Tag Archive: child-initiated

May 08

A Peek Inside the Torah

We had an impromptu Torah exploration today! It all started with a question. One child is beginning to learn to chant three פסוקים (pesukim–verses) from בראשית (Breishit–Genesis). I handed her a copy of the verses on a piece of printer paper. Her text has Hebrew letters, vowels, and Torah trope. Child: What is this? It’s not a …

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Apr 07

Anafim taking the wheel

“Ok, we know all the other parts of the סדר (Seder, the ritual Passover meal). But what is נרצה (Nirtzah)? Our chart just has a picture of moon and stars.” “Let’s go downstairs and look at the הגדות (Haggadot, guidebooks for the Seder) set out at the book fair to see what they say.” “Okay, but we …

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Apr 06

Bake Sale for Hunger

This week, children in our mixed-age חוגים (chugim, Pesach electives) were given a text from the seder that says, “Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who are in need come and celebrate Passover.” When asked how they want to help hungry people in Chicago, they came up with a plan to …

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Apr 04

The Joy of a Challenge

There has been such joy this week in Beit Nitzanim as children take on new Hebrew challenges! What a sense of accomplishment when a child can choose her own way to explore and track her progress! One second grader has been working to sound out and write a giant stack of Passover-related Hebrew words. She’s already …

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Jan 12

But what does it mean?

We looked at a new שורש (shoresh, root) this week, and it happens to also be the foundation of our new theme. The שורש (shoresh, root) is ק.ד.ש (the letters kuf, daled, shin). See how it’s the backbone of the name of our new theme, קדושה (kedusha, holiness; spelled kuf, daled, vav, shin, heh)? So what is ק.ד.ש about? …

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Nov 10

Hebrew Discoveries

  A child was working on learning ברכות השחר (birchot hashachar, “Morning Blessings,” a part of the morning prayer service), when she called me over. “Morah Leah, that word means “night,” right? “Well, the סדור (siddur, prayer book) you’re using includes the translation. What does it say?” “…who allows us to distinguish between day and …

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Sep 20

Nitzanim Leaders

We’re only a few weeks into the school year and Nitzanim (“Buds” for 1st/2nd grade) children have really impressed me with the ways they’ve stepped up as leaders in our new space. Here are only a few examples of the ways that children have taken the lead in Beit Nitzanim: Children are inventing new ways to …

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Apr 18

Child Directed Projects in Nitzanim

Over the last four weeks in Beit Nitzanim, we’ve been experimenting. We wondered what it might look like for 1st/2nd grade children to design their own projects? Here are three aspects of the way we structured this four-week process: Chavrutah and small group work. Small group and chavrutah (partner) work allowed children not only to …

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Feb 08

The Evolution of a Big Question

When children direct their learning, they leave hints—drawings, snippets of conversation, comic books—about questions that matter to them. As educators, we try to collect the data that indicate children are wondering and generating interpretations about a specific point in the text. In Beit Nitzanim, we call the question that children keep coming back to the …

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Feb 01

Nitzanim’s Languages of Interpretation

As we begin the third week of our (Yosef) theme, interpretations, questions, and ideas about text are pouring out of the children. Here’s just a small sample of the different and incredible ways that children have communicated their interpretations: A drawing depicting Yosef’s dream of bundles of hay bowing down.   A piece of writing about …

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