Welcome to the Budowsphere! This is where Rabbi Budow shares his thoughts, musings, and insights on Jewish education and various other topics of interest to the Jewish community.
I have been immersed in Hebrew day schools for most of my life- as a student at Yeshiva of Hudson County, the Jewish Educational Center in Elizabeth, NJ, and Ner Israel Rabbinical College- and then professionally working for a year at Torah Umesorah, teaching in Richmond, VA and at JEC, and finally as the director of Abrams Hebrew Academy in Yardley, PA.
During my many years at Jewish day schools and Yeshivot I have witnessed the “fads” in educational pedagogical approaches that come and go through the years. When I was a student in Hudson County in the ’60s I was introduced to “New Math,” a concept that you can Google. The result of this approach to mathematics was that I was completely confused, and by the time I finished 8th grade the schools had dropped the curriculum. This was a costly experiment- not only did it cost the school districts time and money to implement the program, but I lost two years of math education.
The latest education fad is “blended learning.” It has been touted as the solution to the affordability problem, allowing schools to hire fewer teachers to teach the same number of students, emphasizing on-line teaching over in-person classroom teaching. I believe this is a fad that will produce questionable results.
Do not misunderstand me- I am a huge proponent of technology, and I want every one of our Abrams’ teachers to use technology as one tool in her/his bag of tricks. I just don’t want it to be the only trick, nor do I think it replaces hands-on, personal, one-on-one classroom experience.
Russel Neiss, Jewish educator, technologist, activist, and the coding monkey behind PocketTorah, the AlephBet App, and a myriad of other Jewish educational technology initiatives, wrote a blog for PEJE, an organization that promotes Jewish day schools, in which he says, “No amount of artificial intelligence or blended learning or Smart-this or i-that is going to be able to replace the pedagogical benefits of a highly trained educator who can help students gain and apply knowledge (Judaic or otherwise) to help them make sense of the world in which they live. Trying to harness technology to supplant these professionals in search of some perceived vast savings that has yet to be realized is a fool’s errand.”
In my role as director of Abrams Hebrew Academy the most important thing that I invest in is attracting and keeping the best teachers. However, just having the best teachers is not enough. If there are too many learning differences among the students in a class the teacher is unable to be all things to all people, becomes frustrated and cannot succeed. So, we are committed not only to hiring great teachers, but in placing them in situations where they can teach without frustration.
For example, our middle school math department divides students within a grade so that a smaller group of advanced students learns separately from students who are not as far along. In fact, Abrams divides the middle school students in almost all subjects, offering advanced classes in language arts, Hebrew language, and Chumash. The result is satisfied teachers who are able to tailor their teaching to each small group, culminating in success for all. All of the students are engaged- the higher level performers are challenged to push themselves, and the lower level students are not getting lost and are being brought up as far as possible.
I truly believe that this concept of how to achieve success is one of the key foundations of our school and answers one of the most important questions of “How does Abrams survive?”
P.S. I will be at the National Jewish Day School Conference next week and plan to attend workshops on blended learning with an open mind.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
All are welcome to attend!
Purim at Abrams Residence
The 8th grade visited the Abrams Residence to celebrate Purim with “their” seniors as part of the “Better Together” program funded by the Legacy Heritage Fund.
There were crafts, games, songs, and of course, Hamentashen! A great time was had by all.
6th grade making Hamentashen
with Adi and Shira
Parent Teacher Conferences
NO SCHOOL FOR STUDENTS
THURSDAY, MARCH 19, 2015
PARENT CONFERENCE DAY
Conferences- 2:00 pm -7:45 pm
School Lunch Menu
** Note Menu Change
Monday- Pasta w/sauce
**Tuesday – NO MEAT!!!- Perogies
Wednesday – Pizza
Thursday – Espresso Café Day
Friday – Fish Sandwiches
Fresh Fruit /Veggies
Individual Lunch- $5.00 per day
Cost per Month:
Safety and Security Reminders
Just a reminder of AHA security procedures:
All parents should use the front door to enter the school with key cards and not the back doors. Parent swipe cards only work at front door.
Please do not ask students to open any doors- parents must report to the front office and check-in before entering the school.
No student or other person should use the lunchroom doors other than for dismissal or emergency purposes.
Please note that the car pool line is for grades N and K only. All other students are to be dropped off in the front of the building.
Parents who use the back for drop off should follow the directions of the teachers in the parking lot. They are there to assist students and maintain a safe environment.
Under no circumstances are parents to park their cars in the middle of the line and leave them unattended to walk students into the building.
** We ask that parents refrain from cellphone use in the parking areas while dropping off and picking up their children.
Birthday Celebrations at School
When sending birthday treats into school to celebrate that special day for your child, please consider sending in a healthy treat, such as frozen fruit bars, rice cakes, fruit salad or cups, sugar free pudding snacks, yogurt cake or pie, cheese sticks, light popcorn or air popped popcorn (when age appropriate), pretzels, carrots/celery (when age appropriate).Please avoid nuts because of allergies.
In order to maintain a consistent kashrut policy and to avoid confusion, ALL orders for birthday cakes/cupcakes MUST be ordered from Cramer’s Bakery, 16 E. Afton Avenue, Yardley. Cramer’s will deliver the order to the school at a discounted price.
Please call Kim Pierce at 215-321-5707 to place your cake/ cupcake order.
Celebrate Your Simcha at Abrams
Abrams Hebrew Academy is a perfect choice to host your family or social affair, business meeting or athletic event. Whether you’re looking for an inviting space to celebrate a special occasion; a meeting area with state-of-the art technology; a fun, safe environment for a child’s birthday; or a gym or athletic field for a sporting event, Abrams can accommodate your needs and your budget. For more information on room rentals at Abrams Hebrew Academy, call (215) 493-1800 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check Your Child’s Assignments with Homework Now
Parents- all homework will be posted on-line by all teachers grades K-8 by Sunday evening each week.
Instructions for use of homeworknow.com:
Click on homeworknow.com
Click on Parent and Student
Click on find school
Click on Pennsylvania
Click on Abrams Hebrew Academy
Click on your child’s teacher
View homework assignments
Share Abrams News With Others
Is there a family member (such as a grandparent) or friend who would be interested in hearing about everything going on at Abrams? Sign them up for our e-mail list today! Please contact the Main Office.
Information about the Extra
Please submit any information to be considered for inclusion in the Extra to Dale Sattin, Director of Development & Communications: email@example.com. (215) 493-1800 ext. 22 by