Gratz NEXT Courses

Gratz College’s NEXT program supports excellence in Jewish education by strengthening the skills of professionals teaching in the Jewish community. Online, asynchronous courses are taught from a pluralistic perspective by innovative instructors who are experts in their fields and are committed to elevating educational experiences for diverse learners. Course topics and content reflect contemporary issues and best practices. All courses are online and asynchronous, allowing participants to engage from anywhere at any time.

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Active Learning: Wake Up Your Students

(GRADES: K-6)
Research has empirically demonstrated that the more we involve students in their own learning, the more invested they are and the better they integrate information. Active Learning captures students’ attention and keeps them highly engaged. Hallmarks of Active Learning include: techniques that stimulate student discussion and debate; games that keep them jumping and rooting; and activities that let them unearth meaningful connections for themselves. Mastering a repertoire of these teaching techniques will keep students’ bodies bustling and their brains humming. Participants will emerge from this course ready to “amp up” the level of your students’ engagement in their classrooms.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Teachers will see themselves more as a “guide on the side” instead of a “sage on the “stage.”
  • Teachers will understand the foundations of lesson planning for different types of learners
  • Teachers will understand about backmapping and goal-setting
  • Teachers will learn ways of assessing learning that is not test driven

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Summer B: July 6

Applying the Neurodiversity Approach in Your Jewish Educational Setting

(GRADES: All)
The neurodiversity* movement, founded by adults with developmental disabilities, has taught us that it is critically important to value all kinds of minds and include all learners on equal terms. Educators committed to teaching all learners are often in the difficult position of being without clear guidance on how to act on these inclusive values in practice. Because learners with developmental disabilities have been excluded from most learning environments, most approaches to education have been designed primarily for typically-developing learners. To some extent, every inclusive educator is doing original research and testing new waters. This course is designed to help educators continuously build inclusive teaching capacity even though there are currently more open questions than clear answers. It is appropriate for educators in all roles, and for educators with and without preexisting familiarity with neurodiversity. *Neurodiversity is the concept that neurological disabilities (eg: autism, Down’s syndrome, ADHD, dyslexia, etc) are a natural part of human diversity, and that all kinds of minds should be equally valued.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Identify unresolved inclusion problems in their educational context
  • Describe key insights of the neurodiversity movement
  • Incorporate neurodiversity concepts into ongoing reflective practice as educators
  • Apply a neurodiversity framework to lesson/activity planning
  • Identify and articulate the applicability of Jewish cultural and religious concepts to neurodiversity inclusion work
  • Self-assess their existing skills and expertise as educators and identify ways to apply their strengths to neurodiversity inclusion work

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Winter: Feb 3

Boot Camp for New(ish) Teachers

(GRADES: All)
Many new teachers wake in the middle of the night worrying about setting up a classroom, planning for the first day, organizing lessons, and keeping everything engaging. This class will prepare new Supplementary School teachers for the challenges that lie ahead by offering a solid introduction to many core aspects of teaching in a part-time Jewish educational program. Topics include: kehillah (community) building, classroom management, learning styles and multiple intelligences, special needs, child development, lesson planning, instructional strategies, and student engagement.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe strategies to construct a classroom community exemplifying Jewish values
  • Develop lesson plans that are practical, goal oriented and measurable.
  • Design lessons that can be individualized and geared to a variety of learning styles
  • Implement lessons using engaging and motivating strategies
  • Investigate and identify classroom management techniques that will encourage student engagement, bolster confidence and foster the creation of an optimal learning environment.

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Summer B: July 6

Bringing Cultural Competency into your Classroom, School, Youth Group, and Community

(GRADES: 5-12)
The National Education Association defines cultural competency as, “having an awareness of one’s own cultural identity and views about difference, and the ability to learn and build on the varying cultural and community norms of students and their families.” In this class, we will explore the concept of cultural competency as it relates to Jewish education. Educators who value cultural competency optimize their learning environments when they strive to get to know each individual student’s cultural background and learn the values and expectations of each students’ family and community. In so doing, they model the Jewish value of kavod, respect. The content of their lessons can be more personal, meaningful, and relevant to each member of the classroom. We will consider our own biases about diversity, equity and inclusion, and use what we learn to create nurturing spaces in which our students will thrive.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Articulate how students' culture can impact their learning
  • Describe how cultural competency and literacy are crucial to creating safe and productive learning environments
  • Develop tools to help implement cultural competency into their educational spaces

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Winter: Feb 3

Cultivating a Love of Learning Through Transformative Classroom Management

(GRADES: K-5)
Transformative Classroom Management (TCM) is an approach to classroom management that inspires positive feelings and amplifies productive learning and student achievement by cultivating a love of learning. TCM promotes the creation of optimal conditions for learning, performance, motivation, and growth. Participants will learn to apply the lens of the Jewish values to the methodology of TCM in order to define, plan, and establish a renewed classroom culture. In addition, we will explore the ideas behind Positive Judaism, how it intersects with TCM, further inform how we structure our class environment.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Understand classroom management strategies through the lens of Jewish values and creation of ritual
  • Identify how transformative classroom management (TCM) is an approach to creating an effective classroom environment
  • Develop their own Sacred Classroom Management plan that can be integrated in their classrooms or their school.
  • Explore the idea behind the Positive Judaism mindset and how it can inform our classroom environment.

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Winter: Feb 3

Embracing Children from Interfaith Families presented in Collaboration with InterfaithFamily

(GRADES: All)
Many supplementary schools pride themselves on being welcoming to interfaith families. But what does this mean in practice? And is being welcoming enough?

Teachers often find themselves at the intersection of Jewish communal norms and the lives of the families they serve. They must navigate school policies, their own beliefs and values, and the lived realities of their students.

In this course, we will draw from our own experiences as educators, as well as case studies from the field, in order to explore best principles for working with students from interfaith families. From the language we use in our classrooms or communications with parents, to the ways in which we structure our activities, we will take a critical lens to our work on the front lines of providing rich Jewish content to this growing segment of our community.

Participants will leave this course with a deeper understanding of their role as educator, particularly as it relates to children from interfaith families, as well as with tools and strategies to move beyond welcoming to true inclusion and embrace.

For more information, visit www.interfaithfamily.com

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Identify unique challenges students from interfaith families may face in the supplementary school classroom
  • Discover how teachers’ own values and beliefs impact their work with students from interfaith families
  • Explain how school policies impact interfaith families
  • Understand the role of the supplementary school educator in transferring Jewish knowledge and identity to children from interfaith families
  • Adapt language used in your classroom and communications to include and embrace interfaith families
  • Design classroom activities that account for the lived realities of interfaith families using best principles

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Summer B: July 6

Exploring Many ‘Right’ Ways to Celebrate the ‘Rite’ of ‘Becoming’

Young Jews “become” bar and bat mitzvah at ages thirteen and twelve respectively. How individuals, families and communities “have” a b’nai mitzvah and mark this rite of passage has varied through place and time. This course will offer a framework for assessing student and family needs and suggest accommodations, modifications and options which can be implemented in synagogues in all denominational settings, and that are based on the individual learner’s interests, passions, strengths and areas of challenge. The course will also explore a number of creative “do it yourself” options.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Articulate the difference between “becoming” and “having” a bar or bat mitzvah and trace the historical development of both
  • Identify and implement assessment strategies to better understand the unique capabilities and needs of b’nai mitzvah students
  • Explore different teaching strategies to accommodate the needs of diverse learners
  • Develop and describe possible accommodations and modifications for b’nai mitzvah students preparing to celebrate in diverse environments.

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Summer B: July 6

Fertility Matters in Jewish Education Presented in collaboration with UpRooted

(GRADES: All)
One in up to four families faces some kind of fertility challenge (eg. conception, adoption, loss), meaning that multiple children in a classroom or group likely come from families that have faced and/or are dealing with fertility struggles. Participants will learn about the myriad ways in which students may be affected, and gain an understanding of how they can support these students and families. Jewish texts and teachings will be explored. For more information visit weareuprooted.org

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Explore the various emotional, social, and familial impact that fertility struggles have on parents and children.
  • Consider the way in which fertility struggles can manifest in the classroom.
  • Explores ways in which educators and clergy members can offer support, engender sensitivity in their classrooms/communities, and use language that communicates understanding.

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Summer B: July 6

Fostering Resilience in Our Teens

(GRADES: 6-12)
The expectations placed on teens today by society, parents, peers, and themselves leave today’s adolescents extremely stress-prone. Physical, social, emotional, and intellectual changes and challenges contribute to the stress. How can we, as Jewish professionals, best support our teens during this developmental stage? Where in Jewish tradition can we find resources that enable us to be present for our teens when they face strife? How can Jewish virtues help us in the character development of the teens we work with? Together, we will grapple with these questions and also have the opportunity to support each other in our sacred work.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe fundamental developmental factors that impact a teenager’s ability to be resilient
  • Reference and interpret Jewish texts and traditions to guide their own practices in working with teenagers
  • Describe the science of character development and its relationship to Jewish virtues
  • Construct a strategic model to fostering resiliency in their congregation or organization

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Summer A: June 1

Gender, Judaism, and LGBTQ Inclusion

(GRADES: All)
Today, LGBTQ inclusion in Jewish spaces is a necessary topic of discussion as an increasing number of individuals openly identify as LGBTQ. At the same time, many LGBTQ people, especially transgender and non-binary youth, do not yet feel that their Jewish spaces are able to affirm their full selves. In this course, we will discuss terms and concepts to increase participants’ LGBTQ cultural comptency (including the differences between sex assigned at birth, gender identity, sexual orientation, and attraction), explore how Jewish values and tradition make space for LGBTQ inclusion, and learn best practices for making sure all aspects of Jewish community are inclusive and affirming of our LGBTQ friends, family, and community members.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the differences between sex assigned at birth, gender identity, sexual orientation and attraction
  • Explain examples from both text and tradition that promote the inclusion of LGBTQ individuals
  • Identify and implement best practices to build more inclusive and affirming LGBTQ spaces.

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Summer A: June 1

Inclusion as a Jewish Value: How and Why

(GRADES: 5-12)
Jewish sacred texts address how to treat people with differences, teach students who may need extra support, and recognize the humanity in all individuals. This course explores the types of disabilities that teachers might encounter. Participants will learn specific strategies to transform Jewish educational environments into inclusive spaces that serve students of all abilities and reduce disability stigma. Additionally, participants will discover ways to implicitly and explicitly teach students that inclusion is a Jewish value. This course will empower and support educators and communities working to raise awareness and foster inclusion of people with disabilities and mental health conditions.

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Summer A: June 1

Inquiry-Based Learning around Pesach, Lag B’Omer and Shavuot

(GRADES: EC-5)
Boost student engagement and trigger curiosity while celebrating the spring holidays. Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL) encourages students to be actively involved in the learning process by creating their own questions, searching for answers and presenting what they have learned. IBL is regarded as a best practice in both Jewish tradition and contemporary research. Participants will understand how to develop IBL lesson plans and receive adaptable sample plans and resources.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Explore, describe, and implement the inquiry based learning strategy
  • Examine and practice techniques for guiding their students in questioning techniques, research and assessment
  • Apply the Inquiry Based Learning process to develop lessons specifically focusing on Pesach, Lag B’Omer and Shavuot

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Winter: Feb 3

Integrating Jewish Mindfulness into your Classroom

(GRADES: All)
Mindfulness meditation helps lower stress levels, improve energy and focus, and allows the practitioner to be more present. As students cope with life’s pressures, it is important to provide them with practical tools that can help them ground themselves. Participants will learn and practice mindfulness techniques including meditation and gratitude exercises through a Jewish lens, and consider ways to integrate these practices into the classroom.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Implement techniques that they explored and experimented with that they can utilize in their classroom and create activities personalized to their learning environments and students
  • Identify and describe potential benefits and best practices for integrating Jewish mindfulness into their lives and their classrooms
  • Create and share resources for integrating Jewish mindfulness activities into their current classes or for a new Jewish mindfulness unit of study

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Winter: Feb 3 / Summer A: June 1

Israel + Holiday Programs: How and Why These Work Together

(GRADES: 6-12)
As Jewish educators, we are accustomed to teaching Israel tough the lenses of history, politics, geography, and food. In this course, we will discover new ways to explore Israel with students - by integrating Israel into holiday education. We will expose tie-ins between the major.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Jewish holidays and contemporary Israel education, and will develop best practices for using experiential education methods in order to build connections between our learners and Israeli culture and society.
  • Recognize, assess and create opportunities throughout the year to add Israel content to holiday programming Compare and describe the differences between American and Israeli celebrations of Jewish holidays
  • Implement experiential education programs and opportunities to teach Israel through the lens of holidays

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Winter: Feb 3

Jewish Education is NOT Just For Kids: Exploring the Adult Learner

(GRADES: Adults)
Although lifelong learning is ingrained in Jewish tradition, it was only towards the end of the twentieth century that scholars began to study the adult learner and articulate best practices in adult education. In this course, we will examine early 21st century adult learners, exploring developmental stages and generational characteristics that impact learning in adulthood, adult education theories, and specific religious and Jewish education characteristics that should inform our design of adult education courses and programs. We will conclude with a conversation on preparing to teach in adult Jewish settings.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the developmental stages and generational characteristics of the adult learner
  • Plan and facilitate more effective adult learning opportunities for different learning environments (eg. synagogues, JCCs, Federations)
  • Design and implement an assessment tool to determine if a specific instructor “has what it takes” to teach adults

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Summer A: June 1

Justice, Justice You Shall Pursue: Advocacy, Activism and Jewish Teens

(GRADES: All)
Adolescents around the world are harnessing the spirit of activism and taking on the challenging responsibility of putting their values into practice by advocating, rallying, and expressing their viewpoints. Jewish students are at the forefront of these change movements. As educators, we have the opportunity to use Jewish texts, stories, and values to further empower these young leaders in their activism. In this course, we will explore activism as it relates to issues that today’s teens face, and learn practical steps to implement as we encourage a spirit of activism grounded in Jewish values.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Identify opportunities to integrate social justice/activism education into their teaching
  • Explore contemporary secular issues through a Jewish lens, and teach their students to do the same
  • Feel empowered in navigating the complexities of exploring hot-button issues in a pluralistic, safe learning environment

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Summer A: June 1

Navigating and Nurturing Complicated Conversations with Teens

(GRADES: 6-12)
With the minefield of tough topics faced by today’s teens, Jewish educators are challenged to reach teens in authentic, meaningful ways that highlight the relevance of Jewish tradition and foster Jewish community. This course will explore best practices for addressing issues of consent, gender identity, gun control, Israel, or any emotionally loaded topic, preparing the educator to decide when to remain neutral and when to name a bias, and how to create safe space around the conversation. Participants will receive broad content and context to frame their approaches, and tangible takeaways to enhance their work with post b’nai mitzvah students and teens in both formal and informal settings.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Identify topics of concern or complexity that come up in Jewish educational environments, and explore best practices for approaching them with high school students.
  • Consider personal perspectives on a variety of hot-button issues so as to create a plan for addressing them with teens.
  • Explore the concept of safe spaces through a Jewish lens, and develop plans for applying it in our work.

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Summer B: July 6

Project Based Learning in Jewish Education

(GRADES: All)
Project Based Learning (PBL) is a student-centered learning experience through which students master knowledge and skills by investigating and responding to an engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge over an extended period of time. Authenticity is the essence of PBL - the ‘project’ must be clearly relatable to the student.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Learn and describe the 7 core components of PBL
  • Apply the 7 core components to a lesson plan (emphasizing authenticity and revision/feedback)
  • Create a lesson plan (or plans) for the upcoming year utilizing PBL.

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Summer A: June 1

Reimagining Classroom Relationships: Affective Behavior Management Strategies

(GRADES: PK-6)
Participants in this course will learn practical strategies that will help them create a positive teaching and learning environment. The class will focus on how to set clear expectations; how to create and implement a positive behavior reinforcement plan; how to respond to student misbehavior; and how to handle challenging situations. The class is appropriate for both experienced teachers who need a little brush-up on their skills as well as for novice teachers.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Identify the impact classroom learning environment has on their teaching and the students’ learning.
  • Gain new understandings and/or review their knowledge of beneficial classroom management and relationship building strategies.
  • Reflect upon if their students know what they expect when they walk into the classroom.
  • Explore strategies for creating classroom rules that involve input from their students and the education director.
  • Gain a new understanding of the benefits of having Madrichim in their classroom (if they work with Madrichim).
  • Create a classroom management plan that includes a variety of approaches they will explore during this course and from their own experiences.

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Summer B: July 6

Sing, Move, Play, Pray: Supporting Cognitive, Linguistic, Social, Physical and Spiritual Development In The Jewish Classroom

(GRADES: EC-2)
Developmentally Appropriate Practice (D.A.P.) is at the foundation of excellence in education. This eight week intensive course will prepare participants to practice D.A.P. through music, and help them understand the vitally important role that music can play in enhancing and strengthening a child’s ’s cognitive, linguistic, social, physical and spiritual skill development. During the course, participants will acquire the tools and confidence to create, implement, and evaluate a diverse collection of strategies and songs that encourage meaningful student participation in Jewish educational environments. Through independent music listening, online group discussion, video viewing and analysis, and guided lesson planning, participants will build upon their existing knowledge and skills to improve and increase the ways that they are able to utilize music as a teaching tool. Collaboratively, the instructor and course participants will provide individualized feedback to participants, helping each student to take concrete steps towards the preparation and implementation of the content and skills presented in the course.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe how music is a vital tool in a well-rounded Jewish early childhood curriculum
  • Understand and articulate how to choose songs that will support healthy skill development for young children
  • Through assessment and implementation, create and/or review a repertoire of songs and musical experiences that reflect the material covered in this class relevant to the participant’s curriculum
  • Evaluate and explain how music enhances and strengthens cognitive, language, social, physical and spiritual development
  • Create, implement and critique a lesson/learning experience that uses music to explore a content area of the participant’s choosing and that reflects the participant’s understanding of concepts addressed in the course

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Summer B: July 6

Small Humans, Big Questions: Exploring God and Spirituality

(GRADES: EC-7)
Little kids (and not-so-little kids!) ask big questions that relate to God, faith, and the universe. This course - which will be taught from a pluralistic Jewish perspective - won't give you generic answers to recite to your students about what Jews believe. Instead, it will prepare you to introduce and to explore profound questions in intentional and developmentally-appropriate ways that encourage ongoing reflection and dialogue. Participants will consider the concept of faith development and explore resources that can spark discussions and guide spiritual experiences. Participants will be prepared to cultivate their students' sense of wonder, to respond to their existential questions and to help them explore the spiritual dimensions of Judaism at all different ages and stages.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the theoretical frameworks for spiritual development articulated by James Fowler and Maria Montessori
  • Recognize how their personal histories and beliefs may or may not impact the answers and/or resources they provide to students about God and Spirituality
  • Compare and consider resources and tools that might inform the ways that they present concepts related to God and Spirituality to their children
  • Prepare and present a set of suggestions that could be offered to the parents of the children in their classroom related to how and why conversations and explorations of God and Spirituality can be extended

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Winter: Feb 3

Standing on One Foot and Keeping Your Balance: An Introduction to Essential Skills for Jewish Educators

(GRADES: All)
In this self-paced, nine module course, participants will gain access to all content, materials and assignments upon enrollment. There are no due dates or deadlines imposed. Participants will work on their own terms, at a speed and at times that match their individual needs. Some participants might choose to designate a short period of time and work intensively through the nine modules in a week or two, while others may space their participation over several months.

Each participant will schedule two conference consultation calls with the course instructor. The first conference will take place prior to the student beginning the self-paced course. During this first conference, the student will identify personal goals and challenges. During the second conference, which will take place once the student has completed all nine modules, the instructor will provide feedback and help the student articulate action steps and a plan for continued professional learning and development. The instructor will provide written feedback to student assignments throughout the course.

This course consists of nine modules, each of which will include an assignment that the student will submit to the instructor for feedback. The modules are designed to introduce Jewish educators with minimal teaching experience or training to relevant pedagogical principles. Topics include: kehillah (community) building, classroom management, learning styles and multiple intelligences, special needs, child development, lesson planning, instructional strategies, and student engagement.

Module 1: Who am I? Why Am I Doing This?
Module 2: What is MyJob?
Module 3: Know Thy Students (Part 1)
Module 4: Know Thy Students (Part 2)
Module 5: Owning Your Curriculum and Building a Syllabus
Module 6: Planning Effective Lessons
Module 7: Expanding Your Toolbox of Instructional Strategies
Module 8: Engaging Students by Asking The Right Questions
Module 9: Creating a Classroom Community and Classroom Management

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe strategies to construct a classroom community exemplifying Jewish values
  • Develop lesson plans that are practical, goal oriented and measurable.
  • Design lessons that can be individualized and geared to a variety of learning styles Implement lessons using engaging and motivating strategies
  • Investigate and identify classroom management techniques that will encourage student engagement, bolster confidence and foster the creation of an optimal learning environment.

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Rolling Enrollment

Supporting and Engaging Teens and Tweens on Social Media

(GRADES: 6-12)
Our digital world continues to evolve. We, along with our tweens and teens, are continuously presented with choices around what we share, with whom we choose to share, and how we present ourselves through the world of social media. How do we help tweens and teens positively harness the power of social media to do good? How do we keep up and support them when things go wrong? What does it mean to approach social media use with a Jewish values mindset? Join us to explore the challenges and opportunities of social media in a Jewish context. By the end of the course, you will have a core set of resources and techniques for engaging with and supporting tweens and teens in the use of social media through a Jewish lens.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Define digital citizenship within the context of Jewish values
  • Understand the kinds of social media tweens and teens are engaging with; build conversation techniques for discussing social media with tweens and teens
  • Explore the range of impact social media has in the lives of tweens and teens; generate skills around self-awareness and having a reflective stance towards social media use
  • Identify leadership opportunities for tweens and teens on social media; create a vision for social media mentorship

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Summer B: July 6

The (Jewish) Pursuit of Happiness Through Positive Psychology

(GRADES: 6-12)
Jewish educators are constantly competing with a cadre of real-life responsibilities and digital distractions to connect with busy, stressed students. Positive psychology – the study of what makes life most rewarding and fulfilling – offers a compelling theory and concrete practices that can help Jewish educators design activities and programs that will invite Jewish teens to engage in compelling, meaningful ways. The principles of positive psychology align with core Jewish texts and values. By identifying the points of intersection, we will position ourselves to more consistently create gratifying opportunities for our teens.

At the end of the course, Jewish teen educators will have a foundational understanding of positive psychology and a series of tactics for applying its wisdom to the feat of successfully engaging Jewish teens.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Identify the points of synergy between the principles of positive psychology and Jewish rituals, traditions, and practices.
  • Reflect on the importance of integrating positive psychology practices when it comes to Jewish teen engagement and social/emotional development.
  • Create and share resources for incorporating positive psychology ideologies and techniques in Jewish education and programming.

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Summer A: June 1

Torah Guides the Way to Address Hot Button Issues Today

(GRADES: 6-12)
Many of today’s news headlines -- immigration policy, #MeToo, presidential politics, mass shootings -- underscore differences of opinion and polarize people. In this course, we will turn to underlying values in Torah and other Jewish teachings for clarity, and to pedagogical principles for best practice, in preparation for addressing these topics with teens in meaningful and informative ways

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Summer A: June 1

Transforming Drop-Off to Drop-In: Building Relationships with Families

(GRADES: EC-6)
One of the best things we can do for our students is to get their parents to park their cars and come inside to participate, along with their children, in Jewish educational experiences. How do we go beyond class Shabbat dinners, family Hanukkah programs, and Purim carnivals to make parents our true partners? In this course, we will consider the challenges to fully engaging parents as individuals and as a group. Together, we will develop a multipronged approach to overcoming the common challenges, beginning with ways to use communication and materials to bridge the learning between school and home. We will identify a variety of opportunities for parents to join the class, as learners, as teachers, and as welcome guests. By the end of this course, participants will have a parent communication strategy as well as detailed plans for at least two intergenerational programs that will leave parents feeling competent and connected.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Recognize and articulate typical benefits and challenges to parent engagement
  • Implement communication strategies that create strong parent-school relationships
  • Identify opportunities to modify your existing curriculum and programming to enhance relationships
  • Develop intergenerational programs that will leave parents feeling competent and connected

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Summer B: July 6

Turn, Turn, Turn: Making Meaning and Marking Time

(GRADES: 3-7)
Marking Jewish time and life milestones with rituals is a continuously evolving and dynamic process, and when our students have an authentic understanding of life cycle customs, rituals and their meanings, the relevance of these sacred moments is elevated. To teach about rites of passage in ways that will resonate with our students, we must understand these events through a contemporary lens. In this course, we will explore both traditional and innovative ways of celebrating, mourning, and marking time throughout a Jewish life. The four sessions will include the following topics: Birth: More Than Just a Bris; B’nai Mitzvah: Coming of Age in the 21st Century; Marriage: Expanding Definitions of Tradition; Death and Mourning: Kaddish and Beyond.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Identify new and evolving customs for marking Jewish births
  • Demonstrate understanding of the changing dynamics of the b’nai mitzvah in the 21st century
  • Explain how changing definitions of marriage have made an impact on Jewish tradition
  • List and explain Jewish death and mourning customs and identify new rituals
  • Explain and teach the importance of Jewish life cycle experiences through a modern lens

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Winter: Feb 3

Understanding and Cultivating Cultural Competency in Jewish Communal Life

(GRADES: Teen-Adult)
The National Education Association defines cultural competency as “having an awareness of one’s own cultural identity and views about difference, and the ability to learn and build on the varying cultural and community norms of students and their families.”

In 2020, it is a moral and practical imperative to value cultural competency and to take steps to better understand, support, and value the diversity of all individuals in our Jewish community. Educators who value cultural competency optimize their learning environments when they strive to get to know each individual student’s cultural background and learn the values and expectations of each students’ family and as well as the values of the school community. In so doing, they model the Jewish value of kavod, respect, and the content of their teaching and programming can be more personal, meaningful, and relevant to each student. In this course, designed for people who work with Jewish teens and young adults, we will explore the concept of cultural competency as it relates to Jewish living and learning. We will consider our own biases about diversity, equity and inclusion, and use what we learn to create nurturing spaces in which our students will thrive.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Articulate how students' culture can impact their learning
  • Describe how cultural competency and literacy are crucial to creating safe and productive learning environments
  • Develop tools to help implement cultural competency into their educational spaces

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Summer A: June 1

What The World Needs Now...Tzedakah in Action

(GRADES: K-6)
For many of our families, a primary expression of Jewish identity is through tikkun olam (repair of the world) or social justice work, even more than through prayer or ritual. There is no shortage of real and immediate needs that require our attention: international refugees, hurricane victims and lonely people within your congregation are only a few examples. It's not enough for students to bring in quarters that their parents hand to them as they leave for school. Not only are your students capable of so much more; they want to do more, and it is an opportunity to empower and encourage them. In this course we will explore ways to develop students' tzedakah (justice) and chesed (benevolence) "muscles" and create individual plans for projects by grade or by school-wide theme.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Define the concepts of tzedakah and chesed.
  • Recognize and describe explicit, implicit and null curricula.
  • Identify Jewish values in explicit, implicit or null curriculum.
  • Locate and leverage existing resources within one’s own community
  • Develop unique tzedakah opportunities for individual students or classes, or school-wide initiatives.

Register Now

 

Summer B: July 6

What the World Needs Now...Tzedakah in Action

(GRADES: K-6)
For many of our families, a primary expression of Jewish identity is through tikkun olam (repairing of the world) or social justice work, even more so than through prayer or through ritual. There is no shortage of real and immediate needs that require our attention: international refugees, hurricane victims and lonely people within your congregation are only a few examples. It's not enough for your students to bring in quarters that their parents hand to them as they leave for school. Not only are your students capable of so much more; they want to do more, and we have the opportunity to empower them and to encourage them to do more. In this course we will explore ways to develop students' tzedakah (justice) and chesed (benevolence) "muscles" and create individual plans for projects by grade or by school-wide theme.

Course Objectives:
At the conclusion of each course, participants will be able to:

  • Define the concepts of tzedakah and chesed.
  • Recognize and describe explicit, implicit and null curricula.
  • Identify Jewish values in explicit, implicit or null curriculum.
  • Locate and leverage existing resources within one’s own community
  • Develop unique tzedakah opportunities for individual students or classes, or school-wide initiatives.

Register Now

 

Winter: Feb 3