Sunday, June 10, 2007

Power Pointing in the Right Direction

In the past four weeks, about half a dozen sixth-eighth graders have been developing their first pages of a Power Point siddur that I am going to put on-line as part of this AVICHAI technology grant project. Students are finding images and literary texts that articulate a mood and that provide a tone for the accompanying text of the amidah. Because the end of the year is upon us, the students have to stop where they are, but they have given me some great raw material to work with this summer.

They don't have audio to go with the amidah yet, but in the fall, when I begin working on this again, I am sure that the students will bring in music and create their own. I intend to add music to a siddur that I design, myself, since my project involves creating a siddur that can be projected for the students and manipulated by me or the students either on a SMARTBoard or on a large silver movie screen for the students during tefillot.

Also during the summer, I intend to learn about using Keynote, Apple's Power-Point-like presentation software. I would welcome any advice about using Keynote, especially when inputting Hebrew and I look forward to hearing more about the other great projects going on.
- Judd Levingston


Debbie Harris said...
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Debbie Harris said...

This sounds like a great project. I'm interested in seeing the final results.

I'm also interested in hearing about your success with Keynote. Apple's software hasn't proven to be very happy with RTL input. I did a number of projects last year using Pages (Apple's word processing software that replaces AppleWorks). We had the best results using Mellel for the text input and then copying out of Mellel and pasting into Pages. That may work for you as well. You can download a demo of Mellel at

Rabbi D. Nimchinsky said...

Just a thought,
You might want to consider having 2 versions of your Siddur, a digital one for displaying on-screen and a printed and bound version with the same graphics that the students can use as their personal Siddur.

Judd Levingston said...

In the past couple of weeks, I have been working with Keynote. Inputting Hebrew is much more successful on Keynote than on Power Point, but it still isn't easy to edit when inputting Hebrew text.

I already own Mellel, so I will try Debbie Harris's suggestion of working with Mellel before copying and pasting into Keynote. If it works with the Apple Pages software, it's likely to work with Keynote.

I also like Rabbi D. Nimchinsky's comment about creating a bound version of the siddur. I might try that with three-hold punch paper and three-ring binders, because I expect that pages will be changing.

One of the big challenges is to make this on-line siddur versatile with "hot buttons" so that students can jump to different versions/illustrations/moods for the same text. A reflective amidah, for example, may include more cloud illustrations, while a more upbeat and happy amidah might include more images of joyful people.

I also intend to scan certain pages of a print siddur so I won't have to input entire sections of the siddur (the paragraphs of the shema, for example).

This project could be as expansive as the experience of prayer, so I feel that I am just starting out this summer. Once the students return, I will be working with a core group to modify this and to expand it further to include visual and linguistic/scholarly previews for Monday/Thursday and holiday/Rosh Hodesh Torah readings.

Debbie Harris said...

Hi Judd. I was wondering how you were doing with adding podcasts or youtube videos to your Keynote presentations. I know that using the media inspector you can insert movies (once you've downloaded them from youtube and converted them to .mov) and mp3 files. For more info on that feel free to email me at