Author: Steven Levy

After 28 years teaching in classrooms K-12, Steven Levy (steven.levy@cace.org) is now an educational consultant, working independently and with EL Education. He guides teachers in designing service-based curriculum, engaging instructional practices, student owned assessments, and character development. He was recognized as the Massachusetts State Teacher of the Year (1993), and honored by the Disney American Teacher Awards as the national Outstanding General Elementary Teacher (1995). Mr. Levy was the recipient of the Joe Oakey Award for his national impact on project-based learning, and received the John F. Kennedy Prize for the teaching of history. Mr. Levy and his fourth grade students were designated “Conservation Heroes” by the National Park Service for their study of the effects of a local bike path on the environment and the community. Mr. Levy has written various articles for educational journals, and his book, Starting From Scratch (Heinemann, 1996), details some of the projects and students he has worked with in his elementary classrooms.

Celebrate Learning!

In the 1960’s World of Inquiry School #58 opened as a progressive, inquiry-based school in the Rochester City School District, and for years parents lined up to put their children’s names on the waiting list. Yet over time the school began to lose its original identity. Parent involvement dwindled, discipline problems increased, student performance declined, …

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Deeper Understanding Through Art: the ‘Word’ in ‘Flesh’

When I was in the classroom I liked to challenge students to create images to represent an idea. Equally challenging, to look at images and infer the ideas they represented. Class discussions (remember to use protocols!) often yielded a deeper, nuanced understanding by thinking in pictures and picturing thoughts. Adults too! I participated in a …

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Are Your Students Crew or Passengers?

We are Crew, not Passengers. This is the motto of the organization I worked with for 20 years, Expeditionary Learning, now called EL Education. It comes from Kurt Hahn, the fonder of Outward Bound (the taproot of EL Education), and refers to people gathered together for a long boat journey where everyone is needed to …

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Where Do the Subjects Come From?

I always scheduled a parent evening about 3 ½ weeks into the school year. Two things were happening by then. One, parents were thrilled that when they asked their children, “How was school today?” they didn’t get the usual, “Fine.” “OK.” The kids had all kinds of interesting stories to tell.  Parents liked that. The …

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Opportunity Costs of the Common Core, or Any System of High Stakes Test Accountability

One of the highlights for me in my work with EL Education is our annual national conference, and the highlight of the conference was always the keynote presentation from the students. Over the past few years we were enthused by 6th graders in Rochester, NY, with their proposal to revitalize the city by rewatering the …

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Why Teach Math?

I’ve never met a math teacher who was not asked to answer the inevitable moan from her students, “Why do we have to learn this?” Unfortunately, the most common response: “It’s going to be on the test.” What kind of message does that give about learning, and about math? Is working to get a grade …

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Real Work for a Real Audience

Lauren was walking away from the copy machine with a stack of copies from the Spanish workbook. She looked like she had just been abandoned by her deepest hope. It was her first year of teaching, first year Spanish to sixth graders. She had tried to involve them in active projects, but everything she thought …

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Looking Under the Label: A Journey in Deeper Thinking

Exploring deeper learning through the study of ‘labels’ in a first grade classroom.   Deeper Learning is not an exotic new curricular approach that requires big projects – it is a frame of mind about how to approach all aspects of learning – even seemingly trivial details – in a deeper way. We open the door …

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Beginning Well: Part 3 of a Conversation with Dan Beerens and Steven Levy

In Part 3 of the CACE summer webinar series Dan Beerens and Steven Levy explore how teachers can create a culture in their classrooms where students are dedicated to excellence. In particular, how to give the message to students at the beginning of the year, that everything they do matters. Participants share ideas how they deliver …

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Honoring the Treasures They Bring

16 years out of the classroom, and I still feel the summer begin to bleed as the corn ripens and what seemed like an endless July surrenders to inevitable August. I haven’t seen the leaves turn red yet, nevertheless, the anxiety of the first day of school creeps into my dreams. I stand before my class, entirely unprepared, even naked sometimes, or blind, the children jumping off their desks, running wildly wherever... God, please wake me up!

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