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.
Dear Families, 9/9/17
We had a wonderful first day. The students met in groups to remember what holiday is approaching and what it signifies. Ask your student about the improvement statements that we discussed. For example, if someone wanted to be a better ball player, we talked about realizing that practice is so important to reach that goal and that learning to practice can be applied to non-sport activities too. The goal of practicing is an important life goal.
For snack, we walked outside and shared some snack and challah. We also said a blessing and learned that blessings are a way to make sure we appreciate what we have. Ask your student what Amen means. We worked on learning each others' names and we also shared number of pets and siblings, (not listed by importance)!
For Hebrew today, we assessed the range of sound/letter knowledge that each student has. We looked at the first page of our new reader that teaches about the letters and sounds in the word שָׁבַת (shabbat). The students were reminded that we read from right to left in Hebrew. We talked about why we consider Friday sunset to Saturday sunset שָׁבַת. Ask your student what does Shabbat mean, where do we get the idea of rest from, what is the connection between the 6 days G-d took to create the world and Shabbat. Ask why we humans should find a time to rest.
For homework, the students were asked to share with you what they learned today and to practice the letters שָׁ בַ ת . I sent home two sheets that contain practice sounds and the letters and what sounds they make. The students should try to become as fluent as they can with these three consonants and two vowel sounds. The vowels are the items below the letters, the vowels look like a dash and a little t.
Looking forward to next week.
Mrs. Y and our Assistant Ryan