Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Adventures in Audio Recording

My colleague, Avi Hallali, is the Hebrew teacher who will be recording our Hebrew reading material for the podcast. He has already identified what material he's reading and has met with the Hebrew teachers to make sure he knows what they need for their students.

He started by recording using an mp3 recorder, but quickly realized that a major limitation is that it's very hard to go back and re-record when he realizes that he's made a mistake. In other words, it's pretty much all-in-one. Since he's reading from the book of Jonah, I did suggest that he can read it verse by verse (stopping recording at the end of every verse, thereby creating separate audio files), which would facilitate re-recording just one verse if necessary.

Avi, however, wants to be a little more experimental and has chosen to try recording using an Apple laptop and GarageBand. I showed him how to record into a new podcast, listen to his recording, and re-record when necessary. If this works for him, it will make creating the final project much easier for me in the end. He's actually become very enthusiastic about the process and envisions perhaps rolling out a Hebrew podcast in the future.

We should have the first podcast ready to go in the next few weeks.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Smartboard Modules are available to download

Deborah’s Leadership in War Smartboard module is now available to download from the link below.

http://utt.qc.ca/Deborah_War_Shiur.zip


Jotham’s Parable Smartboard module is now available to download from the link below.

http://utt.qc.ca/Jotham_Parable_Shiur.zip

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Smartboard module: The Parable of Jotham

The Parable of Jotham (chapter 9 of the Book of Judges) is an important treatise on the characteristics of leadership and human nature. Therefore, it stands as a core text in any course dealing with leadership in the Bible. As a parable, this text is rich in imagery and multiple layers of meaning. These elements are explored interactively in my new Smartboard module.

After spending much of the summer working on this Avi-Chai project, my second Smartboard module, The Parable of Jotham (משל יותם), is finally available for teachers to download from the link below.

http://utt.qc.ca/Jotham_Parable_Shiur.zip

This module, designed for the teaching of Tanakh Ivrit b’Ivrit, is composed of 6 parts. Originally designed for grade ten students, it could easily be adapted to younger students.

Once downloaded, what will you find in The Parable of Jotham (משל יותם) Smartboard module?

In addition to the basic step-by-step teaching of Judges, chapter 9, with verse readings (audio) and Rashi commentaries, this module includes maps and tours of the sites mentioned in the text, such as Mount Gerizim, Mount Ebal and the city of Shekhem. Furthermore, this module features interactive information about the different trees mentioned in The Parable of Jotham, a tour to major Jewish sites of grape, fig and olive-oil production, as well as an introduction to the medicinal properties of these fruits.

Students will master the material and remain active in class through a variety of exercises and activities. For example, students are asked to match the fruits with other Biblical stories in which they are mentioned (ie the spies with the grapes, the Menorah with the olives, etc.). Moreover, this module contains popular legends and songs related to the themes expounded in the text.

This module stresses the moral of Jotham’s Parable and the resistance to the transition from the regime of the judges to that of the monarchy.

This module and others to follow will soon be posted on Herzliah High School’s new online Pedagogical Center, whose creation is made possible thanks to this Avi-Chai grant.

To use the Parable of Jotham (משל יותם) module, please the steps outlined below:

Unzip the file, “Jotham_Parable_Shiur.zip” .
Open the module, Jotham_Parable_Shiur_New, with Smartboard Notebook.
Start teaching.

Please note that once uploaded into your hard drive, you must adjust the URL of the HTML objects in this module, according to the files’ placement in your computer.

Feedback, comments and ideas for the improvement of this module are very welcome. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Text and Context: Makot Presentation

I've just completed the second presentation for the Integration of art and history with Tanakh. The presentation begins with a discussion of the role that magic played in Egyptian life and then goes into the first three plagues, showing how they attack specifically not only Egyptian economic life but also the very essence of Egyptian religious belief. One important and fascinating fact I learned while I was researching information was that Heqet, the Egyptian frog fertility goddess, was a kind of patron saint of midwives. That fact really makes the first two makot a direct midah k'neged midah for the pharaonic decrees to kill the Israelite male children.

The Frisch School is currently moving into a new building, so I've been unable to set up a webpage for the integration program. Once I do, however, and begin presenting the program to the students, I'll be posting the presentations on my webpage.

Friday, August 10, 2007

We're in the Apple iTunes store!


Before leaving for the CAJE conference last week I worked on getting our test podcasts into an RSS feed and submitting the podcast to the Apple iTunes store. Since iTunes is a free cross-platform application I'm confident that having our podcast part of its directory will be really helpful for our students.

I have to admit, it was pretty exciting to go to the iTunes store today and do a search for "SSDS" and have our podcast show up (complete with custom artwork that I created last week).

Debbie Harris (deborah.harris@schechter.org)
Sager Solomon Schechter Middle School
Northbrook, IL

Lafayette, website, Elementary, CCJDS, August, 2007

Faculty orientation starts in one week, and due to this technology grant, my summer has been amazingly hectic and filled with school work. It was fun, but I didn't have much of a summer.

All of our hardware and software that we purchased with the grant money showed up and with the aid of our outside technology consultant, we set up the server. Basically, we have an Apple Mac Mini sitting in a locked closet connected to the internet loaded with Apple's Mac OS X Server software. The overall experience of setting up the network is that every little thing that I thought would take around 10 or 15 minutes has taken an average of 2 hours! Plugging in cables, installing software, inputting serial numbers, setting up internet server services--even just establishing remote access to the server took weeks and numerous phone calls to our ISP! And now faculty planning meetings begin next week and I'm in a panic about trying to lay down the network infrastructure for faculty and students using software that I've only ever learned about in a classroom setting and read about in books. I'm operating at the furthest range of my technical know-how and skills but slowly I'm figuring this stuff out.

But the good news is that I love this stuff. It is my personal "black hole" that if I'm not careful, I could easily spend all of my time working and fiddling with. But I have to remember I'm also the Rabbi-in-Residence of the school, principle Judaic Studies teacher--AND the server administrator! Kind of a funny amalgam of professional portfolios, I admit. But I have to be sure to budget time to prepare actual teaching preparation!

I'm slowly getting to the Judaica side of all of this soon, but before I do, I still have to lay down the building blocks of creating and using the server network. That is where we are right now!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

CDRebbi software : Software which can be customized for each teacher

Updates

Parshathon-
I have updated it for schools.
1.Now a teacher can choose the parsha that his/her students will play.
2.Now a teacher can make a quiz, test, or worksheet in minutes using the over 900 questions from Parshathon.A teacher can make a worksheet in minutes. Questions, sources and question numbers are added with the mere press of a button.
Scavenger Hunt-
I have found an artist who created for me a new graphic interface for the game.I have a musician sending me new music for the game.I am redoing the game to work with the new graphics.
Question Crunch-
I have updated it into Torah Baseball .The speed in which you answer the question enables you to advance more bases.For this I am still awaiting new graphics and music.
Torah Find-
I have updated this to Torah Race. For this one also I am awaiting graphics and music.I am in the midst of getting this program to install on a school network so that all of the students can play against each other.

Rabbi Avraham Ismach
Cdrebbisoftware

Friday, August 03, 2007

Thanks to the Avi-Chai Technology Experiment grant, my first Smartboard module, “Deborah’s Leadership in War”, is now available for teachers to download from the link below:

http://utt.qc.ca/Deborah_War_Shiur.zip

It can immediately be used as a standalone lesson or as part of a broader teaching program, such as “The Leadership of the Judges” (מנהיגות השופטים), or “Leaders and Leadership in the Bible” (מנהיגות ומנהיגים במקרא) or even as part of a gender thematic, namely, “The Role and Status of Women in the Bible” (מעמד האישה בחברה המקראית).

This module, designed for the teaching of Tanakh Ivrit b’Ivrit, is composed of six parts. Originally planned for grade ten students, it could easily be adapted to younger students. The module gives teachers enough leeway to modify and use only those parts that seem applicable to their class.

Once downloaded, what will you find in this student-oriented module?

In addition to the basic step-by-step teaching of Deborah’s story and the defeat of Jabbin, King of Canaan (Judges, chapter 4), this module stresses the importance of the geographical factor in Deborah’s military strategy (maps and tours of the sites mentioned in Deborah’s story are included), how the organization, type of army and strategies influenced the outcome of the war, as well as how the Israelites’ victory was translated into political, social, economic and military gains.

The variety of exercises, verse readings (audio) and activities (such as Mount Tabor puzzle, and Yael’s song) included in this module ensure that students remain active for the duration of the class and contribute to their mastering of the material in an agreeable way.

Included in this module is a booklet (“Student_Preparation_Deborah_War_Shiur.doc”) for the purpose of the students’ self-preparation for the class.

This module and others to follow will soon be posted on Herzliah High School’s new online Pedagogical Center, whose creation is made possible thanks to this Avi-Chai grant.

To use “Deborah’s Leadership in War” module, please follow the steps outlined below:

Unzip the file, “Deborah_War_Shiur.zip” .
Open the module, Deborah_War_Shiur_New, with Smartboard Notebook.
Open the file, “Student_Preparation_Deborah_War_Shiur.doc”, print and distribute to students.


Please note that once uploaded into your hard drive, you must adjust the URL of the HTML objects in this module, according to the files’ placement in your computer.

Feedback, comments and ideas for the improvement of this module are very welcome. Enjoy!


J. Fima

Setting up a Hebrew Language Lab- Torah Day School of Atlanta

Mrs. Javits and I and a few other faculty have discussed means of conducting pre- and post- assessments of conversational levels, both receptive and expressive. Several techniques have been recommended for group and individual assessment:

Tape conversations in Ivrit in varying levels of complexity, play them for the students as a group, then have each one write summaries of them.
Have Mrs. Javits speak several short sentences and have the students transcribe and translate them.
Play short story segments from Israeli videos such as “Rechov Sumsum” for the students to translate.
[These would be scored on a rubric of general understanding and specific facts.]
Have native Ivrit speakers make a statement in English and ask the student how to say it in Ivrit.
Have native Ivrit speakers ask a series of scripted questions in Hebrew with some pre-planned follow-up questions to rate vocabulary and fluency.
Have students talk about a simple topic (e.g. tell about your family, tell about yourself, describe what you are wearing) using a list of topical words to assess how well they can integrate known syntax with prompted vocabulary.
[These would be scored on a rubric including vocabulary use, syntactical accuracy, and complexity and fluency of speech.]
Parent volunteers who are native Ivrit speakers might be willing to conduct individual interviews in order to accomplish the assessments in a timely manner at the beginning of the year and before the end of each trimester.

Our goal for this week is finish ordering the laptops, cart, and software. We also purchased narrow tables to replace the desks in the classroom, since sloping desk tops and laptops are a disaster waiting to happen. Fortunately, we have more than enough adjustable height, rolling, swivel-seat chairs that were to have been used in a second computer lab that instead became a regular classroom. These will be great in the Hebrew class. When the children are working with Mrs. Javits as a group, they can turn toward her. When they are working on the laptops, they can swivel around and she can see all the screens facing the center of the room. The tables just arrived and were set up today; Mrs. Javits reaction was "Wow! I can really fit 18 kids in the room now. That's chai!"