Eishes Chayil: Ancient Wisdom for Women of Today. It’s  been thirteen years of writing, editing, thinking – what does the Torah and Chazal tell me what it means to be a Jewish woman? There have been so many competing forces telling me what I could or could not be, how I should or should not act. I needed a guide that was timeless, authentic and true. I turned away from others’ opinions and opened the sources that have served as a guide in all the other areas of my life – the Torah as interpreted by Chazal. Mishlei, written by Shlomo HaMelech, ends with a poemRead More →

February is Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every school and institution believed that every child deserved a place in a Jewish school? As a child, I was fortunate to attend a day school that believed in inclusion. Students who were blind, deaf, confined to wheelchairs or who had Down’s syndrome called my school home just as I did. The students with disabilities were not kept to themselves and then paraded around to make the other students feel good about themselves. They were integral parts of each class and part of school life and learning like any other student. Having students withRead More →

At first the name of this blog was was Chinuch Thoughts. Now it is Chinuch ENERGY! I decided the vision for this blog had to change. I was going to write my thoughts and ideas about the chinuch world. Then I realized that there are so many people doing that already. Every crises that gets written about online and in the papers has the following words halfway through the discussion: SCHOOLS SHOULD . . . I’m a teacher so that when it says SCHOOLS SHOULD it means me or my overworked principal or my dedicated colleagues. when I see Yoni can’t get married, feel religiously passionateRead More →

I was avoiding work by looking at my facebook feed when I saw a link to another parenting article. I clicked, I read, and I sighed. I felt sad as both a teacher and parent. There is a new parenting paradigm out there meant to address helicopter parenting. It is called “no rescue parenting.” The writer of the original blog post that coined the phrase was featured on a segment of the Today Show and received a lot of support. At its core, no rescue parenting seems to make sense. If a kid forgets something, rather than rushing in to save them from consequences orRead More →

If I write about IT will I seem pathetic? Do I write about IT and try to seem wise?  Do I avoid writing about IT and try to seem super-together and expert-like?  Or do I just quit blogging???? This is what has been running through my mind ever since I agreed to write a blog post this week. Because more than any other topic, I have been wanting to write about my Terrible, Horrible, No Good/Very Bad Day. Yeah, I know, blogs on education websites are meant to be inspirational, educational and/or motivational. Hopefully, authentic will pass muster and will help out my fellow teachersRead More →

Part 1: Biographies wanted Last week, one of the greatest Torah sages of the last few generations, Rav Ovadiah Yosef, died. As my husband described him, Rav Ovadia zt”l was a cross between Albert Einsten and Martin Luther King Jr, whose genius was unmatched and who elevated the lives of an entire ethnic group in Israel. I wanted my third graders to have a taste of Rav Ovadia zt”l’s greatness so that they could be inspired to work hard and  to appreciate the greatness & uniqueness of our Torah giants. For the last two year, I have been presenting a Torah personality to my classRead More →

Rav Ovadia Yosef was niftar this past Monday. I spoke to my class today about him as our first biography of the year. It is hard to capture the greatness of a man who was one of the biggest geonim of the generation but was also the greatest civil Rights leader of Israel who tranformed the lives of 50% of the Israeli population who faced discrimination, poverty, hopelessness and spiritual ignorance. Zechuso Yagen Aleinu. Some videos & Links of Interest http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3l-D0yuMV8 Rav Lau (who visited Rochester last year with Rav Ovadia) 4 minutes in the day of rav Ovadia http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnEiRlxzjKg CNN reports on his funeral – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCr525VBpD8 picturesRead More →

This year, like most teachers, parents and students, I was lucky enough to have TWO first days of school. At least that was what it felt like. My first, first day was Thursday before Rosh Hashana. We had a total of eight school days interspersed over the course of 3 weeks with frequent breaks for secular holidays, Jewish holidays, and erev holidays. This Monday was my second, first day. Come Friday (if I make it Please G-d), I will have taught my first full week of classes this year. So, although school began over a month ago, I figure I can write about some thingsRead More →

Every other Wednesday, I post ideas about how to improve the learning going on in the classroom. There are so many buzzwords and great ideas floating around about what could make education better: blended learning, 1 to 1 education, media labs. It would take 30 hours a day to get schools to be perfect and for teachers to prepare the needed lessons to implement these ideas. Yet, even if all these innovations were implemented, I’m not sure these ideas would improve the learning drastically without addressing a more fundamental issue. No matter how much research and effort we put into improving education  there is stillRead More →

The Common Core I don’t know about you, but my school has been living and breathing the common core over the last few weeks. Although as a private school, we are exempt from the 3-8th grade testing requirement, my school administered the tests anyway to help provide benchmarks for the General Studies program. So we lived through the state exams. Our students did really well, and I got to feel good that I’m  not the only one who has trouble making assessments that capture the vibrancy of  the curriculum. An important lesson. But, even more important, I learned that there are some great techniques andRead More →

  Have you ever found yourself with the following dilemma? You are an OK teacher, but sometimes the kids drift off in your class. Or you explain a concept for five minutes and the class looks back at you with a blank look as if you are speaking Chinese. Or, you thought the kids were with you in class, but they bombed the test. These kinds of days are demoralizing. It’s not fun to feel like its been a FAIL. So, what are your options? You can go to your principal, but you know she is overworked and stressed. There is a big board meetingRead More →

All success begins with some failure . . . I have written about my fun few years in the web industry during the dot-com boom. I had a grand time and enjoyed feeling like my stock options were worth something before the market crashed. Then came 9/11, and I decided to devote myself to doing something meaningful like teaching our holy Torah to the next generation. Honestly, I didn’t have such a grand time for the first few years at all. Kids and classes do not come with instruction manuals. I was never quite sure what I was supposed to be doing and how toRead More →

Last time: I introduced some of the top tips I learned working as an information architect in Silicon Alley. My top 3 tips had to do with what to teach.   Tip #1 from the Web: Who is your audience? Tip #2 from the Web: Less is More Tip #3 from the Web: Categorize These tips are still not enough to ensure that students will get what we want from a lesson. Teachers need to also worry about how their presentations look. I wasn’t hired to be graphic designer, why worry so much about how to present information? Have you ever spent hours preparing aRead More →

I have had such a great experience with my Megillas Esther reading program this year that it merited an immediate blog post. This year, I have been spending daily class time having the students read aloud using the DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) model explained here  where they read to a friend and the friend checks them for errors and times them to improve their hebrew reading fluency. The class average is around 50 words a minute which is quite good.  I have used the read for speed worksheets on the parsha and made my own for tefillos so that  students develop sight words that they will useRead More →