When mentoring our pre-service and in-service teachers we need to describe and model both research-based and clinically tested best practices. This is the first of many lessons we will be sharing on teaching Judaic content, lesson planning, models of teaching, differentiated and individualized instruction and learning activities designed to transform the classroom into a Jewish community of cooperative learners. The title of the first lesson is: “What is a Teacher”? What is a Judaic Studies Teacher
Title of Lesson: What is a Teacher? What is a Judaic Studies Teacher?
Enduring Jewish Knowledge Rationale for the Lesson:
In the Torah and the Talmud there are many references regarding the responsibility of parents to teach the Torah to their children including:
V'ahav'ta eit Adonai Elohekha b'khol l'vav'kha uv'khol naf'sh'kha uv'khol m'odekha.
And you shall love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your might.
V'hayu had'varim ha'eileh asher anokhi m'tzav'kha hayom al l'vavekha.
And these words that I command you today shall be in your heart.
V'shinan'tam l'vanekha v'dibar'ta bam
And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall speak of them
b'shiv't'kha b'veitekha uv'lekh't'kha vaderekh uv'shakh'b'kha uv'kumekha
when you sit at home, and when you walk along the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. (Taken from the V’ahavta Prayer in Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
Denying a child religious knowledge robs the child of an inheritance. (Talmud Sanhedrin 91b)
Every parent is obligated to train his/her children in the observance of mitzvot, for it is written: "Train a child according to his way." (Proverbs 22:6)
"A father is obligated to ... teach him Torah ... One is obligated to hire a teacher for his son in the event that he cannot personally teach Torah. “(Rambam 1:3)
A teacher is one who engages students in the study of Torah (our definition).
Essential Question/s: What is a teacher? What is a Judaic Studies teacher? What is a pre-service and in-service teacher?
Assessment/s: (Initial, ongoing, and final activities designed to measure what the student has learned)
Students individually, in pairs, via classroom discussion and as a homework assignment will discuss the answers to these the essential questions. What is a teacher? What is a Judaic Studies teacher? What is a pre-service and in-service teacher?
Objective/Learning Outcome: (What the student is supposed to learn from this lesson) The student will be able to define in his or her own words the answers to these three questions:
What is a teacher? What is a Judaic Studies teacher? What is a pre-service and in-service teacher?
Name of the Active Learning Procedure: Think-Pair-Share
Anticipatory Set: (Motivation activity that prepares students for the learning outcome)
Suggested Motivational Statement:
“All of us have been taught by many teachers. They may have been our parents, our grandparents, relatives, older brothers and sisters, rabbis, neighbors, friends, youth leaders, and of course those who are designated teachers in our schools. Indeed in the V’ahavta prayer (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) parents are obligated to teach their children to love G-d with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. In addition, the Rambam said: ‘one is obligated to hire a teacher ... in the event that he cannot personally teach Torah to his child’.” (Rambam 1:3)
Therefore for today’s lesson we are going to discuss these three questions: What is a teacher? What is a Judaic Studies teacher?” What is a pre-service and in-service teacher?
Introductory Activity: (Initial exercise to focus on the objective/learning outcome)
1. The first thing I want you to do is think about who was one of your best teachers, and what did he or she do that made him or her so special. Take 30 seconds to think about this person and what he or she did that made him or her so outstanding in your mind. Do not discuss your answer with a classmate at this time.
2. Now record your answer in your notebook. You will have 60 seconds to write your answer.
Developmental Activity: (Set of procedures or steps to reach the objective/learning outcome)
1. Form learning pairs or dyads. Say, “the two of you are learning pairs; you two are learning pairs, and so on. “If you have an odd number of students, let one group become a learning triad, or you can work with that one student. Under certain circumstances you can pre-arrange learning partners based upon your judgment. That is, certain students (a) may not work well as learning pairs, (b) may need additional support, (c) can only work alone, or (d) need you or a teaching assistant to serve as a learning partner.
2. Model what you want each learning pair to do. Select a student to serve as your learning partner and say, “One of my best teachers was ... He was my fifth grade teacher at PS 221 in Brooklyn, New York. He was a great teacher because he had a wonderful sense of humor, and when school was over we played ball together because he was the director of the after school center. Now who was one of your best teachers.”
Guided Practice: (Students apply new skill/s or strengthen previously learned skills during classroom instruction.)
1. Invite students to discuss their best teachers. However, students should not mention the name of a particular teacher as this can lead to an off-task discussion. Monitor how well they take turns sharing information.
2. Invite learning pairs to share what that teacher had done that made him or her so special or memorable.
Developmental Activities Continued:
1. When convinced that all students have had a chance to take turns sharing their data (i.e. who was their special teacher and what he or she had done that made him or her so memorable), invite a few students to share their thoughts with the class.
Note: They can share information in five ways:
1. State what they said.
2. State what their partner had said.
3. State a combination of what they had discussed.
4. State something new that relates to the topic discussed (This is designed to enable students to save face if they were not on task).
5. Pass if they have difficulty speaking in public.
Note: Most students do not use the pass option when they are given think time (i.e. time to reflect upon what they want to say) and peer rehearsal time (i.e. time to practice in pairs before speaking publicly). In addition, students also have the right to share what their partner had said.
2. After information sharing, pose this question to your students. What is a Judaic Studies teacher? Allow students to reflect on this question individual and silently for 15 seconds.
3. Invite students to discuss their thoughts on this question with their learning partner for a minute or so.
4. Allow students to share their definitions of a Judaics teacher with their classmates.
5. The teacher shares his or her definition of a Judaics teacher. Here is one sample statement:
A Judaic Studies teacher (of Judaics teacher) is a person who engages students in the study of Torah. He or she enables others to acquire, share, apply, and create knowledge about the Torah. A teacher is not simply a "talking head." A "talking head" is a lecturer. A Judaic Studies teacher is someone who has the knowledge of both Judaic content (i.e. Tanach, Hebrew, Tefilah, Hagim/Holidays, Jewish history, middot/virtues, and Israel) and process (i.e. activities and procedures) that empowers students to learn.
6. The teacher explains that a pre-service teacher is a madrich or madricha, or student teacher who is learning the art and science of teaching.
7. The teacher further explains that an in-service teacher is a novice (i.e. first year), beginning (i.e. person teaching during the first five years of his or her career), or veteran instructor with many years of teaching experience.
Independent Activities: (Students practice new skill/s or strengthen previously learned skills outside of the class.)
1. Students can ask their parents, grandparents, or another teacher these questions: What is a teacher? What is a Judaic Studies teacher? Did they have a favorite teacher? What did that teacher do that was so special?
2. Students then record the responses of the person they interviewed in their notebooks.
3. Students should be prepared to share what they had learned during the interview with their classmates.
Closure: (Activity that summarizes and ends the lesson)
Students complete these four sentence stems:
1. A teacher is....
2. A Judaic Studies teacher is ....
3. A pre-service teacher is ...
4. An in-service teacher is ...
On the next post we will begin to share a lesson entitled, “What Does a Judaic Studies Teacher Do”?