At Magen David Academy students in Grades K-5th have adopted Balanced Literacy since 2018 as a major component of the Elementary Language Arts program. This reading program connects to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and supports reading, writing, and language development.
It provides students with weekly routines to help develop a deep understanding and build higher-order thinking skills. The program provides teachers with an online platform to manage student data and reading assignments. Students, on a weekly basis, ask questions, practice phonemic awareness, phonics, spelling, high-frequency words, comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, writing, and grammar.
Balanced Literacy allows teachers to implement performance assessments to differentiate instruction day by day through teacher-led small groups, independent practice stations, and independent reading activities. There are literacy activities for students on all levels from beginner to advanced with a balance of both fiction and nonfiction titles.
We focus on developing the character of our students through our behavioral management approach “Responsive Classroom” including adding a new ideal related responsibility. During the 2018-2019 School Year we focused on the value of "kindness" through many activities including the establishment of a Kindness Committee among the students.
Our Elementary School is equipped with 60 ChromeBooks to implement the integration and use of Technology in different subjects. The students learned to work in digital learning platforms like Khan Academy, Raz- Kids, Zern and more. We plan to continue through 2019 with STEAM on the basis of Project-Based Learning in subjects like Science, Social Studies and Judaic.
Regarding the Performing Arts, Elementary students have the opportunity to be part of the MDA Choir to represent our school in the community in events such as the Multicultural Youth Choir which took place at The International School of Panama, at a concert to benefit the Make-a-Wish Foundation and at our own High School Graduation.
For students who may prefer the Visual Arts, there are also contests like Panama Pacifico’s Creactivo “Design your Own Bus Stop” and the Sysabe Concurso Intercolegial de Arte “Pinta el Mundo como lo Quieres” in which they can express their individual creativity. “Reach for the Stars” was the name of this year’s annual Book Fair and Art Display where students could appreciate the talent of their classmates’ artworks using different techniques.
Our library received a selection of new books this year which included a variety of fiction as well as non-fiction in a multitude of genres and subjects. We encourage reading amongst our students to try and instill this important habit from a young age. By allowing them to choose from thousands of books in every level, theme and length, reading becomes a fun activity for them!