Sunday, May 4, 2014

Do You Celebrate the Christmas? - No, we're Jewish!

Do You Celebrate the Christmas? - No, we're Jewish!

For students of Hochberg Preparatory Jewish Day School in Miami and the Mabbuim elementary school of Southern Israel, the highlight of their year-long "Friends Across the Sea" school partnership program came last week when the kids were able to "meet" each other via live video chat.

Throughout this past school year, the 5th and 6th grade students have been working on shared projects which are facilitated on the MyHaiku Learning Management System.  Each month the classes would explore new subjects that were posted in English and in Hebrew on their shared LMS platform. The curriculum included a wide range of subjects such as Jewish diversity, seeing the world through a Jewish lens, and information about similarities and differences between worldwide Jewish communities. The students were also encouraged to personalize the subject matter as they discussed their own families and their views of Judaism and Israel.


Although the communication through the LMS was active and engaging, the students in both classes frequently voiced their desire to develop a more personal relationship with their "friends across the sea."  JETS therefore set up a virtual meeting via  web conferencing software. The students could see each other and connect by chatting, both by SKYPEing on the big screen and using a back channel to type to each other on Today's Meet. In addition to the opportunity to actually meet each other, the format allowed the students to practice their language skills and learn more about their peers' lives.

 A significant amount of the chat centered around the students' shared interest in sports, but other subjects included the weather, families, holiday celebrations and school. The students were enthusiastic about their meeting and have already asked for a second video chat opportunity.

Anat, a teacher at Hochberg Prep, was pleased with the chat results. She wrote:
"I thought it went very well! Students on both sides were asking each other questions and gave answers and sang songs to each other (ours - sang in Hebrew 'Mi Shema'amin Lo Mefached" and theirs - sang in English 'We are the World'). The atmosphere was very friendly and fun! They asked about what we do during Shavuot, our daily schedule, what sport we like, etc. Our students asked someone if they had a Bar Mitzvah, and what they do in the summer and for Lag Baomer... They really enjoyed comparing notes and cheering for each other! It was really fun to watch! Thanks for making this happen! I really felt that it brought the students closer together!  Y'shar Koach!!!"

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