June 25, 2024
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June 25, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The fifth grade students at Academies at GBDS completed an integrated multi-week project about the universal right that all people have freedom. Starting with lesson on Passover, students moved on to studying the article “Living Again as a Free Man,” a true story from the late twentieth century about a person who liberated himself from slavery in Sudan. From there students moved to the solemn remembrance of Yom HaShoah. The teaching of this subject was very much adapted to the age level and the emotional development of the students. Students started with drawing a butterfly at home. In class they spoke about the ways in which their drawings reflected both emotional and symbolic levels.

Then, they were exposed to the black and white drawing of a butterfly, done by a boy their age. They analyzed that drawing and asked many relevant questions about it. For a moment there was an illusion of freedom, with the butterfly hovering over the background. But after a closer look and some comments made by peers, they came up with the idea that it could be the last butterfly. Students learned that it was drawn by a boy from Terezin, a concentration camp where many artists were imprisoned. Some survived the camp thanks to courage, creativity, hope and positive thinking. The next task was to choose to write a creative and inspired short story, poem, or paragraph that would reflect our class discussions. Students wrote both in Hebrew and English and internalized the significance of the butterfly as a symbol of temporary freedom and beauty. They understood that a butterfly symbolizes the fragility and possibility of hope.

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