When teaching Jewish Studies, your role is to give your students the tools they need to embark upon what is ultimately going to be a personal journey toward spiritual and cultural identity. That is what makes it such a meaningful class to teach, though it does come with its challenges. You need to find ways to create an even playing field so that all the students in your class can learn, regardless of their level. After all, some will have a better understanding of their culture and skills than others. So, how do you bring it all together in school?
1) Open the communication channels
If you find that there is a disparity in knowledge, interest or engagement in class, don’t ignore it. Dedicating time to discuss the way your classroom is conducted will help you better understand your students’ needs. With younger pupils, make use of games, like educational apps for children, and simplified dialogue. An older group will be receptive to an actual open conversation with you about their expectations. Through these discussions, as suggested in this article on mixed ability-classes, you may find that:
- Some students are ahead of the class and feel held back.
- Other students feel left behind as they do not understand everything.
- You may be using educational techniques that do interest your students.
- The way your class is structured may not be optimal.
Once you’ve gained insights into how your class is perceived by your students, it is time to find ways to turn negatives into positives. Don’t hesitate to call upon your community for advice. Fellow teachers will have their own classroom setups and activities in place to alleviate the issues caused by having students at different levels. Taking it even further, your local Jewish community in general is bound to happily assist. Dignitaries can come in for guest lectures and special assignments to further establish Jewish Studies as a relevant addition to the curriculum. The goal is to make your students want to catch up to their classmates and/or learn more about their culture.
3) Introduce new things to the classroom
Start differentiating how your classroom-sessions are run. Instead of always having your students work alone, make them work in groups and mix these up regularly. Eventually, weaker students will benefit from working with stronger ones. These stronger students will, in turn, feel validated for being able to put their knowledge to good use.
Educational apps for children, can greatly help both develop knowledge where lacking and give the topic at hand an undertone of “being a part of the real world”. In your students’ minds, if they can work from a tablet or a desktop app to learn in class, the subject matter must be relevant! Using these tools helps create a personalised trajectory for each student, playing to their strengths and weaknesses and leveling out the field so that everybody can learn as much as they should.
4) Welcome input from your class
Have your students actively participate in the creation of their own curriculum. Let them design a board game or aid them in developing their own educational apps for children. They will take pride in being able to deliver something that will benefit them and their fellow pupils. Often, you’ll see that these type of classroom-activities self-govern. Individual knowledge levels don’t matter that much anymore as everybody works together, learns together and grows together.
5) Let your students take it home with them
Educational apps for children are valuable tools to help your students fine tune their knowledge from the comfort of their home. It is also very comforting to their parents to see that you are tapping into modern resources to teach their children.
Want to learn more about how to implement modern resources into the classroom? Download our guide 'how to be a 21st century educator' below: