The what and the why
It is with great pleasure that the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland (JECC) announces the creation of a new website that supports the implementation of Hebrew Through Movement (TPR) in part–time Jewish educational settings: http://www.HebrewThroughMovement.org.
WHO IS BEHIND HEBREW THROUGH MOVEMENT:
Hebrew Through Movement was developed by Dr. Lifsa Schachter, Professor Emeritus of Siegal College of Judaic Studies. This approach is based on James J Asher’s language teaching model, Total Physical Response (TPR), as well as the work of Bina Guerrieri, a pioneer in applying TPR to the teaching ofHebrew. Over the years, Dr. Schachter has worked with a number of Cleveland educators and schools in the use of Hebrew Through Movement, and has facilitated workshops on it a variety of settings, including the 4-day summer program, Moreh L’Morim. Last year, the JECC’s Curriculum Resources Department partnered with Dr. Schachter to create a formal curriculum and expand the opportunities for teachers to develop their understanding of this model for teaching Hebrew in our part time Jewish settings. Please note the other acknowledgements are at the bottom of the homepage of the site.
WHAT’S ON THE WWW.HEBREWTHROUGHMOVEMENT.ORG SITE:
The JECC’s Hebrew Through Movement website includes a link to an experimental written curriculum (to be revised summer 2012), videos that show this model in action, and other helpful resources and supports (e.g., a place for teacher conversation). Click around the site to see what’s available to you!
ONLINE LEARNING (STILL IN DEVELOPMENT)
The JECC is now piloting an online course that carefully builds a teacher’s skills in teaching Hebrew Through Movement. Guided learning, additional videos, teacher supports, and help from an experienced teacher are offered in this learning opportunity. To receive information on this course when it moves out of its pilot phase (summer 2012), send an email to email@example.com.
THE LEARNING POWER OF HEBREW THROUGH MOVEMENT
To see the potential of Hebrew Through Movement to introduce students to the meaning of the Hebrew used in Jewish rituals, check out the Pesach sample video. It starts with a classroom “warm-up” and at 3:18 on the video's timer, moves into the Pesach vocabulary: http://www.hebrewthroughmovement.org/pesah.html This lesson was taught to sixth graders who had Hebrew TPR for a number of years, approximately 15-20 minutes per lesson per week. [This is a group of students who volunteered to be videoed on a school vacation day - most didn't know each other, so some of the stiffness is due to the unfamiliar social setting, classroom and teacher.]
While TPR and Hebrew Through Movement seem quite simple in form, attention to the teaching and learning principles brings forth its power. Students physically move at a time of day when such movement is quite welcome! They are engaged and appropriately involved in social experiences with others. More so, TPR and Hebrew Through Movement is fun! That said, it is not “Simon says.” This is carefully considered and controlled language learning, a few new words at a time! There’s a strong feedback loop - teachers constantly reflect on student responses, assess the level of the class, and decide what to do next. The better teachers are not a step ahead of the class – they have a grasp of Hebrew vocabulary, grammar and syntax. They spend time thinking about their teaching scripts and practice them thoroughly before class.
THE TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF HEBREW THROUGH MOVEMENT
As we continue to work with this model of language learning, we wonder about its power to shift the Hebrew curriculum in our part time educational programs.
** If we taught Hebrew this way beginning in Kindergarten, First or even Third Grade, might we be able to wait to teach decoding till the year prior to Bar/Bat Mitzvah? Could children then learn to actually "read" because they are minimally comfortable with Hebrew as a language? Check out this video that shows the progression from 1st to 2nd to 6th grade “Hebrew Through Movement” classes – note the integration of the Hebrew commands with reading practice for the older students: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFXUYntqlDA. In this case, these particular students learned to decode Hebrew using a "normative" primer.
** With time that we gain, might we also be able to shift from “teaching about” prayers to actual praying in our education program?
** What could we do with the learning time that opens up? If Hebrew Through Movement is successful in 15-20 (or even 30) minutes per session, might we have time for learning that challenges and empowers our learners in ways we haven’t been able to with 40 or 50 minute periods?
** How might Hebrew Through Movement enrich the camp setting? Day school learning?
No, we don’t yet have complete answers to these questions. But we offer to our colleagues (and us!) a challenge to break the mold of “what is” to “what could be.”
Besides this site about Hebrew Through Movement, we also invite you to check out http://TheHebrewProject.wikispaces.com . The national conversation on this wiki pushed us to experiment more deeply with TPR/Hebrew Through Movement. Especially helpful articles written by Hebrew Project participants from across the country (and world) are noted on this page: http://thehebrewproject.wikispaces.com/As+we+enter+5772
Enjoy this website and all that it offers! Feel free to post questions or curricular comments on the Teacher Talk page. Comments may also be added to the blog entry.
Nachama Skolnik Moskowitz
Director of Curriculum Resources
Jewish Education Center of Cleveland
This blog will be updated by those supporting Hebrew Through Movement in a variety of ways. It might even be you!