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 →

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 →

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 →

Cross-posted from YU 2.0 It is a great priviledge to be a guest blogger on YU 2.0. It is a great community, and I look forward to the conversations that these guest blogs will bring. Innovation The theme on YU 2.0 Wednesdays is Innovation. When I think of innovation, I think of my grandmother who told me to reinvent myself every decade. She herself had learned to drive in her late 60s, volunteered on a kibbutz in her 70s, and became a hebrew tutor in her 80s. Innovating meant that her life was always fresh and fun and responsive to her needs and to theRead More →

The Problem – we are all ignorant How many times have you read a Jewish periodical that bemoans how little our students know  about the fundamentals of our faith? These articles will extol the virtues of kiruv programs that teach these ideals to our students in a workshop or two. They quote students who were astounded. “How come I never learned this before?,” the students ask. This problem has been on my mind for quite some time. When I started to teach 3rd grade, I decided to try teaching the basics of our faith on a 9 year old level. I began devoting 5-10 minutesRead More →

It’s only a few short weeks until the first day of school. Right now I’m buckling down and getting ready for the year. The first thing that I think about is what do I want my classroom to feel like emotionally every day. The classroom environment sets the stage for everything that happens inside the classroom. It is just as important to plan for the classroom culture as to prepare lesson plans and study the content.Here are a few principles that have worked for me and are easily transferable to all grades. 1. Develop a relationship – One of the biggest motivators for a studentRead 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 →

I changed the name of my blog. It 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 religiouslyRead More →

I hope to write a complete, well documented post about how and why I present the biography of a great Torah leader to the class. Until I have the chance to research and write the post, I’d like to mention how transformative teaching about gedolim to young children can be. Every week, we read a biography of a gadol that I have written and edited. Most of the information, I am sad to say, is from wikipedia or other online sources but you use the tools you have to do what you can. Gedolim time provides an opportunity to teach character building in a holistic way.Read More →

Before a new unit (1/2 perek – whole perek) a) the students try to translate every word/root/prefix/suffix on the PPP (pre-Perek-Prep) as they can.     I divide each section into 2-3 levels so the students can always feel mastery over a section. This mastery gives them confidence as well something for which to strive.  Pre Perek Prep for פרק ל. b) they look up the rest on the reference sheets in the front of their binder.  Vayeitzei Shorashim List  Vayeitzei Noun Word List Binyanim charts c) the students put flashcards for each word on large felt pieces. Orange is for verbs Yellow is for common nouns and adjectives.Read More →