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Friday, October 22, 2010

Toolbox for Teachers and Mentors: Lesson Plans for Pre-Service and In-Service Judaic Educators (Endorsements)

Toolbox for Teachers and Mentors: Lesson Plans for Pre-Service and In-Service Judaic Educators

Read the endorsements by Dr. Hana Bor, Dr, Jeffrey Schein, Dr. Wallace Greene, Wendy Light,  Rabbi Dr. Moshe Weisblum, and Professor Judy Aronson

What a must-read resource for a Judaic Studies teacher or teacher educator!

“Toolbox for Teachers and Mentors: Lesson Plans for Pre-Service and In-Service Judaic Educators” is a practical sequel to the Solomons’ recent book, “Toolbox for Teachers and Mentors: Moving Madrichim to Mentor Teachers and Beyond.”

It is also a necessary sequel because it provides easily implemented lesson plans that are written to cover the original book’s content including: what is a teacher, what should I be teaching, how do I plan lessons, three teacher-directed and three student-engaged models of teaching, methods to reach all students including differentiated and individualized instruction, and strategies to transform the classroom into a Jewish community of learners.

In addition, each chapter lets the reader choose from a variety of lesson plans, with each containing these elements: lesson title, enduring Jewish knowledge rationale for the lesson, essential questions, assessments, objective/learning outcome, anticipatory set, introductory and developmental activity procedures, guided practice, independent activity and closure.

“Toolbox for Teachers and Mentors: Lesson Plans for Pre-Service and In-Service Judaic Educators” is essential for teachers, administrators, professors, staff developers and consultants interested in training the next generation of Judaic educators for our day and supplemental schools."
Hana N. Bor, Ph.D. 
Director of MAJE & MJCS Programs. Associate Professor of Education Instructional Leadership & Professional Development. College of Education, Towson University, Towson, Maryland

You never can have too many dreams in Jewish life.   Herzl dreamed of a Jewish state of which we still sing im tirzu ayn zo agadah, if you will it potentially it is no dream.

Richard and Elaine Solomon have an educational dream. They articulate and flesh out this dream in Toolbox for Teachers and Mentors: Lesson Plans for Pre-Service and In-Service Judaic Educators. It is a dream that one day our schools, synagogues, and communities will be so richly supportive of  the professional development of our teachers that one can imagine a career ladder.   One begins a teen (madrich), then becomes a novice teacher, progresses us to being an accomplished teacher, and finally becomes a mentoring teacher.   In dreaming this dream the Solomons reminds us  of the work of Carl Glickman, a University of Georgia Professor of Educator Development where he carefully scaffolds the growth of teachers at all levels of their development.

The Solomons  continue to translation of that dream into educational tachlis.   The most immediate thing to note is the depth and breadth of the Solomon’s mastery of creative educational methodologies.  This is drawn from their own 60 shared year of work in education. On almost every page one sees an classroom and staff developed tested way of engaging the teacher/learners in their own development.   The foci on student-engaged models of teaching, transforming the classroom into a Jewish community, and differentiated and individualized learning are but a few of the ideas embedded in ready made staff development lesson plans.

Short of a fully developed career ladder, the thoughtful practitioner of Jewish education will be challenged to find creative ways to utilize part of the total  package offered in the volume.    One can readily imagine  a free standing faculty meeting where one of the ideas proposed and already packaged  will expand the individual and collective repertoire of the faculty.   A menu could be created for a modified program of madrich development based on once a month meeting.   A faculty retreat could be devoted to a personal and professional exploration of one of the more generative of the techniques.

Perhaps in the end such practical and limited innovation and adaptation of Toolbox for Teachers and Mentors will create the soil out of which will grow the fuller dream.   Im tirzu ayn zo aggadah.
Dr. Jeffrey Schein 
Director, Department of Jewish Education,
Siegal College,
Cleveland, Ohio

“Richard and Elaine Solomon have been banging the drum for a while that we need new models to train the next generation of teachers. In their previous publications, they have developed a well thought out series of stages to bring nascent teachers from madrich to expert teacher. In this Toolbox  they actually provide the resource of detailed  lesson plans to train those who train those who would be teachers. Geared to those who are mentors, staff developers, teacher trainers or otherwise engaged in pre-service and in-service programs, these lessons plans focus on the “how” not necessarily the “what” of Jewish education. Their writing style is easy to follow and the lessons combine the technical with the practical, and includes theory as well as research based applications. Most teacher training focuses on how to teach children. The lacuna of how to teach teachers to teach children is amply filled by this book.”
Dr. Wallace Greene
Former Director of Jewish Educational Services and Senior Educational Consultant to the UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey, and President of The National Board of License for Teachers and Principals in Jewish Schools in North America. Dr. Greene served as the Executive Director of the Jewish Center. Teaneck, New Jersey.

"A friendly and sagacious book with helpful lesson plans and a clearly laid-out sequel  text, about the whys and wherefores of successful Jewish mentors in education. "
Rabbi Dr. Moshe P. Weisblum 
Spiritual leader of congregation Kneseth Israel, Annapolis, Maryland, and author of Ruth Talk and Table Talk: Biblical Questions and Answers.

“Several times every week I receive calls from congregational schools asking for advice on how to keep high school students enrolled, involved and engaged. A big part of the answer to this question can be found in the pages of Toolbox for Teachers and Mentors: Lesson Plans for Pre-Service and In-Service Judaic Educators. Taking high school students seriously, giving them important information and life skills, and seeing them as the Judaic educators of the future, Richard and Elaine Solomon have created an important book of scripted lesson plans that takes high school students step by step through the process of learning to be a skillful educator with a full bag of significant education techniques. The double benefit of this book is that in the very process of exploring the wide variety of classic teaching techniques the high school students will quickly reach that ‘ah ha moment’ and come to the ultimate understanding of how students process, learn and retain information just at the point in their lives when they are ready to go to college. This book is ‘win-win’ all the way.
Wendy Light
Associate Director and National Education Consultant,
United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism

“When I began reading  the original Toolbox for Teachers and Mentors: Moving Madrichim to Mentor Teachers and Beyond (i.e. Toolbox)  I knew that I would like to use it as a textbook  for a new course I would be introducing at the Academy for Jewish Religion entitled ‘Toolbox for Jewish Educators’.  This would be a graduate  course for potential rabbis and cantors.  However, I wasn’t quite certain how I would teach the content in this new course.  What came to my rescue were the multiple lesson plans in the Solomon’s new ebook, Toolbox for Teachers and Mentors: Lesson Plans for Pre-Service and In-Service Judaic Educators (i.e. Lesson Plans). Each chapter in Lesson Plans provided me with different ways of teaching the content in the Toolbox.   Some lessons are geared to the novice teacher and others to the more experienced professional.  Personally, I have taken ideas and inspiration from the various lesson plans to create my own. The original Toolbox contains great ideas, and the Lesson Plans ebook provides the blueprint for  making those ideas accessible to my students. Together these two books are an excellent set of resources that empower me as a teacher and facilitator of Jewish learning.”
Judy Aronson 
Former member of the clinical faculty, Rhea Hirsch School of Education, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles, California. Now Professor, Academy for Jewish Religion, Los Angeles, California.

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