November 2010 Newsletter

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The Jim Joseph Foundation
Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project Newsletter  
 November 2010 Kislev 5771

Dear Hevre,

This newsletter follows on the heels of a very successful retreat which was attended by forty-six of our alumni (representing all nine cohorts). See below for a fuller report.

At this point, all but one of our newest teachers has had a site visit, and so have most of our second year teachers. As schools get underway following the hectic and sporadic holiday schedule, we have a good deal to share. Please look through the newsletter carefully to read about new initiatives, educational resources, "food for thought",  dates to save and personal updates.

Please contact us if you would like any help with curriculum, classroom management, dealing with professional relationships or any other issues that might arise for you in your teaching or with other responsibilities.

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and Chanuka Sameach.           Chanuka menorah

Kol tuv,

Susan, Amanda, Debra

Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project staff:
Dr. Susan Wall, Amanda Pogany, M.A.,
Debra Weiner-Solomont, MSW 

The Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project is funded by a generous grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation.
Dvar Torah - Stef Jadd Susnow (Cohort 8)
Stef is in her second year of teaching at the Chicagoland Jewish High School, Deerfield, IL

Thanksgiving is just moments away and while I am tempted to make a drash on 'hodu' and 'hoda'ah', I will so refrain. Instead, I would like to draw our attention to another holiday just around the bend, Chanukah. Returning to the States last year after three Stefyears in Israel, I was almost surprised as I rediscovered the age old tension between Chanukah and Christmas. The December Dilemma penetrates shopping malls, grocery stores, coffee shops and even my classroom. A number of my students with Christian family members often report to me that Christmas is one of their favorite holidays, even if they don't celebrate it in their own homes. For many of them it is like Thanksgiving, but with presents! Family comes together in good spirit, food is consumed, songs are sung. It feels like a typical chag, with the added element of consumerism. 

Click here to read the entire dvar torah.

PEP Alumni Fall Retreat Draws 46 Pardes Alumni

The first joint conference of Pardes and DeLet alumni was held at the Pearlstone Retreat Center in Reisterstown, MD with forty-six of our alumni in attendance. The day before the retreat brought a good deal of rain to the area, but the weather smiled on the actual retreat and the fall foliage was truly amazing - for thoseRetreat 2010 who made it outdoors!

The conference had a similar format to past retreats, with workshops, sharing sessions, time for reflection, Torah lishma, and a "Pardes" Shabbat with all that entails. Many alumni contributed to the success of the conference by either serving on a planning committee, presenting an innovative strategy, giving a workshop, facilitating sessions, or taking on ritual or other responsibilities.   

David Bernstein, Zvi Hirschfield, Judy Markose and Susan Wall came from Israel to teach and spend time with our alumni. Amanda Pogany, the new Associate Director of the Alumni Support Project was instrumental in planning the retreat, and through workshops and individual meetings was able to share her expertise with many veteran and novice teachers.

It was most gratifying to have Marc Baker, Cohort 1, deliver the plenary address and lead a number of sessions for administrators. In the plenary, Marc spoke about two very different models of teaching that we find in our tradition. Click here to see the power-point of his address. The questions he raised helped to frame other sessions and gave the participants much to think about regarding their own teaching.

The addition of the DeLeT alumni expanded the pool of experience, and their staff and senior alumni led a number of thought-provoking sessions. The foundation was laid for some important new relationships and networking.    

We have started to process the written and oral feedback and appreciate your honest and insightful comments as we begin to plan for next year's programThe Conference website, which includes handouts from the various sessions, is still available for your perusal.

Education Corner by Amanda Pogany
Anchor Activities

"In this class, we are never finished.  Learning is a process that never enAnchor activitiesds." 

Carol Ann Tomlinson


Anchor Activities are designed for students to work on once their class work is completed. The intention is to maximize instructional time and deal with the challenge of different students completing their work at different times. Anchor activities are intended to review or extend learning of the subject matter, not to be busy-work. Activities may be designed for students to complete on their own or in small groups. The goal is to have students move independently to the next task.

Ideally, you can set up an area for anchor activities in your classroom that students know how to use. It is intended as low prep DI (differentiated instruction) strategy. Try to stock your anchor activity center with a series of ongoing projects, so that you don't have to work on it regularly.

You may choose to assign particular students to specific tasks or allow them to choose, when appropriate. All tasks should be relevant to the concepts being developed in class, but some may be more complex than others; there are times when students need the opportunity to do something that is low-stress and less demanding.


For resources and other ideas click here.

Focus on Ariel Wolgel (Cohort 7)
Ariel Wolgel Ariel is in her second year of teaching at the Hillel Day School, Farmington Hills, MI. She lives in Southfield, MI with her husband, Aron Wolgel (Cohort 8).

The sound of 5th and 6th grade voices surrounded me as we began the 2009-2010 school year together with the Pledge of Allegiance and the bracha of 'la'asok b'divrei Torah'. I couldn't help but get a little emotional at that moment. It was a moment of new beginnings, and a return home of sorts. After years of preparing to be a teacher, learning educational theories, and teaching model lessons - the time had now come to begin my career as Jewish Educator. I spent thirteen years of my life as a student at a community day school only to return to the "other side of the desk."


I looked at the students around the room and felt a variety of emotions. Some were excited to reunite with their friends, others were sad that the summer was now officially over. Several students sat nervously in their seats - clearly anxious to receive their schedules and meet their new teachers. As I examined the crowd I wondered which faces matched the names on my class rosters. I was excited to meet these students as individuals and to understand the dynamics of each grade as a whole.


Click here to read more.


From the Field: An Easy Tool for Differentiation

During our visits to schools, we have observed various teaching strategies worth sharing. Following is a tool Stephen Belsky (Cohort 4) used with his eighth grade students at Akiva Hebrew Day School, Southfield, MI.

Stephen wanted his students to translate a list of words that would appear in the upcoming section of a text. He wrote the words out so that each student received a copy of the list. Students were given about a minute to fill in as many words as they knew and could translate within the time limit. At the end of the time, they passed their papers on to someone else and the process was repeated.  Students were allowed to correct their colleagues' work. This was repeated three times, with the sheet eventually going back to the first person who filled it out.

The advantage of this activity was that every student contributed what they knew. No one finished too quickly and no one was left lagging behind, as they each contributed what they could to every sheet they were given. Those who knew less, benefited from the knowledge of their classmates in a way that no one was embarrassed. Stephen went over the list with them to make sure that each left with a correct sheet.


Summer Curriculum Workshop 2011

We invite all our graduates of Cohorts 8 and 9 (and any others who are entering their second or third years in the classroom) to join us for this summer's Curriculum Workshop to be held in Jerusalem from July 17-August 2, 2011 (17 Tammuz-2 Av, 5771). Others in their first few years of teaching who were unable to take advantage of a SCW previously, may apply to join this session. There are a limited number of spots for participants  this summer, so please respond in a timely fashion to our request to know if you are planning to join us.

For those who attended last summer we will not be providing core workshops for all, but will  return to our prior model with more time available to work with mentors on one's own goals and a choice of all workshops. Each participant will be responsible for presenting a curricular outline for at least one course.

If you have a colleague in your school whom you would want to recommend for the 2011 Summer Curriculum Workshop, let us know. We will only be taking in a handful of non-Pardes graduates.

Update on The Tefillah Project

We have sixteen experienced PEP graduates who have made the commitment to be part of the Tefillah Action Research Project for this year. Each participant will be introducing a change in the format, content, or goals of some aspect of their school's tefillah, followed by research on the impact of that initiative. Those participating in the project are assigned to small groups that will 'meet' monthly via phone/web conferencing to share the progress of their research.

We hope to learn more about Tefillah 2what could improve our schools'  tefillah curriculum and share the findings both within our Pardes network and with colleagues in the day school field.   

PEP News

This semester, PEP has added two stimulating new lab components to its repertoire: first-year students are spending Wednesday mornings observing at local Israeli schools (The Efrata School, Midrashiyat Hartman for Girls, and the Tehilla School), while second-year students are given the opportunity to flex their teaching muscles at the Cohort 11Young Judaea Year Course.

Regarding school observations, Daniel Weinreb, Cohort 11, says: "It's been great to get exposure to class time outside of the Pardes environment and to see the application of different teaching practices that we are studying in our pedagogy courses. I've been lucky enough to be in the classroom of a master teacher who demonstrates how to effectively manage a classroom and create a positive learning atmosphere, to the benefit of all students."

Featured next month, the first ever PEP-run Yom Iyun at Pardes! And for now, admissions are open for Cohort 12. Have you given a PEP talk lately? Please take a few minutes and send us a name of someone you think could be a great future Jewish educator.

Todah rabbah!


Alumni Support Project Evaluation

Drs. Ezra Kopelowitz and Stephen Markowitz have been interviewing a sampling of our ninety-nineproject evaluation alumni to learn more about the experiences of new teachers and the needs of both our novice and  more veteran alumni. We hope that those of you who have been contacted will be willing to honestly share your journeys and insights so as to both inform our work in the alumni support project and to add to the understanding of the broader field for the Jim Joseph Foundation.  Please respond in a timely fashion.

Educational Publications, Resources and Opportunities

While enjoying Turkey with family and friends read this fascinating article by Michael Broyde entitled: Is Thanksgiving Kosher?

Mark Smilovitz's latest podcast focuses on Hebrew reading practice.
If you teach a class that involves reading classic Jewish texts, who does the reading? Do all of your students get the practice they need? Mark Smilovitz describes five ways to hear your students read so you can help them improve.

SJED Lesson Stimulus Contest! (SMart Board Jewish Educational Database)

Day schools and supplemental schools and teachers working in Jewish education are eligible to win SMARTBoards, a trip to Israel, gift certificates, personality appearances and many other exciting prizes. Prizes will be awarded for the submission of qualified SMARTBoard lessons.

For more information please contact Marci Karoll

Mofet Institute is offering a number of online Education workshops which are free of charge. Click here for details.

Beit Hatefusot
. The Museum of the Jewish People, located on the campus of Tel Aviv University, is launching a new project entitled, My Family Story. This family heritage project is geared toward 6th-8th graders in North America. Click here to learn more about the project.

Yeshiva University-Institute for University School Partnership has a webinar on Lessons for Chanuka and Asarah B'Tevet. Click here for more information.

Thanks to Michal Cahlon for the following:
The Jewish Women's Archive's Living the Legacy curriculum, about Jew in the Civil Rights movement, is now live and on their site It includes detailed lesson plans and lots of primary sources.

Gemara Berura, is a (computer-assisted) skills-based approach to teaching Talmud (Mishna and Gemara). It allows teachers to focus not only on the contents of the piece of Talmud at hand, but to expose their students to the inner methodology of Talmudic reasoning. You can download the Pilot Hascholas Gemara curriculum prototype student workbook on Tfillas Hashachar.

CoL TaL AM-Community of Learners is offering a series of webinars facilitated by Tal AM staff regarding their elementary school Hebrew and Heritage curriculum. Click here for more information.

Click here for a site that offers free technology for teachers.

From Sarah Hendel Zollman (Cohort 7):  Uri LiTzedek is sponsoring a Jewish Educators mission to Haiti. Interested applicants should send their resumes and a ½ page letter of interest to

Many of you have been enjoying the Spertus College E-Library and the Lookstein Center e-Community. The Feinberg E-Collection contains the full-text of nearly 16,000 books and 25,000 articles in the area of Jewish studies. Please be in touch with Debra for the user-name and password for both of these resources. 

Check the website for additional educational resources.

Alumni Updates
Professional News:

Lisa Bodziner (Cohort 7) received a Jewish Pedagogic Award for Educators, for the second year in a row, at the Back to School Night at the San Diego Jewish Academy.

Jenn Adler (Cohort 7) is one of the honorees at the Jewish Educators Assembly Conference to be held in January, 2011.  Jenn will be recognized for her teaching in Jewish Education.

Personal News:

Mazal tov to:

Jenn Adler (Cohort 7)
upon her recent engagement to Michael Laytin.

Miriam Shamberg Gross (Cohort 7)
and her husband, Rabbi Jonathan Gross, on the birth of a daughter, Raya Liba.

Sarah Hendel (Cohort 8) on her recent marriage to Avi Zollman.

Mordechai Rackover (Cohort 3) and his wife, Nechama Lea, on the birth of a son, Yeshayahu Natan Meir.

Jamie Salter (Cohort 5)
and his wife, Cindy Nathanson (Summer '07, '05-'06)  on the birth of a son, Noam Binyamin.

Jen Truboff (Cohort 6) and husband Zach (Pardes '04-'06) on the birth of a son, Elihai Shatil. Mazal tov to big brother, Nahum.

Andy Shapiro Katz (Cohort 2) and his wife, Emily (Faculty, summer '06), on the birth of a son, Eitan Yishai.

Correction: Sarah Levy (Cohort 8)
and Benny Levy (Cohort 7) on the birth of a son, Itai.

We are sorry if we missed something. Please help us by sending in your news!


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