There are many resources educators can use to provide Jewish learning, but ShalomLearning’s holistic approach to supporting the educator sets them apart. When an organization uses the ShalomLearning program, the staff, the students, and the families benefit.
ShalomLearning’s Jewish values-based curriculum and Hebrew teaching programs provide the Hebrew School teacher with detailed lesson plans and the necessary resources to engage students. When class is over, the learning doesn’t stop. The program includes email summaries for the teacher to personalize and send to parents with questions to ask at the dinner table or during the car ride that evening. Additionally, there are self-paced activities students can complete online from anywhere to reinforce the learning, make up a missed class, or move ahead.
This comprehensive approach ensures that students, parents, and teachers remain more involved around the clock.
Let’s dive a little deeper and see what makes ShalomLearning one of today’s most unique and successful Jewish educational programs.
1. Detailed Jewish Lesson Plans
A leading benefit of ShalomLearning is the detailed lesson plans that provide the teacher with clear learning objectives and detailed activities to achieve the objectives. These Jewish lesson plans are valuable to new and experienced teachers alike. In some Jewish communities, particularly those in rural areas, it is an insurmountable task to find a great teacher who is also well-versed in Jewish text. ShalomLearning’s lesson plans help every educator feel prepared since they include an introduction with links to find out more about the topic, translations of Jewish texts, and details to illustrate the real-world application of Jewish values.
2. Best Practices in Secular Education & Use of Technology
ShalomLearning incorporates best practices from secular education into the program. Educators have options to integrate the latest tools in education technology. For example, the teacher can select to have the students complete an activity on a posterboard, using Google Slides or using Padlet.
In addition, ShalomLearning uses Schoology, a Learning Management System (LMS) to provide the curriculum to the teachers and online activities to the students. Teachers can review student work and provide feedback between classes through the portal. By using a digital curriculum in an LMS, ShalomLearning is able to respond to teacher requests and update curriculum to keep it relevant for today’s learners. Teachers are also able to communicate with each other providing peer support and coaching.
3. Outside Class Time & Parental Involvement
In a recent study about ShalomLearning, students, teachers, and parents stressed the opportunities the curriculum provided for continuing the learning process outside of the classroom (or virtual classroom) setting. Many students described how they were able to integrate their new knowledge about Jewish values into discussions and activities at home. They now think more deeply about how the values and lessons from class help them build better relationships and make better decisions whether it is treating peers respectfully, looking for ways to make the world a better place, or standing up for themselves.
4. Increased Teacher Retention Rates
In addition to providing Jewish lesson plans, ShalomLearning provides support to the teachers through ongoing communication and training. This is especially helpful for those who have received less formal pedagogical or Judaic studies training. With the burden of creating lessons lifted and having available support, all teachers, new and experienced, can focus on connecting with their students.
Teachers can take advantage of ongoing professional development opportunities offered by ShalomLearning to gain new skills specific to the program or more universal pedagogical skills. Teachers appreciate the support and resources, and therefore, schools have higher retention rates.
5. Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) Techniques to Make Connections
The ShalomLearning curriculum explores seven Jewish values and their relevance in our everyday lives using an age-appropriate lens. Our Jewish lessons incorporate strategies that promote Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). Students see how they relate to the world from a Jewish perspective. They learn how Judaism can guide them to build positive relationships and make responsible decisions.
6. Focus on Hebrew Curriculum
ShalomLearning offers varied approaches to teaching Hebrew reading and prayers. By partnering with two publishers: Torah Aura and JLearnHub, ShalomLearning offers choices for communities. The program includes teaching materials for a traditional or a virtual classroom. Lessons include options for students to use personal devices to explore deeper into the meaning of the liturgy or take a virtual tour of places in Israel.
Students have an option to access materials for independent learning or to reinforce classroom learning, through the ShalomLearning portal on the LMS. Teachers review and provide feedback on student submitted activities such as matching games or recorded readings/chantings of Hebrew words or prayers.
7. The Virtual Classroom
ShalomLearning designed the curriculum to be used in either a traditional or virtual classroom. In the ShalomLearning virtual classroom, students attend a teacher-led class at a scheduled time. The class is held in a virtual meeting room such as Zoom or Adobe Connect, making group work and other collaborative projects possible.
ShalomLearning sites use the virtual classroom in a variety of ways. All of them have found that this option has helped the community see them as forward-thinking and understanding the needs of the families. Geographic and schedule constraints can make the commute to the physical classroom a barrier to a Jewish education. The virtual classroom removes the constraints of commuting time and allows the student to participate from anywhere.
In some communities, classes meet in a traditional classroom once a week and in a virtual classroom for the second weekly class. Others use the virtual classroom as a make-up option for those who weren’t able to attend the weekly class in person. It is currently being used at several locations. Some are only using the values-based curriculum in the virtual classroom. Others are using the Hebrew teaching program. Many are using both in the virtual space. This type of flexibility enables educators to customize the program for the specific needs of his or her community.
Let ShalomLearning provide you with an engaging Jewish learning curriculum!
Founded in 2011, ShalomLearning aims to meet the evolving educational needs of today’s Jewish community by providing the most up-to-date and relevant curriculum for grades K-7. Our lesson plans are engaging and also meant to be affordable and accessible to every institution. The goal of ShalomLearning is to instill a lifelong passion for discovery and give students, teachers, parents, and community members a way to use Jewish values to navigate the modern world.
Currently, we partner with 120 Jewish schools and synagogues. Our Jewish curriculum is both current and flexible to today’s teaching demands. To learn more about the ShalomLearning team, or speak to one of our representatives, contact us online or call (301) 660-3800. You can also visit our FAQ page to learn more about what we offer.
ShalomLearning asked the leadership at Congregation B’nai Israel Barry Ira Graff School for Living Judaism (CBI), in Boca Raton, Florida about using our program. The school is under the direction of Kim Beame, Director of Religious Education and Cheryl Epstein, Assistant Director of Religious Education. CBI is a Reform synagogue with over 700 families and more than 350 students in grades K-12.
ShalomLearning (SL): Why did you decide to use ShalomLearning?
Congregation B’nai Israel Barry Ira Graff School for Living Judaism (CBI): We knew our curriculum needed updating. We could either reinvent the wheel or use an existing curriculum. We chose ShalomLearning because of the ready made lesson plans.
SL: How are you using ShalomLearning?
CBI: We started in September using ShalomLearning’s values-based curriculum in grades K-6 and Torah Aura Hebrew in grades 3-6. We’ve even started some virtual classes for Hebrew.
SL: How would you describe your experience using the program?
CBI: Moving from textbooks to a digital curriculum has taken some getting used to, but the assets in the curriculum are well worth it! We hear from teachers that they and the students are more engaged.
I believe we’ve retained several families by offering mid-week virtual classes for Hebrew. The classes are real-time and still teacher led, but the flexibility of the online classes is attractive to many families.
SL: What advice would you give to other schools starting ShalomLearning?
CBI: Use the resources ShalomLearning offers. Encourage your teachers to prepare in advance. The ShalomLearning team is amazing. They’re always available to answer questions, work with our teachers and guide us.
ShalomLearning looks forward to a long relationship with the Congregation B’nai Israel community and their dedicated team.
Participants in ShalomLearning’s No Teacher Left Behind (an 8 week course in partnership with JETS) are learning about different online tools, and how they can used for Jewish education. Alissa Okrent, Religious School Principal at Temple Shalom, Succasunna, NJ used her new skills and her creativity to engage her students right away! Using Padlet, an online, collaborative, bulletin board, she created an activity where the seventh graders gained a deeper understanding and connection with tefillah.
She shared with us the following (and we’re including a picture so you feel like you know her):
One of my personal joys is helping my students feel our prayers are relevant today. My two foundations for this lesson were: Achrayut and nature. How can I integrate these two concepts into an activity that would engage my students, and help me to interact with each other and the learning?
I began with nature, choosing pictures that gave me a sense of “prayer meaning.” Seeing the “rock” could be an image of Gevurot; the sky aligned with God/Shema and the path felt like a connection to being in the present moment.
I asked, “What words describe this image?”, they typed in their words, and things started to appear on the screen. The lines, and arrows, and “web” effect was a total surprise to me!
Once each picture had words associations, I asked them, based on their understanding of the meaning of the prayers we had discussed, which prayer correlates to which image? There are no wrong answers. As I watched the words appear on the screen, I asked the group to create a poem which could be their prayer.
One of the students composed the poem and we all experienced our own moment of Achrayut; becoming a better version of ourselves.
In a traditional “classroom” or a virtual space, ShalomLearning went from coast to coast in August to support our educators. Our training began in Davie, FL, with special thanks to Orloff CAJE, where we trained 40 educators. We worked with new partners at NewCAJE8 in Moraga, CA, and led one more session at Hebrew College in Newton, MA. Our two-day training included:
- a comprehensive overview of ShalomLearning course materials
- personalized instruction
- training on our learning portal, my.shalomlearning.org
- preparing educators to use a virtual classroom
- an opportunity to network with peers
Whether on a laptop or hand-held mobile device, teachers mastered the basics and experienced the curriculum in a meaningful way and had some fun! Our Zoom icebreaker, a surprisingly competitive game of Kahoot!, and relaxing social gatherings were some of the highlights.
For those unable to attend or just wanting a refresher, we ended the month with well attended webinars reviewing the materials. And there’s more work to be done!
We’re currently providing virtual 1:1 training. Staff and mentors are meeting with teachers to answer specific questions, troubleshoot, and/or offer ideas. Questions and suggestions are also being discussed on ShalomLearning connect, our virtual teacher’s lounge.
There are additional opportunities to network and learn at our upcoming fall training sessions in New Hyde Park, NY in September and in Northfield, IL in October.
Throughout the year we will continue to connect educators to create a community of practice, encourage each other, and share ideas.