Tag: Jewish learning

Creating Student Engagement, One Spin At A Time

Creating Student Engagement, One Spin At A Time

ShalomLearning partner school, Congregation Shearith Israel, located in Atlanta, GA, is implementing a new solution to a common dilemma: motivating students to complete independent work. Several schools choose, as a policy, not to assign students activities to complete outside of class. There are many reasons for such an approach and many advantages to giving out of class activities, including:
  • Assignments allow students independent practice and self-assessment;
  • Families have insight into students’ classroom learning with at-home activities;
  • Activities provide teachers a tool to informally assess students to identify needs for individualized student instruction.
However, not all students are intrinsically motivated to complete assignments. Many teachers and schools are looking for creative ways to incentivize students. Shearith Israel created a fun tool to help mitigate this obstacle: HaGalgal (The Wheel), an incentive program for Hebrew work at home. The program is simple:
  • Teachers assign work for their students to complete between Hebrew classes.
  • Each student who logs into my.ShalomLearning.org and submits the assignment gets an entry into the class drawing.
  • Each class, the teacher draws a name, and that student gets to spin HaGalgal.
  • Each month the class with the highest percentage of students with submitted assignments spins the wheel for the whole school to see.
  • At the end of the year, the student who has submitted the most assignments will win a special prize sporting the school logo.
Welcome to Our New CEO, Michael Feinstein

Welcome to Our New CEO, Michael Feinstein

Please join me in welcoming our new CEO, Michael Feinstein.

As you can imagine, the need for quality online education, teacher training, and innovative curriculum design in Jewish education has been unprecedented in 2020. Enrollment in ShalomLearning’s programs has doubled since last year and now exceeds 12,000 students. But as Rabbi Tarfon famously said in the Mishnah, “the day is short and the work is great.” Thanks to a generous grant we have brought in a new CEO to lead us through our next phase of growth.

Michael brings to ShalomLearning over 30 years of experience as a leader of entrepreneurial businesses and nonprofit organizations. Most recently, he served the Bender JCC of Greater Washington as Chief Executive Officer for 12 years. (Michael’s bio can be found here.)

Our founders, Devin Schain and Andrew Rosen had a vision to transform supplementary Jewish education for elementary school children to keep up with the advancements in education technology. When I joined ShalomLearning in 2014, our enrollment was 307 students and 15 teachers at 15 Congregational School partner sites in six states. Today our enrollment has grown to 12,696 students and 1,728 teachers, 236 partners in 37 states and 8 countries! None of this would have been possible without the transformational grants from The William Davidson Foundation, The William and Audrey Farber Family Foundation and the Terrie and Bradley Bloom Family; our amazing staff and board and partnerships and supporters like you. There are thousands of people involved in keeping ShalomLearning going these days, and I am eternally grateful for all of you!

It has been an honor and a privilege to lead ShalomLearning through this tremendous growth. I am excited to hand the CEO baton over to Michael to help us grow our capacity. I look forward to spending more time on teacher training, programming, writing and publishing and overall advocacy for our continued growth. We are in great hands with Michael as our new leader and I look forward to another fantastic year of growth and spreading the light of living meaningful lives steeped in Jewish values.

Gratefully Yours,
Joshua Troderman
President, ShalomLearning

 

Lag B’Omer in 2020

Lag B’Omer in 2020

Shalom Chaverim,

“There is nothing more whole than a broken heart,” said Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk (1787–1859), also known as the Kotzker Rebbe. Tonight the Jewish people welcome a lesser known, somewhat mystical, Jewish holiday, Lag B’Omer. MyJewishLearning summarizes it’s key elements in this great article.

As a child, I remember this fun holiday featuring BBQs, bonfires, and whiffle ball games with friends and family. Most of that is not possible right now.

It is fascinating that tonight we are instructed to take a break from this “period of semi-mourning,” as we arrive at the 33rd day of our count off from Passover to Shavuot (Sferat Ha’Omer). A popular notion is that on this day the mysterious plague which killed 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva’s students suddenly ended. This very well might have been Akiva’s students’ death count in the Bar Kochba rebellion (132 C.E.) against the Romans, and the rabbis needed to choose their language carefully for the political ramifications. But I find it a little strange that of all things, it is a plague that is the chosen description for this massive loss.

Most of us have never experienced a pandemic. It is hard reading the daily news, let alone juggling all of the challenges that this intense disruption of our normal lives has created. But I would like to remind us all that spiritual highs in life are almost always preceded by lows.  Perhaps you can think of bending an elastic band back to give it the maximum thrust forward. That might be where we are at right now. If you feel that you are experiencing a low point in your life, this might be a perfect time for you to recognize that you are generating spiritual energy that will bring you to a higher consciousness. Whenever we are going through hard times, there is an opening to your heart. You become more compassionate, more thoughtful, more soft and loving. These spiritual qualities will lead you to a better destiny.

I hope that this newsletter finds you and your loved ones healthy. And I pray that our own mysterious plague will end soon. But  in the meantime, happy Lag B’Omer, and I hope that you can recognize when your spiritual energy is building despite any low points you encounter.

Gratefully yours,

Josh

We’re Here to Help During School Closures

We’re Here to Help During School Closures

We have always believed that Jewish learning is not limited to the traditional classroom. With school closures, we’re offering:

  • Free access to the Tribe. These materials are designed for families with children ages 4-8 to do at home. They can explore Jewish values and texts together at any time.
  • Free access to our 3-7th grade values based curriculum. Our pluralistic lesson plans are designed for the virtual classroom (e.g. Zoom or Adobe Connect) where students can attend a live, online, teacher-led class.
  • Reduced fee for our Hebrew program. These materials are designed for the traditional classroom, virtual classroom (e.g. Zoom or Adobe Connect), and/or self-paced learning. Students can learn in live classes and/or login to our portal to complete self.
  • Reduced fee to play our online Escape Rooms. Families will enjoy working together to decipher the code to escape each Jewish-themed room. Use code ESCAPE10 to save $10. Or contact us to sign up unlimited families in your school/community for $99. 

We are also providing support to all educators during this time.

  • Tips for the Virtual Classroom. We held this live session three times with over 200 attendees in total.  You can watch a recording of our first session on our site
  • Beyond the Basics of the Virtual Classroom. We are hosting a follow up webinar for those who are ready to learn some additional techniques for the virtual classroom on Tuesday 3/31 at 2 pm Eastern. 
  • Q&A session. We hosted a live session for all educators to ask the ShalomLearning staff any questions they had about distance learning. Watch a recording here. 
  • Live training sessions for all new ShalomLearning educators to prepare for their first class. This session is offered frequently. To attend the next live session, please contact us. You can watch a recording here.

As needs are changing, so are we. Let us know if there’s another way we can share our expertise using education technology to make Jewish learning more accessible for everyone.

ShalomLearning has been the leader in Jewish virtual classroom instruction since 2011. Founded by Edtech visionaries, ShalomLearning has grown its partnerships to 150 sites. 

Our award-winning, Jewish values-based curriculum was designed by renowned Jewish educators such as Dr. Erica Brown, Rabbi Sid Schwarz and Jonathan Woocher (z”l). In addition to our pluralistic curriculum with detailed lesson plans and self-paced Hebrew modules, we train teachers on best practices and virtual classroom management. ShalomLearning was recognized as one of the most innovative nonprofits in North America and has over 1000 teachers in its growing communities of practice.