finally saw the White House! -Brenna & Andrea

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Conceptual vs. Procedural Knowledge

As teachers, we have listened to parents' concerns and frustrations about how their children are learning math these days. Parents want to help their children but are "baffled" by the material. They talk about their own math instruction and how they fluently and efficiently solved math problems using "procedural knowledge"-a set of steps, actions or procedures.

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Fifth Graders Strengthen Bonds at Greene Family Camp

The wettest fall on record couldn't stop 24 fifth-graders and their six chaperones from embarking on an unforgettable 300-mile adventure from Dallas to Bruceville to participate in confidence building and group challenges that would help create a learning community in the classroom. After stopping briefly for morning tefillot (prayers) at a roadside rest stop, we arrived at Greene Family Camp to head straight to the camps ropes course high elements. Each student challenged themselves with these activities.

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Schultz Family Israel Educational Leadership Fellowship: Blog three

Wednesday, October 17th
Last night we went our separate ways joining family for dinner, exploring the food options in Tel Aviv with new friends from the Schultz Fellows group and attending a Hapoel Jerusalem Basketball game (I will leave it to you to guess who did which activity).  This morning we reunited and drove to Ariel Sharon Park, which prior to 1998 was where 24 municipalities dumped their trash. The park is just outside of Tel Aviv and was supported by Sharon when he was Prime Minister of Israel. The park is elevated with breath taking views, and has plans to extend.

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Importance of Science in the ECC

Each week the Levine Academy ECC 2's, 3's, and Pre-K classes are greeted with a sense of wonder by our Science and Discovery Specialist, Stephanie Barta. By introducing science as a regular part of our students' sked, it reinforces the current research and knowledge on childhood brain development and life-long learning patterns. A good, active science program helps children "play" with important ideas. Finding their voices, their points-of-view, children discover that asking questions is fundamental to problem-solving. It is astonishing to see how creative and deep our ECC children's critical thinking is. It is important to stress to these young learners that there is often more than one right answer to a question. It is also important to provide as much individual, hands-on, opportunity for exploration.

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Schultz Family Israel Educational Leadership Fellowship: Blog two

Friday, October 12, 2018
What an eye opening day we had in preparation for Shabbat. This morning's focus was diverse narratives and we heard a few different stories as we continue to sort through the journey of our Israel Experience. We spent some time hearing about diverse personal narratives. At our first stop we spent time with some members of a program called ‘Shorashim’ (Roots) ( next to the Gush Etzion Junction.

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Schultz Family Israel Educational Leadership Fellowship: Blog One

We are so grateful to be part of the Schultz Family Israel Educational Leadership Fellowship made possible by the Schultz Family Foundation and the Center for Jewish Education of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas we traveled to Israel Monday afternoon for a 10 day trip and are thrilled to share some of our adventures with you.

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Levine Students Fulfill Mitzvah For Project 613

On Wednesday morning this week, Levine Academy students were able to witness and participate in Anshai Torah's Project 613, the writing of a Torah Scroll in honor of Wende Weinberg of blessed memory. Rabbi Zerach Greenfield, the Sofer (Scribe) who arrived from Israel just the day before, spoke to the K8 student body in Beit Aryeh and conducted a question and answer session with the students on the many fascinating laws surrounding the correct way to write the Torah.

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Literary and Sensorial Learning on the Cutting Edge in ECC Two's Program

Early literacy studies have undergone a profound transformation in recent years. Not long ago, early literacy was largely neglected. The assumption was that literacy learning begins around first grade, not before. Reading instruction was ignored during early childhood years. Academic skills used to be postponed until a child's natural maturation unfolds.

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Curriculum Night: Data Driven Instruction

Last night we held our first Curriculum Night for this school year. The focus of this curriculum night was data and how we at Levine Academy are using data to drive instruction in our classrooms on a daily basis. Data Driven Instruction is a methodical approach to improving student learning throughout the year. The sequence of data-driven instruction includes data collection, data analysis, and action and is a key framework for school-wide support of all student success. Data analysis provides a snapshot of what students know, what they should know, and what can be done to meet their academic needs. With appropriate collection, analysis and interpretation of data, educators can make well informed decisions that positively affect student achievement.

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Inquiry and Investigation Make for Math Success  in the Middle School

How does Levine challenge its students in mathematics and prepare them for high school? This week we sat down with our Seventh and Eighth Grade Math teacher, Ms. Regie Neff, to discuss how she tries to encourage all her students to excel in the math arena. She strives to instill success wherever students are in their learning process. 

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