It feels as though I’ve just put away the apples and honey and shofar posters and already the Macabees are waiting in the wings.
Time, in all its abstract and concrete manifestations is a great challenge as I plan this school year. Our religious school program has been re-configured from last year. Instead of teaching a Wednesday Sixth Grade Hebrew class, I now teach Fifth Grade Hebrew and Judaic Studies on Sundays. Budget constraints made it necessary to offer the entire religious school program for pre-K through Confirmation on Sundays. We are now known as the Congregation Albert School of Jewish Studies and the program combines classroom days and family education days.
Lesson planning means making the most of each classroom minute while meeting the learning needs of my students who vary greatly in their Hebrew skills, their Judaic Studies backgrounds, and their academic abilities.
My goal is to guide students’ learning, so that they progress in Hebrew, grow in awareness of Torah teachings and Holidays, and retain and apply what they learn to their Jewish living, now and in the future -all in an active, joyful, inclusive classroom environment. What works for my students will be shared here with you.
In a recent class, we reviewed the role of various “dots” that influence Hebrew letter and vowel sounds by playing a game I created called, “Dot-It!”
The only materials needed are a chalkboard and construction paper dots made by tracing the cover of a large whipped topping container.
- Give each student a paper dot.
- On the chalkboard, write 5 large Hebrew letters. Choose letters whose sounds are changed by the presence or absence of dots. I chose the letters vet, vav, chaf, fay, and sin/shin.
- Divide students into groups of 3 or4.
- Instruct the students that they may place their dots under, over, and inside the letters. They must place all their dots.
- Give the groups 3-5 minutes to decide where on the letters they will place their dots and what sounds the letters will then make.
- Each group takes a turn going to the chalkboard and holding up their dots over, under, and /or inside the letters. As they hold their dots in place, they call on another group or individual classmates to pronounce the sounds they’ve made with their dots.
- Several rounds of Dot-It! may be played so that students can have the opportunity to create a variety of letter/vowel sounds.
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