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MIFGASHIM  January 2011

MIFGASHIM January 2011

Subject:

Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 155

From:

Rabbi Lee Buckman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 12:49:11 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (259 lines)

Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 155


Contents:

1.	Tu B’Shevat Resources

2.	Jewish Education Change Website

3.	More Responses to the Letter Banning Sale of Homes to Gentiles in Israel

4.	Mifgashim Memo:  What Jewish Educators Might Learn from Jewish Scholars

5.	Marshall Memo: Designing Standards-Based Report Cards That Communicate Well


~~~~~~~~~


1.      Tu B’Shevat Resources

Thursday, January 20 is Tu B’Shevat.  Below are links to resources:

http://www.googlesyndicatedsearch.com/u/lookstein?q=tu+b&sa=Search+lookstein.org+with+Google
http://www.jr.co.il/hotsites/j-hdaytu.htm
http://www.ou.org/holidays/article_index/tu_bshevat
http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Tu_Bishvat.shtml
http://www.g-dcast.com/tu-bshvat?src=rss


~~~~~~~~~


2.	Jewish Education Change Website


A network has been organized to enable those working for change in
Jewish education to connect with one another, learn what leaders in
the field are doing, access ideas and resources.

Check it out at http://www.jedchange.net/.

And see Jonathan Woocher’s thoughtful post, followed by comments, on
shared values in Jewish education:

“What our learners learn is critical --however they come to learn it,
whether in a traditional classroom, an experiential activity, or an
interactive game on their iPad.  There are values that are central to
the Jewish experience in any age -- values like b'tzelem elokim
(treating others as images of God), tzedek and hesed (justice and
compassion), tikkun atzmi and tikkun olam (improving ourselves and
repairing the world) -- and it's Jewish education's responsibility to
help us encounter, interpret, and apply these in our lives.  We won't
all or always agree on what's most important to teach, how to
understand what we do teach, or what the best way is to teach it.
But, in my experience there is a broad set of shared values that
nearly everyone involved in Jewish education is committed to.  The
educational process is actually enriched, however, by our not working
in lockstep, i.e., by the fact that we are both united on some levels
and diverse on others.”

For reactions to this post, go to
http://www.jedchange.net/forum/topics/what-are-the-shared-values-of


~~~~~~~~~


3.      More Responses to the Letter Banning Sale of Homes to Gentiles in Israel


“Geirim Heyitem” is an informal group of yeshiva and midrasha
graduates that oppose the ban on the sale of property to non-Jews in
Israel.  “Guided by halacha,” they take “their values from the Bible
and the writings of the Sages” and “reject the ban unequivocally.”

See https://sites.google.com/site/gerimheyitem/home


~~~~~~~~~


4.      Mifgashim Memo:   What Jewish Educators Might Learn from Jewish Scholars


In Barry Holtz’s, “Across the Divide: What might Jewish educators
learn from Jewish scholars?”, he shows the different ways in which
Judaic scholarship can contribute to both Jewish educational research
and practice.

The article begins by describing the tension between the worlds of
academia and education in general, suggesting three central reasons
for universities’ disregard for the world of practical education:  the
low social status of teachers in American society, the deep-seeded
gender discrimination in academia that judges the profession poorly
because of its female majority, and the ‘intellectual trope’ that
values abstract, theoretical knowledge over practice.

Moreover, Holtz argues that scholarship is centered purely on the
development of subject matter, thus labeling pedagogy as a waste of
time and energy. Whereas many schools of education have attempted to
improve their status by trying to become what universities want them
to be, Holtz suggests more productive ways in which the gap between
scholarship and education, both Jewish and general, can be bridged.

He claims that scholars can help teachers define the nature of their
discipline for educational purposes; those with a more complex
understanding of the subject matter can guide educators through
crucial pedagogical questions, such as the most interesting challenges
of a discipline. However, Holtz warns that while scholars have the
freedom to delve into detail, teachers must be loyal to their
dual-focus of both material and the way in which students will
encounter it. Nevertheless, educators can improve their teaching by
learning the scholarly “theory of practice” of their field, which
presents a framework for the way in which subject matter can be
conceptualized.

In order for there to be any sort of relationship between scholarship
and education, there must obviously be opportunities for interactions
between the two parties. Holtz suggests three ways in which Jewish
educators can take advantage of the scholarly resources of Jewish
academia: exploring how scholars speak, think and write about their
disciplines.

Holtz explores each of the suggested models through analysis of the
advantages and challenges of examples of each. He argues for the
importance of educators hearing what scholars have to say about the
way in which their disciplines should be studied, getting into the
thinking processes of scholars at work, and becoming well acquainted
with scholarly writings, paying close attention to the pedagogical
implications of scholars’ presentation of subject matter.

Holtz does not want teachers to simply provide students with more
knowledge.  Rather, teachers should use scholarly information and
insight to create pedagogic situations that enable students to go
through the intellectual processes that the scholars themselves
experienced. This goal reiterates the demand for teachers to think
from the learners’ perspective, ‘curricularizing’ scholarship in a way
that makes it meaningful for students.

Holtz is not blind to the constraints of time and curriculum that hold
educators back from this type of scholarly involvement.  However, he
argues for the need to develop a philosophy of education that
emphasizes these values and is reflected in practical educational
decisions. To conclude, Holtz assures that the relationship between
Jewish scholarship and education is not one-sided; while educators can
certainly learn a tremendous amount from scholarship, academia can be
enriched by scholars analyzing their disciplines in the context of
real-world education, forcing them to confront the questions at the
core of the entire enterprise – such as why does any of this matter
anyway?


“Across the Divide: What might Jewish educators learn from Jewish
scholars?” by Barry Holtz in Journal of Jewish Education, 72,1 (2006)
5-28, the author No free e-link available.

The Mifgashim Memo is a weekly selection of important research in
Jewish Education provided by Debbie Katz at the Lookstein Center.


~~~~~~~~~


5.         Marshall Memo: Designing Standards-Based Report Cards That
Communicate Well

Thomas Guskey, a Kentucky education professor, says that the main
challenge in designing a standards-based report card is communicating
effectively with parents.

Guskey says that we need to use labels that convey “honest meaningful,
and useful information” so that parents understand what we expect
their children to learn and how they are doing. He says that if
parents don’t understand a report card, it’s not their fault – it’s
ours for failing to communicate.

Guskey and his colleagues worked with focus groups of parents and
tried out different labels and report card language. They found that
parents generally interpreted labels based on their own personal
experience with grading and report cards – mostly norm-referenced
A-B-C-D-F letter grades.

Once the researchers explained to parents that new report cards are
supposed to show students’ progress on specific learning goals (not
compared to classmates), parents had strong opinions on which labels
were most helpful – and their responses were amazingly consistent.
Parents were baffled by the labels “Pre-Emergent” and “Emerging” (one
parent said the latter conjured up images of a slimy creature coming
out of a swamp; another said that if “Emerging” means “Beginning,” why
not just say “Beginning”!). Parents were also negative about “Exceeds
Standard,” finding it vague and imprecise. They found “Advanced,”
“Exemplary,” “Distinguished,” and “Outstanding” more helpful.

Here is Guskey’s advice for those charged with designing or tweaking
standards-based report cards:

• Avoid comparative language. The challenge for parents is shifting
their thinking
from “How is my child doing compared to other students in the class?”
to “How is my child doing with regard to the learning expectations for
this level?” It throws parents off when we use labels like “Below
Average,” “Average,” or “Superior.” All labels should clearly relate
students’ performance to specific learning expectations (e.g., “Below
Basic,” “Basic,” “Proficient,” and “Advanced”).

• Provide examples of student work. When parents see samples of
student work at the different performance levels, it really helps them
make the shift to standards-based grading. Exemplars also help parents
support their children in improving their work. To get good exemplars
of student work, teachers need time to talk about what is meant by
“Proficient” and to locate good sample papers.

• Distinguish between “Levels of Understanding” and “Frequency of
Display.” It confuses parents when educators confound what students
are able to do (quality) with how often they do it (rate of
occurrence). Guskey feels that frequency labels (e.g., “Rarely,”
“Occasionally,” “Frequently,” and “Consistently”) should be reserved
for students’ work habits, study skills, or behavior and not used for
knowledge and skills.

• Be consistent. It confuses the heck out of parents when there is one
set of labels in elementary report cards, another in middle and high
school report cards, another on state assessments, and another on
standardized test reports. Reducing the number of labels to the
absolute minimum is very helpful.

“The Communication Challenge of Standards-Based Reporting” by Thomas
Guskey in Phi Delta Kappan, December 2004 (Vol. 86, #4, p. 326-329),
no e-link available

The Marshall Memo is a weekly digest of important research in K-12
education. Individual
subscriptions are $50 for the school year at
http://www.marshallmemo.com.

__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________

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The Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora,
The School of Education, Bar Ilan University

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