Sunday, August 24, 2008

Update from Montreal

Update from Montreal:

At the beginning of July, I gave a paper at the international NAPH conference on Hebrew Language, Literature and Culture, hosted by the Jewish Studies Department of McGill University. Of the three-day conference, the Program Committee dedicated a full session to Technology and Education. Naturally, this was the perfect forum and a good opportunity to present the principles of the Student Response System [See my last 2 blog entries about TurningPoint ( ) and TestingPoint ( )]. The demonstration and practice with the Clickers went well and were enthusiastically received by the participants. It was encouraging to see so many professors paying attention to this new technology and expressing interest to apply it in their classrooms.

(For pictures, videos, the program and more about the NAPH conference 2008, please click on: )

Several links have been added to the Avi-Chai sponsored UTT Pedagogical Center: The weekly Parashat Hashavuah modules, a list of online libraries with Jewish Studies resources and the Online E-books.

(To visit the links, click: )


A first instalment of students’ projects was posted with a dual format of SmartBoard Notebook and PowerPoint, for the convenience of future users.

(Please surf the Jewish History and Tanakh sections of our Pedagogical Center for the following projects: Afula, Binyamina, Hanita, Herzliah, Netanyah, Raanana, Ramat Gan & Ramat Hasharon. Tehilim (Psalms) projects: Chap. 5-6, Chap. 11-12, Chap. 29-30, Chap. 33-34, Chap. 35-36, Chap. 37-38, Chap. 39-40 and Chap. 45-46.)

Limudei Kodesh teachers will be pleased to find some of our teachers’ contributions. A SmartBoard handbook for the book of Jonas was added to the Tanakh section. Shavuot, Mikrah Kodesh and ecology and the preservation of nature worksheets (Word format) were added to the Moreshet (Heritage) section.


Finally, here is a summary of the Avi-Chai technology project of United Talmud Torahs and Herzliah Montreal, as detailed at the New York conference.

This year, we moved to a new web system. Our school’s four branches’ website and an administrative website have all been redone. This is how the main page and each of our four branches’ page look today:

The new system has a dual functionality; it also works as Intranet. Thus, each student can log in to access protected areas, where s/he will find programs, notices and so on, and where s/he can even build, in the space allocated to him/her, his/her own Webpage.

This massive additional work could not be completed during the regular academic year, without the help of the technology trustees; a group of 15 people I have set up, comprised of students, graduates, teachers and rabbis, to deal with all aspects of this project and serve as a forum for brainstorming, helping to overcome any difficulty encountered. Throughout the year, we met after school hours and on weekends, to plan and work on this project. Once the move started, we found ourselves also involved in the process of teaching teachers and students how to use the new web system and how to input their information.

On the other hand, our main project was to build two comprehensive Limudei Kodesh SmartBoard modules and develop a tool to make them accessible to any Jewish Studies teacher. My motto is, since we can’t avoid technology, we need to bring it into the classroom in an interactive way—namely via the SMART Board, which seems ideal to promote this strategy.

Therefore, our two sample modules’ subjects were Tanakh-related (Deborah’s War and Jotham’s Parable) and done in Ivrit b’Ivrit to demonstrate that SmartBoard is a great tool for Hebrew users as well; even if we don’t yet enjoy, as English or French users do, the hundreds of activities found on the Internet that can be adapted to most curricula.
Needless to say, those pedagogical principles of building lessons were incorporated. We have ensured that the modules were integrated into the curricula and contained the appropriate information and skills. The modules take into account what the student knows, what s/he is interested in knowing and what new things s/he will learn. We also considered differences within the classroom, such as stronger and weaker students in Hebrew or in Judaic matters, and the various learning profiles of the students (visuals, listeners and kinesthetics). Teachers can choose whether to use the entire Tanakh chapter related to these modules or just a fragment, while keeping the story coherent. Audio, animation and various activities ensure that students master the lesson and digest it

(To evaluate our Tanakh modules, please click: and )

To further demonstrate the compatibility of SmartBoard and Hebrew topics, my grade 10 and 11 students were assigned SmartBoard projects in Ivrit b’Ivrit in Jewish History and Tanakh.

Throughout their assignments, students became more familiar with the use of SmartBoard, as can be seen in the sample of students’ project posted (see above). Other projects will follow throughout this coming academic year.

As we needed a tool to deliver these educational materials, we took the opportunity to build an online pedagogical center, completely dedicated to Jewish Studies.

To access it, click : .

On this website, you will find a lot of information categorized in modules. Material can also be submitted; by sharing with others, everyone is enriched. Many resources are posted. As the Pedagogical Center grows, it will become an effective tool to help you with the SMART Board, including suppliers in Israel, for Hebrew support. Please look over the links to the many useful sites on Judaism and the 24 books of the full Bible in Hebrew Rich Text Format, that you can transfer and use for your own SmartBoard lesson plans.


I would like to thank Dr. Nina Butler, Mr. Eli Kannai and the Avi-Chai Technology Experiment grant for their infallible support and framework, without which this project would not be possible.

Best wishes to all of us for a wonderful new academic year, full of SmartBoard and technology in the classroom.

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