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Recent Blog Postings

Posted on Monday, July 31, 2017
Harlem Academy has an extended school day running from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm, which allows flexibility to accommodate working parents and ensures students have a safe place to maximize their learning each day.  We recently sat down with the two passionate teachers responsible for opening Harlem Academy bright and early every school day.  You both arrive at the school before 7:00 am every morning. What does HA look like that early? Mobley: I like to get here when it’s calm, and I can ease into...
Posted on Wednesday, July 19, 2017
“Who wants to share an example of taking initiative from this past week?” asks Alexis Viele to her circle of third-grade students. Hands shoot into the air. “I kept being late for school because I slept too late,” shares one boy, “so I showed initiative by asking my mom to get me my own alarm clock. Now I wake up early and I’ve been on time to school every day this week.” “At the start of the year, I didn’t have all my materials ready before class,” says another girl. “It was bothering me,...
Posted on Thursday, May 4, 2017
After teaching at Harlem Academy for four years, Alexis Viele convinced her most esteemed colleague from her former school to come teach the grade above her.  Ms. Viele is the lead teacher for third grade, while Ms. Lee is the lead teacher for fourth-graders. With 11 years of teaching experience, why is Harlem Academy where you want to teach? Viele: The families and the students are a huge piece of why I want to teach here. Our families are so committed to making sure their children get...
Posted on Thursday, April 13, 2017
Year after year, Harlem Academy students improve their performance on standardized tests. Most notably, scores jump an average of 11 points after a student’s first year at HA. We took a closer look at the second-grade class to see how this growth was accomplished during their first year at Harlem Academy. “Tell me about your favorite book that you’ve read this year,” asks Head of School Vinny Dotoli.  Two students are engaging with him and a visitor to the school.  They are the classroom...
Posted on Tuesday, December 13, 2016
LaShonda reads a nonfiction book to students.
What inspired you to pursue a career in education? I actually started out as a biology major in college, but then I volunteered at an alternative middle school in Philadelphia. It was amazing to see a school full of children who were illiterate. You’re talking about 18-year-olds in the 5th and 6th grade, and the school was really just a holding cell until they aged out. Who even knew something like that existed? As a volunteer reading teacher, I had to start with practicing kindergarten and...
Posted on Monday, March 7, 2016
“Chess improves my focus,” says eighth grader Miles. “Also my problem solving and time management.”Even for beginners, chess is more than just a game. It requires critical thinking, composure, and sportsmanship. Studies show that chess strengthens core academic skills.1 ”Chess teaches them to slow down and think before they do something,” says Alexis Viele, third grade teacher. “They consider the consequences before taking action, and have to deal with any mistakes that they make. These are...
Posted on Monday, March 7, 2016
lower school student reading
Leveraging curiosity to build nonfiction reading skills and set a foundation for critical thinking Each day, lower school teachers and students spend an hour focused on locating information, summarizing important facts, isolating the main idea, and using text-based evidence to support a conclusion.  Harlem Academy fourth-grader Benjamin loves science fiction. When he discovered in his nonfiction unit that his favorite books are based on real science, he started reading more science books.  “...
Posted on Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Revising sentences and paragraphs helps students develop their own voices.
Lower school creative writing reinforces core skills while cultivating originality and personal voice. Revising sentences and paragraphs helps students develop their own voices. Perched on the “author’s chair,” a fourth grade student finishes reading his poem aloud. He looks up at his classmates sitting on the floor around him who begin to comment. “I liked how detailed your description was,” says one. “It really helped me imagine your feelings.”  Another adds, “I wonder if you could use...
Posted on Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Ms. Viele leading a daily reading discussion. Students hold up one finger up to add to a peer’s statement and two fingers to change the subject.
Ms. Viele leading a daily reading discussion. Students hold up one finger up to add to a peer’s statement and two fingers to change the subject. How do you teach third graders to think across texts or to use literature to engage each other in the classroom? Harlem Academy’s third grade teacher Alexis Viele uses a method called shared inquiry to hone these skills and habits. During 30 minute reading discussions each morning, students sit together in small groups. They practice discussion...
Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Grade-four students smile for the camera after their Greek myth performances.
Practicing public speaking and presentation skills while sharing what has been learned Grade-four students smile for the camera after their Greek myth performances. Greek gods and goddesses fill the room. Zeus has tired of ambrosia and nectar, so he is holding a bake-off to find something he likes better. But we are not at Mount Olympus. We are in Harlem Academy’s common room for the grade-four Celebration of Learning. The students studied Greek mythology, wrote their own myths, and, now,...
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