August 15, 2020 |

Creative Arts Pilot – Coming in May and June

Posted on April 4, 2016

This spring Temple Israel will be piloting a creative arts program.  The process of arriving at this has been in the works for some time.  
In 2014-2015, members of Temple Israel’s Education Committee visited synagogue schools in the Boston area that had implemented new and  innovative approaches to Jewish Education.  Our team interviewed and met with lay and professional leaders in many of these communities, and did online research to learn about synagogue schools beyond the Boston area.  The research was continued during the first months of this year and, based on what was learned, models for three possible synagogue schools were developed for review by a task force consisting of Temple Israel parents Helaine Denenberg, Penni Rochwerger, Michelle Wilen and Lauren Fishman.  Veteran teacher Cindy Nelson, VP of Education Ellen Koltenuk and Education Committee Chair Amy Finstein also participated in these discussions.
The first model we looked at was “Small Group Hebrew.”  This model, we all agreed, would support our children’s Hebrew learning.  However, this approach didn’t feel innovative.  I envision that this model could be incorporated at a later point in time.
The “Camp Bunk” model has students rotating from specialist to specialist, and subject area to subject area, with their class. Each teacher would teach just one subject.  Subjects might include Hebrew, Bible, Tefila, Life Cycle, Mitzvot etc.  The task force felt this model actually felt more like middle school than camp!  It did not seem to allow for integration among topics and did not support students in developing relationships with teachers.   An additional concern was time lost in the rotation process itself. 
The third model, “Creative Arts” is the model that generated the most excitement.  It is a model that will incorporate project based learning and we are looking forward to piloting this model in May and June, with our second, third and fourth graders.  If it is successful, this approach will be extended, in the fall of 2016, to the fifth, six and seventh grades.  In this model for four to six weeks, from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, students will explore one topic through the creative arts.  (Our first pilot might be shorter.)  This spring, students will use the visual arts, creative writing/poetry, drama and technology to study the rhythm, flow and cycle of Jewish time.   It is our hope that on Shavuot morning, Sunday, June 12, students will present their projects during a family service/closing ceremony.  Many details are still to be worked out; I am very excited about this pilot and will use this space, the Education Blog, and email to continue to communicate with you about these innovations.
Robin Kahn