Thursday, August 6, 2009

Learning Bible the way you learn Shakespeare

In a conversation with Israeli teachers of Bible in Israel they said their biggest problem is with understanding language. Huh? It's Hebrew, isn't it? But the relationship between Modern Hebrew and Biblical Hebrew is much like the relationship between Modern English and Shakespearian English.
Here's a teacher who has come up with a way to help students learn Shakespeare that seems very adaptable to learning Bible - in Hebrew or in English.
And how about prayer - what about reframing the essence of the prayers we teach in language that resonates with our students.
Could your students restate Biblical stories in "tweets"?
Could the create prayers as text messages?

Read the article at this link about teaching Shakespeare in the 21st Century and think about the implications for your Jewish studies classroom.

Monday, August 3, 2009

New and Improved?

I read an article in Education Week entitled "Solutions are the Problem in Education". It reminds me of another article - "Innovation, Motherhood and Apple Pie" which discusses a similar issue. Is it better just because it's new? Do we need to allow time for change to develop before we replace it with yet another new program?
In the past few years Jewish education has changed in big, important ways. We are looking at the ideas of general education reform and attempting to apply them to the context of religious educational programs. Some of the reforms have energized our programs, some have not. Some have had valuable effects on learning, others may not have.
And some innovations need time to take hold in practice - they require time, sustained effort, and ongoing support if they are going to improve the outcomes we are seeking.

To use the framework of backward design, here is a suggested outline to help you start thinking about improving learning in our classes/schools/informal settings:

Big Idea:
We need to structure the learning in our educational settings to maximize the outcomes that we believe are important

Essential Questions:
What are the really important learning outcomes?
Are we choosing activities that support these outcomes?
How do we know?

Here is a link to the Ed Week article.
Here is a link to Innovation, Motherhood and Apple Pie.