Energy and excitement are about to fill Hebrew classrooms across the nation! What a great time to re-examine programmatic goals for Hebrew Through Movement learning. Most teachers do a great job with the Foundational and Holiday Units, but I'm coming to believe that not as many educational programs are leveraging the power of the Prayer Units. And thus, this email ...
Once learners have completed Foundational Level 6, teachers may use HTM to complement their work with prayers and blessings. The JECC makes it easy, with teaching ideas and resources available for free download from the HTM website. You'll find lots of assistance for working with Sh'ma and Its Blessings, as well as the Amidah. Shorter blessings are taught in a number of the Holiday Units.
I know that many directors have seen the HTM exemplar video - the one that demonstrates teaching of the Four Questions. But, only some of you know that when we completed taping this lesson and turned off our camera, the students had strange looks on their faces. When asked why, they said that they never knew what the words meant. Yet, via this 15 minute lesson, the kinesthetic use of Hebrew Through Movement put the meaning of the target words into their kishkes.
That, in itself is a great story, but the best part came a year later when a Cleveland Hebrew teacher spent three sessions teaching the Four Questions with all the techniques one could imagine - explanations, flashcards, technology, games, etc. But at the fourth session, she decided to teach the HTM lesson she had seen in our video. The teacher reported that when she completed the lesson, her students had strange looks on their faces. When she asked why, the children said they had no idea what the words meant before the Hebrew Through Movement lesson, even though they had three other learning sessions. Thus, this is the power of HTM for teaching prayers, blessings and rituals. Students learn vocabulary in a very natural and engaging way, with the language sticking deep in their kishkes.
So, I challenge you to support your teachers in taking advantage of the power of the HTM Prayer Units. Give them a try, making sure to access all the other HTM resources available to you:
Nachama Skolnik Moskowitz
Jewish Education Center of Cleveland
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