Thursday, December 23, 2010

39 Melachos Video

Thanks to a grant I received from The AVI CHAI Foundation, the video "39 Melachot" can now be viewed or/and downloaded from at this link: and at this link: While the viewing experiences are similar, has a better quality download.

“39 Melachot” is the story of a boy studying for a test on the Melachos of Shabbos. His Rebbi appears and takes him on a hands-on tour of all 39 Melachos of Shabbos. While geared primarily for the upper elementary school student, anyone learning suguyos of Shabbos will gain from visually seeing the way things were done in the past. You will see the entire sidura d’pas and view a clear explanation of the loom and the entire cloth making process.

At the length of 30 minutes this video can be used as an introduction to a unit on the 39 Melachot or as a summary at the end.

Eliezer Kessler

Monday, December 13, 2010

iPods for Hebrew

Last year Gray Academy of Jewish Education purchased five iPods and a Bretford PowerSync Cart as a result of a grant we received from the Avi Chai Organization. Primarily one Hebrew teacher, as well as one teacher in the Judaics Department of our school used the iPods. Students used the iPods to record themselves during reading and speaking tests. They used them individually or with a partner. The teacher then played the recordings back in order to assess the students’ facility with Hebrew.

The greatest advantage was the personal aspect of the assessment. Students could record and listen to themselves and then make changes as they deemed necessary. This gave them more control over the outcome and allowed them to feel more successful. The teacher could play the recordings back and really “listen” to the students, rather than having to rush through the evaluation process. It did not just provide more depth to both the students and the teacher, it also saved time. What used to take at least a class and sometimes two was now guaranteed to be finished in one.

We also used the iPods to help create a music CD for our grade six Shabbaton. We used the iPods to record the students’ singing various songs and prayers, and then we created a CD and gave one to each student as a remembrance of their Shabbaton. This was the most ambitious grade six Shabbaton project our school has ever produced, and it was a great success because of the ease of using the iPods.

To build on these successes, we applied for additional grants from the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba. We asked for 15 additional iPod Classics and 17 iPod Touch. We decided the iPod Touch would be easier to use in terms of voice recording, since the Classic versions required the purchase of additional hardware to convert the iPod into a voice recorder. The Touch has a built-in recorder and does not require ear buds in order to hear the recordings. This has made the process of evaluation even easier and more enjoyable for the students and the teachers. More teachers are now asking to use the iPod Touch, and one teacher is working on recording an entire book on the Touch to create an audio book for students to share. The iPod Classics (we now have 20) are being used to store the Judaic music for our elementary teachers. Each classroom is receiving an iPod, along with a dock/speaker and the teachers are working together to compile a consistent music library from grade to grade.

The cart we purchased makes all of this very easy to achieve. The cart allows 20 iPods to be synced at once to one computer. This means that all of the music on the computer can be downloaded to the iPods in one go, which is a huge time saver for the IT Department Head.

The grant that we received from Avi Chai was the impetus for us to apply for an additional grant in June 2010. The teachers are slowly but surely recognizing the benefit of the iPods for their classrooms. As with any other new technology, it is a steep learning curve for some and not for others. We have learned to be patient and our goal is to help all of the teachers in our school become more comfortable with the newest acquisitions.

Sunday, November 07, 2010


We are continuing with our Education Technology Experiment at the Hebrew Academy in Huntington Beach, California.
Upon the return of one of my students from a recent visit to Israel, the topic of the Green Line (HaKav HaYarok) and the freeze on settlements (hakpa'a) was raised. The class discussed the issue in detail, and decided to call one of our contacts, a graduate of our high school, who resides on a Yishuv in Israel to hear her viewpoint on this controversial issue.
It was exciting to see her on the SmartBoard via the webcam. During our conference, each student had a chance to ask her a question through the microphone, which was passed around the classroom. The students listened carefully to every word she uttered in Hebrew. As she was speaking, I wrote on the SmartBoard the new words, verbs, and idioms she used. It was a real learning experience, but most of all the students enjoyed listening to her personal encounters with her Arab neighbors.
She emphasized that it is hard for us, in America, to understand the Arab mentality, which is all based on lies and dishonesty. She continued to tell us a personal story.
A neighboring Arab child blamed her for hitting him, and even showed his parents a wound he had on his body, which he claimed she caused. Eventually, the truth came out. That wound was caused by his own parents, who hit their children constantly.
"Stopping the building in the Yishuvim will not make them happy. The only thing that will satisfy them is getting back Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, and eventually all of Israel," she said.
We all know the facts, but when they come from our own peers who struggle with the Arabs daily, it sounds much more powerful and alarming. She really brought the point home.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Technology News from Boca Raton

Some new and exciting things have been happening in the Boca Raton Technology Jewish Schools in terms of Technology!

Hillel Day School:
We have begun a collaborative project between the 7th grade English teacher and the computer teacher using a Web 2.0 tool called Glogster ( The students have a project about memories for which they will using Glogster to create an online poster instead of a scrapbook which they used to do in the past. This is a pilot year for the project and both teachers are very excited about what the outcomes of this project will be. Because the project will be in an online format, students will be able to add video and sound components to their project that they did not have a chance to do in the past.
In the first grade class, students have been using the software Kidspiration, a program we are using to visually explore words. The students were assigned a letter to work with and they were assigned to look for words that begun with that letter.
In addition to those two projects I have been working with the Hebrew
teachers at Hillel in finding ways to integrate technology into their Hebrew curriculum. The picture to the right is from a SmartBoard Training we held a few weeks ago. This week we will hold our second SmartBoard workshop.

Weinbaum Yeshiva High School:
At WYHS I have continued to work one-on-one with teachers and we have also formed a group of teachers interested in learning about Web 2.0 tools and how they can use them with their students. This group of teachers meets every two weeks for about an hour and we discuss their use of technology in the classroom. In addition, I have also been working with the Hebrew teachers finding ways to use technology to make student's more engaged with the Hebrew language. For the past three weeks we have been learning VoiceThread, a tool where students and teachers can collaborate and even more so, they collaborate through speech which is great for language development.

Donna Klein Jewish Academy:
At DKJA we have been moving along with Google Apps for Education. I have held numerous workshops with the administration, staff, and the faculty where we have been learning how to use the various Google Tools such as Docs, Calendar, Forms, and Sites. The school is also testing the use of Cloud Computing, which has been very beneficial in the Digital Portfolios project we have begun this year with the English Department. I have also continued to work one-on-one with teachers on specific questions or projects they are working on.
A few weeks ago, I was also involved in delivering a workshop to parents on Cyber-bullying and Social Networks. I delivered this very well received workshop with my colleague Michael Luetjen, the computer teacher at DKJA.

Monday, June 28, 2010

39 Melachos Video-Robert M Beren Academy Houston, TX

Shehechiyanu v’kimanu v’higiyanu laz man hazeh.
We finally finished the filming today. We had to go back to the ranch for a few reshoots. We had to re-shoot some of the audio that came out bad and a few other shots that were not just perfect. Now we are ready for the editing. Dr. Jones has a big job in front of him. They usually say that it takes about one hour of editing for each minute of final video. Considering that the video is projected to be about 30 minutes long, it will take a lot of work.
We spoke to and they will be happy to host our video. So look for it in about a month and a half on their website.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

iPods for Hebrew

As the year is coming to an end, it is time to look back and reflect on the success of the iPod’s program.
I think that incorporating the iPods in the Hebrew program has given it a new appeal. Whenever I brought the iPods to class, the students seemed excited and eager to use them. It was the first time that oral tests in Hebrew seemed so popular. Not that students were not nervous about these evaluations, but the iPods definitely took “the edge off” needing to sit across from the teacher or stand in front of the class and speak.
In addition, the ability to immediately listen to themselves and edit their recordings when necessary gave the students a sense of fairness, confidence and perfection.
I consider that a great merit of the iPods because I believe it allowed for a more authentic evaluation.
From my perspective as a teacher, the iPods gave me the ability to listen to the recordings as many times as necessary. Unlike in the past, it wasn’t a “one time shot”. Like the students, teachers also need the opportunity to review and reflect. Again, it contributed to the purity and accuracy of the evaluation. The iPods are a great asset to the school and in our first year of using them we only peeled the first layer of their versatility. As time goes on I am confident that we will find new and exciting uses for the iPods that will enhance our curriculum

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Editing in progress

Hi everyone -- just a quick update:

Several Grade 5 groups are well into the editing process and are putting final touches on their movies (transitions, english subtitles, etc.). We are really looking forward to seeing the results of their hard work!

Students recieved the last two "Director In the Classroom" blackline masters for "post-production" and "distribution" in order to help them with their final tasks.

Monday, June 07, 2010

39 Melachos Video-Robert M Beren Academy Houston, TX

Finally! After many months of scheduling conflicts and other delays we were able to film at the ranch. All the background scenes had been shot, including one in the dugout of Minute Maid Park, the home of the Astros, and one shearing a sheep in a sheep farm. We are just waiting for the big day at the ranch where the bulk of the filming was to take place and today it happened!
We got an early start to be there before seven, because the summer is brutal in Houston. Indeed, the 100% humidity made the 80° temperature feel like we were in a sauna. Within 10 minutes we were drenched in sweat. (The script calls for me to wear a suit and tie.) We persevered and got in a good four hours of filming. All the practice paid off and the lines flowed smoothly and we were able to work quickly. We finished all of sidura d’pas and just have a few more such short scenes left. One more morning such as this and all the filming should be wrapped up. We are scheduled to finish it up next Monday.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Film Project Rubric

Hi everyone --

Here, as promised, is a PDF of our rubric.

It came from a number of sources -- we synthesized several rubrics from rubistar as well as a number of other sources as well as our own. It is very comprehensive, but, we feel, not needlessly complex. It is based on the same scheme as our Ontario report cards, so the students are very familiar with this type of marking.

The only criticism I have of this rubric is that we did not have time to create different rubrics for each grade, so we chose to use the same rubric for both and just adjust our marking for the grade 5 class if necessary.

If anyone has any questions, you know where to find me.

The rubric link is:



Bialik film project: LOTS HAPPENING!!!

After our last post, there wasn't much to report, but in the last few weeks, there's been a FLURRY of activity, and it's definitely time to bring everyone back up to speed on the successes and challenges we've faced:

All in all: Since our last post:

• A comprehensive rubric was created and delivered to the students
• The students finished their scripts and edited them.
• Each group split into two, with half working on a storyboard and the other half working on the Hebrew translation
• Translations and storyboards are all complete or nearly complete.
• Students FINALLY got their hands on the cameras again and started filming
• Students recieved basic instruction on how to use external hard drives with iMovie and how to import clips to the computer and do basic editing.
• We successfully tested "greenscreening" to place our students in exotic locales.

I will post the rubric in another post later today.

Just as a reflection: our project has seen significant challenges in finding enough in-class time to devote to the project...this has continued as our grade 7s were away this past week on a trip to Quebec City. The plan is for the grade 5s to spend all next week editing, but the grade 7s, who were away, are now further behind than the grade 5s.

The nice thing is that, even if not all groups complete the project in time, I believe that even now, we've met all our stated goals: We've brought new technology to the Jewish Studies program; students have been engaged at all levels with real-world problem-solving; conversational Hebrew was enhanced via script translation and scene practice, and students got enhanced media literacy training as well as technical training in the form of hands-on camera and (soon) video editing. We would definitely make some implementation changes for next year, but this has been a successful and worthy pilot. Even better -- we chose our pilot grades carefully, and, depending on how we decide to formulate the project next year, our Grade 5 & 7 students, who will then be grade 6 & 8 students, could, potentially, pick up right where they left off! :-D


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

iPods for Hebrew

The iPod project has been quite successful this year. We are going to apply for a grant to purchase new iPods, and thus expand the program. Our idea is to use the iPods to store the Judaic music from our library, and then place these in classrooms for teachers and students to use. In addition, we want to have a full class set of iPods for Hebrew language learning, so that students will have their own iPod on which to record. In that way it won't take as long for testing and evaluation purposes.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Yom Yerushalayim

"Yom Yerushalayim is the day Yerushalayim was united in 1967-in the Six Day War," I said to my students. On this day, usually, the Prime Minister of Israel speaks to the nation and emphasizes the importance of a united Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel. This year on the evening of Yom Yerushalayim Mr. Netanyahu addressed the nation. I captured the speech via Jing, loaded it onto the internet on and presented the audio clip to my High School students on the Smartboard. The students listened to the speech, learned the new vocabulary, idioms and verbs. The next day, the students analyzed the verbs. On the Smartboard, using the floating tools, I drew a chart and the students had the opportunity to come up and write on the Smartboard filling in the Shoresh, Binyan, and Zman. On the third day, I presented again thet same audio clip of Netanyahu on the Smartboard. I stopped the clip at different intervals. The students were able to complete Mr. Netanyahu's sentences orally on their own. I recall the first time I organized this drill, the students had a hard time figuring out what they heard. Now, after several audio clips in which the students heard Hebrew as spoken in Israel through the electronic media, they are able to understand and mark down what was being said. I am very pleased with their progress.

Attached please find the audio clip:

Friday, May 07, 2010

Yom Ha'atzmaut & Trends in Student Filming

Back from Passover break our students had a chance to showcase some of their work. In honor of Yom Haatzmaut a group of our multi-media club prepared and presented a video that we used as a part of our ceremony during our school’s celebration. Using their Flip cams, the students conducted interviews of their peers as well as faculty and incorporated those conversations with some stock footage to make a well balanced and impactful short video.

Overall the clip was received with warm regard from the faculty and especially from the students. Our students showed ability with some of the various components and techniques with which we had experimented in our club. Most importantly I think that they were impressed with themselves and left the experience with a feeling of accomplishment.

Interestingly, I noticed a challenge that I was not really fully expecting: As the students worked on their video they not only gravitated away from a bit of direction that I had given them, namely that a video about Israeli Independence could concentrate on being moving and impactful, not necessarily humorous. Whether due to the spontaneous nature of the flip cam, or due to a fear of being anything but funny in front of their friends – their video gravitated towards funny interviews. The video was great and it was very well received, I just found it a point of interest that there was a slight aversion to producing something that was anything but entertaining. I am curious to hear if others have noticed any similar trend, or perhaps would care to offer there own hypothesis for its origin.

Since then the kids have been plugging away. We had an in-service; our Technology professional Francine Safdeye taught out students some techniques in film and photography including the rule of thirds. Our students are now working collaboratively on an end of the year retrospective and are gathering film and pictures. I am curious to see where the balance will be struck between nostalgia and humor.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Yom Ha'atzmaut

On Yom Ha'atzmaut our middle school learned about the geography of Israel using the smartboard and some of the tools on the floating bar.
I divided the smarboard in half; on side i downloaded the map of Israel with all of its landmarks including cities, seas, and neighboring countries. On the other side, I downloaded a blank map. I then covered the whole smartboard with a "screen" by dragging this tool from the tool bar. Each student received a blank map of Israel with the landmarks numbered. The students were first asked to identify each landmark on their own. I then uncovered half of the "screen" showing only the blank map on the smartboard. The students were individually called up to the board to fill in on the map the landmarks in Hebrew and then check themselves if they were correct by uncovering the screen and looking at the completed map.
This activity was both educational and interactive for the students.

iPods for Hebrew

From Anat:

Until now we have used the iPods for audio recordings. It was a tool to promote the students’ reading and speaking skills (oral skills).
Now we are venturing into promoting writing skills.
The option of viewing videos on the iPods opens an exciting variety of activities.
The students can watch Israeli news clips, listen to Israeli music and watch any video from sites like you tube. You tube has a variety of videos and it is wonderful to be able to download these videos onto the iPods. The students can follow current events, learn about Israeli artists, “visit” sites and do so much more.
Students can watch a video and then write a summary of what they had watched, a personal reflection, a response letter, an article, a poem etc.
The iPods will open a whole new world of current issues in a form that the students love and are familiar with.

From Judy:

In order to use the Youtube videos, I converted them into an .mp4 file, using This website is very useful for converting videos. I have also used in the past, but it's not as reliable as
It was easy to sync the videos to the iPods after the conversion. The power cart made this a very quick process, in that all of the iPods were visible on the computer and I could easily transfer the movie files to all of the iPods at once.
I was impressed with the quality of the videos and I agree with Anat - this opens up some more exciting possibilities for the iPods.

Friday, April 23, 2010

BrightLink added to classroom

I’m EXCITED! The last part of the AviChai grant money has come through and combined with money from another grant it purchased BrightLink interactive projector for my class. The BrighLink is a very similar concept to a Smart Board or Promethean board, except there’s no special board involved – the projector is mounted on the ceiling and projects directly to a wall or white board surface. It is compatible with either Smart Board or Promethean software, and the images can be manipulated with a special pen directly on the surface without a need for a special board.
Of course, it will take a while before I’ll be able to take full advantage of this wonderful technology. At this point I’m using it as a glorified projector. I do have several ideas for activities but I’ll need training and lots of practice to get them to the operational stage. I hope that by the beginning of the next school year I'd be able to use it fully, and until then I'll use some of the features.
A technology is only as good as the creativity of the educators who use it in their lessons. As I’m not the first to receive a smart-type board from AviChai I checked the blog to see what my colleagues have done. To my disappointment I found that all are working with middle or high school students. I hope that eventually my co-teacher who teaches the same curriculum in grades 2-5 will get a BrightLink system installed and we’ll be able to develop lesson plans together. And if any of you, my blog readers, know of an elementary school teacher who is teaching Hebrew using a smart-type board and who would like to exchange ideas and lesson plans – please make the shiduch.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Yom Hashoah

Today was Yom Hashoah. To commemorate this day, I "captured" through Jing a video of a survivor from Kol Yisrael/Wallah news in Hebrew. I loaded it to and presented it today to the class on the smartboard. The students listened to the clip and were instructed to write down the new words and verbs they heard. The class was impressed by the 83 year old male survivor who "refused to die" and presevered through five death camps by creating his own "imaginary world". Mr. Ayalon was honored last night, together with his grandson, a soldier, to light "the torch of victory" in Yad Vashem. For homework, the students were asked to analyze the verbs used in this clip. Meaning, they had to classify the verbs according to the Binyanim and then change them to different tenses. Tomorrow, we will make a chart and review the verbs on the smartboard. Each student will have a opportunity to come up to the smarboard and fill in the chart.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Spring Break Flip-Cam Homework

Our Multi-Media club at DKJA is full steam ahead! After some exercises in capturing and editing audio files, our students spent a week editing video footage to coincide with audio tracks. Students gained an acute awareness of the use and dramatic benefit of this interplay in mass media and for their own projects as well.

We began to learn about planning stages of development, how to storyboard, and brainstormed for ideas and media that could be used for various hypothetical assignments. With all of the hypothetical experience under their belts we began discussing some more real full-scale media assignments.

We divided the students into two groups, each group working on separate projects. One group would focus on putting together a short-length trigger video that would kick-off/introduce any Yom Hashoah/Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorations our school would create (with our hope that it would be showcased in the lower and middle schools at DKJA as well.) The second group is tasked with creating an end of the year retrospective, a mini video-yearbook for our High School. We spent time brainstorming, storyboarding and collecting various forms of media to be used in the respective projects.

In preparation for the long Pesach Break, the groups were outfitted with Sony's new Flip Cams. Small, sleek, teen friendly and user friendly, these little gadgets had the students excited and left them all bitten by the techie bug. Immediately the students started playing around, testing out their new equipment. Whether through the the design, Sony's name brand recognition, or their ad campaigns, the students were in. We briefly discussed some drawbacks; the Flip doesn't have an audio input - so that filming in a mall or at the beach in the wind would make it virtually impossible to capture any audio - but this did not as of yet deter their enthusiasm.

The two groups left for Spring Break with their Flip, an understanding of their timetable, and a good list of clips to shoot, and others to find from stock footage. When we get back from break it will be interesting to see what they have come up with. We will collectively look through their footage, peer edit and whittle down what was collected to what can be used.

We are excited to welcome Francine Safdaye to our team at DKJA as our Technology-Intergration Consultant. Immediately after break Francine will be joining our club meetings and will help with peer editing, as well as offer some insight in filming and photography. Using the students own work, we will demonstrate important basics like the law of thirds that will aid our students as they work towards completing their projects.

All-in-all, the students were excited and had their work cut out for them. I hope they come back from their break rested, relaxed and just as excited as when they left with their new cameras in hand. We shall see what they produced pretty soon, and I am sure we will have some great stuff into which we can sink our collective creative teeth!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

"Meeting" a Settler

Following the news headlines about the building of 1,600 dwelling units in Ramat Shlomo and Vice President Biden's displeasure with it, my students had the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with a settler who lives in one of the Yishuvim in the "disputed" territories.
Using a webcam, microphone and the Smartboard the students conversed with our contact in Hebrew who is a graduate of our high-school and who resides now in a Yishuv in Israel.
The students asked her some thought provoking questions.
The answers were very informative and interesting. The students were impressed with facts we as Jews do not hear in the U.S. They were surprised to hear that many of her Arab neighbors are contractors who seem to be very successful and live in big homes and have a high standard of living. She described how her Arab neighbors are constantly building while the young Israeli families who direly need places for their children to live are prevented from building.

Friday, March 19, 2010

iPods for Hebrew

We have recently tried to incorporate the iPods into recordings that involve more than one person presenting at a time. Other than using the iPods for individual reading and/or speaking tests, we are now trying them in recording a whole group presenting, a debate for example.

We would like the next step in using the iPods to include the use of the video capability. Can we download a video from you tube and present it to the students as part of an exercise or a test? Can we download the Israeli news for example and have students respond to it? We need to research and learn if downloading of this kind is possible and how it can be done.

One of our high school Hebrew teachers used the iPods with her class, in a similar fashion to what we have been doing this year. The issues with the iPods are not with the students; once again, the frustration is at the teacher's level because of the interface with iTunes and the Mac. We have learned that if you choose the option of exporting the voice memos to the iTunes Library, then the recordings cannot be transferred to a flash drive (at least, we haven't figured out a way to do this!) The recordings have to be left on the iPod, and then the Mac reads the iPod as if it were another hard drive attached to the computer. These are the kind of technical issues with which the average teacher has a hard time. Once again, having tech support on site makes a difference, but this particular teacher said she really didn't want to have to go through the bother of using the iPods again.

This is the way with technology; some people can work through the problems whereas for others it's too stressful. However, this won't stop us from encouraging teachers to use them. They are a valuable tool, in spite of the tech problems.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Shlenker School - Recordings Library for Oral Learners

The recording and playing technology I have in my class offer a variety of differentiation options and learning activities. I keep finding more and more uses for these technologies to help students with different learning styles.
The Hebrew curriculum I use is called Chaverim BeIvrit. This is a continuous program with many books which is used in third through fifth grades. The language is taught in units based on short stories – vocabulary and language patterns are learned through the text. The text is central to the language skills taught and practiced in each unit.
Assignments are based mostly on the text, and o help students who are not strong visual learners I’ve started a new project: recording all the stories in the first five books. My goal is to enable the students who are more comfortable oral learners to use the recordings in addition to the text in the book when doing their assignments. The recordings are done using a microphone/headset, and are saved directly into the computer and sorted by book (all stories in book 1in one folder, stories in book 2, etc.). The students can listen to the recordings either by using an earphone connected to the computer, or downloading the them to an MP3 player.
The recording is a long-term project. I’m recording stories as the students encounter them in the units we work on as well as others when I have time to spare. I hope to finish the recording library by the end of the school year.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

samples of smart idea lessons

this is a chart of the ramban's introduction to Sefer Devarim
I begin by making a template like the one above and then with the class we fill it in together. I either call on a student to come to the computer or I will do it with the imput of the class. Each class creates their own unique chart based on the information they learned. I save each classes' finished chart on their online homework page for them.
The next two pictures- are the text of Abarbanel's introduction to Sefer Devarim.
The first image is for a lower/ middle track- while the second image is designed for a high track.
I gave the students the text as a handout. We used these smart ideas lesson to chart out the commentary and title each section

This next image is the breakdown of chapter 1. This is one of the most effective ways of using smart ideas in the chumash classroom. I wanted the students to notice that two topics in chapter one at first glance seem to be completely unrelated to the general theme of the chapter. We colored these two topics different colors and separated them from the rest of the chapter. But once we were able to chart the chapter clearly we were able to see how these 'tangents' were really essential to the two key topics in the chapter.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Prime Minister Netanyahu Speaks

Last night as I was browsing through the Israeli news in Hebrew on the internet, I noticed a video clip, in which President Netanyahu was addressing the Knesset. I thought it would be interesting for my students of the tenth and eleventh grade to see and hear this clip, as he was talking about the two principles that will guide him in his indirect talks with the Palestinians.
I immediately captured this video, using the technology of Jing on my laptop. I loaded it to the internet using When I came to school the next morning, I was able to show the clip on the smartboard in my classroom (since sreencast is web based). The students watched this video clip, learned the new vocabulary and phrases. We then discussed the topic in Hebrew. Not only did the students learn the issue at hand, and the new vocabulary and phrases, but also they trained their ears to listen and understand Israelis as they discussed various topics. The students were very excited once again, to combine learning Ivrit with cutting edge technology.

Monday, March 08, 2010

First full "meeting"

I am so happy to report that we held our first full "meeting" with our contact in Israel. The students viewed a video clip in Hebrew, which was sent to the contact in Israel via a link to Our contact viewed the same clip and researched the topic so that she would be well informed. After listening and learning the new words, verbs, and idioms on the smart board, the students understood the topic of what happened in the hotel in Dubai. They formulated questions in Hebrew to ask our contact face-to-face in order to gain a deeper understanding of the topic. They spoke into a remote microphone, which was passed around the classroom so each student had a chance to ask a question. It was very exciting to see our contact, a graduate of our high-school, who is studying now at the Hebrew University in Israel. Not only did she answer the questions of our students in Hebrew, but we were also able to sense the attitude of the average Israeli toward this subject. She introduced new words which we later reviewed and studied in class. The technology of Jing and Adobe Acrobat helped us listen, view, and speak simultaneously. It was a great experience! We are looking forward to our next "meeting".

Friday, March 05, 2010

Students moving forward in long-form film project

The Bialik students in both our Grade 5 & Grade 7 pilot classes have had their pitches approved and have now moved on to the scripting stage. A short SmartBoard lesson on how to write scripts was given to each class last week. To recap: so far the classes have had a VideConference with a real filmmaker to get them excited and introduce the process of student filmmaking, had two critical viewing exercises (Music videos), brainstormed story ideas, Divided their ideas into beginning, middle & end, created backgrounds for the main characters of their story to help them "think in their shoes", crafted and delivered "pitches" to the "Executive Producers", and have now started writing the scripts.

A Hebrew filmspeak glossary will shortly be provided to students. The rough draft of the script will be in English and then then translated into Hebrew for all future drafts. Classroom teachers will help with the scriptwriting process. A rubric for the marking of the film will be delivered to students during the scriptwriting process so that expectations are clear for this and all future phases. As the students write their scripts, and the project moves to the pre-production and production phases, the students will get their first experience with the camera equipment and another mini-assignment to reproduce one of each type of shot they'll be taught.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

smart ideas review

My goals were to create interactive chumash lessons using the smart board, specifically a mapping software called Smart Ideas. In the past I created powerpoint presentations for my classes but I found that I was doing all the work and my students were just passive. They knew that the next slide would reveal the answer or the next idea and therefore they did not become active learners.
I am grateful to have been given the opportunity by the Avi Chai grant to work on changing how my students learn. A little more than half the year has gone by and it is therefore an opportune time to review my successes and challenges so far.
Getting Hebrew to work has been quite a challenge.
Here’s what I wrote in my own progress records dated July 3rd:
What seems to work best all depends on the program‐
For Smartideas‐ no nikkud. I can use machon mamre with out nikkud for the tanach. For mepharshim has many mephorshim available without nikkud nicely broken up or bar ilan as one larger unit.
For smartnotebook. I’m finding that even without nikkud the text order gets all scrambled because of the punctuation. I downloaded an rtf version of the tanach with nikkud and this is working much better so far in notebook.
I was frustrated that Hebrew text could not be manipulated as I would have liked. In Smart Notebook the software often views it as a picture and not a font. In smart ideas when one tries to manipulate and separate text‐ the order of the text can become gibberish (this also occurs with Smart Notebook even when using RTF formatted text.) I felt like I reached a brick wall and would not be able to create the types of interactive lessons I wanted to create.
Once I was able to figure out how to use Hebrew best in each program and accept each program’s limitations I began making smart notebook and smart ideas lessons. I had to create the divisions myself since the students would not be able to divide the text effectively using these programs in class.
In the beginning I made more notebook lessons but I found that again the students were less involved in the process of learning. As the year progressed I have been making about one smart ideas lesson for every other lesson. I didn’t want to use technology just to use technology and I didn’t want the students to get bored with it either. I think I created a nice balance. I have been using smart ideas to introduce a unit/ chapter – where in class we divide the text together. I also find that smart ideas is a great review tool – it helps students express ideas in their own words, categorize what we have learned and visualize the material.
The best feedback from my work with smart ideas comes from my students. My honors tracks down to my lower track love the smart ideas lessons. They don’t space out at all‐ they will either offer answers from their seats or I call on one or students to come up to the board and computer and fill in the chart themselves. The students always come over to me after a smart ideas lesson and tell me how much they loved what we learned.
In terms of time management this program is a huge success. 1. The technology is easy to use in class. I create the template and usually my own model at home. In class I use the software to accompany my lesson. We come back to it and add to it several times during the class. It does not take the place of frontal teaching but it serves as a great visual aid and collaborate learning experience. Once I mastered how to use smart ideas I can effectively make charts quicker than drawing them myself on the board. Smart ideas is a wow program but doesn’t distract the students or have technological setbacks that detracts from the overall learning atmosphere.
2. I find that lessons that would have taken at least a week to teach‐ now take less time with this software. It very time consuming showing kids a chiasmus structure or demonstrating the key themes of several chapters at once‐ but when using smart ideas and teaching them visually the students comprehend much easier.
Another great feature with smart ideas – is aesthetics. The smart ideas lessons come out looking amazing. This may sound trivial after the more substantive benefits I discussed above, but appearance are important. I have some students who put so much effort into color coding their notes. These student especially love the beauty of our smart ideas lessons. They can’t wait to print out our latest creation and add it to their notebooks. When they review these lesson weeks later for the test the information is easy to remember since the charts are clear and organized beautifully. It’s a great synthesis of function and beauty

Coming soon samples of my smart ideas lessons

Re-posted from Older Post: Multi-Media Creativity - For the student, By the Student

Lights, Camera, Action all at DKJA!
The Donna Klein Jewish Academy High School is excited to announce that we are implementing an intense, student-driven, multi-media integration program. This program will be aimed at affecting all facets of the school’s environment, the classroom, the hallways, school programming and assemblies as well the online DKJA community.
With modern technology advancing at a gallop and gaining speed continuously, our school needs to stay ahead of the curve, exciting our students and making use of all creative outlets. The program will involve the following:
Beginning immediately – the students will form a multimedia club, that shall meet weekly. Rabbi Yaakov Green will facilitate the club in order to meet the following goals:
o Students will train in various forms and uses of multi-media, its value in education and art, and its societal importance and affect.
§ Some programming and technologies that are used to create media.
§ How to effectively and artistically use various media as a form of self expression and education.
o Students will receive training in the use of various websites and online resources, software and hardware:
§ editing of digital images,
§ capture and manipulation of audio content
§ capture and manipulation of video content
§ combining all forms of content
· The students will produce several (minimum of four) finished multi-media projects that will make use of newly learned editing skills and their personal creative tastes.
o The subjects of these videos will relevant to the Judaic studies and Hebrew dept. curricula of the school, and will augment and support ideas and themes from the classroom.
o The finished products will be showcased at school assemblies, and for Jewish Holiday commemorations.
o Students will be encouraged to work on club assignments in school, and to post their work on the internet in specific ways so that they may be shared with their friends and the online DKJA community.
· In addition to the club, starting second semester, the use of multimedia will be directly incorporated into the curriculum. Students will be expected to collaboratively produce media that augments and supports the thematic material covered in class.
o This will accomplish many goals:
§ Students will use their creativity in new ‘teen-friendly’ and exciting forums. (PowerPoint is not new anymore, and hasn’t been for quite some time.)
§ Multimedia will be given a spotlight in the school
§ The students will be given a forum in which to showcase their art and creativity.
§ Their art will be used to augment the Jewish goals and educational goals of the school
§ Their art will be able to support thematic learning in the future.
The buzz in our school about this club is palpable! From the students and up through the faculty and administration, we can’t wait to see what our artistic and talented students will be able to produce. We are excited to afford our students the opportunity to use every new available medium to express their Jewish knowledge and pride, and to find new ways to see their individuality come to life! Being on the cutting edge has never been so fun!

Multi-Media Club In Full Swing

Our DKJA HS club has been getting there feet wet, and have begun taking longer strides on their own. Through our recent meetings, the students have learned how to recognize the various distinct components in modern media. We studied various types of media in order to recognize how video, audio and still images are all manipulated together to form every commercial, every music video, and virtually all forms of media consumed by modern society.

We then began to learn where to look for raw materials and inspiration, how to capture content from streaming video and how music is used to create atmosphere in combination with visual images. Our students have begun to use basic editing software to manipulate video and audio they have captured. By employing some of the basic editing tools and features they have practiced, the students are training their artistic eyes to see how transitions and cuts work to a film's advantage. Our club members are able to critique videos and to peer edit each other's work to make all the components compliment each other, and help improve their projects.

As our club members studied a video of one student and his friends wake-boarding, we examined how he successfully incorporated music into his video as well as many cut scenes and camera angles to keep the attention of the viewer excited and entertained.
In examining another peer-made video of interviews we were able to notice some basic mistakes that when corrected, dramatically improve the video's viewing experience.

As our students have been working to learn new concepts and technique, I too have been closely working with our new technology integration specialist Francine Safdeye, from whom I have already learned tremendously. I am very excited to have her help and guidance.

As DKJA moves forward into an even brighter more technology-filled future of education, this Multi-Media club will be the catalyst that pushes our school and its students to test its creativity in new and exciting, ever-expanding ways.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

On a roll and working out the kinks with Rosetta Stone!

We have now successfully set up 4 Ivrit classes on the Rosetta Stone program and are thrilled with what we've seen! First, and maybe most important, our students are excited and really enjoying it! They always ask to have an extra "Rosetta Stone Period" each week! The set up for each student, and getting them acclimated was a little stressful, but expected. Fortunately, it only took one period for each class to get into the swing of things. Now, the students sign on and begin their work on their own with minimal need for assitance. They feel the program is cutting edge, and really makes Ivrit a lot more applicable in their minds.
The teachers that have used it so far are also very impressed. One thing they especially like is the fact that the students are forced to speak with the correct pronunciation of letters and syllables or their answer is not recognized as correct.
The one issue we are faced with now, is the fact that it seems a large number of computers that had the software installed on them, are not allowing the students to access the program. It seems to me that since we didn't have students set up accounts on these computers right away (since the classes that have begun using the program have only used a quarter of the computers) the activation may have expired. I assume I will have to have Rosetta Stone re-activate the program on those computers. I hope to get in contact with the support center this week and fix everything. Will post when issue is resolved.
Although there are still some kinks to work out, we are still already seeing the positive results which makes us motivated to do so!

Monday, March 01, 2010

The Final Test

I am proud to announce that we did our final testing of the equipment and worked out all our hardware issues. We went to the Adobe Connect meeting and tested the video conferencing platform with the microphone and video camera. We set our user preferences so that all users have video and microphone capabilities. We even tested our equipment by video conferencing from another area in the school. We were able to see, hear and talk to our contact person and it all worked successfully. We are surely ready for our first conference which will take place very soon.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

iPods for Hebrew

Usually when a teacher assigns a test, the common reactions we get from students are sighs, questions and even complaints.
This week when I assigned a reading test to one of my classes, none of that occurred. As a matter of fact, it was quite the opposite. One of the students turned to a new student who has recently joined our class and said: now you also get to use the iPods!
There was a clear sense of pride and excitement in that student’s speech.
I realized that the iPods have reframed the way these students view their reading tests. It is no longer a stressful event but rather a unique opportunity to “show off” their reading skill in a fun and exciting way.

Completed Virtual Voice Thread Siddur

I want to thank Avi Chai Foundation for this exciting opportunity and support to create this project. Also, I want to thank my colleagues at The Solomon Schechter School of Westchester and my first grade students. By creating and producing this project we have experienced a learning community where students and staff work collaboratively.

My goal in creating the following Voice Thread was to give students the opportunity to read, practice, and sing the prayers correctly with meaning. By using Voice Threads we addressed different learning styles as well as creating an exciting and motivating experience.

Enjoy experiencing the following Siddur. I welcome you feedback

Ilanit Curi

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bialik Film projects progressing well...

Our film projects are progressing far, all students in our grade 5 & 7 classes have had an introduction to student filmmaking, an introduction to the "language" of film, have sorted themselves into small groups, recieved their assignments, brainstormed stories, come up with backgrounds for their characters, developed pitches and presented their pitches to the "Executive Producers" (our teachers and IT Director) in order to secure "budget" for their movies.

Each group's "producer" pitched, and the pitches were required to be polished and between 30 seconds & 2 minutes, timed with a stopwatch. None of the pitches ran under or over time! About half the pitches were accepted as-is. Unlike many real-world pitches, student pitches that were not acceptable the first time around were given constructive feedback and an opportunity to re-pitch their adjusted story. As of this writing, 9 out of 10 groups have had their stories "green-lit". Students are now moving into the scripting phase of the project. This is where they will take their characters, concepts, beginning/middle/end, and character backgrounds/traits and weave them into a 5-minute script by putting words in their character's mouths. The first draft of the script will be written in English for fluidity, and then students, with the help of their teachers, will translate the script into Hebrew. Revisions, rehearsal, etc. will be conducted in either english or Hebrew as dictated by the needs of the project.

As the scripts are being written, students will be learning more formally about camera angles, and other filmmaking "language" so they can be prepared for the next phases of the project: pre-production & production. In the coming weeks students will be introduced to and get hands-on time with the cameras and other equipment and will be given mini-assignment, requiring them to mimic certain camera shots and cinematography styles, in order to familiarize themselves with its workings. The "Executive Producers" will be creating and distributing a hebrew filmmaking grammar sheet, so that technical matters and discussions may be carried out in Hebrew as well, which should go a long way towards integrating and improving conversational Hebrew, one of the stated goals of our project.

Now that the project is moving from student planning to a more active stage, we hope to be posting more often. We plan to post student's pitches, and will soon be distributing/posting our rubric for the final product evaluation.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tablet PC - Kvetching and Praising

Like most of us I’ve recently witnessed the unveiling of the new Apple iPad. I have no plans or resources to purchase one for myself, but I couldn't help but feel a little envious listening to Mr. Jobs describing holding a little note-pad and scribbling freely on it. This is the kind of feature I'd like to have to record students’ use of language in my class.
I’m really grateful and appreciative of the tablet PC which I received as part of the Avi-Chai grant. It helps me keep track of my students conversation. However, some of the features of the tablet are frustrating: while it has many advantages over a regular PC (it’s portable) or even a laptop (when taken out of it’s receptacle it is relatively light weight and stable enough to carry around) working on it without a mouse can be pretty exasperating. I found that I must open whichever worksheet I might need before taking it out of the receptacle and thus losing the mouse connection, because if I try to do it later with the aid of the stylus the processes is difficult and success is not always guaranteed. I calibrated the screen sensitivity to my “touch” but still it doesn’t always respond to the stylus. If other educators are considering using a tablet for taking notes during class my advise it that they should take this into account and perhaps look seriously at other options.
The feature the works well for me is the ease of carrying the tablet around. It allows me to keep notes on charts (albeit only simple notes, more like checkmark type because of the lack of a mouse) to mark my students use of language during class time.
I stimulate the use of new vocabulary in lots of different ways, but usually they involve the posting of the words in class. Students use them in a variety of collaborative or individual language games. They also use the words as anchors in conversations, either in stand-alone sentences or connected to each other. The less advanced students may use only one vocabulary word in a 3-4 words sentence. Others may create longer sentences, sometimes using 2-3 words in the same sentence, and the most advanced students may create a short story made of a few short sentences put together. In 5th grade some students enjoy the challenge of using all the vocabulary words of one unit in one sentence! How could I record all this treasure trove of varied and differentiated use of language if I had to wait for the end of class to do so? This is where the tablet PC is really helpful: I can pinpoint the amount, level and ease of each student use of the words in a certain unit on a certain day according to the notes I've been taking in real time in class. This is authentic assessment and it is made possible because I can go on teaching and take notes at the same time.

Monday, February 15, 2010

smart ideas updates

I've been using smart ideas in two different ways:
1. preparation and division of chapters. Smart ideas is excellent for mapping out a chapter. Recently we learned chapter 12 in the Book of Devarim. I prepared a Smart Ideas presentation dividing the chapter into five topics. Together in class we noted that the chapter could be divided into three larger units- we found the repetitive phrases and noted their similarities and contrasts. It was most effective because the students were able to follow along and see the pesukim as larger units within the chapter. Before I used Smart Ideas I found that I was dividing the chapters for the students and not with them, because they were so busy taking notes or flipping pages of the chumash without being able to draw conclusions on their own

2. A reviewing tool. I find that Smart Ideas is extremely effective as a wrap up and review to the unit. We just finished learning Navi Sheker in Chapter 13 of the Book of Devarim. We learned various commentators and their views concerning the identity of the false prophet. After we learned the texts inside- I used Smart Ideas to map out all the various opinions. I created the template and then called on one or two students to come up and create a map of the opinions we learned. This was an opportunity for the students to not only review but categorize the opinions. They had to figure out if the Abarbanel opinion was more similar to the Rambam's of Rabbi Akiva's. Since I've now had many months to work with this software I find that I'm able to use it effectively in class without wasting lots of time. It's almost easier using smart ideas that drawing my own charts on the board. The students really love that they don't have to copy the charts and maps in their notes since they know that I post it for them as a pdf on their homework pages. I especially love that each class creates their own pages and that each classes' pages are really different from one another.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

TTSP (Talmud Torah of St. Paul) Technology Update #3

We continue to use our fabulous technology in a variety of ways. Recently, a local rabbi visited our school and wanted to show footage of the report on the Israeli medical team's involvement in Haiti after the earthquake. Thanks to our new LCD projector, we were able to show this footage to the whole school at Kabbalat Shabbat. This is so much more vivid than simply describing the impact of the Israeli medical team there, and watching this together as a whole school community also raises the intensity of the experience over watching the report on individual computers. Our local shlicha also uses the projector to present topics about Israel in all of our classes. Sometimes her talk enables us to visit each other's classrooms and observe each other, which is a side benefit of having reliable technology (and reliable faculty!).

We've also posted our first YouTube video, thanks to our great new video cameras. Check us out at You won't see our students since we cannot post their pictures on youtube, but we managed to create a little puppet show instead of showing the students, who are singing "Ha'Shkediyah Porachat."

Learning how to use the technology has been a slow process for us. Even just organizing all of the equipment and establishing a system of checking it out for teachers and students has proved to be a daunting task. If anyone has good suggestions of how to manage the equipment, we'd love some ideas. It has taken us until now to get all of it organized, and we are just now ready to do some teacher/student training on the equipment. The Hebrew team has used the technology all along, but our goal was to make this accessible to students as well, and we as a Hebrew team are still learning to do more than point and shoot. We're sure we can do much more with this technology and so our next step is to learn some more advanced methods.

Meanwhile, our upper school showed off their music videos at our Open House in December, and our lower school students continue to record their progress in reading and speaking. Recently, Kitah Bet students drew and labeled items in either their backpack, house, or car, and then had to describe what was in the backpack, focusing on the words "yesh" and "ein". although they had written down the sentences to say, their more advanced goal was to talk spontaneously about their drawings. Next step, for them to watch their videos and reflect on their speaking skills.

We're still loving this technology and looking forward to the next levels of development. Thanks, Avi Chai!

Monday, February 08, 2010

עוד רעיון לשימוש במצלמה

כמדי שנה בבית ספרנו, אחראים תלמידי כיתות ד על פרוייקט חגיגת המצוות. השנה, החלטנו להעזר בפלאי הטכנולוגיה על מנת שגם הורי התלמידים יוכלו לעמוד על רצינות וכמות העבודה שהשקיעו בכך ילדיהם.
התלמידים ומוריהם הצטידו במצלמת וידאו ובמצלמה רגילה ויצאו לתעד את פרוייקט ההתנדבות. חלקם של התלמידים שהה בבית אבות חצי סיעודי וחלקם עבדו בסידור מזון למשפחות נזקקות. רק השימוש במצלמה יכול היה להמחיש את החדווה שחשו התלמידים מחד והקשישים מאידך, ורק השימוש בווידאו יכול היה להמחיש לתלמידים המתנדבים בחלוקת המזון את גודל העשיה.
לאחר קבלת התמונות ועריכתן הכנו באמצאות המקינטוש (שנקנה הודות למענק מאבי-חי) מצגת המשלבת בתוכה את כל רגעי העזרה ההדדית.
כל תלמיד זכה לאיזכור מעשיו וכל הורה יוכל לחוות את התרוממות חדוות היצירה מצפיה במצגת, המצגת נצרבה על דיסק שינתן לכל תלמיד כמזכרת מפרויקט המצוות.

המלצתי - תנו לילדים מצלמה והפכו אותם להיות הצופים והמתעדים של עצמם. עוד בנושא מגישה אחרת ניתן לקרוא בקישור הנ"ל

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Almost There...

My students and I are so excited to launch our program. We are waiting to talk to our contacts and listen to their views and opinions. All the software has been installed on my laptop. My classroom now has all the technology needed. Everything was ready until we found out that a new webcam was needed. This caused our first delay. After installing the webcam required, all was ready for an experimental trial. Suddenly, we found out that the sound is not working properly. Another technical delay...
As soon as this problem is solved, we will be on our way to try our project out. It should be very soon. Stay tuned!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Exciting times in Vancouver

Two things are creating a lot of excitement around here. The Olympics of course start one week from today and the city and its citizens are getting ready to welcome the world.
At King David we are also excited about seeing the finished family histories that the students have been working on. Their family members have been interviewed and we are delving into the laborious process of editing the video and combining it with still photos and artifacts to create truly engaging stories for people to see and hear. Editing of video can be a difficult process but having the new iMacs and iMovie at our disposal make a difficult job easier. The power of this program makes it fun for the students to learn and see their ideas come to fruition. We are hoping that shortly before or right after Pesach we will be able to post some of the extraordinary work the students are doing for all to see.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Stumbling point - online Hebrew homework help

Our student log-in has dwindled off to non-existent over the last couple of weeks. We're regrouping and trying a couple of different directions:

1) The teachers who have been working with the online video-chat technology offered to try oral homework - i.e., specifically to evolve homework that requires the students to consult online, so that we can reinforce the opportunity that we have to explore the medium.

*Students seem especially accustomed in the video/writing chat sphere to see it as a venue for communicating with their peers, and may be resisting interacting with "adults" in this medium. I will develop and post a SurveyMonkey to see if I can get some anecdotal response on this.

2) Consider that the students may not be calling in to a teacher who is not "their" current Hebrew teacher, and try to get all of the Hebrew teachers into the rotation. Two reasons we originally did not go this route were the question of training (not all teachers are as technologically apt), and the concern that not all teachers have the same availability (family obligations outside of school hours).

We're going to meet early next week to plan the next round of experiment.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Problems and solutions - MP3 recorders/ players

Technology solves problems but also creates its own problems… After realizing that one of the ports on the USB transfer is not working we negotiated replacing it with the vendor. This was finally achieved a couple of weeks ago. The success involved a lot of extra work for me because the whole system was replaced and I had to again number the mp3 recorder/players and their boxes, place padding on tiny headphones and perform some other fun, stimulating tasks, but now we have a full set of working 15 mp3 recorder/players and a “mother” from which I can copy to the others any material needed. Problem solved!
I identified a more serious problem in the fact that less and less students were using the mp3 devices to record answers to assessments. As the use of recording rather than writing is designed to save classroom time which could be better used for instruction I was concerned about it. I thought it might be that some students still do not feel comfortable using the not-so-user-friendly mp3, and so I decided to devote another twenty minutes of class time for a refresher course. It seems that my hunch was correct as this made a big change in the number of users and the question “can we use the mp3s?” is heard again in class. I have to admit that the designers of the mp3 could have done a better job. This small devise does have many functions which can be worked with three moving parts, but for children, even our tech-savvy generation, it is hard to work with. The chief complaint of the students is that it turns itself off frequently and unexpectedly, usually without preserving any unsaved recording in progress.
However, I’m trying to get the most out of it. Before I assess students’ comprehension of a story I record myself reading the story and copy it onto the mp3s. I do that to benefit students who are not strong readers and who sometimes do not get to properly demonstrate their understanding because their inaccurate reading leads them to misunderstand the substance of the story. However, when they listen to an accurately read narrative they are able to show their understanding. Because the assessment is of story comprehension and not reading level this is a fair evaluation.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Online Hebrew homework program

I thought it might have been a before-break phenomenon, but the teachers staffing the online hours report nearly no students calling in. We tried last week, after the break, to stagger hours, so that one of the teachers is on-line-available later, as an initial response. Last week had no hits before the change, and I have not yet seen the results since we shifted.

One of the things we discussed is identifying a teacher specifically within the department to give assignments that require the interface or support - to brainstorm some work that will be better explored through this kind of interface, to get the students rolling.

On the technology side, the chat moves fluidly, and the teachers are picking up the technology (by practicing with their kids in distant cities or rooms of the house during non-homework hours).

iPods for Hebrew

Our grade six class participates in a Shabbaton every year. The entire grade six class spends Shabbat at the school, and the Judaic teachers plan a different theme each year for the grade. This year the theme is Music for the Soul. The teachers asked me if they could use the iPods to record the students' singing various songs to celebrate Shabbat. This is the students' own description of their Shabbaton:

Dear Students and Staff,
On behalf of the Grade Six class of Shabbaton 2010, we would like to present a Siddur and accompanying C.D. to everyone who enjoys Shabbat music from their souls. In this Siddur, there are prayers and the translations to the prayers. We wrote stories that connect to the themes of the prayers. Included are: Shabbat quotes and art work. We decided to create this Siddur and C.D because we think that the new and jazzy tunes will enhance your Kabbalat Shabbat.
We are excited to share this new music with you. We feel more connected to Hashem because we are singing prayers with joy and intention (כוונה). We hope that this new music to traditional prayers will get passed down from generation to generation.

The grade six teachers and I used the iPod to record the students singing, when we realized that the sound quality was much better than recording directly to a computer. After recording, I used Audacity to create single tracks of each of the songs on the Mac. The CD has been burned and will be burned for each student, as well as the teachers in the elementary school.

This is the best part of acquiring new hardware; finding a new use for a teacher who has a need for the technology. The iPod made the recording easy and portable and the sound quality was excellent. I would like to ask other members of this blog if they have suggestions regarding posting the songs somewhere on the web.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Second integration presentation at Frisch

As Frisch nears its winter vacation, I wanted to quickly get in another integration presentation. The school has not had any special programs for the eleventh grade lately, so the Judaic Studies principal and I decided to focus our attention on that grade. This year, the Chumash teachers are teaching Devarim, so for the first Chumash integration unit, I'll be presenting to the eleventh grade Chumash classes a lesson on the Shema, its centrality to Judaism during pagan times and during Christian ones. The slide show is available on