July 31, 2020
I'm delighted to share that, at the moment, there are 80 educational programs from across North America that indicated that they are “in” with the La-bri’ut curriculum; that’s pretty amazing and a bit humbling to those of us who have been working on the curriculum all summer!
The team has been incredibly busy this week, and wanted to let you know that you should check the curriculum’s website for:
SUPPLY LISTS (yay!)
We are hoping to get Ometz Lev up early next week
Just a reminder that the videos that explain to the lower elementary learners their tasks will help you with set-up. Also, know that these lists will be updated with photos that will help you understand what is in our heads.
There should be a boatload of videos uploaded to the website next week. Stay tuned!
ALSO, I had hoped to have a PR ready for the upcoming webinars to support you and your teachers BUT the sun is heading closer to the horizon and I won’t get that done before Sunday or Monday. However, save these dates and times:
Directors’ PD webinar – Wednesday, August 12th, 1:00-2:30 pm Eastern
Teachers’ Kick-Off webinar – We have two, one scheduled for East Coast and one for the West, though teachers may pick whichever is more convenient:
Both will be recorded and one (whichever is our favorite!) will be posted for others to view.
Our Facebook group is up and running and would be a great place for teachers and directors to share successes, challenges, questions and advice. We will start stirring conversation there next week so come join and please post!!
It has been a busy week, but more to come! A final reminder do NOT yet make multiple copies from the website – we are still making changes and editing.
July 26, 2020
The planning team is happy to satisfy your curiosity a bit by sharing STILL-IN-PROCESS curriculum documents posted to a new website: https://jec-tohealthcurric.weebly.com/. The BIG caveat is that all posts have the potential to be edited in the next few weeks. DO NOT RELY ON THEM as being done, do not print them for sharing with teachers. Drafts, consider them drafts that allow you to check out our direction so you can decide if you are in or out. You’ll find lots of items not yet posted (curricula and videos) and we are convinced there are still typos lurking or unclear directions (feel free to pass whatever you find to email@example.com
Trust us, you’ll be happier if you wait until mid-August to run full speed ahead with the curriculum when we give you the go-ahead.
But all those grave warnings aside, you’ll find that the Sukkat Shalom and G’vurah modules are more complete than the others … though (here comes my caveat, just in case you missed the first paragraph, above) there are still updates to come. Here's an example of a challenge video for the upper elementary age learners - this one is for G'vurah, session one: https://youtu.be/g-d_R0nHF_g
Tomorrow (Monday) we will open up our Facebook group – it’s a place where the communal wisdom of educators working with La-bri’ut will be shared!
Also, sometime this week we hope to post shopping lists for the lower elementary activity boxes. Stay tuned!
“לַבְּרִיאוּת La’bri-ut: To Our Health and Wellness” is an exciting, new values-based curriculum designed for learners in kindergarten through sixth grade. Via five values-focused modules, learners experience synchronous learning in a weekly cohort-based mifgash (“gathering”). Off-line they delve into module-related content and concepts - lower elementary age children explore them through a curated box of hands-on activities, while upper elementary learners receive engaging weekly challenges. Learning is anchored in Jewish texts and tales of our past, offering rich understandings of Jewish values that build resiliency and guide personal and communal health and wellness:
While developed with minimal at-home adult responsibility for learning, resources are offered to encourage informal family conversations.
UPDATE: July 12, 2020
We’re having a webinar and hope you’ll join us! The curriculum planning team will offer an overview of the still-in-process curriculum and leave plenty of time for questions.
Wednesday, July 15th, 4pm Eastern
Register here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Labriut_info
Stay tuned! We’re hoping to post a draft of one of the units in the next week.
UPDATE: July 3, 2020
Getting overwhelmed by all the curriculum updates we've made over the last five weeks? Check out the PDF below that puts this curriculum’s relevant information on two pages and is easily shared and discussed with teachers and committee members. Complement it with our still-in-draft-form video for Sukkat Shalom: https://biteable.com/watch/sukkat-shalom-overview-2638177
UPDATE: June 26, 2020
NEW THIS WEEK
As promised, our team is delighted to share with you a sample of the curriculum project we are temporarily calling, “לַבְּרִיאוּת La’bri-ut: To our health and wellness.” It’s descriptive of our wish for our learners and caring adults – that this year of exploration offers a Jewishly-anchored toolkit that supports them in a time of the pandemic and beyond, and that builds their resilience in all situations that provide physical, social, and emotional challenges.
PS – La’bri-ut is a Jewish Life Vocabulary word that is part of #OnwardHebrew, which is why we felt comfortable choosing it. You could refer to the curriculum by its Hebrew name, by its English tagline, or something else that you feel is appropriate. Feel free to pass along those latter ideas to us and yes, the name may still change!
We have so much more to do and are sure that the final version will shift a bit from what we share today. That said, we offer you two items that may help you decide whether this learning approach will work for your educational program:
If you are new to this project, scroll to the bottom of this blog and read the background information provided. In the final curriculum document, we will offer an introduction that will set the context, but have not yet created that. In the meantime, catch up with the earlier information provided.
Based on the feedback from the Educator Informants team, we are no longer referring to the learning divisions as K-3 and 4-6. Instead, we are using the terms “lower elementary” and “upper elementary.” This allows for flexibility in use – perhaps your fourth graders would enjoy the activity kits, or maybe a mature third grader would like working on the challenges. A number of the informants wondered if, with the Zoom sessions structured as they are, this learning approach is truly appropriate for kindergarteners and maybe even first graders. As you read the curricular document, keep that question in mind on behalf of your own young learners.
We have been asked about the estimated cost for the lower elementary activity boxes – we hope to have an answer for you by next Friday, at least in regard to the Sukkat Shalom module.
This week, we will begin considering professional development opportunities that will support teachers using “La’bri-ut.” We will set up webinars, as well as a Facebook group, both of which will allow for a sharing of information and an informal community of practice. Because Cleveland asks that its synagogue-based teachers complete 10 annual hours of professional learning, we will also develop a seminar that others around the country may use and/or adapt.
Which brings me to the final point for this week’s update: good teachers match written curriculum to the needs of their learners. While we are in the process of developing what we believe is thoughtful and coherent age-appropriate learning, once the document leaves our hands, it moves fully to yours and that of your staff. You will need to make decisions that fit your community and its context.
Stay tuned to further updates! In the meantime, click the PDF below to read the sample we are providing!
UPDATE: June 12, 2020
Yes, this is a long posting (feel free to skim!). The planning team wants to provide information that would help educational programs decide whether or not they wish to adopt this curriculum for the fall. The more you know, the easier it will be to choose to be in (and start gearing up on your end), out (and move onto a different curricular decision), or stay on the fence a bit longer.
The JEC’s Not-Yet-Named summer curriculum project team has had a very productive week! Besides spending many of our days Zooming with each other, we had two meetings with “educator informants” – a group of synagogue education directors from Cleveland and a broader-based one from across the US. We are using them to test assumptions and gain very valuable feedback. Thank you to those who offered their time and expertise!
NEW THIS WEEK
Keeping in mind our desire to offer supports for potential trauma bubbling out the COVID-19 crisis, the team chose a familiar and timely text from Pirke Avot as its Enduring Understanding:
If I am not for myself, who am I?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
If not now, when?
We appreciated that this text addressed the need for both personal and communal care, as well as its imperative to take action. The themes that emanate from the text integrate well with each of the five Jewish values and principles of trauma-informed care at the core of this year of learning (see the June 5th entry, below, for details).
The team spent much of the week developing the first module - once we have its systems in place, the remaining modules will be built on that foundation. Education programs choosing to adopt this curriculum may adapt parameters and materials as best fits their situation – for instance, the team recommends up to 10 children per cohort, but that might not be feasible for a number of part-time education programs..
Below are the decisions currently made by the team: :
THIS COMING WEEK’S WORK
STILL TO COME
UPDATE: June 5, 2020
As stay-at-home orders persisted and the COVID-19 pandemic continued to spread, it became apparent that educators in every setting were overwhelmed by the need to quickly shift to an online environment. Zoom became the ubiquitous platform for learning originally designed for in-person settings. With a resounding kol hakavod to Jewish educational colleagues who quickly worked out the challenges, it was clear that the upcoming year could be equally difficult.
To relieve pressure from educational colleagues across North America, the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland's Curriculum Department decided to offer its expertise to create curricular materials for synagogue/part-time educational programs for the 5781 (2020-2021) academic year. Under the leadership of the department's director, Nachama Skolnik Moskowitz, a small team of Jewish educators from Cleveland and around North America began work the first week in June. Their goal: to have materials available by the second week in August, free of charge, with thanks to the generous support of both the Jewish Education Center and the Covenant Foundation.
Knowing that education directors needed to make decisions for their own programs sooner rather than later, the team has committed to post updates to this webpage throughout summer 2020. However, as the team continues its work, decisions made early in the curriculum development process might shift as other realities come to bear. Colleagues considering the adoption of these curricular materials are encouraged to check back weekly for updates.
As of this writing, there are many decisions still to be made, but they are all on the foundation of the following suppositions that were developed from observations made in spring 2020.
With too many unknowns related to the coronavirus' potential resurgence this coming fall and winter, a decision was made by the JEC to develop curriculum and a learning structure for out-of-the-classroom use, with"pop-up" events possible depending on the health status of each community and regulations on permissible group sizes. Since "Zoom fatigue" set in early this past spring, learning in this program will occur in a hybrid model of a virtual environment (Zoom, Google Classroom, etc.) AND home-based learning and activities. It is assumed that synagogue programs will complement this with other elements - t'fillah, Hebrew Through Movement lessons, Hebrew prayer practice, Jewish Life Vocabulary, holiday celebrations, etc.
This as-yet-unnamed project is being developed for learners from kindergarten through sixth grade, with one approach for K-3 (focused around a box of materials and explorations) and a second set for grades 4-6 (challenge "sprints" based on Project Based Learning concepts). While the younger children (non-readers, especially) will need parental support, the goal is to create compelling challenges that children will accomplish relatively independent of adult intervention. That said, there are parental partnership elements - a different kind of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) - being built into the structure.
Five core modules are scheduled throughout the year, each one with a theme that focuses learning for all ages. Other than the introductory unit, which will be scheduled for 1-3 weeks, the five modules will be explored over 4-5 weeks each. Thus, the learning is comprised of 20-25 weeks of modular learning, plus an additional 1-3 weeks in the introductory segment. Educational programs may choose the number of weeks/elements based on their institutional calendars and inclinations.
This curriculum approach is being designed to enable educational programs to consider learning groups different from grade levels, especially sibling cohorts. Thus, these could be family-based (with 2-6 families forming a cohort), built around a set of multi-age friends, a geographical area (a neighborhood or school district), or yes, specific grades or grade clusters. The decision related to groupings is fully in the hands of every educational program. Because of the challenges of virtual environments such as Zoom, the recommended number of children per cohort is imagined to be 10. This could be a great opportunity for synagogue educational programs to open their doors to unaffiliated families that would like to join in for a year, or find ways to support clusters of families not interested in "crossing the threshold" of a synagogue, but whose parents might consider a hybrid learning experience for their children.
Five Jewish values form the basis of the five core modules. They complement a set of principles for caregivers of mass trauma victims, such as a pandemic. In the article that describes this concept, the caregivers are generally clinical professionals, but for the purpose of this curriculum, the definition has been expanded to parents, guardians, teachers, etc, who are helping children gain a sense of: safety, calm, self- and community-efficacy, social connectedness and hope. The team has attached the following Jewish values to each of the principles:
NEXT DECISIONS TO BE MADE (heading into the second week in June)