integrated education hebrew
Ora Dromi & Vicki Teitelbaum, Pre-K Teachers; Donell Newman & Oudi Singer, 4th Grade Teachers; Davida Amkraut, Middle School Language Arts and 8th Grade GLA Through a rigorous integrated curriculum, our students gain mastery in both General Studies and Judaic Studies at Schechter. Our students benefit personally from a deep immersion in the second language of Hebrew, the language of our shared heritage and history. Without question, our students are well prepared for High School and beyond, transitioning smoothly and successfully to the next stage of their education. So, what does an integrated education look like? Teachers from our Early Childhood Program, Lower School and Middle School take us on a journey with a small sampling of the integrated learning at Schechter each and every day.

Early Childhood

Ora Dromi, Vicki Teitelbaum, Pre-K Although each of our preschool classrooms contains a Judaics teacher and a General Studies teacher, the classroom instruction is not separate. To the contrary: there is a strong emphasis on integrating the curriculum in everything that we do. We recently completed the thematic unit, “Creation,” exploring the day-by-day creation of the world. The Judaics teacher focused on the biblical story/ history of “Creation,” using Hebrew language to enhance the students’ Hebrew vocabulary. Through this storytelling, we focused on story sequencing and listening comprehension, both necessary pre-reading and literacy skills. The General Studies teacher reinforced the learned concepts through a variety of multi-sensory activities, including books, music, art projects, iPad apps, creative writing and dramatic play. In integrating the two halves of the whole, we broadened the students’ knowledge of the subject, while promoting curiosity, creativity and confidence. All of the themes that we study (four seasons, American holidays, Jewish holidays, literature, community helpers and values) are incorporated into all of our activities and involve learning through both a secular and Jewish lens. In both languages, we practice letters, numbers, alliteration, rhyming, sequencing and patterns. In circle time, in group activities and on the playground, teachers work collaboratively to help teach children how to work together while learning skills and values that will benefit them throughout their lives.

Lower School

Donell Newman, Oudi Singer, 4th Grade Fourth Grade is a pivotal year for students. It’s a time of change; physically, emotionally and developmentally. Our two fourth grade teachers address these issues and work lessons into the curriculum that help students navigate through these changes. While academics remain central, both our Judaics and General Studies teachers work together to develop the whole child. Drawing on the best holistic approaches and recognizing that children have multiple intelligences, the Whole Child Initiative identifies five kinds of learning that we like to see each child exposed to, every day, if possible. They are: cognitive-intellectual activity, associated with the left brain; creative-intuitive activity (the arts), associated with the right brain; structured physical movement and unstructured, self-directed play; handwork, making things that can be useful and engagement with nature and community. We address each of these areas through our integrated curriculum. In our efforts to help develop the whole child, we provide them with academic tools and help them become menches. There is constant conversation in both classrooms about kavod (respect); respect for yourself, others and the property that is used each day. There are weekly conversations about the classes’ successes, but also areas that are in need of improvement, both for the individual and for the group as a whole. Academically, the students are developing and using their reading and writing skills in Judaics and General Studies with writing assignments, oral presentations and through examination of literature. From the writing process, to parts of speech, to creating Power Point presentations, the students utilize their knowledge in both areas. At this age, children are just learning how to make inferences from their reading and think critically about a text. So whether reading Fourth Grade Rats or Judaics texts, such as Tehilim, Psalms, the kids are working to strengthen these skills. One of the collaborative learning projects that exemplifies the way integration and Whole Child Initiatives come alive in our class is the Wax Museum, a program that allows each student to conduct research, use their artistic expression and do a presentation for the entire school and community in both Hebrew and English. This truly integrated program develops their research, writing, artistic and speaking skills in both languages. These techniques and many others help make learning meaningful and unforgettable in fourth grade.

Middle School

Davida Amkraut, Middle School Language Arts Middle school is the culmination of the Schechter experience. Most of our middle school students have been at Schechter since preschool and have benefited from the integrated curriculum that began for them at a very early age. The middle school faculty recognizes the changing needs of our older students and has created a curriculum and environment that builds upon their prior experiences. The students are challenged in and out of the classroom on a daily basis, and the expectations that the faculty has for each student are high. We want our students to take what they learn and realize that they are not learning that subject in a vacuum- we want them to see the cross curricular connections come to life. Our students use the tools and skills they develop in language arts to write across the curriculum whether that means writing a dvar torah that looks critically at a text and helps bring its relevance to modern day life or utilizing the scientific method to develop a hypothesis, conduct research and present for the science fair. Our math and science teachers work closely together so that the critical thinking required in both areas comes naturally in problem solving. The geography lessons that the students learn in social studies span discussions in both the Tanakh and Judaic Studies classrooms. In terms of social development and developing a global perspective, our students participate in a service learning program called TOP’s (Tikkun Olam Program) and go out into the greater Cleveland area and volunteer at local food banks and Head Start programs. We connect this important mitzvah of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, and culminate each program with a lesson about Rodef Shalom, pursuing peace. We are proud of our teachers who try and find innovative ways to integrate their lessons across the many different subjects that our students learn in middle school. We know that through an integrated and whole child approach, we are ensuring our each of our students is positioned for personal success. Sources: http://www.educatethewholechild.org/what-is-it/

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