Adrian A. Durlester
We’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.
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.”
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.”
Debi 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!
It’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.
Idie Benjamin and Dale Sides Cooperman
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago….
Humans are story tellers. From ancient times, people sat around the fire and heard stories of what had been and who they were now. These stories were not created for children. They were what adults told each other as the children presumably slept. And there were ways to share the stories with the children, so that they would learn who they were, who came before them and why we celebrate what was remembered in the story.
Stories are living, breathing things. To each story there is a central core, its truth, but as the story is told by different story tellers the shape, size, and colors can change. The core is always there but the details can shift this way and that. How many versions of Little Red Riding Hood are there?
Judaism is stories, and the Jewish people are story tellers.