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March 2009 (Ladder Game)

Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies Mail

Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project Newsletter May 2009

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The Jim Joseph Foundation
Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project Newsletter
May 2009  Sivan 5769

Dear Hevre, 

It has been a wonderful year working with you. We have learned a great deal about the types of alumni support that seem most useful. Beyond any support that we may have provided to you, we thank you for the help you have given one another via the forum and individual/conference calls, as well as feedback you've shared with us.  
In the coming year, in addition to the pedagogic and professional support, we would like to provide more in the way of continued text learning, for those who are interested. We are currently meeting with faculty at Pardes to think of ways to do just that. If you are one of those who would like the opportunity to continue your Pardes-style learning and would be willing to either help us brainstorm or be a sounding board for the ideas we are generating, please let
Abby know. 
As you know, the PEP alumni website is a useful resource for information, ideas and updates. As you plan for the end of the year, be sure to refer to the
website for a listing of  numerous classroom review/closure activities.   
As the year draws to a close, we wish you an enjoyable vacation. (Remember, summer vacation is one of the real perks of the profession).  We will be here should you need any help over the summer. We look forward to seeing a number of you at the summer curriculum workshop, and hopefully, most of you, at the fall retreat. 
Kol tuv,
Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project staff:
Dr. Susan Wall, Abby Rosen Finkel, Debra Weiner-Solomont

The Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project is funded by a generous grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation.

D'var Torah: Mordechai Rackover - Cohort 3

My Fave 3Educator teaching
A threefold cord is not readily broken. (
Kohelet 4:12b)

T-Mobile has a plan where you get to choose your 5 favorite people and call them for free. I would like to propose a 'My Fave 3', a process of clarification and reliance on 3 core concepts that make up your Jewish 'faves'. Using Shavuot as a background, let's look at challenges and work on our three.

Shavuot is a holiday in conflict. Is it an agrarian celebration, some type of pre-Mosaic holdover? Is it the holiday whereon we commemorate the receiving of the Torah? If it is, why doesn't the Torah just say so? If the latter is in fact the case then what in fact was received on this sacred date those many years ago?

These questions will be asked in our classrooms and Batei Midrash in the next week or so. They are reminiscent of the ongoing dialog that classroom teachers have with skeptical children and doubtful parents. They bore into the heart of what it is to be a Jew who is educated in both modern scholarship and a revealed tradition.

While teaching middle school mishnah some years ago we came up with a means by which we could express the complexity and harmony of these possibilities. We made a braid of three colors, each one representing a different conceptual thread in our studies: green - agriculture and the cycle of agrarian society; red - history and scientific fact; and blue - the revealed tradition represented by the concept of messorah.

This tri-colored braid was woven on the first day of class. We made it big and thick and hung it over or beside the board. Really careful teachers even color-coded board work throughout the year. The braid was knotted on top and open on the bottom. Sometimes you need to look at one strand at a time.

On Shavuot we are faced with all kinds of triplets: Torah, Nevi'im and Ketuvim; Torah, Avodah and Gemilut Hasadim; Be deliberate in judgement, develop many disciples, and make a fence for the Torah; Have a good eye, a humble spirit, and a meek soul. Each of these triplets is composed of elements that in their own right are enough to support our journeys. All three at once can carry us to unimaginable heights.

On this Shavuot I ask us each to find our three: the three elements of Jewish life, practice, service, or thought that keep us going. The three elements that we can use in whole or in parts to answer the tough questions. The three elements that, like best friends that you can call for free, are there to support you when you need it the most.

Blessing us all to receive the Torah that we need this Shavuot.
Associate Chaplain for the Jewish Community, Brown University
Rabbi, Brown/RISD Hillel

Educational Resources and Opportunities

1. Orach Chaim - Seder Hayom: Now complete from the very beginning to
the start of Hilchot Netilat Yadayim (simanim 1-157), including all of
Hilchot Tefillah and Orach Chaim - Hilchot Shabbat available online
3. Parshat Hashavuah for different levels in different school settings
4. The Siegal College Summer Institute Moreh L'Morim:  An Educator's Guide to
Perplexing Times will be held at Siegal College in Cleveland from August 9-12. 
For more information contact Professor Jeffrey Schein  216-464-4050 x123

5. The Center for Modern Torah Leadership 3rd annual conference, "Authenticity and Authority" in Boston on August 17-18, 2009. Food and housing will be provided, and transportation stipends up to $200 are available for the first 25 participants. The registration fee is $100. Please contact Anne Sendor regarding questions. To discuss content of the conference or the Center generally, please email Rabbi Klapper

Focus on Jen Truboff - Cohort 6

Jen Truboff
I am the Lead Judaic Studies /Hebrew Teacher for the Special Education Division of the Westchester Fairfield Hebrew Academy (WFHA) in Greenwich, CT. In addition to being a classroom teacher in a self-contained special education classroom, I work directly with teachers and specialists in both the special and general education divisions of WFHA. I am a Judaic Studies and Hebrew Language resource person and help to coordinate and shape the Judaics program of my department. 
Much of my technical training to prepare me to work with this specific population has come from being a Hebrew College Special Education Fellow and working towards a certificate in Jewish Special Education. My day-to-day experiences draw upon my background having taught in the general education classroom. I also frequently find myself employing the pedagogical theories and classroom management skills that I learned while at Pardes, particularly skills pertaining to differentiated instruction. At WFHA, I have been able to strengthen my skills by being a member of a collaborative team of dedicated and supportive administrators and educators, which includes a reading specialist, speech pathologist, behavioral analyst, occupational therapist, and psychologist.
Throughout my experiences, I am continually amazed and empowered by the wealth of effective and research-based strategies and resources that have been developed in the field of special education. Naturally, I cannot help but reflect on my past general classroom experiences and think how I might have created an inclusive classroom and managed behavioral issues differently. Some resources developed by special educators have already entered into the general education methodology and are benefiting students of different learning styles. Many of these ideas can be adapted to work within a Jewish studies classroom. Unfortunately, there are few resources, based on our knowledge of how the brain learns best, to guide us directly in how to teach Hebrew, Torah, Mishnah, Talmud etc. to non-native Hebrew speakers.
This past April, at a conference entitled GISHA (Good Ideas Supporting Hebrew Access), Hebrew College launched the first ever International Center for Jewish Special Education: Mercaz Meyuchad. Almost two hundred people attended from across North America and abroad, indicating a need for providing support, mentoring, and the implementation of new ideas and instructional strategies pertaining to Jewish special needs.   
It says in Sanhdrin 91b "One who denies a child knowledge of Torah steals the child's inheritance".  As day school educators we have a tremendous responsibility to ensure that every child has access to his or her religious heritage. It is my hope that as this field continues to develop, teachers will find the practical support necessary to effectively meet the needs of their individual students and ultimately create inclusive classrooms where all can learn Torah.  

Jen lives in Riverdale with her husband Zach Truboff (Rimon 04-05, Fellows 05-06, Kollel 06-07) and their son Nachum.

PEP Update
The concluding ceremony honoring the 12 members of the eighth graduating class of the Pardes Educators Program will be held on Monday, June 8, 2009. You are invited to send a mazal tov and words of advice relevant to beginning teachers to Gail. These will be presented to the graduates in a booklet featuring Lisa Bodziner's first year teaching blog. The invitation with a list of Cohort 8 graduates can be found on the PEP Alumni website.
Those who have already signed contracts for the coming year will be teaching at the following schools: SAR Academy, Hannah Senesh Community Day School, Chicagoland Jewish High School, Denver Academy of Torah, Torah Academy of Boca Raton, The Heschel School, and The Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson School.
We are excited to announce that the Pardes Educators Program has accepted a full group of 15 students for Cohort 10 entering in September 2009 (our largest cohort since Cohort 1). At this time, we are seeking qualified Mechinah candidates for September, 2009, who are not yet at the level to begin the regular two-year Educators Program. Please recommend us to your friends or colleagues and encourage them to visit Pardes website
to learn more about the Pardes Educators Program. Mechinah applications will be accepted until June 15.

Education Corner: Ladder Game

Ladder Game: A Tool for Assessing Learned Vocabulary
This is a simple but effective way to help students (primarily upper elementary PEP ladder gamethrough middle school) review Biblical, Rabbinic or modern Hebrew vocabulary.
Creating the Ladder Game
Create a board with slots (rungs of a ladder) for 5 words. Take a cardboard - approximate size 8 ½ x 11 or shirt cardboards from the dry cleaners (if any still give those out). Cut out "rungs" (from a second piece of cardboard) about 6 inches across and one inch high. Tape the rungs to the cardboard on the two sides and bottom of the rung - leaving the top open. Space the rungs equally one below the next on the cardboard (about 2 inches between each). Number the rungs from 1-5. If you want these to be really permanent, send them through a laminating machine and then slit open the access to each rung at the top.
That was the hard part. The major investment of time is upfront, in creating the "ladders". (This is a great job for a supportive friend who likes to cut and paste. It is also perfect for working on while watching summer re-runs.)
Using the Game
Now give students a xeroxed sheet with vocabulary flashcards, created by drawing a line down the center of the sheet and four parallel horizontal lines (for 5 words or phrases on each side). Have them cut out the flashcards and spread them out on the desk. Now have them put the correct flashcard in each rung, according to your clues/instructions. Give them a sentence to fill in, or the English meaning of the word, or a description in Hebrew - whatever works for your class. Repeat this for 5 different words/phrases. Then ask the students to read up and down the ladder with you (if you want to go over pronunciation). You can ask individuals to tell you what word is in rung #2, for example, and then ask him/her to explain the word/phrase or use it in a sentence. It's easy to quickly check what they've done by having them hold up their ladders. Within a few minutes you can review all ten vocabulary words and see what they know. It is a good assessment tool that is fun and has something for each of the visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners.
When you've finished, you can have them record the words they need to work on. Have them clip together the flashcards and put them into an envelope that you can come back to and use again at a later point. The ladder board (with different words/phrases) can be used over and over

Save the Date! PEP Alumni Fall Retreat
"Back by popular demand" the PEP Alumni Fall Retreat...... 
When?  Thursday, October 29 - Sunday, November 1, 2009 (11 Cheshvan-14 Cheshvan 5770)

Where? Barrack Hebrew Academy Guest House, Bryn Mawr, PA 
Details to follow.
Summer Curriculum Workshop
We are looking forward to a very productive summer curriculum workshop in Jerusalem, July 14-28 (beginning on the 15th for our graduates). In addition to 20 of our own alumni, 11 other novice teachers will be joining the program. The participants are almost evenly divided between upper elementary, middle and high schools and includes teachers from Community, Reform, Conservative and Orthodox day schools.

We are very excited to be able to share two new movies that Pardes has produced in the last few months:

The first showcases Pardes' commitment to chesed, embodied in our annual day of chesed, which we reported on in our last newsletter. This tradition was created in memory of alumni Marla Bennett z"l (Cohort 2) and Ben Blutstein z"l (Cohort 3). Click 
here to view it!

The second is a one-minute commercial for recruitment. Watch it here - and please foward it on, post it to your blogs and facebook profiles.

Alumni Updates
Mazal Tovs:

Yonatan Rosner
(Cohort 5) and Jessica on the birth of a son, Ness Heim. Mazal Tov to big sister, Avriella. 

Evan Wolkenstein
(Cohort 1) on his engagement to Falynn Schmidt (Pardes '99-'00). 

Sarah Margles
(Cohort 3) on her engagement to Hartley Wynberg.

Professional News:

Tamar Rabinowitz
(Cohort 1) was the scholar in residence at Beth El Synagogue, Bethesda, MD.  Tamar  presented a series of lectures on Tikun Olam.

Eliana Seltzer (Cohort 5) mentored student teacher David Riemenschneider (Cohort 9) at The Jewish Community Day School, Providence R.I.  Eliana wrote an article about her experience which was published in The Jewish Voice and Herald.

Mordechai Cohen (Cohort 1) has been appointed Judaic Studies Principal at the Danilack Middle School of Associated Hebrew Schools of Toronto. 
Dr. Susan Wall and Dr. Judy Markose wrote an article about the Educators Program which was published in the Winter 2008 edition of RAVSKAK's HaYidion

Thanks to everyone for sending us updated contact information. Please keep us posted about changes of address (home, email) moving jobs etc. 
We are sorry if we missed something. Please help us by sending in your news!

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