Asking Big Questions and Remembering the Big Picture

As our יוסף (Yosef) theme comes to a close, children are deeply inside of their Big Question. Every child has had a small group meeting to develop a Big Question and an interpretation. They’ve drafted and begun their final projects in יצירה (yetzirah—art/creativity) based on their interpretations. Today each child met with me one-on-one to discuss the details of their interpretation and make sure it’s reflected in the work they’re doing in יצירה (yetzirah—art/creativity). It matters to us that children develop a personal connection to this Torah text, and that is what children have done by owning a question and interpretation about text.


However, we don’t want children to get so firmly rooted in their interpretation that they lose capacity to retell the story or to see their Big Question in the context of the entire story: How does their question relate to another child’s question? Or, how do these three different scenes in the story affect their interpretation? In Beit Nitzanim we’re simultaneously reviewing the entire text while children grapple with their own Big Question.

Here are four ways that we’re doing it:

  1. Response questions: When children enter Beit Nitzanim there is a question on the chalkboard. Each child responds on a post-it. Questions have included, “Think about the entire יוסף (Yosef) text. Which scene stands out to you?” and “How do you think Yosef’s brothers felt when יוסף (Yosef) revealed himself?”24727271213_1d52f0841e_z

  2. Listening to the story on the iPads: I’ve recorded our translation of the text on our iPads so that children can listen to parts of the story.24734229635_030aeba468_z

  3. Theme choices: During our 10-15 minute entry period, children can choose to make a comic book, question list, or draw a scene from any part of the יוסף (Yosef) story. Many children work on these choices over multiple sessions.24438649930_75119b5e37_z

  4. Building: Children are working with a partner or in a small group to build the major scenes from the text during זמן חקירה (zeman chakirah—exploration time). We’ve posted a list of what we think are the major scenes in the text. Children choose a scene to build so that each group is building a different scene. After our building period is over, we visit each group’s creation so that the children can share with us what they’ve built.24726722073_c238112059_z

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