- Created on Friday, 07 March 2014 03:42
- Mishloach Manot - sending gifts
- Matanot L'evyonim - giving gifts to those who are in need
- Megilat Ester - the reading of the Megillah
- Seudat Purim - the festive Purim meal
It takes imagination to take a story of state - sponsored Anti-Semitism and near escape from annihilation and turn it into a day of celebration. This is the beauty of Purim, embodied in the Hebrew term ונהפוך הוא (v'nahafoch hu - topsy turvy or opposite day.) Our tradition takes a moment of fear and powerlessness and turns it into a moment of triumph and joy. We recall the poor decision making of King Ahashverosh, the baseless hatred of Haman, the courage of Mordechai. We remember as Esther transforms from fearful girl to assertive woman, the fate of her people in her hands. Purim is a holiday when we remember our past and define our hopes for the future. The megillah says "the Jewish people had light and happiness, joy and glory." Our tradition took this quote and placed it in the Havdalah service which ends Shabbat and begins each work week - "the Jewish people had light and happiness, joy and glory, may we have those as well." We begin each week with an awareness of the past and a focus on the exciting possibilities to come. This connection between the past and the future is at the core of our work here at JDS, as students master our history and traditions while creating their own path into an undefined future. May we all find our personal and communal lives filled with light and happiness, joy and glory.
- Created on Sunday, 02 March 2014 03:44
Stephanie Thomas from the Seattle Police Department recently talked to our Middle School students about Internet safety. Here are some of the highlights which are good reminders for all of us:
- When you are on-line, you are NEVER anonymous. Even when you think you are.
- There is always a record of what you have written. Even after you press delete.
- Everything on the Internet is traceable.
- When you write, think about how the reader will receive and "hear" what you have written.
- Once you post a picture on-line, ANYONE can use it.
- Purge your friends list. If you have never talked to or wouldn't speak to a particular person offline, then don't speak to them online.
- Emailing or texting or posting with the intent to embarrass is a crime.
- It is 10 times harder to repair an online reputation than an offline one.
- Created on Tuesday, 25 February 2014 05:52
JDS is pleased to announce that JDS faculty member Nance Adler has been selected by the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center (WSHERC) as one of two 2014 Alfred Lerner Fellows from Seattle. Nance will study at the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous at their Summer Institute at New York's Columbia University. This will help her complete her training as a master teacher of the Holocaust and will allow her to work with the organization to train other teachers in the future.
- Created on Monday, 17 February 2014 05:26
A reminder that JDS will be discussing its inquiry-based curriculum with parents at our Inquiry Night on Tuesday evening, February 25th. We're seeing wonderful examples each week of how inquiry is helping students learn on a deeper level and it encourages them to ask questions and initiate solutions. Enjoy two excerpts from our teacher blogs below:
5th Grade Deep Thinking: Our 5th grade students have done a lot of research and deep thinking about bullying and its connection to Wonder, JDS and their own experiences. We have seen such beautiful reflections from all of the students. Many of you watched our Explorers class present at the Mifgash Shabbat last week and, in class, our Seekers class presented their work. It is inspiring to see students give specific comments and ask thought-provoking questions after watching their peers present. The growth of their feedback is tremendous. Below are just some of the wonderful things I heard.
Kindergartners Build a Fence: Kindergarten teacher Paula Schwimmer tell us about a great project which was initiated by Kindergarten students. "Robbie Morris, one of our kindergarteners, was worried about the bulbs that they had planted during their science unit on the Fall. He noticed that some people were stepping in the garden and on the sprouting plants. He came up with the idea of putting a fence around the garden. This fit in perfectly with HaMorah Aileen's inquiry unit on structures. With the help of Robbie's mom Lisa Morris and another kindergarten parent, Nathan Goldberg, the kindergartners made this happen!"
- Created on Wednesday, 05 February 2014 01:30
Studying the 5 senses used to seem so basic - so one dimensional. You learned about them, were quizzed about them and moved on. Not so in an inquiry-based classroom where learning about the five senses is engaging and fun... not to mention multi-dimensional. Enjoy the blog below which 3rd grade teacher Pam Grossman wrote for the parents in her classroom. Stop and think about how it compares to the way we, as parents, learned when we were 8 and 9 year olds. Enjoy!
Our study of the Five Senses has been framed by the core inquiry concept of asking questions. We started by looking at the scientific method and saw that learning and discovery come from carefully noticing and wondering. With hands-on experiments for active engagement, students found out about sight and sound, learning about the structure of our eyes and ears and the important role played by our brains. Entwined with our learning all along the way, we elicited and shared student questions, documented the questions and noticed the answers we uncovered through our experimenting.
Now that we’ve studied two senses all together as a class, we are handing the students a new and exciting independent opportunity for learning about the other three. Third Graders will select questions they find particularly compelling, do independent research to find out the answers and present findings in an individual project. How does this work for a Third Grader?
Discovering the Questions: On Friday, students worked with a partner to brainstorm questions about touch, taste and smell. Teams generated a quick list – four minutes on a timer and GO! Then, I distributed a large collection of 5 Sense and Human Body books. Students were challenged to browse quickly through these and see what additional questions were brought to mind. 10 minutes was hardly enough as students were desperate to spend more time poring over these fascinating science texts.
Choosing A Question: Today I presented students with a typed list of their questions matched up with resources which could provide the answers.
Structuring the Research: Each student was invited to select a question from the list that he or she finds most interesting and begin researching the answer. This means reading carefully and identifying the information in a selected text that the teacher has already screened. We will have three class periods to learn the answers and create presentations to share what we learn. Six different ways of sharing information were suggested and each child can choose the medium that feels most comfortable.
How does a Third Grader learn to plan such a project? Each child goes through the steps of identifying resources, collecting facts and making a plan. Students can use art supplies from the classroom or bring special items from home. Two teachers will circulate around the class offering support as needed: reminding students that the research answers should match the question, helping children use the index and table of contents to track down information and coaching students to write neatly, keep track of page numbers and copy out important words carefully.
Sharing Our Learning: This week we’ll talk about exciting ways we can share our learning. Students may consider doing small-group sharing as we have done with Author Celebrations. They may want to present to another class or share with siblings, celebrate with snacks or make fancy signs. They may want to share with their families by creating a museum or experience. This is another opportunity for the students to own their learning and lend their voice and creativity to our shared outcomes. We’ll let you know soon what the students decide; I’m sure they will need your help to make their vision a reality.
What makes this Inquiry Learning? Inquiry learning offers the opportunity for choice and differentiation for ability and interest. An excited student might go home and brainstorm with parents about gathering additional supplies or information. A student struggling to comprehend a text has two teachers on hand to help by providing 1:1 support. Art-smart students have an opportunity to shine while those who prefer words can use that strength. Skills like time management, project planning and organization are essential and are explicitly taught, modeled and practiced throughout the process. The hum of the classroom as students work on this sort of project is magical and is the heart of inquiry-based learning: independent students pursuing an interest with structured teacher support, strengthening important skills and reflecting on both the learning and the process.
Please ask your Third Grader about the question he or she has chosen. This is a big step for our learners and asks them to take on new responsibilities. For this project, the measure of student success is not simply the quality of their posters or dioramas, but is instead reflected in their overall investment in learning, their ability to be self-aware and reflective about their process, and in their new-found awareness that each student has the ability to ask interesting questions and pursue the answers.
Interested in knowing more about Inquiry Learning at JDS? There are two events that might catch your interest. The first is a special evening devoted to educating parents about inquiry, to be held on Tuesday, February 25 at 7:00 pm in the FAR. The second is our school auction on March 23, which has as its theme “Inquiry and Imagination: the Keys to Infinite Potential”.
- Created on Friday, 24 January 2014 06:27
It is with great sadness that we inform our community of the passing of one of the JDS founders. Dr. Leslie Rabkin passed away last weekend. His wife Janice is a past president of JDS and both of their children, Rebecca and Sasha, are alumni of the school. Click here to read the obituary published in the Seattle Times. A Memorial Service will be held Sunday at the Washington Park Arboretum. The family requests donations be made to the Kline Galland Home's Polack Adult Day Center.
- Created on Friday, 24 January 2014 03:33
We were able to see a fantastic culminating project this week presented by JDS 8th graders. Read more below about this unit of study written by their teacher Nance Adler:
On Thursday the 8th grade held a “World’s Fair” as the culminating project for their JSS unit of inquiry “Jews of Arab Lands – Lost Worlds.” This unit began with a tuning in exercise where students were asked to think about the words “Arab”, “Jew” and “Muslim”. This led to a discussion about how we think Muslim when we say Arab but that there Christians and Jews who are Arab as well.
We looked at maps of North Africa and the Arab peninsula to determine what countries were included. Hen Mazzig, a shali’ach for Stand With Us NW, came to class and gave a presentation about being an Arab Jew – his family is from Tunisia and Iraq and he grew up, in Israel, speaking Arabic before he learned Hebrew. The students then brainstormed what they would want to know about the Jews who lived in these countries and how they would then share their learning.
They divided into six groups and chose their country to study. Using books and the internet, they became experts on the Jews of Persia (Iran), Babylonia (Iraq), Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. Each group decided how to share their learning within the class set guidelines of having a food, a visual display, an activity and a take away for visitors. Students created games, built a synagogue, cooked regional specialties, wrote brochures and taught Arabic phrases at the Fair.
This culminating project was 100% student driven and they demonstrated an amazing amount of learning, connection to these lost Jewish populations and poise in sharing their learning with parents, teachers and peers.
- Created on Thursday, 16 January 2014 19:01
By Linda Feldman, 2nd Grade Teacher
Owls have taken over our classroom! They are fascinating birds with amazing powers of hearing and eyesight that enable them to efficiently capture their prey. It is exciting to watch the students’ level of enthusiasm as they learn about these raptors. We started by discussing and reading about the various physical features of owls and how they have adapted to their environments. We had an educator from the Woodland Park Zoo visit our classroom with an eagle owl named Buddy.
Our study of owls crosses many areas of our curriculum. In literacy blocks, we are reading fiction books, A Toad for Tuesday and Owls at Home, as well as owl poetry. Our read-a-loud book is Poppy by Avi. This is the fantasy story of a little mouse and her adventures with an ornery owl named Mr. Ocax. We will be learning about the role of owls in the food chain. Owls swallow their prey whole and then regurgitate the parts they can’t digest in pellets. Next, our parents are invited to join their student on the day when each child dissects their own owl pellet. It is fascinating to watch our junior scientists at work figuring out what animal has fallen prey to an owl by examining its pellet.
- Created on Thursday, 16 January 2014 04:28
By Beth Fine, JDS Judaics Coordinator
This week’s Torah portion, Yitro, paints one of the most powerful pictures in the Torah. The Children of Israel prepare themselves to receive the Torah, to become “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” The mountain shakes and smokes, the shofar blows so loud that the people see the sound, the sky fills with thunder and lightning and Moshe stands atop the mountain, speaking to God almost face to face. Moshe has finally reached the pinnacle of the spiritual quest that began long ago in Midian, when his sheep wandered off and he noticed the miracle of the bush which burned but did not burn up. Now his effort has paid off – he has beaten Pharoah, helped to split the Reed Sea and brought a ragtag group of slaves to the edge of peoplehood. One might not blame Moshe for soaking in the moment, for staying on top of the mountain and reveling in the revelation of Torah. Instead, Moshe runs up and down the mountain, moving from a conversation with God to the leadership of the people. Rashi comments, ''Moses did not turn to his own affairs, but rather from the mountain to the people'' (Rashi on Exodus 19:14).
Sam Shonkoff, a commentator on myjewishlearning.com identifies Moshe turning from his own spiritual needs to caring for the people as an activist spirituality. He sees Moshe moving from the inward spirituality of his experience with God to an outward spirituality of helping others. Our Jewish tradition balances the internal conversation with external action, and calls us to both kinds of work. Holiness in Judaism involves meditation and reflection, but it also requires action and activism.
Teachers and parents also balance an inner and outer focus. Teachers spend countless hours thinking and reading and discussing their plans for engaging students and sharing skills and content. Yet our work comes to fruition when we bend over to encourage a struggling student, introduce a new writing cycle or talk about Torah. Parents read parenting books and debate philosophies of child rearing. Yet our work matters when we reassure a worried child or talk about a new homework assignment. Just as Moshe's inner work of debate and connection with God fueled his outer work of leading Bnai Yisrael out of slavery and toward freedom, so too does our inner work prepares us for our chosen outer work. May this Torah portion inspire us to think inwardly about how to live lives of intention and holiness and act outwardly to bring these same blessings to others.
- Created on Friday, 10 January 2014 21:31
By Beth Fine, JDS Judaics Coordinator
Most Jewish holidays are based either in the Torah or in a historical event or both - but that is not true for Tu B’Shvat. Even this holiday’s name clues us in that something is different here.
Rather than connecting us to the meaning of the holiday, Tu B’Shvat is actually the date of the holiday. The Hebrew letter tet is the ninth letter in the alef bet and represents the number nine, while the Hebrew letter vav is the sixth letter and represents the number six, and Tu B’Shvat means the fifteenth day in the month of Shvat. This holiday came into being to solve a legal problem from Talmudic times, as you were required to make a donation of fruit from trees over a certain age. Tu B’Shvat was chosen as every tree’s birthday to solve a tax payment problem.
Because this day began as a legal marker rather than a holiday, Jews look at the concepts it suggests to develop different ways to celebrate.
Here are some big ideas that Tu B’Shvat reminds us – how could you celebrate those ideas?
- We mark how important trees are to us – we plant trees in our gardens or buy trees to be planted in Israel. What else could you do?
- We mark our connection to the land of Israel, where the holiday began – we eat the “seven kinds” of produce from Israel, make fruit salad, sing Israeli songs. What else could you do?
- We mark the trees’ birthday – we have a tree party, we give 91 cents or dollars of tzedakah (91 is the number value of the Hebrew word ilan, which means tree.) What else could you do?
- We mark people’s connection to trees by having a special Tu B’Shvat seder, with different kinds of fruit and juice. What else could you do?
- We show our appreciation for nature by hiking, tending our gardens and picking up garbage. What else could you do?