JETS Shutafut (Partnership) programs have grown this year to embrace twenty-four schools, including ten schools in the TALI network.
School twinning offers classes in grades 4-12 the opportunity to "twin" with an Israeli classroom. Via a shared Learning Management System (LMS) the students learn about a wide range of subjects pertaining to Jewish culture and to Israel.
Each participating school chooses its own Shutafut curriculum. At the close of the previous year the students vote on the subject that they wish to study. These subjects may include (but are not limited to)Jewish immigration to Israel, modern Hebrew, Jewish peoplehood, Israel as the Start-Up Nation, etc.
This year the Shutafut schools are learning about heroes, Israel engagement, identity and leadership skills, Jewish identity and other engaging topics. Gesher Chai (Partnership 2000) schools include partnerships between Vancouver and Alai Giva, a northern border kibbutz community, Edmonton and Emek HaHula, 5 different schools in Birmingham Alabama and Rosh HaAyin and Calgary and the kibbutz school at Kfar Blum.
The Tali partnership program follows the curriculum of Tali's book "Chaverim M'Ever L'Yam" (Friends Across the Sea) and the lessons are developed in conjunction with the Tali foundation team. The Tali partnership program involve 5th and 6th grade classes in Israel Tali schools and their American counterparts. Schools in this program include the Frankel school of Rananna paired with Baltimore's Beth Tefilla, the Frankel school of French Hill, Jerusalem paired with the Hillel Day School of Metropolitan Detroit, the Ma'voyim school of Beersheva paired with Hochberg Prep of Miami Beach, the Arazim school of Yokneam paired with the Solomon Schechter school of Queens and the Martin J. Gottleib School of Jacksonville FL with the Nitzamin school of Hadera.
All of the programs bring the twinned classrooms together via their individual LMS. Assignments are posted on the virtual blackboards in Hebrew and in English and the students complete the projects using engaging interactive online tools including Voocoo voice recordings, linoboard stickies, Google docs, Wordles, Quizlets, Mind-Mapping, Scibblars, Earthtools, Social Posters and more.
Some of the schools have organized school trips that allow the students to meet and strengthen the connections -- this year video conferencing meetings are also planned in many schools so that the kids can meet in "real time."
Today eLearning opportunities provide more tools than ever to enable Israeli and diaspora communities to strengthen ties and build bridges.