Entering the World of Kavannah Reply

Laurie Bellet

Laurie BelletSometimes my world brings surprises, and so it was today. I had another article ready to go and then my 2nd grade came in, scheduled today to experience the art of Mark Rothko. Named Markus Rothkowitz at birth in Russia in 1903, he became Mark Rothko later in life. Trained traditionally, Rothko became famous later in life, for his vast fields of color that seem to pulsate, float, recede and come towards the viewer. Similar in some ways to the efforts of Yakov Agam, Rothko sought to engage the viewer in the art itself. The art is about Kavannah and a spiritual journey. Can students as young as 2nd grade enter this world? Absolutely!

Unlike in recent years I opted for paints as opposed to bleeding tissue paper (the lesson plan for which can be found at www.lbellet.wordpress.com). As with any art experience you undertake with students of all ages, please do the activity before you teach it. More…

Tech-i-ya 5.1 Reply

Adrian A. Durlester

Adrian DurlesterWe’re back with another year of Tech-i-ya, looking to share with you tips for making the best use of technology and online resources in service to Jewish Education.

Our first tip this year isn’t about a website, it’s about a terrific tool for making use of all the great stuff you find on the internet. It’s called SnagIt, from TechSmith. It’s in the category of “screen grab” tools. These are tools that let you capture what’s on your computer screen and use it in another presentation, document, etc. Now yes, it’s true, today’s operating systems have built-in screen capture capabilities, and there’s no shortage of free screen grab tools out there. SnagIt isn’t free (though you can try it free for 7 days.) Bucking the trend of using annual subscriptions, SnagIt is software you can just buy and use. It retails single user for $49.95, but their educational pricing allows individual purchases for only $29.95, and volume licensing at lower prices starts with only 5 copies. On the other hand, with this traditional software sales model, you’ll still have to pay for major upgrades to the software.


What I am Reading: Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to teach it to Everyone) Reply

vicky kelmanVicky Kelman

 Green, Elizabeth. Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to teach it to Everyone). W.W. Norton and Company. 2014

It sounds like good news when Elizabeth Green first tells us that being a good teacher is not just a random gift but rather is a set of skills that can be learned. That sounds good and reassuring. We want to say, “that’s great. If anyone can learn it, we are in good shape.”. But what becomes clear, is that the acquisition of those skills is hard intellectual work that requires time, dedication, time, patience, time, tolerance for trial and error and an infra-structure that provides all that. The story Green has brought to tell us, a story about learning to teach: “it’s complicated.”



The CHUTZPAH IMPERATIVE: a Book Review Reply

Joel Grishaver

Joel Lurie GrishaverPart One


Jon Landau, famously wrote, “I saw rock and roll future, and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” I would like to say, “I have read the future of Jewish Thought and his name is Rabbi Edward Feinstein.”

Feinstein, Rabbi Edward. The Chutzpah Imperative, Empowering Today’s Jews for a Life that Matters. Woodstock, Vermont. Jewish Lights. 2014.

The book begins, “We don’t ask enough of our Judaism…This is a Judaism of warm, ethnic sentimentality that demands very little of us and in returns offers little spiritual wisdom.” It ends, “If a new generation is to join this ancient tradition, they will join only for a message that is vital, significant, and timely. Chutzpah is that message. As the Talmud teaches, the task is great, the stakes are exceedingly high—not only the future of the Jewish people, but also the survival of humanity…But at this moment, our Judaism asks a great deal of us.”


Survey” The Situation: It’s Not Always What You Think Reply

debi mishael testDebi Swedelson Mishael

(Advanced warning: This is a trick question.) Which of the two students in this picture is on focused on classwork? The answer: Both of them!

Debi MishaelIt’s not often that I give a written test in our High School Religious School program. This summer, I have been collaborating with a group of educators in my community. We understand that an advanced assessment of our students will provide valuable information for us both in planning the unit of study and in determining the effectiveness of our instruction. Nonetheless, traditional pen and paper testing does not exactly mesh with my hands-on, interactive, make it fun and engaging teaching style. It’s probably been a decade or more since I’ve given, what most would consider, a “real” test.