Thursday, September 20, 2007

When the Students Took Over ...

... the Smartboard. It was an experiment that proved to be a real success.

I had it all set up in advance. We were exploring a concept, and I had a number of sources--from Gemara, Midrash, and various commentaries--with the text and illustrations in Smartboard notebook.

I printed out the notebook slides, divided the students into groups, and assigned each group a source. Their task: decipher the source, determine how it applied to the concept we were exploring, and figure out the ramifications for that concept. They were also to decide how they would present it to the class, using the Smartboard.

I circulated through the groups, helping with translation and additional source background as needed. But it was their job to determine how to apply the source to the concept, and what it implied about the concept.

They took turns coming up and teaching their source to the class, using the Smartboard tools in any way they thought would enhance what they were discussing.

The results were really impressive--surpassing what I had expected for a first-time experiment. They all presented thoroughly and articulately, and their conclusions were quite sophisticated. One student actually asked permission to go to the library to look up an idea, and presented a "chiddush" of her own when she discussed her source.

They had a great time, learned several important ideas--and I suspect they'll remember today's lesson for quite some time.

It did take some extra effort on my part, but it was well worth it!

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