Saturday, July 4, 2015

Tapping Israel

What can we do with our technology that we just couldn't do before.  That was my thinking when it came to my Israel Tiny Tap Project.  The game works best on an iPad.  Also, you will need to have sound.

Our students learn best when they are given the chance to explore the content in a self-directed way.  The content I made allows for multiple entry-points, depending on personal interest.  Students can choose Jerusaem, Masada, Tel Aviv, etc.  These would then lead the students to more choices and more information.  Masada is a great example - the different smiley faces have different tidbits about what life for the zealots may have been like for Masada.  One leads to a page with a (stock) photo of some children at Masada.  Clicking on each face plays a short audio clip of them describing their experiences.  Students could grow up hearing and seeing these stories, knowing that - when they go to Israel - they can add their own story to the app.  It makes the learning much more personal, rather than hearing it from a text book or teacher.

I also included buttons on the first page on most of the countries in the Middle East.  I think it is important that our students know the surrounding countries - or at least know how to say them correctly.  This also gives the students more choice - those who don't want to just click on Israel have a useful diversion that still teaches them something important.

I would use this game - and other Tiny Tap games that allow this kind of exploration - in my classroom in two ways.  First, on certain days I would have the whole class use the program to learn - by the end of the period each child would need to share one or two new things they just learned.  Secondly, if students finish work early, or if they arrive to class early, I'd let them use these games, which allows them to use downtime more effectively, and they may learn a thing or two without even realizing it.

Making this game took a very long time - I'd say maybe 2.5 hours for what I've got now, and I know I'm not even finished yet.  However, this kind of game can be used for several years, and I believe it is a good investment of my time.  But do know, if you want to make something similar, it is time consuming and at times tedious.  However, it is well worth the effort!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Final Project

My final project in the technology fellowship was a website designed to streamline communication between teachers and parents as well as document curriculum. This website contains pictures and videos of children participating in activities at school, and engaging in a variety of new experiences. This website will have information regarding the teachers background and best ways to get in touch with the teachers. There is also a special page regarding the different approaches to education we practice in our classroom and our specific approach to Jewish education. The best part about this website is the blog where we can post information for the parents in regards to what the children are learning on a daily basis. It is my hope that this website will be an interactive page where parents can have a better understanding on the energy of our classroom and practice at home what we teach in the classroom.
What I have loved about this fellowship is the opportunity to explore new ways to access curriculum and make curriculum accessible. In an age where screen time is becoming more a part of our education and our children's world it is important to know what valuable programs are out their and the potential of what technology can do. I enjoyed collaborating with the other teachers in this cohort, sharing ideas and getting their valuable feed back. I also thought it was just fun to play around on different apps and see what interesting projects we could make. I especially enjoyed learning about programs such as popplet and wix which helps me organize my curriculum and helpful for documentation purposes. This class has given me a lot of ideas for what I can do with my Nursery School and Kindergarten class next year.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Final project

For my final project

For my final project, I decided to work on a something that is dear to my heart. 
I have always felt that as a religious school teacher, my report card for how well I have taught the students each year comes at the Passover Seder. 
Of course we need to teach the kids how to recite the four questions with confidence in themselves and their ability to read the Hebrew. That's a given. But we also need to prepare them to take a leadership role in the Seder and be able to recognize the symbolism in what we do. Year after year. For thousands of years and hundreds of generations. 
My best way to do that is to teach them the Order of the Seder: Kadesh Urchatz. 
It is the Seder Cliff Notes. And it provides both me and my students the perfect outline for how to learn the Seder. Each of the parts of the Seder are listed. And put to music. And the tunes can be changed. Easily and often (by me, of course!)
So, I teach them each of the steps. I teach them the blessings and the symbolism. 
I prepare them to ask the right questions and know how to answer them. So that in the next generation, or the one after that, they can do it. Year after year. 

This year I used Prezi and Tellagami for my presentation. Next spring I hope to have the students learn with these tools and maybe add Garage Band to it. And my silly trick, where I can change the tune of that song at will, will make an impression on my students that just might stay with them long enough to make their own Passover Seders even more fun. Hopefully! 

Thank you for everything. And thank you for opening my mind to the possibilities. 
Judy Olshansky. 


I was offered a place in the CJP technology course with the opportunity to get an iPad for myself and a bunch of new iPads for my school. How could I say no? It has been a long time since I've sat in a classroom as a student. A very long time. Yet, this was honestly an offer I could not refuse. So, I headed into the classes with a healthy dose of skepticism that I would learn anything useful and a modicum of fear that I would not be able to keep up or offer anything helpful to my colleagues. 
The good news is that my fears were unwarranted. The even better news is that I came away from the sessions brimming with ideas, new tools and the gift of confidence that I could make my classes more relevant to my young students and meet them where they live, in technology land!

I remember that the last time I graduated from Brandeis, I complained to my mother that I still have so much to learn and felt it was unfair to make me leave. She said that the university had taught me well if I realized that.  She told me that I can continue to learn and study on my own. 

I feel much the same way today. The class, my cohorts, Svetlana and Julie and the returning guests have all brought clarity, assistance and lots of new questions for me to continue to learn and investigate. And, happily, I can now try things and not worry when they fail. I will always have a second grader to figure it out and set me straight! 

I feel very lucky. 
Thanks to all,
Judy O. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

What I lerened

I am looking forward to use some of the apps in my kindergarten classroom next school year. I still have a lot to learn and master how to efficiently use all of them. My goal is to create interactive and fun stories and games to attract children’s interest. So far I have mastered to use the apps explain everything, tiny tap, book creator, popplet, and wiki. I plan to explore more throughout the summer to master as much as I can. I also plan to take lots of children’s picture in action to share with parents.  This course has helped me to be more courageous to use technologies and see lots of fun ideas to bring in my classroom. Thank you!


For years I have enjoyed my Hebrew teaching but found it to be challenging.   As you well know, those of us who teach in after school programs have very little  going for us.  With only an hour a week per class, students arrive to us tired, hungry, stressed and certainly not at their best.  On top of all of this, they have no incentive to do a great job or study at home,  since no one has given students the sense that we are giving them a skill that will be useful to them, outside of classic Bar Mitzvah preparation fear.

So naturally, teachers like us quickly realize that one way of motivating students to learn some Hebrew in the classroom is to make it fun.  There are lots of kitschy Hebrew games to play in the classroom, however the mileage varies with such games and usually we sacrifice content or leave someone behind as we give in to the feel-good.  We acquiescence to the begging for games.  In essence, we water down our efficacy by avoiding what really works for mastering Tefila skills.  Repetition, repetition, put it away, then repetition.  Did I mention repetition?

As a long time bar mitzvah tutor and Hebrew teacher, it has been proven to me time and time again that this is the simple formula for learning prayers and melodies.  Repetition scientifically contributes to short term memory,  and returning to it often contributes to moving knowledge to our long-term memory.

My final project started out with the intent to create a Hebrew prayer version of karaoke, called Prayeraoke. I have had this idea for years, but have never found software or a person that could create it for me. This remains in my list of things to do.  (Please feel free to use my idea, in return for free rights to use it!)

Quickly realizing that I wasn't going to fulfill my dream of creating real Prayeraoke, I started to think about my use of music in the classroom and out.

In many places that I go, I consider my guitar and my song leading skills to be tools that not too many other people have. So when GarageBand was introduced to me in TTF, I naturally gravitated to it.  I layed down a few tracks, using only a quiet room, the iPad and my musical ability (which is mediocre) as tools.  Very quickly and gratifyingly, I produced something that sounded decent and could be used in order to tell a digital story.

Once the audio was complete,  I was able to export it to iMovie and smash it with a little bit of ExplainEverything and Drawing Pad.  iMovie seems like an appropriate app to bring it all together because it is versatile and accepts virtually any media as an import.

I ended up using the final product to tell a digital story (visual and audio) with key values intertwined in the text and subtext.  Students were asked to sing  along with the intermittent prompts on the screen to snap them back to attention, if needed.

Below, I'm including the 5W's and an H as to why one might use this combination. While it lacks refinement that I would want to use it for REAL humans, here is the link to the beginnings of the project:

Stop reading here or read on to learn why this might be an interesting medium:

Using Music and Digital Story Telling to Teach Values 5 W's and H

  • Digital story telling may be a medium that better catches attention of our kids, due to conditioning and maybe wiring?
  • It is a way to combat students' desensitization to the teacher talking all the time
  • It may allow for greater creativity and encourage students to take on similar projects of their own
  • May appeal to different learning styles due to use of visual and auditory sensory input
  • Can be repeated more than once to reinforce, if needed
  • Teachers or students can create edit, embellish, or just be receivers of media
  • Parents can receive exactly what the kids saw via electronic media or email, blogs, etc.

  • Can be used in a flipped classroom, PBL, Philosophical inquiry, or other modalities
  • Knowledge of the medium and software/apps can be part of the discovery process or part of a prerequisite
  • Assumes that materials are available for presentation:  ie internet access, projector, smart-board, iPad, etc.
  • Work toward goals and check in frequently on progress toward goal.  Don't use it if it will not help.
  • When you need a change of pace in your classroom
  • When the goals of the lesson support using it
  • When you can create or find appropriate materials
  • The technology will not work against you
  • You need to reach more or different students than you might usually
  • Someone in contact with your material  (students, educators, parent) will  appreciate  the work
  • This sort of materials can be used in informal settings, home, school, etc.  Important to use in appropriate setting.  (Example:  video around a campfire may not be the mood we are looking for)
  • We can create a digital version of almost any lesson.  Content can be anything
  • Engagement is key - ask how often in your presentation people are asked to do something. Is it appropriate for your goals?

Values planned for this lesson:  Shalom and g'milut chasadim.

Shalom:  Lo Yisa Goi - Nation shall not lift up sword against nation  (Isaiah 2:4, Michah 4:3)
G'milut Chasadim:  Story of Two Brothers

Thanks for reading!