Even after having experienced numerous school year- summer vacation cycles, I’m still startled by the seemingly sudden signs of Back-to-School. Overnight, backpacks and notebooks fill store shelves which yesterday overflowed with beach balls and BBQ tools. Excitement builds at the prospect of planning a new religious school year with a multitude of opportunities to creatively engage students and families in experiential, transformative Jewish learning.
At the religious school where I teach, the Congregation Albert School of Jewish Studies (CASJS), we have a new, detailed, carefully integrated curriculum for Pre-K to Grade 9. We are also returning to a two-day a week model after trying out a Sunday only format last year. Such change is not only a challenge, but a chance to employ new classroom management strategies, new learning tools including on-line resources, new techniques for inspiring and supporting students’ and families’ Jewish Journeys.
Several of my former students went to Jewish summer camps. They have described how much they enjoyed their camp time- the thrill of making new Jewish friends, the shared interests, the happy sense of community.
It’s productive to consider how elements of the Jewish camp experience can be brought into our classrooms to enhance the learning process.
Input from CASJS families strongly indicates that the social interactions; community building; and shared Jewish values, culture, and observance are of major importance in fostering a positive Jewish learning environment. In such an environment, students are more motivated to acquire the skills and to explore, retain, and apply the information being taught.
I’m examining various approaches to balancing the friendly, physically active, “fun” elements of camp with the need in religious school for both attentive listening and structured processing of information and for the review and practice which builds skills especially in Hebrew language.
In coming posts, I’ll share some ideas and plans that have the potential to create such a balance.
Latest posts by Ronni Sims (see all)
- Home From Camp & Back to School - August 6, 2014
- May Their Memory… - July 2, 2014
- Starting Over, Starting Up, Reviewing and Re-thinking….Again! - June 6, 2014