I am very excited about a recent innovation. Before the latest Chumash test, I sent a  letter to the parents to help them help their kids study. I got great feedback, the students felt successful when they came into the test and best yet – their scores went up – showing real learning had taken place! ************************************************************ ערב שבת,  פרשת שמות Dear Parents, This Wednesday, there will be a test on ________________________. Here are some ideas how to study for the test Test section How to study Checklist Translate phrases Review the פסוקים. Can I translate the Pesukim without the linear translation sheets?Which phrases doRead More →

  My Last Class for the Introduction to Independent Learning.  It was an awesome experience. Thank you to all who participated!   Reflections on teaching the class   Online Resources for the Unit   Pronouns   Game for reviewing pronouns Nouns   Verbs   Using cantillation (trop) to break up the pesukim and translation     Analyzing the theme of the pesukimRead More →

Today, I finished my 8th class in Introduction to Independent Torah Learning that was a blended learning course with both a live and online component.  Here are some of my reflections about my first go at this kind of course design. Background:  Separating the gap between the Can’s and the Cannot’s in Torah Learning I began teaching Chumash in 2001. Every year, there were two kinds of students in a class – those who could translate pesukim independently and those who could not. The more I taught, the more these distinctions became clear. I began to wonder how to give students who could not translate independentlyRead More →

Here is Part 2 of Introduction to Independent Torah Learning.  If you would like to view all the resources available with this course – please email me. Part 1: the building blocks of the Chumash text: Nouns! Verbs!  – This video will be posted for a limited time. The free version  http://youtu.be/B7jifNz15EA will be posted soon instead Practicing it with the text!   http://youtu.be/iQzOsbk7czA Analyzing the Pesukim  Read More →

Have you wanted to learn how to learn Chumash but never had a chance to learn how.  I am offering a course online doing just that.  Here are the videos. Email me if you want to be registered for the class with all the resources. Class 1 Part 1:   What are the 5 books of the Torah? How do I find my place in the text? What are legitimate ways of interpreting the Chumash? Class 1 Part 2: The First 2000 years: From Adam to Avram  Read More →

The students learn a lot of new skills and vocabulary each perek. But what happens at the end of the perek? What do they need to remember and what can they forget? This is a process of learning that students must develop as they mature. New knowledge must be stored in the brain in an  easily accessible place. One way to help students understand the process that their  brain is doing  is to have them replicate this process physically in the classroom. After each perek, we empty the chumash section of the binder. The students discard the worksheets and staple the translation sheets together. TheyRead More →

Inner/outer reviews are a great way to review a perek of learning. The desks in my class are set up as a U. Every other student takes his chair puts it on the inside of the U. He sits with his chumash facing his neighbor facing . I set my stopwatch for 2 minutes. The outer student reads the hebrew, the inner student translates. If either of them don’t know a word, they put a light pencil dot next to the word. After two minutes, the timer beeps (or quacks in my case). I poll the class about what was the average pasuk completed. IRead More →

Today was one of those days that teachers dream about. A chance to see all my efforts over the year come full circle. Here is how it happened. We only had three pesukim left to learn in Parshas Vayeitzei. I had the class read the pasukim aloud without teaching them at all. Of course, as we were reading about Yaakov meeting up with the melachim, the class exploded with questions. Was Yaakov in Eretz Yisrael? How could the melachim of Eretz Yisrael come to greet him as Rashi says? Which malachim did he send to Har Seir? Surely not the melachim of Eretz Yisrael. InRead More →

Chumash: test – I read recently that easy tests give as much information about the students’ knowledge as long tests. I made what I thought was a pretty easy test. Sure enough, the grades were pretty similar to my harder, longer tests. I included more application questions and the students had to illustrate some of the pesukim from the test. After the test, I had the students do some independent work. Th objective was for them to learn how to find a pasuk in the chumash. They chose the order of the exercises they wanted to do: 1. Find pasuk – This exercise teaches studentsRead More →

Tefillah: הדר כבוד הודך, ודברי נפלאתיך אשיחה. ועזוז נוראתיך יאמרו, וגדלתך אספרנה.  זכר רב טובך יביעו, וצדקתך  ירננו… Meaning: The splendorous glory of Your power and Your wondrous deeds I shall discuss. And of Your awesome power they  will speak, and Your greatness I shall relate. A recollection of Your abundant goodness they will utter and of Your righteousness they will sing exultantly…. Each of these three lines of Ashrei mentions different ways to communicate out loud. Focus: Why is it so important to vocalize these ideas? Activity: What are some things that are important to say? Why do you need to say them? What will happen to our opinionRead More →

Tefillah: We had the second graders join us because of some substitute timing. We reviewed that Ashrei = Happy and what makes us happy. We then translated the first few lines of Ashrei until בכל יום. I asked the students if they needed to thank their mothers today if they already did so yesterday? Why would we need to bless and appreciate Hashem every day? Should our feelings of thanks to our mother be the same each and every day? Before we said Ashrei, we thought of something we are happy for. We paused before בכל יום to think of what we would thank HashemRead More →

Intro: We are starting אשרי! We discussed אשרי means happy. What do we need to do to be happy? We need to focus on good things to appreciate them to be happy. In אשרי, we will focus on many things ה’ does which is why we are happy. Chumash:  Review Pesukim 25-27. Translation sheets Learn pesukim 28-31 Draw shorashim on board 2) Ask questions:     if יעקב thinks it is time to leave, what should the conversation go like?    When do you think יעקב will want to go and why?     Will לבן want him stay? How will he convince יעקב toRead More →

Intro: The students were able to find the words on the second page of the worksheets but weren’t able to do the matching. So it was back to the drawing board for another way of teaching it so it sticks. I asked the students questions from each line. “What word in line 1 tells us that Hashem made the world with his words?” שאמר This specific reading of the text led to some very interesting questions that showed a deep comprehension. Why does it need to repeat the word מלך so many times? (we discussed themes in poetry.  I have a son in the class so I know thatRead More →