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September 08, 2016
Upon entering the first day of English class with Rosh 8th Grade, Joanne Baker, I was impressed to see all 8th graders working in small groups to paraphrase a poem. Overhearing a student exclaim, "Well, it's a poem, so she can interpret it differently than you and you can both be right" was invigorating. Our 8th grade class has started the year off with a mixture of curiosity and collaboration, laying the foundation for a rigorous and successful year. If you see a member of the Class of 2017, ask them how long it took Joanne to add two verses to Edgar Albert Guest's poem, "It Couldn't be Done." Not only did Joanne add richness to the discussion by cultivating a specific message to our 8th graders through verse, she set the tone for the year by reminding her students just how much she believes in them. Here's to a great year for our 8th graders!
September 15, 2016
On day six of school, our 6th graders were already conducting experiments in the science lab. Miriam Klausner facilitated a "Fish Lab" which allowed students to explore various variables and how each affected "fortune fish" (a fish shaped, super-thin piece of cellophane). Students worked in pairs to record their observations, and at the close of the lesson, Miriam led the students through the big picture thinking of how scientists look at the world and why. Our 6th graders are grappling not only with the scientific method, but also with synthesis questions about how outside variables affect the world around us.
September 22, 2016
Our second graders are immersed in literacy! Chavah has created a rich environment for reading; students are engaging in texts that are "just right" for their individual reading levels. It is incredible to see active reading strategies come alive as students choose specific lines from their books from which to create mental images. Solidifying the understanding and details of a text through this extension activity is helping our second graders lay the foundation to be active readers!
September 29, 2016
Dr. Maria Miara, a paleontologist from Brandeis, visited 3rd and 4th grade science splits (she was here for more than 3 hrs and taught 4 classes!!). She spoke to the children about how she became interested in Science and paleontology, what paleontologists do, and her work as a research scientist searching for fossils in northern Canada. Most importantly, as we will be doing in the current unit, she spoke of how she learned about the movement and lives of animals from the structure of their bones. A great time was had by all! We finished the week by reflecting and listing what we learned and thought was cool in her talk, and of course, making thank you cards that described our interests.
October 06, 2016
In support of our goal to promote kindness, this summer 3rd, 4th and 5th graders read books about kindness (e.g. Wonder by R.J. Palacio and Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt). Last Tuesday and Wednesday these mixed grade book clubs made presentations to their peers demonstrating the themes and power of kindness from the novels. From the use of a text message strand, to skits, to dramatic interpretations our students performed for each other to spread the message, “choose kindness”. These inter-grade activities are yet another strong example of how committed our community is to learning and working together collaboratively.
October 13, 2016
Please check out the rectangular prism sukkah that was built on our front parking lot, designed by our second grader, Orli Gortler! Orli participated in a sukkah design challenge in engineering class with the rest of the first and second grade where all children were challenged to improve upon the design of the traditional sukkah while maintaining the halachic rules. The children built structurally sound sukkot that each had a unique feature, and we are incredibly proud of each and every student's design. The thoughtfulness with which the students poured into their designs was highly evident!
October 20, 2016
Michelle Boyle has led the sixth grade class on a kindness journey through a revamped humanities curriculum that began around the young adult novel The Misfits, by James Howe. Through this literary investigation, students reexamined how they welcome new members into the JCDS community and how they strengthen bonds, friendship and communication with one another. At JCDS, we regularly use literature to learn about ourselves and the other, and we are excited to see where the sixth grade carries the important theme of kindness throughout the year.
November 03, 2016
Tenderly expressed by Kobe Deener-Agus on the return bus ride from the Jackson Mann School in Boston where our JCDS 8th graders began a ten-week service project as reading buddies with an ESL elementary class, “When we arrived, I saw many different ethnicities and a diversity of kids, but by the time we left, I just saw a bunch of cute 3rd graders”! There was an immediate attraction the moment introductions began. When Matan Kruskal stood up and said, “I’m Matan and I like to dance,” little Henry almost jumped out of his seat, grinning from ear to ear, his thumb and forefinger quickly rocking back and forth. And that same thing continued to happen with virtually every youngster and adolescent; as meeting and greeting proceeded, instant connections were made. As reading pairs and groups began to work together, warmth and magic were evident among all of the students. This morning’s activities were the beginning of a beautiful partnership between JCDS 8th graders and “a bunch of cute third graders” from the Jackson Mann School!
November 10, 2016
The 5th grade students have been hard at work completing a Tanakh Engineering Design Project! Supported by Andrea and Jared, students were "challenged to think like engineers in order to apply what they learned from studying Biblical Text about the camp if Bnei Yisrael in the midbar (desert). Working in groups, students created tents belonging to each tribe, as well as the Levi'im and the Mishkan. Students followed the engineering process, asking questions about the task, imagining how they could build it, planning with labeled and to-scale blueprints, creating then improving their design." The results from this integrated, cross-curricular unit were incredible; not only did students produce a live model of of the camp of Bnei Yisrael, students were also able to internalize the applicable theme "if you want to go faster, go alone; if you want to go farther, go together." Kol hakavod, fifth grade!
November 17, 2016
This past Monday, our 4th grade class led a ceremony to honor the memory and accomplishments of Yitzchak Rabin z"l. Delivered in both Hebrew and English, the children beautifully demonstrated both their knowledge and their reverence of this esteemed Jewish role model. The students were articulate and passionate; they shared their thoughts of how the teachings of Yitzchak Rabin can apply to their own lives. The ceremony concluded with a powerful song dedicated to his memory. The event was made even more special as our parents and 8th grade students attended the ceremony, confirming yet again the power of community engagement in solidifying and sharing the process of learning
November 24, 2016
Walking into the first grade classroom this past Monday highlighted the magnificence of our lower school music program. Emily Perlman was playing a song from the Harry Potter soundtrack, and students were listening quietly and choosing how and when to move to the music. Emily has instituted a new portion of music class that is truly dedicated to our students; children take turns bringing in their favorite pieces of music, and the classes listen with the choice of movement. Not only does this allow for the physicality that our younger students need throughout the day, but also personalizes music class to our children's choices and passions. Music is yet another bright spot in our children's days here at JCDS!
December 08, 2016
It was incredible to see the 4th grade engage in a Design Thinking workshop over the entirety of last week! Design Thinking is an approach to problem-solving that relies on collaborative thinking and a clear understanding of human need. The 4th graders worked in teams to "solve a problem" at JCDS that they unearthed through empathy focused interviews. They created options for building change within the school, built real life models of their proposals, and presented their ideas to a panel of school administrators, board members, and field experts. The students have not only developed real solutions for challenges facing JCDS, but have inspired teachers to incorporate design thinking into their classrooms.
December 15, 2016
Recently, four of our JCDS teachers participated in a six day long Mindfulness Retreat as part of a grant from The Institute for Jewish Spirituality. This team is in the early stages of a three year initiative to bring mindfulness to our students. This year, the team made up of Michelle J., Ayelet, Oren and Rebecca, are being trained in mindful practices. Next year, these mindful practices will be rolled out to the entire JCDS staff, and in year three, practices will be rolled out to students. Our ultimate goal in our mindfulness work is to strengthen students' ability to self-regulate and manage stress, as well as bring mindful practices into their T'fillah experience. We are looking forward to the impact this has on our student learning!
December 22, 2016
On Friday, December 16th, our 2nd grade joyously shared with their parents their learning about Parshat Lech Lecha. After chanting a verse from the portion, students led the assembled adults in a learning session. They asked general knowledge questions about the Tanakh, and then led a close reading of the first few verses of Lech Lecha. Their enthusiasm was contagious, and their impressive knowledge was wonderful to see. Their demonstration of learning also included song and dance, as well as written and artistic work that all connected to and interpreted the text. The morning's program was the culmination of the 2nd grader's learning, and we are so grateful to Chavah and Michal for bring the children to this moment. Alla, Emily P. and Vered also contributed to this team effort. Kol hakavod, 2nd grade!
December 29, 2016
On Thursday, December 15th, the fifth graders participated in the Festival of Festivals, exhibiting a large scale representation of their learning of the Chinese festivals through an interactive carnival. Guests were made up of families and other JCDS students alike as we all learned about the New Year Festival, the Lantern Festival, the Qingming Festival, the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, and the Dragon Boat Festival. Each and every student played an active role, whether it was explaining the reasoning and history behind each festival, helping guests participate in the games, or providing positive reinforcement for their classmates and guests as the traversed to various booths. Samara, as our 5th grade Humanities Teacher, facilitated this spectacular demonstration of learning; each child came away proud of their knowledge and accomplishment in producing a truly special Festival of Festivals. Kol hakavod, 5th grade!
January 12, 2017
Walking into the 4th grade classroom last Friday, I observed team teaching at its best. Both Michelle and Ayelet were conferencing with students on a rotating basis while the class was working on editing and finalizing their individual "Midwives Paper." Although the content was steeped in Chumash, the skills were based in writing as students were using evidence from the text to argue whether the midwives were Hebrew or not Hebrew. Michelle was working on supporting students to bring their writing to the next level with their final "so what" sentence, while Ayelet was ensuring that the evidence used was relevant and applicable. The student work output was ripe with thoughtful and unique viewpoints, backed up with evidence, and confirmed with the 4th grade skill of a concluding sentence that truly answered the question of, "Why does this matter?" Be sure to look out for these papers posted outside of Alon in the coming days!
January 19, 2017
Our annual Humanities Day in the Middle School took place last Thursday, and what a treat it was! Students in grades 5-8 transitioned through three different workshops of their choice, and spent the morning steeped in learning about different professions in the humanities. From a Channel 7 journalist to a musical lyricist to a mosaic tiles artist, students learned, created, and questioned the professionals present from all corners of the world of humanities. A special thanks to Joanne Baker for planning each and every piece of this miraculous event. Be sure to ask your middle schooler if any passions were ignited for future careers in the arts!
February 02, 2017
This past Friday, our 6th graders presented and participated in their final milestone of JCDS: our Legacy Milestone. It was inspiring to see our students start their milestone entirely in Hebrew; the growth in and mastery of the language was evident and beautiful. Each student shared their own chosen journey for understanding their legacy through this milestone; from projects and papers posted around the room to the Talitot hanging on the walls to the visual presentations projected, students shared their own personal learnings and understandings of their legacies. The event was magical, and included incredibly moving music and an accumulating display that marked for our students their first steps into adulthood here at JCDS. We are so proud of them! A special thanks to Andrea, Ben and Michelle B. for the instruction of content, Vered for the guidance and supervision in making the Talitot, and Oren and Emily for lending their musical talent for the performance.
February 09, 2017
Andrea Silton, our 5th and 6th grade Tanakh teacher, Middle School Advisor, and t'fillah teacher, is teaching a new t'fillah elective this year entitled Comparative Religion. She has structured the class around the goal of having students gain some knowledge of, and understanding about, the other four major religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. Andrea has also created a multitude of incredible opportunities for our students, including a visit from representatives from a Hindu Cultural Society to teach our students about Hindu ritual sand art as well as an open discussion with four Christian ministers of different denominations to speak to the students about pluralism within Christianity. Yesterday, Andrea took her t'fillah elective students to a mosque to learn more about Islam. Our students are having real life learning opportunities to expand their understanding of the religious world around us; thank you Andrea for creating these incredible moments of enrichment and pluralism!
February 16, 2017
The first grade students have been hard at work studying and learning the symbols of America. Their excitement over participating in a read aloud about the statue of liberty was palpable! Words like "immigrant" and "pedestal" were fast on their lips as we read through the story of how the statue of liberty came to be. Students were exceedingly proud of their USA artifacts they made out of clay; the detailing students were including on their own miniature statues of liberty and bald eagles were inspiring! Thank you to Shira for facilitating such an engaging, timely, and kinesthetic infused unit of study.
March 02, 2017
Chavah Goldman, a JCDS Teaching With Technology Fellow, has introduced a number of technology innovations into the second grade classroom. Using iPads, Chavah has her students record audio and video of themselves so that both the students and teacher can reflect on their learning. When learning about adjectives, the students used iPads to take pictures of objects around the room. The students then labeled those objects through typing, voice recording, or writing directly on the picture with appropriate adjectives. Chavah is effectively teaching with technology, with clear impact on student learning: the students’ explanations of their work require them to reflect on their thinking and the process of doing the work rather than just focusing on the final product. Through her work as a Teaching With Technology Fellow, Chavah has used technology to differentiate instruction to allow students to access the curriculum at their level.
March 16, 2017
JCDS celebrated Purim this past Friday in pure JCDS fashion: honoring the story of Queen Esther, dressing in a wide variety of incredibly creative costumes, and engaging in a joyful carnival created and run by our middle schoolers for our younger students. With the actual date of Purim being on Sunday, Oren Kaunfer went all out in altering the traditional megillah reading to ensure we still paused to remember the historical events of the holiday. Oren created a giant tic-tac-toe board, and recreated the Hollywood Squares game show of the 70's as a vehicle for students to interact with the story of Purim. Teachers, administrators, and 8th grade students filled the squares and took turns answering questions based on the megillah while students decided whether or not the answers were valid. Kindergarten, 2nd grade, 4th grade and 6th grade played against 1st grade, 3rd grade, 5th grade and 7th grade, the entire school engaged in a giant, joyful game to remember Purim Story. Thank you to Oren for this incredible way to interact with the history of Purim before we all played carnival games till our hearts were content!
March 30, 2017
Play is not just fun and games; rather, play is a critical part of the development of a child's brain, body and intellect. We know that students learn best through experience, whether that be through play, experimentation, exploration or discovery. Additionally, Many of the skills that students need to develop in the lower grades include gross and fine motor skills, negotiation and problem solving, and risk taking and absorption of vast amounts of basic knowledge. In response to this, our Gan Nitzan teachers are making sure that our NItzanim are spending lots of time playing outside. In fact, now that it's Spring time, one day per week our Nitzanim actually begin the day outside! Maximizing outdoor play time is a key element of our play based kindergarten. Thank you to Tehila and Sarah for taking the initiative to infuse a play based instructional model with what we know is so important to growth: intentional outside play!
April 20, 2017
Before Pesach, the 4th grade participated in a seminal 4th grade event of sleeping over at the Museum of Science. While the dinosaur didn't come alive, the museum was humming with special presentations, cool experiments and tons of engineering. This year the 4th grade saw a great show about the science behind animation, explored DNA, visited Jupiter, learned (or relearned) how to be safe in a lightening storm, attempted to clean up the Charles River and slept with the birds!
April 27, 2017
As we are getting ready to celebrate Yom Haatzmaut next week, we are thinking about our connection with Israel. Each year, CJP brings active duty IDF officers to share with the Boston Jewish community their personal experiences. Today, JCDS was lucky enough to have two officers meet with our students to share what it is like to be in the army and what it means to be an Israeli citizen. The Kindergarten through 6th graders met together with the two officers. One officer is a 20 year old woman who made Aliyah from Brookline and is currently serving as a tank instructor (training other IDF members how to use tanks). The other officer has been serving for 12 years and he is a member of the paratrooper division. The 7th and 8th graders also met with the IDF officers, though their presentation was conducted entirely in Hebrew (including the questions asked by the students).
May 04, 2017
30 students from JCDS presented at the annual CJP Gelfand Family Foundation STEM Expo this past Sunday. We had a broad cross section - representatives from 3rd, 4th, 6th and 8th grade. The 3rd and 4th grade students presented posters about the knee braces they designed as part of an extensive engineering unit, inspired by a Museum of Science Engineering is Elementary unit. 6th grader Gabriel Krauss-Grossman prepared a poster sharing research he collected about how to increase the efficiency of solar panels. The 8th grade students also shared engineering work - the PVC creations they built as part of the annual 8th grade Engineering Design Challenge. Items they created included a portable volleyball net stand, a tray for holding books, a cart for transporting math books and supplies, and more. JCDS students once again distinguished themselves by winning both categories of the Engineering Design Challenge. One group created the pipe cleaner design that help a cup of 50 pennies off the table at the greatest height, while a different JCDS team won their category by building a design that could hold over 400 pennies. We thank the Gelfand Family for the support for this important event and their ongoing support for STEM at JCDS.
May 11, 2017
One of the main events for our 6th graders is their participation in the production of a Shakespearean play. This year, our sixth graders are putting on Midsummer Night's Dream. Students read the play in both Modern and Shakespearean English and perform it in Shakespearean. They study the Renaissance Era including Queen Elizabeth the 1st, scientists, weaponry, games entertainment, culture and the globe theatre. To put on such a wonderful production, students must understand the context of the play, produce all of their own backdrops and are their own costume designs. Come see our actors, directors, producers and dramaturges in action! Tonight at 6pm in the Sifriyah.
May 18, 2017
4th grade started off the week with their Boston Hebrew tour! Students spoke only in Hebrew the entire trip even among themselves. Groups of students presented on different Boston locations including TD Garden, Fenway, The Freedom Trail, and even JP Licks! The 4th graders have spent the last few months studying the applicable Hebrew vocabulary as well as doing in depth research on their location. Students finished their day with a treat from JP Licks, sponsored by Alisa Berger and Maddy Moyn!
May 25, 2017
When JCDS was first selected to be part of a pilot to bring mindfulness to jewish camps and schools I have to admit I was a bit skeptical. But after spending the past 10 months with a core group of teachers working with IJS on our own practice I have seen first hand the impact that it can make. Our team of teachers has continually been amazed by the experience and resources we have gained from the pilot and we are looking forward to seeing how it can affect students and teachers as we work to integrate it more broadly in the school. We have noticed change in the way we interact with students peers and loved ones and it has helped us to appreciate the world around us. JCDS was lucky to have two members of the leadership of the program, Rabbi Sam Feinsmith and Larry Schwartz, visit for two days last week to get a better sense of JCDS and our community, with the goal of better understanding how the work can fit best with our school.
June 02, 2017
Last week, the 8th graders visited the Big Apple during their graduation trip! They had a wonderful and wet first day in New York. From the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, they rode Jane's Carousel, then crossed the magnificent bridge into Manhattan, not letting a little, okay A LOT, of rain dampen their spirits. They then headed to the Hebrew Union Soup Kitchen where they had a chance to feed and clothe hungry New Yorkers. This was a particularly meaningful experience for the students, and the HUC staff was impressed that our students stood for thirty minutes in the rain handing out sandwiches and toiletries without complaining. On Day 2, the weather cleared, and the 8th graders enjoyed a beautiful boat ride to Ellis Island. A highlight of the immigration museum for many students was finding names of relatives that passed through there. After eating lunch in Bowling Green and taking photos with the Charging Bull and Fearless Girl Statues. the group stopped at the Trinity Church to lay their respects to the ten dollar founding father (Hamilton anyone?). Afterwards, they participated in a fascinating program at the 9/11 Museum. They ended the day with a delicious dinner at Mr. Broadway, a real treat especially for the meat eaters who enjoyed the large portions, and then it was off to the Winter Garden Theater for School of Rock, a joy for all. Day 3 included a museum double header - the Tenement Museum and the Museum of Chinese in America, as well as more exploring of the Lower East Side and the W. Village, with many culinary delights: falafel, knishes, pickles and an impressive amount of ice cream. The evening included two guest speakers - Irina Kader-Braginsky's daughter (and JCDS alum) Natalie and a staff member of the state senator for Lower Manhattan, Eli Szenes-Strauss, who met the students at the Stonewall National Monument and described in vivid detail the 3 day riot in 1969 that led to the gay rights movement in America. On the morning of Day 4, students got to daven Shacharit at the only Romaniote shul in the Western Hemisphere, Kehila Kedosha Janina, visited the Museum of City of New York and hit the road back to Boston. Thank you to our staff members, Dorit, Jared, Irina, and Ben who accompanied the students on this amazing trip. An additional thank you to the 8th grade parents who organized the fundraisers all year, and the JCDS community who supported them.
June 09, 2017
Last week, Erez and Alon students were treated to a traveling program from the Museum of Science: “Now Hear This: The Sound of Science”. The program was a summation for a unit on Sound the classes are completing. As part of the unit, students focused on the basics of sound; what causes it (vibrations), that it is a form of energy (It can make things move!), how it travels (waves through moving molecules), and how length and tension affect pitch. As a finale, student teams are building their own musical instruments based on these principles. The program touched on all these concepts with great dramatic effect. Students were splashed by tuning fork driven water, were wowed by the geometric patterns formed by sand dancing on a speaker driven surface, imagined and shared how weight can affect frequency/pitch, learned about resonance, and were startled as sound shattered a crystal glass. It was a great way to consolidate and extend their learnings. The program was made possible with funds from the Egerman STEM grant to JCDS and is a part of our ongoing relationship with the Museum of Science.