Ian Levine has loved learning and teaching himself new languages since he was a kid. “I started learning American Sign Language (ASL) when I was 10, growing up in Rockville, Maryland,” he explained. “My grandparents enrolled me in an ASL course so I could sign music to Deaf people.” Levine liked signing so much that he attended ASL summer camp, and continues his education today. Equally passionate about reading and writing English, Levine has spent his career helping students improve their literacy skills.
Now at IDEA, Levine is combining those talents as a reading intervention and ASL teacher. This is the first time ASL has been offered as a course at IDEA. In addition to his ASL course, Levine is teaching English language learners and other students who can benefit from additional support in reading. He uses a variety of strategies and techniques to help his students improve and track their growth.
Currently Levine’s ASL class is only available to students with special needs, but may expand in the future. So far his students are picking up signs quickly. He often plays videos of people signing popular rap songs and asks students to pick a sign from each song that they want to practice. The class also discusses Deaf culture. “Sign language gives students a different way to express themselves,” he explained. “Already it seems to be easier for one of my students to sign than to speak. That’s invaluable.”