Rebbes and Morahs at Yeshiva Ketana of Long Island are selected for their pedagogical acumen, communication skills and creativity. They are experts in their respective fields and are constantly searching for methods to enhance their traditional chinuch approaches. In this technological age, as instructors compete with the challenges of shorter attention spans and the electronic whir of the world around us, engaging students has become more difficult than ever. Fortunately, YKLI instructors are no longer bound by the limited functionality of dusty chalkboards; teachers are now empowered to communicate their lessons the SMART way! Using SMARTBOARD, an interactive computerized whiteboard, talmidim become immersed in learning, teachers engage in substantive instruction, and parents delight in the innovative “smartwork” of their sons! In fact, one YKLI parent, witnessing a SMARTBOARD presentation at the opening P.T.A. meeting, exclaimed “I wish I were a student in this classroom! It’s so different from when I attended Yeshiva!”
With assistance from YKLI’s magnanimous founders and a grant from the Gruss Foundation, SMARTBOARD configurations now take center stage at the helm of each YKLI classroom and laboratory. Ready to be navigated by YKLI's expertly trained Rebbes and Morahs, these combination dry erase boards/computerized screens help bring relevance to the most classical material in a manner that is most truly "al pi darko".
SMART learning elevates knowledge acquisition to another plane. The SMARTBOARD is capable of simple tasks like transforming handwriting into typewritten letters as well as sophisticated programming that employs sounds, touch technology and visual effects for the most up-to-date lesson delivery available! SMARTBOARDs not only enhance the curriculum, they drive the curriculum by empowering creative and interactive teaching and learning. Significantly, educators can deliver enhanced and differentiated lessons according to student needs, lessons which are correlated to standards based lesson plan assessments and objectives. Whole class lessons virtually leap off the board. Content is no longer static. The children learn subjects from Rashi with Rebbe to Matter with Morah, and are instantly engaged.
YKLI is at the forefront of SMART learning. According to YKLI's Executive Director, Rabbi Ari Ginian, the Yeshiva is in the top 1% nationally for SMARTBOARD-ready classrooms and labs. This means that each and every YKLI instructor is equipped with cutting edge educational vehicles that enable them to deliver content-rich lessons in a dynamic fashion. According to TEK, the nation’s largest SMARTBOARD provider and trainer, SMARTBOARDS delivers a myriad of exiting innovations such as downloadable lesson plans, review games, graphic organizers, templates and various other teacher resources. No more scrambling to find the right worksheet, visual display, or interactive activity. There is now a finger-tip ready tiger in the classroom! While such sophistication sounds difficult to use, the beauty of the SMARTBOARD is that its intuitive use encourages students to "get up and play"! Shhh, don't tell them they're learning. Moreover, one-and two-finger gestures, such as pinching, zooming and tossing, enable two users to work together, performing different tasks, anywhere on the board.
First grade rebbe, Rabbi Yaakov Morgenbesser, extols the SMART advantage. “I use the SMARTBOARD to help my talmidim visualize various concepts. In addition, Rabbi Morgenbesser teaches Hebrew Handwriting by harnessing SMARTBOARD to display animated letters which show correct letter formation including the direction of the strokes. The SMARTBOARD facilitates creativity: when this First Grade Rebbe realized he could not find anything on the market to achieve this handwriting innovation, he created the animations all by himself! “It is a creative tool that has the ability to elevate the curriculum to new dimensions. It's a pleasure to see how the SMARTBOARD captivates and engages the boys.”
The uses for the cross-curricular SMARTBOARD are limitless and allow for pre-planned as well as spontaneous educational adventures that dated equipment could never achieve! Just to give you a few examples:
- Whirling number cubes interactively enhance a lesson in addition while sound effects applaud correct computations and team-driven algebraic activities.
- Spelling lessons come alive through special effects where words of the week morph, move, disappear, and reemerge in alphabetical order!
- Students “dissect” the parts of a plant and label them without a leaf in sight, in the middle of winter!
- By imposing a Google map and a satellite image onto the screen, the teacher leads a game geared to the teaching of cardinal directions on a compass rose (N, S, E, W).
- To teach “SQ3R” (a reading and studying technique which enhances overall comprehension at every level, from Second Grade to adulthood) selections appear on the overhead screen. When text is highlighted by students and their Morah, this demonstrates various components of the lesson to the whole class, all at the same time!
But perhaps the best way to explain the SMARTBOARD’s ingenious capabilities is to take a peek into the YKLI classrooms. Here’s a Rebbe teaching his talmidim about related Hebrew Vocabulary and Grammar strands. As he introduces words, ideas and translations, he uses the touch-screen capabilities and multi-media functions to facilitate hands-on learning. The words and their respective parts are color-coded to aid in the boys’ understanding of the elements of Hebrew words such as shoroshim, prefixes and suffixes. Without even realizing it the boys are beginning to build a yesod for learning chumash. A talmid eagerly joins the Rebbe at the SMARTBOARD and engages in a tap-a-word activity. When the talmid taps the correct word, the entire class cheers as the word breaks apart and disappears! Across the hall, a Rebbe is projecting a portion of the class' space workbook on the SMARTBOARD to ensure that all of his talmidim are on "the same page". What an exciting departure from standard lessons delivered even just a few years ago!
Yeshiva Ketana is committed to delivering Limudei Kodesh and English Curricula incorporating the most modern educational tools available with the understanding that technology will never replace the warmth, knowledge and personal touch of a caring Rebbe or Morah. The proof that the SMART system works is found in the growth and comprehension seen in the talmidim every day. His colleagues from grades 1 – 8 quite agree!
The staff members are indeed proud to lead the way with innovative uses for SMARTBOARD augmented education. For more information on how YKLI integrates outstanding technology with a rigorous, traditional education, visit the Yeshiva at 321 Doughty Ave. in Inwood or call Rabbi Ari Ginian at 516-791-2800, extension 1017.
(This article was written by Lisa Strum, M.S.Ed. in collaboration with Rabbi Ari Ginian; Executive Director, Rabbi Yaakov Morgenbesser, and Rabbi Zvi Bajnon; Menahel.)