May 30, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
May 30, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Snow Day Learning at Yeshivat Noam

As states of emergency shut down roads across New York and New Jersey, and over 7,000 flights were grounded and tens of thousands were told to stay home from school and work, and although #Blizzard2015 didn’t quite live up to media hype, it was enough to keep Yeshivat Noam students home from school on Jan 28.

In an email sent Monday evening, Principal Rabbi Chaim Hagler announced the shutdown, reminding students, “to daven, older students with a minyan, if you can get to one. Please make sure to learn Torah, and check your emails as we are trying to send out some online learning.”

True to his word, Yeshivat Noam faculty didn’t let the snow stop students from continuing their studies: At almost every grade level, students received email from their teachers with instructions on how to use online tools to spend part of the snow day in virtual studies.

“What makes the online learning our teachers coordinated so interesting, ironically, is that it wasn’t particularly unusual,” said Seth Dimbert, Yeshivat Noam’s Director of Educational Technology and Innovation. “In most of our classrooms—in both General and Judaic studies—teachers simply told their students to continue working on the online learning platforms they regularly use in their classes. Things went smoothly and, for the most part, teachers were able to keep moving forward despite the weather.”

Yeshivat Noam is a Google Apps for Education school, which means that staff and students have access to Google’s collaborative online software, such as Google Docs and Gmail. This allows teachers to easily distribute materials to students and provide feedback digitally. Noam also launched Schoology this year, which is online Learning Management Software that provides each class with a virtual classroom where students can find materials and links, hand in assignments, and participate in online discussions with their classmates and teacher.

Dimbert explained, “Between Google Apps and Schoology, our teachers don’t generally handle much paper in their classrooms anyway, so working with students virtually doesn’t present much of a challenge. Plus, we use several blended learning platforms, like Lexia, Achieve 3000, Mathletics, and Ariot Kal so students at every grade level are used to working independently on a device to get their work done. The computers or iPads they have at home allowed them to move ahead without missing a beat.”

Mrs. Caryn Nat, a 3rd-grade teacher, simply asked her students to continue with business as usual, but from home. “All the students did their Achieve3000 assignment, which we do in school anyway, so that was easy,” she said. “Then they used Schoology to list facts from the biographies they are reading and I was able to respond to each post if needed.”

“It felt like I was in school,” said Galil Neuer, one of Nat’s students. “But I didn’t mind it too much because I got to read what other kids wrote and, when I was finished, I got to go play outside!”

While many teachers simply asked students to move ahead as usual, some faculty did schedule special activities for the day. Rabbi Yitzchok Motechin, Middle School Assistant Principal of Judaic Studies, invited students to a special live shiur delivered via Google Hangout.

In 1st grade, Morah Melissa Cox recorded herself reading the book A Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, then asked students to watch the video at home and write down connections between their own snow day experiences and the story. On such a snowy day at home, the students had a lot of fun with this.

In his 4th grade Judaic studies class, Rabbi Yaakov Nadler took a different approach, setting up three conference call slots and asking students to log in and participate in a live class using web-based Nearpod software to present information and gather student responses. Other faculty asked students to review material using online tools like Testmoz, Quizlet and Memrise.

All in all, snow day remained a learning day, whether in school or at home—a day not missed because of a Jack Frost temper tantrum.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles