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Archive for November, 2010

Attention

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I have a student who is literally screaming for attention. “ATTENTION!!!!!!!” she types into the chat box. And then, “Did you notice how many exclamation points I used?”

How much validation can I provide for a child via a computer screen? I’ll go with the conviction that even a few moments of positive feedback can make a kid’s day.

Technology-wise, my day could stand improvement. Uploading Google images to enhance my sharing a book about baking challah , I get this error: “Your monthly upload limit of 5 has been reached.”

Last month Rabbi R. sent the classroom web host a support ticket, and the next time I entered I had no trouble. Maybe the problem will resolve spontaneously, as it seemed to last time. Or maybe they fixed it, who knows?

Hashem has helped our efforts so far – I guess the best thing to do is say some Tehillim that it continue!

In Storytime Class, we read the rest of Way Too Much Challah Dough. We viewed images of Mindy and her Bubby (what Google provides that Morah Elana imagines they might look like), a hand kneading challah dough, a bowl overflowing with challah dough, and Mindy telephoning her Bubby for help.

We discussed following directions to succeed with a recipe, and following the Torah to do the mitzvos the way Hashem wants us to.

It’s a matter of paying ATTENTION.

We talked about how dreams can seem real, like Mindy’s did to her.

We learned about the challah baking process, and about the mitzvah of “taking challah”.

Today Esti helped her mom bake challah. She loves kneading the dough!

 

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Kids Collaborating

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We finished reading and discussing A Happy Birthday? We discussed why the Torah compares embarrassing someone to murder. We gave the girl on our computer screen red cheeks.

Students practiced spelling story words appreciate, happiness and gorgeous.

We began a new Jewish story called Responsibility. Students made good guesses about why an 8 year old boy was the one in charge of his siblings. Chavie thought it might be to teach him responsibility – but Naama and Michal pointed out that he is already responsible. Dena said maybe because he is the oldest in his family. We discussed how often more is expected of a child who is the oldest.

We delved into the vocabulary of the term deaf-mute. Students guessed that the reason these two conditions often go together is that a person learns to speak by hearing others speak.

In the next class we will learn how the mitzvah of honoring parents applies to the narrator of this story.

In Aleph Beis Class we studied letters kaf through sav.

We practiced writing the tes, yud, kaf, chaf, chaf sofit and lamed.

Chaf sofit appears only at the end of a word.

The dot in the middle of some letters is called a dagesh.

Yud is for Yair!

Tes is for Tes Teves – Moshe’s birthday!

Shuvi invented a game of Connecting the Dots with the aleph beis!

Students worked together to connect the dots.

When we, from different parts of the world, all work and learn together, we are collaborating.

It’s great to collaborate to learn Torah!

21st Century Playdate

Two braided Shabbat challahs placed under an e...

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During Storytime, we started reading Way Too Much Challah Dough. We discussed some of the people who help make a book: the author, illustrator and publisher, and what jobs they do. One student has this book and researched the author’s name, then we said who the illustrator and publisher are. This book and the one we read last time are published by the same company. The books are connected because they both discuss preparing for Shabbos.

 In this book, Mindy is helped by her Bubby, which is the Yiddish word meaning grandmother. Students learned what a synonym is, and came up with Hebrew and English synonyms for Bubby.

We discussed becoming distracted when we are doing something, and whether Mindy made a good decision by adding more yeast. We will see next time what happens because of the decision she made when she was distracted.

Moshe and Yael shared a computer during a playdate. They used their playdate time to attend Siddur Class together at Room 613! Morah Elana liked that idea.

We discussed the bracha al netilas yadayim.

Baruch means that Hashem gives us blessings (good things).

Ata means that when we say a bracha we are talking to Hashem! So we want to understand exactly what we are saying.

Devorah said that she knows prayers only in English. We talked about being allowed to pray in any language we know because Hashem understands all languages. Hashem is so smart – Hashem invented our brains!

We wash our hands in the morning to take away tumah because when we were asleep our neshama went a little bit back to Hashem.

We wash each hand 3 times – pouring water first on the right hand, then on the left, and so on. We use a negel vasser caup – a washing cup – a natla (the Israeli word). Neggel vaser means nail water in Yiddish.

We observed a beautiful negel vasser cup that Morah Elana uploaded.

Asher kidishanu means that Hashem made us special by our doing mitzvos. This bracha says that Hashem told us to wash our hands in a special way.

Undue Panic

1.2 L Super Big Gulp

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I am alerted that a lurker might appear. Apparently someone in the life of one of my students with a personal agenda has threatened – possibly as a bluff –  to infiltrate my classes.

Big gulp. This is uncharted territory.

I mean, do I want to be the smiling face welcoming a stranger into my classroom? What if this person poses as a guest student? My principal gives me a few safety tips.

Class starts. A lurker appears.

Guest 7 arrives late and soon changes his or her screen name. The “guest” cannot or will not confirm his or her last name or state his or her age. A student types into the chat that she thinks the “guest” is a real student, and she types in the name of the student she thinks it is. I apologize and quickly disconnect the unidentified lurker. After a minute he or she rejoins, this time using the name suggested by my student.

I tell the kids that I have to know who everyone is in the class for everyone’s safety.

I hope I am vigilant and not paranoid.

40 minutes after class ends, my “guest” is still logged in. I disconnect the intruder.

I contact Rabbi R. He writes back, that things check out okay. This “guest” seems legit.  It’s a student who either just walked away from the computer while logged in, or was hanging around the classroom. No big deal.

But in my vivid imagination, a little creepy.

For me, this constitutes a defining moment. My exciting new world is not exactly virtual, not a computer game, but real three dimensional life with debris to dodge on its paths of construction.

We’re building  a thing of beauty here, and so we will conquer obstacles that try to get in our way. Morah Elana will do everything in her power to see to that! And may Hashem help our efforts succeed.

Okay, chill Morah Elana. Caution will help my students, but undue panic has no place in our classroom. Room 613 is a safe, responsible community.

Happy Classdays

modehani.jpg

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In Siddur Class we learned all about Modeh Ani. We can just discuss and discuss…

Had a brand new group of kids, 8 to 12, in my Book Club. The Happy Birthday? story featured once again, this time on a higher maturity level.  We discussed sensitivity to others according to the Torah, rich vs. poor, reading between the lines, the narrator and courage.

We paused at a suspenseful point and discussed it.

We talked about what choice we would make if we were in the narrator’s situation.

We guessed how to spell announcement, decison and courage and practiced the correct spellings.

In Aleph Beis Class, I didn’t notice much participation from Ariella and Evyatar. The others were very enthusiastic.

We are moving ahead at a brisk pace! We identified all the letters from aleph through yud. We practiced drawing letters aleph through ches. Shuvi pointed out that the ches looks like a sukkah! Names that begin with ches are Chana, Chaim and Chafetz Chaim. Chanukah also begins with a ches. Before long we will be reading Hebrew!

Little Changes

Ra'anana city hall

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Rabbi R., my principal, asks me to submit a bio. I emphasize that I am a freelance writer and link my website where my published and unpublished writing can be found. I quip that my dh and I “mostly” enjoy spending time with our nine wonderful children and son in law.

He changes the order so that what parents read about is my educating two of my own children in Hebrew reading at home. I guess that fits better with the whole homeschooling theme.

And he edits out the “mostly”. 😉

Editors are always deleting my jokes. Like when Yated published my short story Today I Am A Man about my oldest son’s bar mitzvah. I wrote, “It’s Friday night. The men are at shul. I’m home with our younger children and the women that have come to Raanana to celebrate this milestone with me, to affirm my mothering of thirteen years. Or maybe they just like a good party.” The “good party” line didn’t pass. Oy.

I go to prepare my classroom and try uploading PDF files. I’m so excited that I finally figured out how to convert my Word docs to PDF form. (Hint: You start to “print” but the process doesn’t get that far.)

After 5 uploads I get a message that I reached my allotted number for the month. I panic and contact Rabbi R., who sends a “support ticket” to the classroom host. Hmm, this could take a while… but when I retry to upload, my limit has vanished! Thank G-d for small miracles.

I ask Rabbi R. what happens if I have to take off for a few days. He says that he thought about lining up substitute teachers; do I know anyone? That’s a toughie. Who is all technologically prepared and willing to teach Torah studies in a virtual classroom on short notice?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bubble Bursts

Real life burst my virtual bubble. I find out that one of my students, a cute little boy who shouts answers into his mic in a high pitched voice, has cancer. He asks that people donate to a walk team. Here is what this child writes:

“Please help us raise money for people with Cancer and stuff so they can feel better and not feel sick. And I hope they have a better life and I hope they won’t have to take medicine anymore like other people. Like me.”