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May 2018 KoREH News

From Religious School to Something New

When I started here at Kol Rinah in August of 2016, the thing that people told me they wanted most from the new Religious School Director was to make Religious School less like the Religious Schools that they grew up with. Maybe some of you had similar experiences: being bored, feeling forced to go, not really understanding why the time you spent there was meaningful or what the goals of the learning actually were.

I have spoken to our students, parents, teachers, and board members, as well as past KRRS parents, potential future KRRS families, and innovative educators around the country. 

As a result, I am proud to announce the launch of a new path toward Jewish education for our community: the Kol Rinah Education Hub (KoREH - ארוק). The change reflects our deeply-held values as a school community. We want to have the learning that takes place each week start in class and then radiate outward to affect every aspect of a student’s life, from home to school to their friendships and families. Our philosophy of learning centers on creating a learning environment that reaches students where they are by giving them hands-on experiences rather than frontal lessons. We want to focus on the development of each student’s Jewish identity and give them the tools to become passionate Jewish adults in the community.  

In order to do so, we have focused on some new elements for our learning program:

An integrated, spiral curriculum- Our staff has worked long and hard to craft a learning curriculum that creates a seamless experience from Pre-Kindergarten-10th grade. The idea is that subjects should never feel repetitive, but should rather open up new perspectives and experiences. In this way, our students dive into Jewish life not only as a set of cultural observances, but as a lens through which you can look differently at your whole life.

Experiential Education- People learn best when they are invested in the moments they experience firsthand. While we still use Jewish texts, teacher direction, and other materials, the primary way students will learn is by diving in and doing, rather than listening to someone else explain what they should be learning. Instead of reading about the Exodus story, they might make a Rube Goldberg machine that walks through the 10 plagues. Students get to interact with their own Jewish world each week.

Technology- We want to use every tool available to engage students. We are partnering with a practical (and free!) classroom management program called Edmodo which will allow teachers to store all of their files, information, tests, etc., share them with students, communicate with parents, and track student progress all in one place. We can also use this site to host online forms for everything from registration to field trip permission forms, and instantly communicate back to parents, who can follow their children’s progress week-to-week. We have submitted grants for funding for an iPad cart, which will allow students and teachers to use apps and games to learn everything from Hebrew to Torah and holidays to news around the world. We also have equipment for students to create their own content, including maker apps, STEM engineering kits, audio/video recording equipment and editing software, and much more.

Hebrew Through Movement- Learning a new language can be one of the hardest things for many people. This year, we have piloted a program of learning with our younger students called Hebrew Through Movement, which uses games and activities, led completely in Hebrew, to have students experience hearing, seeing, and using the language much like one would in an immersion program. The results have been so phenomenal that we are including it as a part of all of our classes next year.

Chugim (Electives)- One complaint about most religious schools is that students feel like they have no ownership of what they learn, that both the decision to attend and what is taught are completely out of their hands. That is why, starting next year, we are offering electives for all grades. Students will be able to select from a large menu of options taught by our KoREH staff as well as some of our talented Kol Rinah members. These electives came from students’ own ideas of what they would be interested in learning and we have found talented adults to lead these incredible new sessions each week.

Service Learning- One of the best ways to learn about being Jewish is to put your values to work in real life. Moving forward, our 6th and 7th grade families, both those enrolled in KoREH and those who are NOT, will be invited to take several service learning trips throughout the year. As they enter their b’nai mitzvah years, and then our KREATE class (8th-10th grades), they will be able to select the types of projects and organizations they want to learn about and spend their time at, and be able to make a huge impact with repeated service learning throughout the year. We want Jewish service and social action to be an integral part of the lives of our families.

We are so excited for the years ahead and would love for you to be a part of all the learning we are doing at KoREH!

Fri, July 10 2020 18 Tammuz 5780