Providence Hebrew Day School, 450 Elmgrove Ave. Providence, RI 401-331-5327
Mrs. Weiner update
There are many studies that have been done and articles that have been written about different learning styles and about teaching each student in the way that he/she learns best. As parents, we do not need these studies to know that one child needs to sing the vocabulary words to remember them, another needs to write them down with their definitions, and yet another just needs to hear them.
One of the aspects that I enjoy most in my role as principal is observing the many different methods we use to teach our students. I find it fascinating to visit classes, meet with teachers, talk to students and hear about the diverse ways the students are learning. While some of these opportunities are routine, some are special for the day or time of the year. I have chosen to focus on both types of opportunities in this article.
One routine opportunity is one in which I am directly involved. My favorite part of the day is around 8:20 every morning, when I get to do my favorite activity: teach! When I daven with the first graders, my goal is to teach them to use the tefillah to connect with Hashem. In addition to davening, I have been reading stories to the students about the meaning and message of the words they are saying. The pictures in the books, the nigunim of the davening, and our conversations allow varied opportunities for the students to absorb the important lessons of the tefillos. As their writing skills further develop, I look forward to doing written exercises with the students about their tefillos.
Last week, as noted in the Classroom Chatter section of last week’s newsletter, the fifth grade students presented their Krias Yam Suf dioramas. I am thankful to Mrs. Laufer and Mrs. Yudkowsky, who extended an invitation to me to see the finished projects and listen to the students explain how the nisim are depicted. I am always impressed by the students’ work, and this year was no exception. Students were given the opportunity to use their artistic and expressive skills to demonstrate their knowledge of the material learned. To see them take the knowledge they acquired from the text and discussion and apply it in such creative ways was very special.
On Monday of this week, students in Pre-K through Grade Five had the opportunity to interact with a representative of Plimouth Plantation. With funding from the PTF, Mrs. Hall arranged for an enactor from Plimouth Plantation to come and speak to the students about what life was like for the Pilgrims when they first settled in what we now know as the United States. He spoke to the students using language of the times, wore period clothing, brought coins and other items from our history, and selected students to model children’s clothing from that time period. Students were learning by experiencing, as well as hearing and seeing.
On Tuesday morning, the seventh and eighth grade girls made a siyum to celebrate their completion of Parshas Bamidbar. When I visited the room to thank the girls for the delicious nosh they had shared with me, I saw them expressing their knowledge of the material learned in various ways. There were their three-dimensional displays of the camping in the desert, the dance two students performed, the game they played, and the divrei Torah they shared. Each girl was given the opportunity to express herself in a way in which she was comfortable.
On Tuesday afternoon, the middle school students learned through technology. With the help of the school’s Skype account, the students listened to divrei hesped (words of eulogy) from Rabbi Yehuda Zolty for the Rosh HaYeshiva of Mir, zt”l. As I listened and watched the students learning and being inspired, I could not help but marvel at the opportunity they were experiencing. This was a true example of harnessing modern technology for the benefit of our students.
I find it interesting to ask a child what he/she thinks is the best way that he/she learns. Often, these one-on-one conversations allow the child to verbalize his/her own learning interests and needs. If you have not yet had a conversation like this with your child, I encourage you to do so.
Have a wonderful Shabbos!
Mrs. Miriam Esther Weiner