At Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva, students learn about the beauty and joy of the chagim throughout the year. Many learning units are blended with other subjects to both expand students’ understanding of a chag and reinforce developmental learning objectives. At RPRY, nurturing rich Jewish life and learning for each student is focused through the prism of metacognition, and by expanding Torah outside the bounds of Judaics classes and into each unit, students learn.
Kindergarten students participated in a blended learning activity combining Judaic and general studies. The two classrooms were turned into centers where students rotated through activities centered on Chanukah. At the dreidel station, students practiced math skills by counting, adding, and subtracting and reinforced money literacy using real coins. They also practiced literacy skills by writing Chanukah cards to their parents on dreidel cutouts and completing journal entries about their favorite parts of Chanukah. A pegboard station for making chanukiot and sevivonim strengthened pattern learning. Other learning centers included legos or play dough, in which the students worked on developing motor skills as they made Chanukah themed shapes. The teachers, Shayna Yablonsky and Ilene Weintraub, expressed their enthusiasm for cross-curricular learning and collaboration.
In the three year old classroom with Helene Lockspeiser, Hallel was added to the students’ daily davening, special for Chanukah. The students danced and sang “Mekimi” and “Pitchu Li,” imbuing joy and excitement for the special kedusha of Chanukah. The students assembled Chanukiot practicing numeracy by counting out eight, learned the brachot, and strengthened fine motor skills by assembling Chanukiot individually, squeezing the glue in just the right places.
In Tobi Schilowitz’s Pre-Kindergarten class, students broke into groups to build special Chanukiot. Each group was given a box of manipulatives - either Legos, pegboards, blocks, or Clics - and had to form a plan and create their project as a group. The activity developed executive functioning skills, planning, teamwork, and fine motor ability.
The learning extends throughout the school. In third grade with teacher Kaila Stein, students practiced their Rashi letters by reading words about Chanukah in Rashi script. TalAm Chanukah games reinforced Hebrew skills for the students using technology integrated into the classroom learning.
Middle school students participated in a special Chanukah Maccabiah this week. Maccabiah provides an opportunity for students to exhibit leadership, planning, and organization. This multi-day color war event is an important opportunity for students to build their self-esteem as they demonstrate their skills in both academic and non-academic areas while engaging in informal Chanukah learning opportunities.
At RPRY, curriculum is built and class projects are created with intentionality to reach developmental goals. This is a pillar of RPRY’s metacognitive educational approach. A recent faculty professional development day focused almost entirely on this concept. Chana Luchins, Assistant Principal of General Studies, said of the PD day, “everything was carefully constructed for teachers to be mindful and intentional in their goal setting, whatever their subject. We already do a great deal of project based learning, but intentionality and clear goals are what unify the educational vision of the school, all under the rubric of metacognition.” Chanukah has provided a wonderful example of this.