Marcia, the facilitator working to support those in the seminar, and I have had some conversations along the way about how teachers are "taking on" Hebrew Through Movement on behalf of their students. There are some who are looking at the model quite purely - it's a format to be understood, practiced, and then student learning assessed so that next-steps can be determined. These teachers are adopting Hebrew Through Movement - the model researched by James J Asher and then adapted by Lifsa Schachter to part time Jewish educational settings.
But there are other teachers who seem to be taking a different approach to Hebrew Through Movement - more than just adapting it to the nuances of their own settings, they seem to be taking pieces and parts, seeing this as another way to play Simon Says, though perhaps with a bit more sophistication.
From our work in Cleveland, through the expert eyes and support of Dr. Lifsa Schachter, I have seen the benefits of adopting the model, rather than taking a Hebrew teaching concept from here and a method from there. Students come to know what to expect (though also know that the surprises that TPR brings will keep them engaged!). Good TPR learning is intentional, with vocabulary and sentence structure building upon each other so that students come to better understand Hebrew rituals and worship ... Hebrew understanding builds in the kishkes, rather than rote memorization of "5 words in V'ahavta."
We encourage those learning to teach Hebrew via movement in their classrooms this year:
** Not to rush. Really. Take on 3 new words at a time and extend their use with your students. Watch the videos offered in the FOUNDATIONAL UNIT section of this website - they'll show you how the first few lessons might unfold ... and in a real classroom, there will be lessons in between these three.
** Not to overwhelm. Fifteen minutes is an optimal time for student learning EACH session.
** To understand that there are nuances to the teaching of Hebrew Through Movement that will take you time to deeply "get." Watch the video of the supervisor and the novice teacher on the BACKGROUND page of this website, as well as the mini-conversation between them at the end of the Level One teaching session (this is in the Foundational Unit section, on the tab that says 1-3). Trust us, this model takes time to learn well.
** To plan ahead for building fun into the lessons. How will you "surprise" students who think they know what you'll ask them to do next? If you've asked two students to run to the table at the front of the room, maybe the third student should be asked to jump backwards, or sit under the table upon arrival. Check out the Spanish video at the top of the HOME page ... students end up in the classroom closet! Yes, a bit surprising!
** Build competence. If you rush through the curriculum guide, students will never really "get" the vocabulary in their kishkes. Repeat previous phrases, be novel in your commands, and take your time. Hmm, did I say that before? Yep, just as I also talked earlier about kishke-learning... something that builds deep in one's gut. It has taken years of TPR sessions for students to get to the level of the 6th graders in the video linked in the "Transformative Power" section of the January 26, 2012 BLOG posting, below. See how the 1st and 2nd graders "get it," and then see where the 6th graders have grown to.
** To have reflective conversations with others. There are many schools with multiple teachers in the online seminar - collaboration is the way-to-go in matters of professional learning, as is support by a supervisor, director or peer teacher. To encourage working together, when three teachers register to the online seminar from one school, the JECC is happy to offer a "no-charge'supervisor's slot" for the fourth person into the course.
The JECC's online learning seminar helps teachers competently take on in this powerful method of learning language. Registration information is at the bottom of the homepage of THIS website - http://www.HebrewThroughMovement.org. As I type this there are a few more spaces left in the mid-September "start date," and plenty of openings for the end of September and into October.
Please feel free to post comments on this BLOG and/or in the TEACHER TALK section of the website. You can sign in easily with your Google or Facebook account - no "website membership" required. And remember, our curriculum guide was updated this summer - it may be freely downloaded from the HOMEpage of this website.
Enjoy the start of the school year!!
Nachama Skolnik Moskowitz, JECC