JETS' No Teacher Left Behind reconvened last night after a month-long hiatus for the holidays.
The course is geared towards Jewish educators who want to become involved in bringing online education into their classrooms, schools and communities.
During the first four weeks of the class the course facilitator, JETS director Smadar Goldstein, introduced the group to the Elluminate online blackboard which allows classes to be conducted in which participants from around the world can see, simultaneously, the same documents, presentations and videos while communicating with each other. The format is especially useful for distance learning situations in which students are scattered in different locations because the students can collaborate while seeing and hearing the instructor and each other.
Smadar also presented a variety of other online tools to the students and allowed them to explore and experiment during the first four classes. Some of these tools include mind-mapping, voxopops, scribbler, linoboards, creating videos, voki, woodles, google docs and more.
This month started out with participants' lesson plans. Over the course of October's four classes each participant will present a sample lesson plan in which they incorporate some of the tools to which they have have been introduced.
Leah started the first sample lesson with an ice-breaker. She posted a google doc with some questions that allow each participant to tell a little about him/herself.
Leah then moved into her lesson, describing how she introduced the concept of "slicha" -- sorry -- to a class of American schoolboys. Leah prepared a linoboard that was aimed to bring the boys' attention to the word "slicha" for the Ten Days of Repentence that fall between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
She explained how she involved the boys by asking them "why is it so hard to ask "sorry" and "what does it mean when we say "I'm sorry."
She further personalized the lesson by asking them "What's harder -- to ask forgiveness from a friend or to ask forgiveness of yourself ?" A picture collage that showed people behaving badly was presented and the question was asked "did you do any of these things and if so, how did you ask for forgiveness?
Leah ended her unit with a printout of the Adon HaSlichot -- a prayer from the Yom Kippur service. After the boys read the prayer she asked them "how do the piyutium of adon haslichot relate to actions that we need to ask forgiveness for? Were there things that spoke specifically to you? (the student)
In feedback the participants of No Teacher Left Behind agreed that the unit was a highly engaging and interactive one. One participant asked Leah to explain her heavy use of Google docs and she explained that her class is conducted on Skype, limiting her ability to use many of the tools that are available to other online teachers.
Michal's class involved a presentation of Hip Hop Hebraics that she's presently doing with her JconnecT class. Before the class starts Michal introduces the Hebrew version of the 5 Ws, which for Hebrew Speakers is the Mems -- Mi, Mah, Matai, Maduah and Afoh (Who, What, When, Why and Where) .
Michal introduced Hebrew by discussing the origins of the Hebrew language. She showed her class a picture of aleph and a ox head and participants discussed the connection? In its raw form the ox's head was similar to an aleph and it's possible to see how it could have evolved into the present day aleph, but it takes some thought and is probably a fun exercise for a group of pre-teens. Michal went on to say that an ox is a wild animal. To train an animal is to לאלף -- to train -- is the connection is.
The lesson continued with other graphic examples of changing letters and connections. Michal explained that in the early days, a letter was supposed to remind you of the word for which it stood. She showed examples of how some Hebrew letters may have evolved.
The class then listed to Ehud Banai's Hebrew Man video and answered related questions on a google doc, reinforcing the lesson with the four Mems for language acquisition skills.
· What is the message of the song
· Who sings the song
· Why do they sing the song in English
Students were then asked to look at the other students' comments, choose one other person's comment and comment on their comment
Michal ended her lesson by showing the contrasting people who speak Hebrew including the dignified Golda Meir and the rap artist Subliminal. Students were to consider the discrepancy in Hebrew as a holy, important language and as a language used in everyday communication by ...everybody.
The review of Michal's class was complementary. Participants felt that, as is important for an online class, the students were active and involved in the learning process.