Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Frisch Integration

I've completed my last integration unit of the year, for Nach. The presentation is actually linked to my last Chumash presentation of the year, which was on sorcery and divination in the ancient world, as seen through the Balaam story. For the Nach presentation, I continued to look at prophecy in the ancient world and how it compared with prophecy in ancient Israel. Since the students are studying the books of Shivat Zion, I then brought the presentation to their home page by showing the importance of the prophets in the Shivat Zion era when there was so much upheaval in B'nai Yisrael. The presentation, entitled "The Role of the Prophet," is now on Some of my presentations are understandable if you simply view the slides; for the prophecy presentation, you really need the notes, which can be viewed by accessing the slideshow fully.

Next year at Frisch, the students will probably learn Yeshayahu and Yirmiyahu, so I look forward to delving into the topic of prophecy more with them. There's a lot of interesting information about prophecy in the ancient world.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Getting to know you (by video . . . )

Right after Pesach, in April, our 8th graders will fly to Israel to continue their work on a joint science project with our sister class at Ironi Gimel in Haifa, Israel. In May, the Ironi Gimel class will come to us to finish working on their projects and to be part of a science fair at our school. At the fair, the American and Israeli students will become one team, as they present the projects they have been jointly working on all year.

A few weeks ago, our 8th graders made videos introducing themselves more personally to the Israelis they are soon going to meet face to face. In return, the Ironi Gimel students have made a video and sent it to us so that we can get to know them better as well.

This is the first year we have used videos as a way to get to know each other better, and they have been a smashing success! The Ironi Gimel kids are already asking for more! more! more!

--Miri Chorev and Ghilly Einhorn

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Creating Fruit Commercials for Tu Bishvat

When planning a unit in Hebrew, I try to think about the skill I want my students to know. The next holiday serves as the end point for the lesson and context to use for assessing the learned skills.

Recently, I wanted to teach my students simple sentence construction and new adjectives. Initially, students worked on sentences without verbs. Then students focused on matching subjects and adjective phrases. Lastly, they wrote a complex sentence which included a simple verb and “because statement.”

These skills helped students write commercials for fruit grown in Israel, which were videotaped and aired on Tu Bishvat. Students were proud of the slogans they created to promote their fruit and presented their commercials to their classmates with enthusiasm.

Videotaping the commercials allowed for an authentic performance assessment that was fun for the kids. In the future, the video will serve as a record of student accomplishment.

At the close of the unit students read short books about the fruit trees. Their comfort with the books sentence structure and subject was motivating. Students requested a second book to read over vacation.

Collaborating with another Hebrew teacher made this project fun to create and implement. We were in touch and supported each other’s ideas and efforts. We were able to visit each other’s classes and see the lessons as they unfolded in different classes at different age levels.

--Miriam Klausner

Monday, March 16, 2009

Frisch wiki/identity integration

Frisch decided to use our 9th grade wiki to teach about Birchat Ha-hama. The Judaic Studies faculty prepared explanatory, halakhic and hashkafic information about the beracha, as well as questions to chart student response to the unit. There are Powerpoints with sources and hashkafic material as well as scribd documents with halakhic information on the wiki page. Once the Judaic information was on the site, I added poems about Nature and how poets write about it in their works. The 9th grade learns Romeo and Juliet, so I also included Romeo's opening words in the balcony scene, when he compares Juliet to the sun and her eyes to stars. Students can then compare how poets treat Nature with how we as Jews respond to it. We fit the unit into the theme of identity by explaining that our relationship to the natural world is an important part of who we are. Perhaps my favorite part of the page, however, is the YouTube video that begins it. The video shows a day on the beach passing in sped up time, while the song "Here Comes the Sun" plays.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Frisch Integration

We've begun the next Chumash integration installment: The Story of Balaam: Sorcery and Divination in the Torah and the Ancient World. The slide show can be found on This presentation will be linked to the next Nach presentation I do, which will be on prophecy in the ancient world. Nach classes this year are learning Ezra, Nechemia, Haggai, Zecharia and Malachi, but since the prophecy presentation is coming at the end of the year, the school also thought it would be a good segue into next year's Nach curriculum, which will be Yirmiyahu and Yeshayahu.

Frisch has also launched its 10th grade integrated curriculum on a wiki. The theme for the sophomores will be Exploration. If anyone wants to see the integrated ninth and tenth curricula, you can email me privately at

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Getting Smarter about the Smart Board

Three months ago, what was once just another part of my classroom decor suddenly became alive, and it has helped me to take my special needs Hebrew classes to a whole new level of learning. I started to explore ways that my Smart Board could help me in my Hebrew language instruction.

Creating lessons in Hebrew proved to be an unbelievable challenge since the Smart Board notebook software does not recognize Hebrew font. This means that all of the terrific interactive lessons and games are written using the English language and the English alphabet, and therefore they need to be adapted if they are going to be useful to the Hebrew language teacher.

I have had to work hard to think out of the box in order to create lessons that captivate my students. I have recently created lessons for Tu B'Shevat and Purim. For Tu B'shevat one of my goals was for the students to learn the Hebrew words for the parts of a tree. I found virtual dice which will roll and show the student the parts of a tree. For Purim we have been using artwork from Marc Chagall and Rembrandt as a springboard to spark Hebrew conversation. Part of my research in learning the software actually lead me straight back to the AviChai website.

It has been a gift to be able to work with a tool which allows me to use my creativity to enhance student learning.

--Sarah Shay-Davidson