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MIFGASHIM  October 2002

MIFGASHIM October 2002

Subject:

MIFGASHIM

From:

Solly Kaplinski <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

MIFGASHIM LIST <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 1 Oct 2002 00:29:04 +0300

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (301 lines)

MIFGASHIM

September 30 2002
24 Tishrei 5763
Volume 2:4
Moderator: Solly Kaplinski
The Lookstein Center for Jewish Education
Bar Ilan University

CONTENTS

1. Resource of the Week
Esther Feldman: Director, Information and Technology Services
The Lookstein Center

2. Is it acceptable to be critical of Israel from a distance? A response to
the debate.
(See MIFGASHIM September 23 02)
Janis Goldstein, Tel Aviv

3. Can we, and should we, try to transform the foundation of Jewish
identity so that it revolves around the joy and richness of Jewish life,
rather than the tragedies of Jewish history?
A response to Zvi Grumet (See MIFGASHIM August 25 02)
David Jacobsen, New Jersey

4. How technology enhances effective communication in exemplary schools
Fred Cohen: Head of Information Technology, Vancouver Talmud Torah School

-----------------------------------------------------------

CONTENTS

1. Resource of the Week
Esther Feldman: Director, Information and Technology Services
The Lookstein Center

This week's resource: This article on CNN.com, "Logging on for a new school
year in Mississippi" describes the innovative and different ways that
schools integrate computer technology into the students' study-day.
To see this week's resource go to

 http://www.lookstein.org/resource_week/september2002.htm

or to

http://www.lookstein.org/resource_week.htm and click on September
2002

-----------------------------------------------------------


2. Is it acceptable to be critical of Israel from a distance? A response to
the debate.
(See MIFGASHIM September 23 02)
Janis Goldstein, Tel Aviv.

I would like to contribute a few comments to last week’s MIFGASHIM
conversation on whether to be critical of Israel from a distance or to be
more prudent and cautious. I fail to understand how today

when Israel is under siege

when we are confronting war on a daily basis

when there is a parallel war taking place in the world media underscoring
an international attempt to besmirch and deligitimize not only the state of
Israel but also the Jewish people as a whole

that there are people in our community, especially in chutz la’aretz who
cannot understand that by being critical of Israel, by condemning it, one
is actually giving strength to those who are seeking to undermine the very
foundations of the Jewish state and the Jewish people.

On this, the second anniversary of this war that was launched against us,
what we need now more than anything else, are able bodied foot soldiers who
can join us in the fight against the anti Israel media campaign, who are
ready to be bold and courageous and publicly commit to our well-being and
welfare. We need teachers to explain to their students that Israel is
vulnerable, that people here are living with and in constant danger, that
students need to be encouraged to write to their local newspapers, to
participate in demonstrations in support of Israel – like they did to
express their condemnation of Jews being held against their will in the
former Soviet Union.

While we have made our fair share of mistakes in the last two years, the
plain fact of the matter is that we are mot wanted here. Does anyone really
think that when all is said and done and Israel had to hand back all the
territories that are demanded that there would be peace here? We need to be
strong, safe and secure and we need your help in this unrelenting and
bitter war.

-----------------------------------------------------------

3. Can we, and should we, try to transform the foundation of Jewish
identity so that it revolves around the joy and richness of Jewish life,
rather than the tragedies of Jewish history?
A response to Zvi Grumet (See MIFGASHIM August 25 02)
David Jacobsen, New Jersey


While Sylvia Abrams provides an excellent perspective to Zvi Grumet’s
contention that the foundation of Jewish identity should revolve around the
joys of Judaism as opposed to the oys, may I add may voice in support of
Zvi? I have noticed that in the States especially, the defining moment for
the organised Jewish communities and Jewish schools in terms of Jewish
identity is commemoration of the Shoah. This seems to be the highpoint in
community life and calendar cycle. Commemoration events draw crowds of
people while Yom Ha’atzmaut events tend to be very poorly (relatively)
attended. It’s enough that we have to contend with the terrible news on our
T.V screens that emerge from Israel every single day. How can we bring our
students to appreciate the wander and awe of studying Jewish texts, of the
admiration for Israel’s achievements over these last 50 years, of the
outstanding achievements in Israel in particular in high tech, medicine,
farming and research? Let’s emphasise the positive, the highs, and the
outstanding successes.

I am not for a moment suggesting that our students don’t learn about the
Shoah – we cannot and must not escape it but surely a sense of proportion
and balance is required?

-----------------------------------------------------------


4. How technology enhances effective communication in exemplary schools

Fred Cohen: Head of Information Technology, Vancouver Talmud Torah School

Abstract.

The article discusses the importance of effective communication in
exemplary schools.  It outlines who the important stakeholders are and the
communication modalities used to keep them informed. The writer offers
examples, using technology as a tool, to facilitate effective communication
and shares ideas that have been tested in the field.


Superlative communications is the vehicle that helps create an exemplary
school of excellence.

Today’s teachers must be equipped not only with advanced teaching methods,
but also a myriad of creative communication skills. Schools on the cutting
edge utilize many modalities to communicate with all its stakeholders and
its 21st century teachers must be well versed in their use.

There are four main categories of school-based stakeholders. In order of
importance they are students, faculty (teaching staff and administrations),
parents, and community (district office, trustees).

Acknowledging that our first priority must be our students is the first
step in the creation of a school of excellence.  With curricula changing
and expanding rapidly and the necessary time to teach the vast amount of
information diminishing, we must augment our existing communication arsenal
with new and exciting techniques. Knowing that students learn in different
ways and at their own pace provides an opportunity to use technology
available to us to individualize learning.  Students today are not only
responsible for the three R’s but must be able to think critically and
creatively. Our roles as teachers have changed from disseminators of
information to facilitators. We must therefore offer students the tools to
research topics and find the answers to questions independently and then
give them presentation tools to enable them to share their findings with a
variety of audiences. I believe that in a school of excellence, students
communicate their research to peers, faculty, parents, and peers in other
schools and countries. By using tools such as: the Internet, PowerPoint,
Hyperstudio, IMovie, Email, and many other technology based tools,
information can be conveyed effectively and efficiently.

The following are some examples of student-teacher, student-peer and
student-parent communication strategies in my school:

Teachers communicate with students via e-mail and vice versa. If students
are having require help, they often write to their teachers who respond
quickly. Teachers still meet with students but as class sizes grow and time
becomes a factor, e-mail is one more tool to help students and teachers
communicate.

Every student from grade two to grade seven has an active e-mail address.
Since the format of each e-mail address is the same, everyone in the school
knows everybody’s address allowing students to easily share work and ideas
with other students.

Parents often e-mail teachers with questions about their children and vice
versa. These regular reciprocal communications usually result in more
productive parent-teacher school meetings.

Another example of seamless communication between home and school which is
helpful:

Students start projects in school, e-mail it home where they continue their
work. They then e-mail their work back to school, retrieve it and complete
their assignments.

Many cross-subject projects are completed on the computer. Teachers have
access to their student’s computer folders, correct their work and
communicate helpful comments on the same documents. These finished
corrected works remain in the student’s folders which create an on-going
portfolio that they can share with their parents and their peers. These
portfolios are very helpful during parent/teacher interviews.

Using a word processor and spreadsheet, Grade 7 students learn how to
create a word find puzzle using Grade 2 student’s spelling word lists. Once
the puzzle is created they print and share it with Grade 2’s who complete
the puzzle as part of their language arts curriculum. This new spelling
drill and practice activity improves the spelling results in Grade 2 and
teaches the Grade 7 students to use a spreadsheet and word processor.

Grade 6 and 7 students in their fine arts curriculum research a musician
and song. They incorporate this with a dance component and create a video.
Five students per video production work together using video editing tools
and collaboratively produce a finished product that is then shown to their
classmates and is peer evaluated and assessed by teachers. The video is
presented on the computer during a parent video evening and is posted on
the school’s web site for students and parents in other cities and
countries to view.

Students in a variety of grade levels use their computers to create a
collaborative on-going story. Each student is presented on the computer
with the same starting paragraph of a potential story and is given two
minutes to type a few sentences extending the story. When time is up the
students save their work and physically move to the next computer, where
they read the story written by the previous student and then add their two
sentences to continue the story. This continues until we have twenty-five
stories that all the students have contributed to. The goal of this project
is to have students read and communicate their thoughts in an orderly
manner and then share the fruits of their labor by reading a story aloud to
their peers.

Students work hard to produce quality projects, which they then publish on
our school website. This work ranges from creative writing, in two
languages, to advanced video productions. These published works are an
excellent device to communicate to parents and extended family living
outside the city, what students are learning and accomplishing and what is
happening in our classrooms.

We at Talmud Torah are also committed to global communications
communicating regularly with a sister school in Israel and a local school
with a strong Chinese culture. Students at multiple grade levels e-mail
letters to the students in these schools to learn more about global issues
and lifestyles in other countries. They share activities and events from
their respective schools and support each other when situations get
difficult in their own locations. Locally these communications culminate
with a visit to each other’s school.

The final stakeholder in the lines of communication is the community i.e.
school board, trustees and the community at large. Web authoring tools are
used to post our regular newsletter on the school web site. These
newsletters are archived and can be easily accessed. Twice monthly e-mails
are sent to the entire parent body with an active link to the newsletter.
When the e-mail is opened, an automatic reply is sent to the school
alerting us that  parents have opened the e-mail.

These electronic communiqués save tremendous amounts of paper and time.
More importantly, more parents are reading the newsletters. In addition,
more extended families outside the city are keeping up with the events at
the school. Newsletters are also sent to alumni of the school thus keeping
lines of communication open to past parents, students and board members.

Communication with the community is an extremely valuable asset. Teachers
and administrators can never share enough information about the terrific
events, projects, student and school wide accomplishments happening daily
in our schools. Technology helps us get the word out that we are alive and
well and doing a superlative job! This impacts positively on more
volunteers, financial supporters and harnesses political support for what
we are doing. If we truly are a community of learners, we must communicate
at every level.

Technology is rapidly altering the way teachers and schools pass on
information. Teachers, administrators, students and parents must keep up to
date and continue to learn how to use these wonderful tools. In this way we
will surely see more exemplary schools moving from strength to strength.

I invite you to see some of the examples referred to at
www.talmudtorah.com  Please browse through our school web site and write a
comment in our guest book. Or write to [log in to unmask] I would be
happy to share any program ideas we have tried and look forward to hear
your successes.

-----------------------------------------------------------

__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________

The Mifgashim List is a project of
The Rabbi Joseph H. Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora
The School of Education, Bar Ilan University

To leave the list, respond to this message with the word "remove" in the
subject line.
To post a message, please write us at: [log in to unmask]

You can search the archives at
http://listserv.biu.ac.il/archives/mifgashim.html

Check out online educational materials and information on other
Lookstein Center programs on our website at http://www.lookstein.org/.

The website is supported, in part, by a generous grant from the
AviChai Foundation.

Further information may be obtained by writing to: [log in to unmask]

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