Fourth Grade News for Sunday March 11
An hour less sleep doesn’t matter to our amazing students. They were in wonderful form today.
We gave accolades to Jake for his explanation of the V’Ahavta at the Shabbat Service and Dinner. As a class, we read the prayer in English and reviewed all its meaning. We then read the V’Shamru in English and practiced the refrain.
Most of our time today was centered on recalling what the students remembered about Passover and how we could expand on our knowledge.
We talked of
In Hebrew, we continue to work through the alphabet, learning the letter and vowel sounds, practicing more fluent reading, and learning some Hebrew on occasion.
Have a terrific week. If any parent would like to join us for our model seder on March 25, it would be wonderful to learn and practice together. Let me know.
Your students displayed their creative prowess and organizing talents this past Sunday. The students worked together to create posters depicting the various characters and important elements of the Purim story. They were the illustrators for the telling of the Purim story to the school. The only rehearsal they had for the timing and order of displaying the posters occurred 45 minutes before show time. Not only did the students remember their cues but they moved into place in sequence seamlessly. They were terrific! For those of you coming to our short Service and Dinner this Friday night in Newton at the Women’s Center, we will be displaying the artwork.
By the way, if you have not signed up but can still come, please contact Dori, as I would love to be able to spend a couple of hours with you and your child in such a relaxed event.
For the rest of last Sunday, any students who participated in the costume part of Purim were invited on stage to display their costumes. The Purim carnival after was full of fun food and sought after trinkets.
Hope you all had a good week despite the snow storm.
See you Friday, if you can, and on Sunday.
With Purim coming immediately after our February break, our class delved into the story of Purim. We discussed how the story has hidden messages of the need to take a stand, to act even when acting is difficult, and to treat all with respect. After reviewing the highlights and the characters, the students began working on setting up our props for the telling of the Purim story that will occur during the assembly on March 4. Each student chose either a location or character, some choosing more than one. The students then considered the dress of the time and made draft drawings of the characters and setting that will be the backdrop for the Purim storytelling.
The students practiced the V’ahavta. They are very close to mastery of the difficult tune and will be ready to lead the chanting of the prayer at our school shabbat dinner on March 9. Hopefully, most, if not all of you, will be attending.
The students that have Hebrew with me worked some on reading but also on reading and understanding some Hebrew words. The students working with Jake will be doing the same next class.
Hope you all enjoy the week and our community spirit, which can carry us through a team win or loss, because no matter what, we are in it together.
Hope you are all keeping warm!
We celebrated Tu B’Shvat, the birthday of the trees, last Sunday. The students experienced a Tu B’Shvat Seder which is a service with food where we drink four cups of juice (when they get older - wine), one clear for winter, one mixed with a little red and mostly clear for spring, one with more red and a little clear for summer, and the final cup is all red for fall. The idea is to think of the land and the seasons and to be appreciative of the cycle and the harvest. As part of the seder we said blessings and ate of the seven species mentioned in the Torah that were prevalent in Biblical times in Israel and we made connections between Jewish people and our history and fruits or grains that are hard on the outside and soft and edible on the inside like a pomegranate, fruits that are hard on the inside and edible and soft on the outside, such as dates or olives (with pits) and produce that is edible in its entirety like grapes.
Ask your student how a fruit for which the outside is hard but the inside is soft is like a Jewish person in our history.
We also completed reading The Giving Tree. The students made amazing connections between their lives and the story which lead to a deeper understanding of the need for giving and taking in connection with our environment and with our families. The students discussed that the tree gave too much, so much that it nearly killed her and the boy just kept taking. The students discussed how both extremes were not good, asking for too much and giving too much. They had a new awareness that a balance of giving and taking is their responsibility.
It was a fabulous class. Looking forward to our next class.
Tu B’shvat is coming soon, the birthday of the trees, so our class spent time learning about why we celebrate trees, what value do they have, and why celebrate holidays anyway. We also talked about why we have a few new year celebrations, Rosh Hashanah (the new year for the world, Passover (the religious new year since it is when the Jewish people began their journey to get the Torah), and now the birthday of the trees.
As part of the celebration of the holiday, we typically plant trees in Israel but also celebrate a seder (a short meal with some special prayers). The seder centers around 7 species of fruits and grains mentioned in the Torah that are common to Israel. See if your student can name any of them!! If not, we will repeat the list next Sunday and you can try again!!
Trees have symbolic value as an example of strength. The branches can be compared to the family branches. So we began reading The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and looking at why it is called the “giving tree” and how the book can be seen as providing insight into who is the strength in the family, who gives and who receives in a family relationship, and when and how the balance of giving and taking should occur. We have only read about a third of the book, so stay tuned.
As we read the book, the students are learning how to analyze literature by picking up on whether illustrations are black and white or in color, what is shown in an illustration or changed from illustration to illustration, and why certain words are used and not others. Asking why and delving below the surface is how the Torah is studied and it is how we are studying in our classroom.
We continue to practice the v’ahavta and v’shamru. The students will be leading the v’ahavta at our community Friday Shabbat service and dinner on March 9. The event starts at 6:00 and is located at The Women’s Club in Newton Highlands - 72 Columbus St. Newton. I hope to be able to celebrate and enjoy some relaxed time with all of you that evening.
January 7 fourth grade class before MLK Day
Today was an amazing day in the fourth grade. We began, as we usually do, with chanting the v’ahavta and v’shamru. In Music, the students learned another prayer, Modeh Ani, which is the prayer said on waking in the morning. It expresses gratitude for another day.
After music, we focused on MLK Day. Did you know that noone in our class has white skin? We talked about the idea of skin color and what can we consider when treating other people. Do you think we should treat everyone the same? Should we treat everyone equally? Ask your student. Should we look at every person and ignore what makes them unique, such as their heritage, customs, and history?
Spoiler Alert! The Civil Rights Movement pushed for equal rights under the law and under regulations in cities and towns. No one should have less of a right to vote. One person because of his/her skin color should not have to know the Gettysburg Address by heart to be able to vote, while another just has to sign his or her name. But we don’t want everyone to be treated the same. To have equal rights to enter and use a restaurant or use a school, a blind person might need railings to walk in and might need a braille menu or book. So it is equal rights and fairness we are after.
Together we read: I, Too, Sing America. By Langston Hughes, 1902 - 1967
I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,"
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--
We had a wonderful class discussion about what the poem meant, who was the darker brother, why was he laughing, why someday will they think of the brother as beautiful and they’ll be ashamed. The students were amazing in their insight and empathy.
We also had time to read a story about the prophet and King Solomon and what characteristics he evidenced as valuable for a leader. We also realized that King Solomon was a prophet. Ask your students about the baby and the sword!
Hebrew went well today too. Our students are reading more and more letters. It is wonderful.
Have a nice long weekend next week. See you on January 21.
Fourth Grade News December 3
Our class took an in depth look at history today. We examined the beginnings of the biblical timeline:
God creating the world
Adam and Eve
Cain and Abel
Noah and the Ark
Abraham and Sarah and their son Jacob
Abraham and Hagar and their son Ishmael
Sarah requesting that Hagar and Ishmael go and Abraham complying
God promising Hagar that Ishmael would be a great nation like God would make of Jacob
The students discovered that about 3000 years after Adam and Eve, Jesus was born and died Jewish. After his death, his followers created Christianity from Jesus’s words. About 600 years after Jesus, Muhammad created Islam. Our calendar year 2017 is from the year that it was thought that Jesus was born.
Followers of both Jesus and Mohammed consider each man a prophet. The Jewish belief is to consider Abraham as a prophet and others but not Jesus or Muhammed. All three religions have one God but address God with different names. In the Torah, God is referenced as Adonai, Hashem, Elohim and yud hey vav hey - a word that we do not know how to pronounce. In English, Jews also use the word God. Christians refer to the same God as the Father, Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit. The God of Islam is also one God that is called Allah. All of the three are different ways to describe the one God who created the world. All three religions follow the some of the Torah stories including that God created the world and that Abraham had the two sons. Christianity includes the Torah and adds a new compilation of information written by his Disciples. The new information is collected in the New Testament which modifies some of the information in the Torah. Jewish faith does not believe that the Torah has the addition and modifications contained in the New Testament. The Koran or Qur'an is also based on many of the stories found in the Torah. Some of the stories and language is reinterpreted or deleted in the Koran.
From all of this learning, the students realized the connection and shared initial beginnings of the three religions. They also became aware of why the Jewish calendar is currently in the year 5778 but the Gregorian or secular calendar is in the year 2017.
Finally, we also considered some of the lessons from the stories in the Torah. For example, that from Adam and Eve, we can learn to take responsibility for our actions. From Cain and Abel and Ishmael and Isaac, we learn that treating siblings with favoritism or lack of caring or lack of empathy has enormous negative consequences. From the way Abraham treated Ishmael and Isaac a rift was created between them that has resulted in the two religious faiths of Islam and Judaism and the schism between them.
In prayer time, we sang and studied Henei ma tov which speaks to the greatness of community, of brothers getting along. We used that song to lead to our learning about the history of the three religions.
In Hebrew, those studying with me, worked on reading and on some Hebrew language that occurred in our reading - words for what, who, fish, water, under, in, table, chair, hand, nose, head, book, paper, and pen.
Finally, just a reminder that it would be terrific for as many of the fourth graders as can, make a creative Hannukiah ( a 9 candle menorah for Chanukah). The students can work independently or together with someone in the school, a friend or a sibling. The creations will be on display on Dec 17 in the cafeteria with all receiving a prize for their efforts. There is also a talent show on the 17th, and again, we would like to invite as many as can, to participate in the show.
Just a fabulous class!!!
SSJS Newsletter for November 5
The fourth grade students continue to amaze in their capacity to question, analyze, and synthesize.
We had three assistants today so when the class was divided into groups, there were many teens available to help with ideas. In groups of 2, 3, or 4, the students were asked to determine what characteristics would the students not want in a leader. We are studying leadership qualities to support our thinking of what makes a prophet and does a person have to be royal or the best at everything or the best at anything to be a leader. The underlying message is that everyone has the potential to be a leader and we see that in evidence with who became prophets. Our prophets were men and women with faults and insecurities who had great roles in our history anyway.
Characteristics Not Wanted
Is mean to others
Is a cowardly
Who Loses his/her temper
After sharing the group work on what leaders should not be, the students worked together to determine the characteristics they think are most important for leaders. The list included being fair, honest, courageous, a positive thinker, kind, experienced, and respectful. We read about the Prophet Joshua being a leader and talked about the message that all of us can be and should be leaders, willing to stand up for others and for ourselves. We have some growing leaders, don’t you think!!
We also practiced the V'ahavta and examined the prayer for the number of times the word God appears. Interestingly, the prayer is mostly about commandments that God provided not about praising God even though it begins with the words, “And you shall love your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.”
In Hebrew, the students are moving along, reading more letters and putting more words together as sounds and as Hebrew words they can understand.
Enjoy the long weekend next weekend.
Fourth Grade Weeks of October 22 and 27
In light of the recent Simchat Torah holiday where we began reading the Torah from the first chapter, our class has been studying the first paragraph of Breishit, the first book of the Torah. In Breishit, we see God separate light from dark for the first day of creation. The students are learning that the Torah is not a recipe book or a science lab data sheet, but rather a varied medium presentation of the laws of the one God. The students have realized that there were items already in existence when the Torah begins. God, darkness, wind, deep, and an unformed earth. We have discussed how the Torah does not start at the beginning of everything but at a point where we already have God and some elements. Such a description can help to understand and support science’s big bang theory and the creation story both being valid descriptions of the beginning of the world.
Ask your student about the meaning of God creating by saying not doing something, the importance of separating, and that God called what was created ‘good”.
In connection with the creation story and the emphasis on God, we are looking at what we think are the attributes of God and whether we also expect those attributes from a leader such as a prophet. We talked some about wisdom today and whether wisdom is the same as fact knowledge or common sense without facts.
The students have been working independently and groups, making a very strong community of learners. We continue to learn the V’ahavta prayer and to work on Hebrew reading at the level of each student.
In the past few weeks, we have been studying the holidays and working to see how the messages and customs of the holidays can help us to be better people.
The students learned the customs for Rosh Hashanah at home and brought home some materials to use for blessings and dipping the apple in honey.
For Yom Kippur, we looked at what the Kol Nidre prayer is at the start of the holiday. We learned that it is for undoing any promises to God. We also talked of the ten days before Yom Kippur and how those days can be used to think about any apologies we need to make and any new paths we could take. We talked about the confessional prayer where we say “for the sin which we have committed before the and then there are 41 different items”. We talked about the word sin and that it really means missing the mark, reminding us that we are always expected to try to do better. The students completed a sheet outlining where they thought they were on a scale of 1-5 in areas where most people find it hard to do their best, like gossiping.
Before Sukkot, we talked about why God would want us to stay in a Sukkah for 8 days. What could we learn from leaving all our regular stuff and fixed, stable homes and instead stay in a hut through which we could see the stars? The students learned through a story about a pretend conversation God had with Moses about houses, computers, and restaurants and that even though Moses had no idea what those items were, God knew that we would have to celebrate Sukkot to remind people of the basics needed to live and the importance of the environment and our responsibility to take care of the land around us. In the story in God’s Mailbox, it is said that on Sukkot, we use etrog that needs scratching to smell the lemon fragrance to remind us that we have to scratch the earth to make things grow, we have to take action.
Today, we celebrated in the Sukkah. Moses and Miriam visited from our past to teach us some lessons from the Torah about leadership, trying, bravery, caring, and standing up to bullies.
The students also learned about Simchat Torah and how we read the last portion of the Torah and start again on the same day. We examined the words of the last portion which are about Moses, the prophet. This led to an introduction to the writings of Prophets and what the students thought a prophet is/was. We read a story about the Prophet Joshua. Throughout the year, we will be studying what our prophets did and said and what meaning we can take from their words and actions.
Have a great week.