Integrating new strategies like making, hands-on tinkering and learning with old and new technologies, into our curriculum, which includes both General and Judaic studies, is an interesting challenge. But at Yeshiva Schools we’re serious about innovation and providing our students with both spaces and experiences that not only allow them to explore disciplinary content and their faith in new ways, but grow into creative thinkers and doers.
A New Kind of Classroom
We want to reimagine and refurnish the first grade girls’ and boys’ classrooms so that they promote collaborative learning, making, and play. We want flexible seating and tables that allow for projects that involve different kinds of tools and materials. We also hope to make the rooms more comfortable, with cozy reading and discussion areas, to inspire our students to think creatively and reflect on their learning. Additional storage and a fresh coat of paint are also needed.
Transforming Learning – First Grade Girls
The new child-friendly, flexible learning space in the first grade girls’ classroom will support our major project: Makers Explore the Six Days of Creation. This interdisciplinary unit will be the focus for much of the year, as we dive deep into literacy through the lenses of Torah, science, math, art, and emotions. We will incorporate extensive use of art, craft, design, photography, journaling, and technology to learn about the Six Days of Creation, and what they mean for us today. We will need some funds to purchase supplies for this extensive unit.
Here are some examples from our upcoming Makers Explore the Six Days of Creation unit.
- We’ll learn about the creation of light and dark, study various types of light and rainbows, we’ll experiment with photosensitive paper and make a camera obscura; we’ll examine prisms and learn how they work. We will also be talking about what we can’t see or touch, but know is there – like feelings, your soul, Hashem (G-d).
- Our study of water and dry land will introduce us to types of bodies of water, properties of water and states of water. We will study how to measure liquids, and why some fish live in salty water and others in fresh water. Soil studies will culminate in a field trip to Phipps conservatory.
- An examination of aquatic and avian life will have us studying all types of birds, nests, and eggs. We’ll listen to birdsong and music, look at the mechanics of flight, create coral out of felt, and think about what we can learn from plumage about when to show ours and when to notice others.
- Shabbat is the day of rest, so we’ll find out what happens when our bodies rest: sleep, sleep cycles and dreams. We’ll create a quiet “recovery area” and discuss when we should give ourselves a chance to recharge.
Transforming Learning – First Grade Boys
First grade boys at Yeshiva Schools will experience a unit exploring ways art, stories, and hands-on experiments can teach math concepts. We will include a study of measurements in Torah and Jewish law, and learn how to use photography and technology to document and create products.
This project is important to us because we believe in authentic, joyful learning; that every child can gain the skills to collaborate, persevere, and problem-solve. We can all be creators.
We need help designing the curriculum and transforming the spaces. As such we are excited by our partnership with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and the opportunity to learn how to integrate making as a learning practice, which they have studied for five years. This project will fund several professional development workshops with Children’s Museum staff as well as ongoing assistance in implementing the new curriculum.
Already, our room is quite different from last year, with centers, a cosy reading corner, and lots of fun, educational games. We have learned how to rotate through our centers, and to work independently and with partners. We look forward to so much more, like visits from local artists, finishing our classroom redesign, professional development, crafting and tinkering with new tools and materials. We need your help to achieve our goals and invite you to share your ideas and suggestions as we embark on this exciting journey.
About Our School
Located in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Yeshiva Schools offers a quality education in both Judaic and secular subjects – developing students’ analytical, abstract and cognitive thinking skills while cultivating a sense of purpose through Torah values. We offer an education that integrates acts of community service, striving to instill our children with a sense of responsibility and caring toward others. Yeshiva supports continuing education while laying the groundwork for commitment to Torah life and Jewish continuity