Middle School Curriculum.July 2018.final


Ann and Nate Levine Academy offers an innovative curriculum combining the best of both general and Jewish studies. Our curriculum is based on recognized models of excellence and is continuously reviewed and reformed by extensive research. Based practice instruction, state-of-the-art technology, fully equipped science labs, and individualized attention ensure our students’ success academically, emotionally and spiritually. Students cultivate their study skills, critical thinking, and creativity every day: at the computer, in Social Studies and Math classes, during reading, Language Arts and library, and in the study of Torah and Jewish tradition. Levine Academy is committed to creating a welcoming atmosphere of diversity. Teachers and students reflect different traditions of Jewish observance and share a variety of skills and interests. Teaching is tailored to each child’s needs and strengths, not to a class average. This allows children to move ahead in areas of strength and to receive additional attention in areas of need. Our approach fosters self-confidence and promotes success. CO-CURRICULAR PROGRAMS At Ann and Nate Levine Academy, development of the whole child is essential. We encourage our students to explore and achieve expertise in a wide variety of enrichment activities both during the school day and after school. Our curriculum includes studio art, art appreciation, music appreciation, Hebrew music, band instruction and choir. Every year there is a unique line-up of special interest topics to explore in the Middle School elective program. The P.E. classes from K through 8 emphasize the acquisition and expansion of basic athletic skills, responsible play and competition, while teaching students healthy choices and preparing them for interscholastic and intramural sports. In the Middle School, Levine Academy teams competewith other independent schools. Students in theMiddle School also have several leadership opportunities, including serving as School Ambassador, participating in Community Service, and serving on the Levine Academy Student Congress. Congress members meet with a faculty advisor to plan school activities, community projects and fundraisers. HIGH SCHOOL PLACEMENT Ann and Nate Levine Academy has an extensive counseling and informational program for high school placement, serving both the students and their parents. The process begins in the fall of the Eighth Grade with a parent meeting designed to furnish families with all the information regarding the application process and to advise families on how to select a high school for their student that “fits” him or her in terms of intellectual, emotional, and social growth. Students work closely with administrators and staff to complete a resume, write their high school application essay, and develop interview skills. The Head of School and School Counselor make visits to all the schools our students are applying to, and they advocate for our students, highlighting student strengths and talents. Ann and Nate Levine Academy’s high school placement program is founded on the principles of selecting the best school “fit” for your student and then advocating for that student.



LEVINE ACADEMY MIDDLE SCHOOL GENERAL OVERVIEW Middle School at Levine Academy offers a rigorous academic program designed to foster academic excellence and meet individual needs, nurturing each student’s natural curiosity and sense of wonder. Students in Fifth through Eighth Grade are encouraged to think creatively and challenge themselves and their peers to reach new levels of achievement. The Middle School experience emphasizes individual development, self-responsibility, being a positive member of the school community and the community at large, as well as being an active participant in one’s own learning. Our outstanding teachers emphasize higher-order thinking skills, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Outside the classroom, students have many opportunities to nurture their individual interests and unique abilities. Students may choose to develop leadership skills by participating in Student Congress, Student Ambassador program, National Junior Honor Society, or Va’ad Tefillah (a group that coordinates religious services). There are also many opportunities for participation in state, national, and worldwide competitions in the areas of Language Arts, current events, Social Studies, Hebrew language, writing, and math. Middle School students also have outstanding opportunities to experience their world through travel throughout Texas, to Washington, D.C., New York, and Israel. Levine Academy Middle School students study Hebrew and Jewish studies including selections from the Tanach (Bible) with classical and modern commentators. The study of history progresses from ancient through the rabbinic, medieval, and modern periods. All Middle School students participate in a program of Jewish ethics and values, which centers on respect, relationships, and personal growth. Jewish holidays and special commemorative days are learned through educational units and programming. With so many opportunities to learn and achieve both inside and outside the classroom, students leave Levine Academy well prepared to excel in the challenging high school years and beyond. MIDDLE SCHOOL HEBREW Bishvil Ha-Ivrit is a cutting edge Hebrew language program, bringing Hebrew alive with print and digital media and face-to-face and virtual training for Hebrew teachers. Hebrew language learning The program cultivates all aspects of Hebrew language learning - grammar and content, conversations and literature, poetry and factual information, drills and exercises and topics for


lively discussion, songs and moral dilemmas, writing assignments and independent reading, current events and Biblical texts. TECHNOLOGY Technology enhances and supports learningwith audio recordings, interactive technology, documentary films, and more. As students speak, read, write, and listen to spoken Hebrew, they encounter new viewpoints on daily life in Israel, Jewish tradition and history, and general world knowledge. CURRICULUM AND MATERIALS Theprogramoffersmaterials for all Hebrew levels, frombeginners to advanced. Thematerials encourage an ongoing and dynamic interaction between content, linguistics, and skill development. They offer a wide variety of genres - prose and poetry, conversations, interviews, articles, notes, questionnaires and more; opportunities to master the 4 communicative skills -reading, writing, listening and speaking; and a sequential progression of grammar and linguistics. The curriculum is made up of: • Mechina (fully online module)

• Beginners (Bishvil Ha-Ivrit 1 and 2) • Intermediate (Bishvil Ha-Ivrit 3 and 4) • Advanced (Bishvil Ha-Ivrit 5, online module on Freedom and NETA Books 22-25)


The Fifth Grade Language Arts curriculum focuses on developing a reading and writing community in the classroom. Through writer’s workshop, we delve into the craft of writing from spelling to grammar, and into many other characteristics of the writing process. Writing, sharing, and focusing on individual areas of growth for each student helps develop students’ writing proficiency. . In reading, we continue to foster a reading community through class studies of novels as well as free choice selections. In our book studies, we build a common background to evolve our frame of reference and discussions for future reading endeavors. Also, we delve into the structural components of reading as well as explore the literary devices within the novels. Independently, students choose books to read and share through book talks thereby encouraging others to join our reading community. Our Language Arts curriculum embraces the use of technology to further expand our reading knowledge through nonfiction pieces, vocabulary development, and other technology that fosters a love and culture of reading and writing. SOCIAL STUDIES The Fifth Grade Social Studies curriculum is “World Cultures.” The curriculum begins with the study of basic geographic concepts and map skills. Then the students use a variety of resources to learn



about the various continents on our globe, looking at specific countries in each one. Focus is on the geography, history, and culture of these countries, bringing a broader global awareness to the world around us. In addition to group discussions, students work individually, with partners, and in small group settings to solidify and enhance their learning.  Supplementing this curriculum are ongoing current events lessons, using a variety of resources. MATHEMATICS Math in the Fifth GradeMiddle School program continues to use the familiarity of EverydayMathematics but also adds to the level of rigor by introducing more advanced concepts and techniques further develops application and enhances students explanatory ability. Differentiation is built into the curriculum by incorporating reteaching, review and enrichment activities. Khan Academy is used to further advance practice and Mentoring Minds and Challenge Math are used to further challenge students. Weekly/Biweekly math labs will also be introduced to the math curriculum to show the importance of math in the real world. SCIENCE In the Fifth Grade, students are expected to demonstrate grade-appropriate proficiency in developing and using models, planning and carrying out investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, using mathematics and computational thinking, engaging in argument from evidence, and obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information; and to use these practices to demonstrate understanding of the four disciplinary core ideas: physical science, life science; earth and space science; and engineering, technology, and applications of science. JEWISH STUDIES In Fifth Grade the students are [re]introduced to the Chumash beginning with an overview of the content and context of the Book of Books. This class is based on the Standards and Benchmarks of the Avi Chai Foundation, namely that students will become independent and literarily astute readers of the biblical text in Hebrew and that students will view Tanakh as the formative narrative of the Jewish People – past, present, and future. They learn the skills necessary to understand the text in its original language. They learn to be both independent and collaborative learners of the Torah through individual and chevruta (partnership) work, translating Biblical Hebrew text into English. In Fifth Grade, we follow up on what they learned in Fourth Grade (the Exodus from Egypt) and focus on the events surrounding the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, including the establishment of a system of justice and delegation, the context of the Revelation, the Ten Commandments themselves, the building and destruction of the Golden Calf, and the roles of each of the personalities in all of these events. The overarching theme of the year is leadership and the students learn how they can derive inspiration from our holy texts to be better leaders and people. Fifth Graders at Levine Academy are challenged in Synagogue Skills to learn how to read trop, the system of cantillation used to chant the Torah. Their final project is to read the Torah publicly or privately. This class has proven very effective preparation for their subsequent Bar/Bat Mitzvah experiences.


Additionally, in Mishna class, they are introduced to the study of Torah She’beal Peh (Oral Torah).  They are introduced to the study of the Oral Torah through the “Bonayich” curriculum.  This curriculum utilizes both traditional and modern pedagogical methods.   The Mishnayot are introduced through shinun (chanting), which is the traditional method by which Mishna has been taught and learned.  The two main books of Mishna that the students concentrate on are Massechet Brachot, which focuses on blessings and prayer and Massechet Avot, which focuses on Jewish ethics. In these Massechtot students learn the dialectical nature of the oral Torah and they engage in the dialectic and debate of Jewish law and ethics.


The Sixth Grade Language Arts curriculum focuses on developing a reading and writing community in the classroom. Through writer’s workshop, we delve into the craft of writing from spelling to grammar, and into many other characteristics of the writing process. Writing, sharing, and focusing on individual areas of growth for each student helps develop students’ writing proficiency. In reading, we continue to foster a reading community through class studies of novels as well as free choice selections. In our book studies, we build a common background to evolve our frame of reference and discussions for future reading endeavors. Also, we delve into the structural components of reading as well as explore the literary devices within the novels. Independently, students choose books to read and share through book talks thereby encouraging others to join our reading community. Our Language Arts curriculum embraces the use of technology to further expand our reading knowledge through nonfiction pieces, vocabulary development, and other technology that fosters a love and culture of reading and writing. SOCIAL STUDIES The Sixth Grade Social Studies curriculum focuses on the themes of Relationships and Independence. Study begins with an overview of basic map skills and geography concepts, with a focus on United States geography. Students then explore the history of our nation, beginning with learning about Native American cultures, and continuing with the periods of early exploration, North American colonization, the American Revolution, and the establishment of our new country’s government and Constitution. In addition to class discussions, students work independently, with partners, and in small collaborative groups practicing research and presentation skills. Supplementing this American history curriculum are ongoing current events lessons, using a variety of resources to bring an awareness of not only our history, but also of the current world around us. MATHEMATICS In Sixth Grade, we are introducing our students to the Glencoe Math program. The program continues to build on and introduce concepts in ratios and proportion relationships, the number system, expressions and equations, geometry and statistics and probability. Students will continue to work on



expressing and explaining how mathematical concepts work, how they are applied, and advance their organizational skill throughout the year.  SCIENCE In the Sixth Grade, students are expected to demonstrate grade-appropriate proficiency in developing and using models, planning and conducting investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, using mathematical and computational thinking, and constructing explanations. Students are also expected to demonstrate understanding of several engineering practices including design and evaluation. The disciplinary core that is focused on in Sixth Grade is Physical science. JEWISH STUDIES In Sixth Grade Chumash, we focus on the theme of Kedushah (holiness). We continue to use the aforementioned Standards and Benchmarks of the Jewish Theological Seminary and Avi Chai Foundations, focusing on the original Hebrew text as well as contextualizing the biblical definition of Holiness to inform our own. We begin our learning with the book of Vayikra, Leviticus, which begins with detailed instructions on korbanot (sacrifices). While foreign and perhaps off-putting to the modern reader the korbanot (literally “things that bring closer”) were what our ancestors did to feel closeness with God at particular events in their lives. We continue by learning about Mitzvot, the 613 commandments of the Torah that make us unique among the nations. We learn how to categorize mitzvot whether between us and God or us and our fellow humans, whether positive or negative, and whether or not they are intuitive. We learn about Kedushat HaYom, how we make time holy, by looking at how time is measured astrologically by different cultures, how we use the sun and the moon to determine hours, days, weeks, months, and years. Afterwards we get more specific and learn about the background traditional laws of Shabbat, which is also a day of delights. The students then become experts on each of the major and minor festivals in the Jewish and Israeli calendars. We end the year by delving into transitions in early biblical history, Moses passing on the torch to Joshua who, in turn, passes it onto the Judges. In Mishna, the students continue to use the Bonayich Torah She’beal Peh (Oral Torah) curriculum.  They began to learn other forms of Oral Torah such as Braitot and Midrash.  The students learn Mishnayot about the holidays and fromMassechet Bava Metziafromwhich they learn Jewish civil law and the ethics behind these laws.  Throughout the year, students acquire more independence in learning the texts.


Seventh Grade Language Arts represents a literature-based curriculum that emphasizes oral and written communication. Just as the students are experiencing the difficult transition from childhood into adolescence, so the theme for the year stresses the individual’s place in the universe. The approach to the readings (short story, drama, novel, and poetry) extends beyond comprehension and application to evaluation of concepts. Topics range from literary terms, figures of speech, and public speaking, to grammar, writing, and vocabulary. All material is related to the literature studied at the time and to the


real world. By the end of the year, students will be able to do so much more than merely retell the plot of a story; they will also develop a sense of pride in their own voice. SOCIAL STUDIES The Seventh Grade history course includes a brief review of the Reconstruction Era and the closing of the frontier. The focus is upon United States developments in the twentieth century with emphasis on industrialization, immigration, growth of cities, World War I, isolationism, the Depression, World War II, the Cold War and current United States national and international issues. Global geography and economics are areas of special concentration. There is a strong emphasis on writing, critical thinking, Seventh Grade mathematics transitions students to higher level math concepts while applying those concepts to real-world contexts. The course is based on the Glencoe Math Accelerated (Pre- Algebra) curriculum, part of a continuum that extends into high school level mathematics courses. While learning standard seventh grade math concepts such as operations with rational numbers and integers, ratios, proportions, percents, powers, and 3-D geometry, students also delve into basic linear algebra, including algebraic language, slope, direct variation, and systems of equations. They explore relationships among equations, graphs, and real-world meaning, using both manual graphs and an online graphing calculator program. Textual and online materials integral to the Glencoe Math curriculum support understanding, along with frequent use of online video resources for practice and support. Transitioning from a workbook-based to a textbook-based program, students develop responsible, logical mathematical documentation skills. By completing 7th grade with a firm foundation of basic algebraic concepts, students can be well prepared to undertake high school level Algebra 1 Students of Life Science acquire knowledge of the many diverse life forms on planet Earth, learning microscopic to ecosystem entities. Students study the structure, parts, and processes of the cell. Students learn about DNA and genetics and its application to modern medicine. Students learn about the various systems of the human body and their interconnection. The students will learn about the theory of evolution, diversity of life, and diverse ecosystems. Life Science class will try to make students see the common concepts of Life Science and their connection. JEWISH STUDIES In Seventh Grade, the students take courses in Neviim (Prophets), Halacha, and Jewish history.   In Neviim, they focus on Shmuel Alef and Bet.  In these texts, the students advance in their textual skills to parse the text in the original Hebrew and they improve upon their general ability to analyze literature.  In Shmuel Alef and Bet, the students learn about the prophet Samuel and the evolution of the nation of Israel from a tribal nation into a monarchy led by King Saul and later by David.  The students analyze the strengths and challenges in the lives of the prophets and kings in these books in order to learn lessons in how to relate to others and how to deal with adversity.  The year ends with a and problem-solving. MATHEMATICS in 8th grade. SCIENCE



Lincoln-Douglas style debate where they have a debate on the righteousness or lack of righteousness demonstrated by King Saul’s career as it is documented in the TaNaKh.


Eighth Grade Language Arts offers a literature-based curriculum that emphasizes oral and written communication as a preparation for High School. It stresses the theme of the individual going against the odds. Utilizing an analytical approach of the readings (novel, drama, memoir, short story, and poetry), students not only comprehend the material, but also discover how it relates to their own world. Literary concepts, figures of speech, grammar, writing principles, public speaking, and vocabulary are a natural outgrowth of the literature. By the end of the year, students apply all the principles learned in the production of Visions, our school’s literary magazine. SOCIAL STUDIES The Eighth Grade history course includes a brief review of the Stone Age, Early Civilization, The Persian Empire and the Egyptians.  In addition, 8th Grade focusses on the origins of Judaism, the geography and culture of India and China and the history of the Ancient Greek Civilization. The Roman Empire, Early African Civilizations, The Middle Ages, The Crusades and Medieval Times are studied in depth.  We conclude with learning the history of WW I, The Depression, WW II and the conflicts in today’s world. In Eighth Grade Social Studies, students learn about the history and development of modern Israel from the early years of Zionism to the present. Topics include the Five Aliyot, the Balfour Declaration and World War I, the Holocaust, the establishment of the State of Israel, Israel’s wars and leaders, and the Arab/Israeli conflict. There is a strong emphasis on analysis, discussion, problem solving, and writing. MATHEMATICS Eighth Grade mathematics is a study of Algebra that can prepare students to begin high school math with Geometry. Recognizing that students’ math skills develop differently, and to ensure that all students can continue to grow in mathematical understanding, two strands are offered. Both strands utilize the Glencoe Algebra curriculum. -Algebra 1 is structured as a high school level Algebra class. Students learn to recognize, factor, and solve multivariate polynomials representing linear, quadratic, exponential and radical functions. Students apply these concepts to real-world situations, such as growth and decay modeling, compound interest calculations, and weighted averages. Explorations emphasize the interrelationships between equations and their graphs, and students frequently use an online graphing calculator program to visualize and manipulate these interrelationships. -Core Algebra uses the same curriculum and covers most of the same topics as Algebra 1, but begins with review of skills and Pre-Algebra concepts. The course proceeds at a pace geared to the learners, builds confidence and understanding, and keeps students on a path of continuing math development.


SCIENCE Students of Earth Science acquire knowledge of the physical Earth, climate, environmental impacts, and the solar system. Students learn about the formation of fossils and their connection to Earth’s history. Students learn about Plate Tectonic Theory and causes of earthquakes. Students learn about the different climates around the world and factors that affect it. In connection to climate are causes of erosion that the students learn about. Students learn about natural resources and environmental changes. Students will learn about the movement of the Earth and moon and its relation to the seasons and moon phases. In connection to the moon and Earth, students will learn about the formation of the solar system. JEWISH STUDIES In Eighth Grade, the students have classes in Neviim, Comparative Religion, and Jewish history.  In Neviim, they focus on Melachim Alef (The 1st Book of Kings).  In Melachim Alef, the students learn about the kings of Israel and they learn important lessons of leadership.  Additionally, they learn about Biblical archaeology and Geography in preparation for the culminating 8th grade trip to Israel. In Jewish Thought the students learn how Judaism became what it is today by delving into the major upheavals 2,000 years ago of the Hasmonean (Maccabean) Dynasty and the Roman Empire. The schisms between the Jewish people and subsequent destruction of the Second Temple made Judaism less focused on ritual and more on thought and so we will learn to think like Talmudic scholars as we examine various cases and discussions. Judaism does not exist in a vacuum and we live in a very multicultural society and we will learn why Abraham is named the father of many nations with a unit on Comparative Religion by learning about Christianity and Islam vis-à-vis Judaism. Anti-Semitic incidents too numerous to count the students will each become an expert on a major event of hatred or a Jewish response to hatred in the V’hi Sheamda project which they will teach to the class. When it finally seemed that the enlightened world became accepting of Jews during the Napoleonic Emancipation 200 years ago we will finally look at how the Jews began to see themselves by examining the various movements and denominations in modern Judaism. MIDDLE SCHOOL SPECIALS MUSIC Music is a distinctive part in the learning process at Levine Academy. In the Music classroom, students learn to be listeners and performers as they explore basic musical concepts such as rhythm, melody, harmony and form. Our comprehensive Music program provides hands-on experiences for children to learn through listening, singing, moving, playing instruments, improvising and creating. Music is integrated across the curriculum. In Music class, students may learn geography or history while in their core subject classrooms, they sometimes sing to add to their understanding of subjects such as math or science.



JEWISH MUSIC Music classes at Levine introduce students to many styles of Jewish Music, from Israeli traditional to modern Jewish Music. The curriculum promotes an atmosphere of fun, while teaching songs that enrich the children’s knowledge of Hebrew and Judaica as well as understanding of basic musical concepts. Our celebrations throughout the year are enhanced by musical performances such as: • Kabbalat Shabbat • Zimriyah • Kehillah Kedosha Monthly Celebrations • Yom Ha’atzmaut SHOW CHOIR Students in Middle School may audition for Show Choir with rehearsals once a week. Show Choir performs at concerts, school and community events. Their repertoire ranges fromModern to Traditional Jewish Music. BAND Students in Middle School may also choose to learn woodwind, brass wind or percussion instruments rehearsing once a week and performing several times a year for school events. PHYSICAL EDUCATION The Physical Education curriculum takes a whole-child approach to physical fitness. Students have the opportunity to experience awide range of teamsports, enhance skill development, engage in teamwork, experience a competitive environment, build self-esteem, develop appropriate sportsmanship, and instill a life-long enjoyment of physical activity. Middle School P.E. builds on what was learned in Lower School, continuing the development of gross motor skills and coordination, and targeting specific skills needed in team sports. Teamwork, appropriate sportsmanship, an understanding of the rules of the game, and the spirit of competition are integrated into each sports unit. Students are encouraged to push themselves to go beyond their individual limits and work towards achievement of their physical fitness goals.  Students in grades five through eight may participate in a number of school teams, offered by the Athletic Department. ART The Levine Academy art program is based on the National Core Arts Standards. Students attend weekly art classes, where they receive hands-on instruction in a wide range of art media and explore choices involved in presenting art to an audience. Students also learn how to identify, examine, and compare works of art. Our visual arts venue gives students an opportunity to look closely at themselves, to examine the world around them, and to understand connections between artistic expression and cultural values.


July 2018

18011 Hillcrest Road Dallas, TX 75252 972-248-3032 phone 972-248-0695 fax www.levineacademy.org

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