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Friday, December 18, 2009

Semadar Goldstein on the Application of Multiple Intelligences in the Judaic Studies Classroom

Today we have invited Ms. Semadar Goldstein to share her expertise on the application of multiple intelligences in the Judaic Studies classroom.

I am responding to Dr. Solomon’s questions about addressing all
students in the classroom. After having studied
and implemented Multiple Intelligences in my classroom for 15 years, I
firmly believe that it is possible to reach all students in the
classroom. The increased benefit of using MI (Multiple Intelligences)
 is that not only are all students
involved, they will retain the information studied, and they are
passionate about their learning.

Much of this is based on the work of Howard Gardner, who is quoted as
saying "It's now how smart you are, it's how you are smart." For a
graphic presentation of the basics of MI, see .

I believe all subjects can be adapted to using MI; Creating an
MI environment is incumbent upon the teacher during curricular

My approach in planning a Tanach unit is as follows:
1. Preview the story with prior student knowledge. 1 Lesson
2. Divide the class into partners, with each pair studying
different verses of the unit. 1 Lesson
3. Review comprehension of the story with each pair (orally,
dramatically, graphically). 1-2 Lessons
4. Students prepare one of 2 or 3 choices of an MI activity -
skits, comic strips, debates, trials, student created PowerPoints,
video dialogues, wikis, journals, diaries, pantomimes, newspaper,
sculpture, games, etc. 2-3 Lessons
5. Students Present! 1-2 Lessons (depending number of students)
6. Evaluate 1 Lesson
Total: 7-10 Lessons

When students take ownership of their learning, their own passions and
creativity connect them to the Biblical text. They become the
characters they are studying. They internalize the messages, nuances,
and phrases of the Bible in a much deeper way than had we stopped at
oral or written review (#3 above). Excitement is palpable on
presentation days.

If a teacher’s end result is oral or written review, then I agree with
Dr. Solomon’s theory: you cannot get to every student in the class,
because not all children respond to standardized written or oral
methods of study. The goal of MI is to allow knowledge acquisition to
be expressed individually and creatively. As it says in Mishlei 22:6:
חנוך לנער על פי דרכו -- Educate the child according to his way.
Evaluation (#6) is crucial. Students need to express what they’ve
learned so the class reviews its commitment to Bible study, and for
them to process what they’ve learned.

I’ve enclosed a few samples of student responses that were completed
Dec 9, 2009, with a 7th-8th grade class at the NE Miles Jewish Day
School in Birmingham, AL, "Studying Leadership in the Bible," which I
teach via video conferencing two days a week through the Remote
Teachers Project at The Lookstein Center. For presentation, (#5),
students presented skits of different Biblical leaders, such as
Abraham in the Binding of Isaac and different highlights of King
David’s life.

On what students enjoyed learning from the Biblical Leadership Presentations
A. King David or Queen Esther’s Coronation - I learned the
similarities and differences between David’s coronation and Esther’s
B. Highlights from Queen Esther life- I learned that Esther did not
really have a very good life and she had a lot of things that she did
not like done to her
C. David and Goliath -- I learned that David refused to take armor
because he felt that it would slow him down and he was right because
he won.
Cara S.

On explaining your responses:
During the time that I read all of these stories like Akeidat Yitzhak
or David and Goliath I started to evaluate what is happening and how
it is happening in a deeper thought. This helped me understand the
topic better so that I would not get bummed on a certain sentence that
doesn’t make sense. Patrick S.

On improving Hebrew reading:
“…after reading so much for the skits (especially playing the angel
for the play – there was so much Hebrew!!) and presenting the
PowerPoints, I got a lot better at reading Hebrew” Chaya F.

For more student testimonials from previous topics, see my website at: To see more guidelines, rubrics and evaluations on setting up MI in the Judaic Studies classroom, please see or contact me at

To conclude, I’ve included a list of student goals in the MI
classroom: Students...
-- Are passionate about Bible studies.
-- Connect and relate to Biblical leaders.
-- Apply Biblical values to their own lives.
-- Discover and develop own talents.
-- Improve cooperative skills.
-- Become more independent, responsible and self-directed learners.

I love feedback and questions. Feel free to be in touch at

Note: Hear the informative podcast of Semadar Goldstein on multiple intelligences at this web address:

On the next post are content applications showing how the seven multiple intelligences can be utilized in a lesson on Pesach.

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