MS=ms50817441 ms50817441.msv1.invalid.outlook.com
Printed from HebrewAcademyHB.com

Upper School Corner

Upper School Corner

 Email

Upper School Corner - Mr. Greg Schneider

The end of the calendar year brought with it a wonderful opportunity for the sixth graders to work cooperatively on a middle school project which focused on endangered species.  This Project Based Learning or PBL had our students engaged in deep research in their science classes to find out as much as possible about the impact human activities have had on habitat and species loss.  Through meticulous data collection and analysis, they were able to make connections between climate change and the potential extinction of their chosen species.  Once they collected all of their data, they were tasked with filming an educational video to educate others on the challenges facing their species and how the risks to these animals could be mitigated by legal, behavioral, or environmental changes. The students worked long hours to record their videos using the school’s ipads. Their creativity and knowledge really shone through in the videos that they produced. The final step of the PBL process involved writing research papers which addressed the current state of their species, the challenges facing them, and possible solutions. It took weeks of painstaking effort for them to craft these research papers which were reviewed and edited by their peers and teachers on numerous occasions. The culmination of this project took place before we left for break. Parents and family members were invited to our school to view and explore all of their hard work. Parents saw a presentation which took them through the process their kids followed throughout the PBL and following this presentation they dispersed to various classrooms to view their kid’s videos. The videos were received with a mixture of excitement and wonder at what the students were able to produce. It was the hope of the students that they would make their parents aware of the hardships facing their species and that ultimately they could all play some role in reducing the chances of their animals becoming extinct.

Throughout this PBL the teachers had the opportunity to observe their students completely immersed in their projects. The students didn’t need any prodding or motivation. They were truly intrinsically driven by the nature of the project. We were all so impressed with the countless hours they spent on refining their findings and editing their videos to perfection.  At the inception of this project we wondered whether the students would stay engaged for so many weeks, but in reality the weeks sped by with total engagement by all involved. It was wonderful to see the pride and joy with which the students presented their projects to their parents. The students walked away from this project not just more aware of their roles and responsibilities on Earth, but also the ability to work cooperatively and produce significant and engaging final products. This PBL left us with indelible memories and skills which will last a lifetime.

Upper School Corner - Mrs. Jennifer Bledsoe

 

 Preparing for the Future

The students in the high school have been engaged in activities which focus on postsecondary preparedness. We have been examining the entrance requirements of the various colleges and seminaries for which your students have expressed interest. All high school students wrote college application essays for their college or seminary of choice. This was a very practical exercise for our seniors, who have submitted applications beginning at the end of November. We have learned about the traits of a compelling entrance essay, and we’ve explored various methods of writing which will help our students’ submissions to stand out.

Additionally, our seniors sat down for another in an ongoing series of meetings with Ms. Schneider, who gave the students an overview and timeline for the application process. Ms. Schneider  shared the prevailing wisdom of applying to five colleges (two “safety schools” to which our students could expect admission easily, two schools to which they could realistically gain admission, and one “reach” or dream school). Seniors also heard about the application timeline for financial aid and Cal Grants which begins in January. The pros and cons of taking the SAT or ACT again were weighed, and possible qualifying options for “gap year” were explained. Our seniors left this meeting and made arrangements to meet with Ms. Schneider to have a more in-depth one-on-one tailored meeting to ensure they are on their desired pathways, meeting deadlines and requirements as they go.

While the seniors have naturally engaged in the most timely and personally relevant activities surrounding postsecondary educational opportunities, our 9th through 11th grade students have also been participating in activities which will help them prepare for their desired college, technical school, or seminary. On November 2, all 10th and 11th grade students took the PSAT test. Our 9th through 11th grade students also wrote college admissions essays, thus beginning or continuing to investigate the many educational options available. We examined various schools and their educational programs, and our students discussed how to meet the requirements to gain entrance. Throughout these discussions, our students were reassured by both faculty and our seniors that this is an ongoing discussion that staff and students have together throughout their high school careers, though one which is individually tailored, and narrowed as they progress through the grades. Echoing through all of these discussions is the reassurance and motivation that, “No matter where you want to go there is a way to get there.”


 

Upper School Corner - Mrs. Yiska Berkowitz

Hello, my name is Yiska Berkowitz and I teach Jewish History and Yahadus to the Middle School Girls and Jewish History to the Middle School Boys.


In Yahadus, we delved into all of the holidays of Tishrei, as well as the month of Elul and The Fast of Gedaliah.  We reviewed the basics and learned new insights and meanings behind the laws and customs.  I hope your children shared some of the information with you over the holidays!

After Thanksgiving break, I will be doing a unit on The Calendar.  The students will learn why some months have one day of Rosh Chodesh, and others have two, and they will also become more familiar with the dates and events on the Jewish Calendar.

In Jewish History, we picked up right where we left off last June.  The incoming 6th Graders weren't with us last year, but they transitioned into the class nicely.

We are studying the 1700-1900 period.  We learned about the birth of Chassidism, and about Jewry in Eastern Europe at the time.
Then, we moved into the period of the Enlightenment led by Moses Mendelssohn.

The students learn the material by teacher-led classes, partner learning, summary writing, biography organizers, question sheets and more.  In the past quarter we were getting our feet wet and I wanted to focus on covering material despite breaks for holidays. This quarter, we will definitely have an exciting and challenging project.

When I asked the students what the word "Enlightenment" means to them, one boy raised his hand and answered, "Inspiration."  This answer was deep and touching as each and every student truly is.  "Inspiration" is what I aspire to give to the students every time I see them.
In class, students earn individual points as well as class points.  They are really looking forward to cashing in some class points for some exciting rewards.

Wishing you and your a beautiful vacation and Shabbat Shalom,
Yiska

Upper School Corner - Mr. Greg Schneider

Mr. Schneider’s 6th Grade US History

As the British Colonies in the New World inevitably inch closer and closer to all-out war against the Crown, we are reminded of the power that words have over human events.  Our 6th graders have been exploring this remarkable time in the history of our country with a focus on the impact of the written and spoken word.  They are reminded of the power of words that each of them is endowed.  Whether these words are written down or spoken aloud, they have the opportunity to reflect on the impact their words have on the world around them.  When they write a powerful, emotionally moving essay they are able to affect anyone who reads it.  And more immediately, their spoken words affect all those who are within their earshot.   As they go through their daily school routines, it is imperative for them to use words carefully so that they do not offend others.

As the history of our nation unfolds before them, they are starting to see a shift in the attitudes and beliefs of the colonists.  Even though many of the colonists in the New World, who now number more than a million, left the Old World to avoid the oppression of royalty, they still see themselves as dedicated subjects of the King George.  In 1775 they still view the idea of independence with horror.  However, events like the battle against the British at Concord and the Battle of Bunker Hill continue to chip away at this reticence to shun British rule.   Even these events do not garner the popular support for secession from the Crown.  This is where our students get the opportunity to explore the words of Patriots like Thomas Paine who wrote a pamphlet entitled “Common Sense” to inspire his fellow colonists to rise up against the British.  In this brilliant piece of persuasive writing, Paine states that, “Of more worth is one honest man, than all of the crowned ruffians who ever lived.”  The students are able to connect these ideas to the First Great Awakening which they studied earlier in the year that espoused the then novel idea that no one man has the right to oppress other men and that all men are equal in the eyes of their Maker.  This awakening laid the groundwork for the revolution which was to take place more than 40 years later.  These powerful ideas culminate in the eloquent call to arms made by Thomas Paine who urges his fellow colonists, “Ye that love mankind!  Ye that dare oppose not only tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth!...The sun never shined on a cause of greater worth.”  With these utterly inspirational words as motivation, our students have been writing their own persuasive essays and analyzing the events which led to the creation of our country.

With this focus on the power of words, our students have had the opportunity to work independently and in groups to absorb the lessons we have been taught by history.  When they work independently, they are reminded to be aware of the impact of their words and therefore to choose them carefully as they craft their responses to challenges.  As members of teams, they must communicate effectively in order to keep projects on track and to use words wisely to enchant the audience.  Lastly, they are able to present their project to the class so that they too can witness the power their own words have to sway and inform the masses.  These opportunities to ‘learn by doing’ allow them to live out ideas which may seem only two-dimensional and purely theoretical in the pages of their history books.

Upper School Corner - Mrs. Marjan Jahanfard

When I announced to our Middle School students that I want them to be the first generation of middle school students not to be intimidated by real world problems and application of math, they looked at me as if I was completely out of mind!

Two months later, they have all risen to the occasion and done their best to keep an open mind while facing this challenge head on.

Just this week, some of the 8th grade girls were learning about football, the velocity of it, and how to predict how long it would take for a pass to get to a certain height. With the football season being underway, the question seemed more relevant than ever. We were able to draw on real examples, talk about the different types of passes, the importance of math and physics in playing ball, and what coaches and quarterbacks need to know before they decide on a particular play.

At the same time, the 6th graders were calculating how much juice they needed to make a bowl of punch while still following the recipe that only makes a jar. Some of the students brought in other examples of ratios and proportions such as baking cookies with moms and how they sometimes need to double or triple their recipes. One student took it upon himself to conduct a mini survey of teachers and students at the Hebrew Academy regarding their favorite subject in school, to use as an example of ratios.

Some of the other students were learning about metals and alloys and what percentage of each type of metal they needed to make a specified alloy.

Yes, we were doing all of that and more in math... not chemistry and not PE.  As I told my young scholars, you will be surprised of all of the places that you will find math in real life....The playground, the science lab, and even in your own kitchen. In life, no one will ever come to you and ask if you could solve an equation. It is up to you to apply what you've learned in school and solve real world problems. Our own Miri Newman said it best “I really like word problems because then you can see how it applies to your life.”


Upper School Corner - Mrs. Raychel Lydon

 Loyalists and Patriots Battle it Out in the Middle School

As November begins, the 7th and 8th grade students at the Hebrew Academy have just finished taking the role of loyal British subjects and rebellious colonial patriots as part of their study of early American history. In their pamphlets, students were required to describe six things that took place between the end of the French and Indian War and the outbreak of the Revolutionary War and use their descriptions to convince other colonists to join in their side. One convincing Patriot wrote, “There are a few MAJOR problems that we have encountered with these troublesome Brits, disgusting rats: The Proclamation of 1763, the Boston Massacre, and the Boston Tea Party.” Another argued that “there was another atrocious act called the Quartering Act. This act made the us house the British troops and feed them, when they did nothing but harass the us. The soldiers are using all our hard earned resources and its time we do something about it!”

But patriots were not the only game in town. Loyalists held their own as well.  One loyalist pointed out that “The Tea Act, the Boston Massacre, and the Boston Tea Party also prove that King George is a good leader. ‘The Tea Act lowered the cost of tea that was sold by the British East India Company in the colonies. As a result, even taxed British tea became cheaper than smuggled Dutch tea.’ This is good because now tea would be less expensive. This helps the colonists to spend less money.”

Now, students will begin studying the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as they continue to learn more about Early American History. I look forward to helping continue to support them in all of their writing for the rest of the year.

Upper School Corner - Mrs. McKenna Harkins

 Ecosystems and Populations and Habitats-- Oh My!

Since the beginning of the year, the middle school students have been engaging in thoughtful dialogue about ecosystems-- understanding what they are, how they work, and how they can be impacted. In order to do this, students have learned about the living and nonliving factors that influence an ecosystem, and what kinds of responses the ecosystem can have. In addition, students have learned about food chains, food webs, and how interactions between different species can have a big impact!

In order to help students understand these concepts in a hands-on way, Mr. Nason and I have been eager to provide interactive opportunities for the students to engage with the content in a very authentic way. Students have been conducting mini-labs to identify how scientists can accurately (or not!) measure populations, witness how ecosystems can support the growth of populations, and recognize how ecosystems can fall apart when one aspect of the food chain is disrupted.

Looking ahead, we are eager for students to create strong connections with the material and build a strong foundation of information. Students will be utilizing this wealth of knowledge in the coming months as they engage in project-based learning to further understand and apply the content they have learned. Although we cannot give too many details yet, we are excited for students to take the classroom concepts that they have encountered and apply it to real-world situations to determine how ecosystems are affected by a variety of factors. Not only will students be studying these concepts in the classroom by thinking critically about solutions to real-world problems, but they will also be experiencing an engaging field trip soon! Please be on the lookout for more details coming your way.

Upper School Corner - Coach Zoltan

 Coach Jonathan Zoltan

Director of Physical Education 

The Hebrew Academy PE program is off to a great start this school year! The students are learning all kinds of sports such as, basketball, baseball, soccer, football and along with many more. As we play these sports throughout the school year, I as their coach, put a strong emphasis on teaching your students sportsmanship. This is an everyday lesson for the students at the Hebrew Academy. I want the kids to learn how to win well and lose graciously. At the end of class both teams will line up to give a high five to the opposing team and say “good game” to build the moral of the entire school. I hope this will message will carry with them for the rest of their lives like it has done for me.

In other exciting news, the Hebrew Academy  boys basketball program will be commencing in November and for the first time, we will be having a middle school girls basketball team! This is very exciting and I hope to a fun and competitive season. As the season goes on we hope all of the parents and students can come out to watch games and support our Hebrew Academy Rams!

As this is my second school year at the Hebrew academy I couldn't be happier to be apart of such a loving accepting community. Thank you for having me here I am excited to be working with your students again this school year.

Shana Tova,

Jonathan Zoltan  


Upper School Corner - Mr. Doug Nason

Mr. Doug Nason - Science Teacher 

 "Science is a window through which we view the world. It is not the only window, nor is it always the best window. But it is an important way to view our world."

These are the words I greeted our students with this year. I hope they didn't get too confused! My name is Doug Nason, and I've been teaching science at public and private schools throughout O.C., most notable at the Prentice School in North Tustin. I am so happy to be working here with Mrs. Harkins and the rest of the staff as we craft a meaningful and challenging year for our students. 

The middle school science classes have jumped right into our Life Science text as we explore the inter-connectedness of our natural world. Students are learning about food chains, element cycles, biomes, populations, and many other factors in Ecology. Ecology comes from the greek word for "house" (oikos). Together, we are learning about how all living things on earth get along with their environment as if they were living in one BIG house we call earth.

My challenge for all of you is to explore this awesome house we live in and peek through the window of science. Go out on a hike in the hills above Irvine, or explore the wetlands of Bolsa Chica or Newport Back Bay. By understanding our inter-connectedness, we can fully realize how each of us plays an important role in our world.

Upper School Corner - Rabbi Mendy Naparstek

The Talmud!

We are now full swing into our Talmud classes and it is so rich with with life lessons and life skills! The kids are already able to identify the structure of the Mishne, know the "Who said it?", "What is the case?", "What is the law and why?". They can also navigate their way around a page of Talmud!

There are many thinking skills that the kids have in their bag after spending time learning Talmud, one o those skills that we just focused on is what does 'Inference' mean. This  exercise teaches them to analyze text and have independent thinking.

It is so nice too see all the kids so involved and enthusiastic about their learning!

May we all have a Kesiva Vachasima Tovah - Written and sealed for a good and healthy year!


Sample of a work sheet - 

Inference:

A number of statements follow each of the sentences below. Indicate next to each statement whether it is explicitly stated, inferred, or neither stated nor inferred. Use an “E” for explicit, an “I” for inferred, and an “N” for neither. 

1) United States troops left Vietnam in haste.

___ The U.S. army entered Vietnam.

___ The U.S. army left Vietnam. 

___ The U.S. army faced defeat in Vietnam. 

___ The U.S. army lost many soldiers in Vietnam.

 

2) The Yankees returned from the World Series to a ticker tape parade on Broadway. ___ The Yankees played in the World Series.

___ The Yankees won the World Series. 

___ There was a parade on Broadway. 

___ The citizens of New York are happy with the Yankees.

___ The Yankees will not be trading any of their players this year.

Upper School Corner - Mrs. Michelle Ginsburg

 Mrs. Ginsburg

Middle School English/Language Arts  teacher 

 My name is Michelle Ginsburg and I am the new Middle School English/Language Arts  teacher at the Hebrew Academy.  In our first week of school, We began to use Thinking Maps as a prewriting tool for expository, narrative and persuasive writing. This week, students brought in their outside reading books (ORB) along with a journal. Their dialectical journals will enable the students to create a conversation or dialogue with their novels.  By writing about literature, they will give meaning to the text and reflect thoughtfully on what they are reading.  This is done through quotes and references to the text along with specific and detailed commentary. Beginning this month, we will use Wordly Wise for vocabulary support and a classroom novel for grammar focus.  

I look forward to a wonderful year helping our young scholars grow into expressive writers and avid readers!


Upper School Corner - Mr. Clay Heller

From the Desk of Clay Heller 

On May 11th, three brave seniors at the Hebrew Academy took the three and a half hour long AP English Language and Composition exam. This test measures their work against a college standard for a Writing and Composition class. It is very difficult, and only 56% of the students who take it are able to pass it. We have very high hopes that the three students who took it this year will be successful. 

Even though our students travel unique paths after high school, the value of the class should be something that stays with them throughout their lives. Each girl practiced developing strong arguments, as they learned how to support their claims with fact-based evidence and statistics. Each girl practiced analyzing rhetoric, as they studied famous works of American history like the Declaration of Independence and speeches of Thomas Paine in an effort to understand how people convince us of their positions. Each girl studied how to synthesize different sources into one coherent argument, taking topics as diverse as foreign language education and the purpose of the penny, and composing clear, well argued positions on the matters. 

In concluding the course, each of the students has been hard at work on a small project. They are writing four different types of text--a descriptive essay, a non-fiction narrative, an argumentative essay, and a poem--about a place that had a large impact on their lives. Each of these projects will be considered the capstone for the larger portfolio of work that they will take away from the Hebrew Academy and be able to reflect on later in life. We are all, again, so proud of the work that these girls have done through the year, and wish them the best as they move on to whatever's next. 

Upper School Corner - Mrs. Raychel Lydon

Renaissance Researchers on the Loose!

For the last few weeks, students in the middle school have been honing their writing and research skills in the creation of Renaissance research papers. Topics of interest include accomplishments of the queens of England and Scotland, the importance of telescopes, changes in swords and armour, and the significance of clothing and hairstyles in demonstrating social class. As a culminating activity in June, students will have the opportunity to use their learning and knowledge to help them create booths for a fun-filled day of learning and entertainment with their own Renaissance Faire on campus.

 

For their papers, students have been using the Jane Schaffer model of writing. This model “includes an initial structured, organized, and logical method for novice and struggling writers K-12. That same method transforms into sophisticated weaving and syntactical techniques as students evolve in their writing abilities” (Schafer, 2016). Using this model as part of academic instruction prepares middle school students for the rigor of high school and college writing, and strong writers, in all fields and professions, are highly sought-after as leaders and employees.

If you have a middle schooler, ask him or her about his or her research topic. I bet you will find out something you didn’t know!  


 

Mrs. Raychel Lydon

Upper School Humanities Chair

 


Upper School Corner - Mrs. McKenna Harkins

How is the weather?

As we begin to finish up our year in Earth Science, students have been encouraged to look up and take a closer look at the air around us.  After studying various layers of the Earth and soil, students are now immersed in a unit on atmosphere, weather, and climate. I am so excited to help our middle school students begin to  understand the different layers of the atmosphere, how wind patterns and ocean currents affect our weather and climate, and why extreme weather, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and thunderstorms occur!

In order to make this unit as effective and meaningful as possible, students have been analyzing weather forecasts to understand their various components and terminology. Students are then conducting research to discover the weather patterns of a specific location on Earth in order to create their own weather forecast. Students will be using iPad technology to make informative weather forecasts around the world that are clearly and concisely presented. I can’t wait to see what kind of weather they stir up!

On the topic of weather, students are connecting what they are learning in science to scientific discoveries made throughout history. In their Humanities classes, students are learning about social, political, and technological developments in Renaissance Europe.  When selecting a topic to research in greater detail, many students have chosen one of the several scientific advances made during this period. Throughout this project, these students have discovered how the thermometer and barometer impacted weather forecasting during the Renaissance. In addition, students have begun to recognize how the invention of the telescope led to new insight about the galaxy in this time period. Make sure to be on the lookout for more information about how our middle schoolers will be bringing these exciting topics in history and science to life in the next few weeks!



Upper School Corner - Mrs. Jennifer Bledsoe

College Readiness

Mrs. Jennifer Bledsoe-Academic Specialist/English Teacher

Recently, the students in the high school had an informative and reassuring guest speaker.  Mr. Kurt Meyer is a Professor of English at Irvine Valley College (IVC), and he came to speak with the students about community college options, the differences between community colleges and universities, and the various course offerings available (either on a transfer to university track, or certificate programs in specialized studies).  He explained the various support services that exist to serve students, from tutoring and writing centers where students can get help with their work, to regularly scheduled faculty office hours. Students were very surprised to hear that attending a university didn’t guarantee that they’d be learning from a professor. Instead, they learned about how PhD students often teach classes at universities, but that community colleges have only professors. Another of the interesting things shared was that the general education courses are fully transferrable to most universities, yet the cost to attend IVC for one year was 90% less than taking the same course of study at University of California, Irvine.  IVC, like many community colleges, has a Transfer Admission Guarantee.  This program offers students guaranteed admissions to several colleges and universities upon successful completion.  Professor Meyer revealed that had he completed a Transfer Admission Guarantee program at the community college level, he probably would have been able to gain admission to the college of his dreams, and he explained some additional plusses and minuses of attending a community college as opposed to entering a four-year university directly.  The students stated that they found this information very helpful; one student said, “It helped clear our confusion about all the many colleges that we can go to.”  They revealed that they felt reassured about their futures and the different options available to them.  The presentation gave them “needed clarity”, and many stated that in addition to calming many of their fears, Professor Meyer’s presentation was informative and inspiring.

 


 

Looking for older posts? See the sidebar for the Archive.