Beginning of the School Year Logistics
Here’s our Hebrew & Religious School schedule:
Wednesdays, 4:15 – 6:00pm
Sundays, 9:00 – 12:10 (of which the last hour, 11:10 – 12:10 is dedicated to Hebrew instruction)
Wednesday, September 7 is opening day. The 3rd-4th grade group (29 kids total), hereafter referred to as Group A, will come see me right away, from 4:20-4:50, then return to their classroom with their teacher for liturgical Hebrew & religious studies. Then Group B (53 kids, grades 5, 6, and 7)*, who started with liturgical Hebrew/religious studies in their classroom, will visit me from 4:55-5:25. Eventually, (say, after 2 or 3 sessions?) the 30-minute Hebrew slots will increase to 45 minutes, with each group getting around 15 minutes of literacy extension after the 30 minutes of oral work. This will eventually fill the Wednesday session.
It will take some coordinated practice (and wrangling) to get everyone settled for a punctual startup and transition between groups.
Class Lists/Hebrew Names:
I have asked the school office for class lists by grade, in the form of a 3-column table, with each student’s full English name in the first column, his/her Hebrew first name in the center (hand-written is fine), and then an empty column to the right. This will serve as a excellent template for some early personalization and (onscreen?) class survey activities, allowing us to get to know each other as we build our playful community.
We’re also ordering name tags – the reusable vinyl sleeve kind on a lanyard – and will have kids wear their Hebrew name (written in cursive Hebrew) while attending class, until we all learn each others’ Hebrew names. These will be collected and stored in the Hebrew Room. If a student doesn’t have a family-given Hebrew name, I believe assigning one is a good idea. Why? It’s a great way to: Establish/reinforce that this is a Hebrew-speaking zone; Practice decoding (the names) in Hebrew – very high interest!; and introduce common Hebrew/Israeli names, which are part of Israeli culture. Click here for a list of popular Israeli Hebrew names.
Before opening day, I’ll set up my teaching space, making sure that it’s inviting and appealing, but also posting some of the most basic language I know I’ll need right away. To start, I’ll probably only hang a few question words, (‘Who?’ ‘What?’ and ‘Where?’) from my printable mini-poster collection of hi-frequency verbs and interrogatives, the Hebrew Word Wall 2016. (The Word Wall can also be found on the Novice Hebrew Corpus page.) The walls will start relatively bare, but they’ll grow increasingly text-rich as more Hebrew is acquired and needed in context. I don’t want to overwhelm the kids with a bunch of words they don’t know yet! I’ll also make sure the large dry-erase whiteboard & markers are in place, and that my props are sorted in bins for easy access.
I wear a wireless headset microphone when I teach (move over, JLo)- indispensable for those of us who teach multiple daily classes using Comprehensible Input. It really spares our voices!
My laptop computer will be connected to the overhead projector, and can toggle with the document camera to project images from paper and computer, plus videos etc. onscreen.
We’ll have a chair for each student, arranged in a horseshoe or herringbone configuration (not sure – haven’t worked in that space yet.) No desks or tables. This set-up frees up space for dramatization and movement, and affords general flexibility, plus writing will mostly be done on dry-erase lap boards, which can also be used as lap tables when kids write in their notebooks.
I’ll post a separate article/s on writing once we get rolling, and will also upload photos of my new Hebrew classroom digs.
I plan to upload links to video footage of our classes with reflection/commentary after class. As soon as we figure out the tech requirements to do so, I’ll create a space on this blog where you’ll be able to view and comment on our novice Hebrew classes, both Group A (the 3rd-4th grade group) and Group B (the 5th – 7th graders.)
Please feel free to post questions about my before-opening-day prep or anything else on the blog, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
*ADDENDUM: With over 50 kids, the 5th through 7th grade group is waaaaay too big and unwieldy to teach all together. To address this challenge, I will break out the 5th grade group and teach them separately. So I’ll teach 3x 30-minute sections on Wednesdays, and 3x 20-minute sections on Sundays. Also, to save time, Hebrew teachers will distribute and collect their students’ name tags and store them in plastic baggies in their classrooms.