Chavurah A New Model for 5th and 6th Grade Families Building Community through Meaningful Jewish Learning and Living Experiences What are the building blocks of the Chavurah model? Weekly 5th and 6th graders will meet ("mifgash") weekly in various settings. Theyll explore Mifgash Jewish answers to their every day questions, as well as their questions about speciEic (Meeting) Jewish content areas. Family Once a month, the whole family will come together for a family learning ("limmud") Limmud experience. As role models for their children, parents will play active roles as both learners (Learning) and educators. Throughout the year, the Chavurah will Community connect ("kesher") with the larger synagogue Kesher community. This includes experiences for the whole family, as well as opportunities for the 5th and 6th graders to connect with other, (Connection) non-‐Chavurah students.
Who are the learners in the Chavurah? Building off the success of JLife, the Chavurah model sees the whole family as learners on a journey together. While some members of the family will meet more often than others – 5th and 6th graders every week, parents and siblings once a month – the whole family is committing themselves to being a part of this exciting new way to experience Jewish learning and living. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS Who is the teacher of the Chavurah? Each Chavurah will have a morah derech (guide), who will coordinate and facilitate learning experiences. Shana Zionts (Coalition Educator) will serve as a morah derech for one Chavurah group during this pilot year. An additional morah derech will be hired for a second pilot group. Candidates for a morah derech position need to be able to relate well to children and have a strong background in Jewish knowledge. When and where does the Chavurah meet? Learning with the Chavurah can happen in any number of places – in the homes of the Chavurah members, Community Synagogue, a local park, a museum, or other appropriate destinations. The Chavurah will ground Jewish learning and living in real-‐ life settings. The Chavurah, in coordination with their morah derech, will decide together which afternoon the 5th and 6th graders will meet. When the Chavurah comes together as full families, these meetings will sometimes take place over Shabbat (Friday evening, Saturday morning or Saturday evening) or other times on a Sunday. There will be a maximum of two times in any home where a parent needs to be present. When do 5th and 6th graders learn Hebrew? While Hebrew will be integrated into Weekly Mifgash as appropriate, 5th and 6th graders will also receive one-‐on-‐one Hebrew tutoring through Skype, with a dedicated Chavurah Hebrew tutor. Each students will coordinate with the Hebrew tutor to find a time to “meet” online weekly for a short tutoring session. They may be also have the opportunity to supplement their Hebrew practice through online resources. The 5th and 6th graders will meet the Chavurah Hebrew tutor early in the year or over the summer. How will the Chavurah groups be chosen? Our aim is to be able to organize up to two groups (approximately 10 5th and 6th graders per group) who can work well as a team, are open to trying new things, and who will contribute to the group in a way that strengthens learning and builds community. What is the time commitment for students and families? Fifth and sixth graders will meet once a week for 2 hours with their morah derech. They will have a Skype appointment once a week with the Hebrew tutor, and are expected to complete their Hebrew practice and homework before their next Skype session. Fifth and six graders, sometimes with their families, will join the congregational community once a month. The whole family will participate in an active Jewish learning experience once a month. 2
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS Will everyone who is interested in the Chavurah be able to participate? This is a pilot model that has limited enrollment of up to 20 fifth and sixth graders and their families. Our goal for the first year is to create two chavurah groups that are compatible. We hope to be able to include everyone but we cannot guarantee admission. How do I apply for admission to the Chavurah? An e-‐mail application will be sent to all 5th and 6th families on June 17th and is due back on June 27th. Should I still submit a CJL registration form? Yes. All students need to have a CJL registration form with tuition deposit no matter which learning track they choose. Can my 5th or 6th grader decide to go back to the classroom model if we sign up for the Chavurah? Yes. Fifth and sixth graders, and their families, should be willing to commit to being open-‐minded in trying this new model, but we understand if students and/or families find that this isn’t right for them. Those students can rejoin the classroom model. Why were 5th and 6th grade students chosen for the Chavurah? Developmentally, 5th and 6th graders… • Possess a broad range of interests • Are capable of increasing independence • Are truthful and dependable • Are beginning to think about their own identities • Are able to form good relationshps with teachers and counselors • Show more self assertion and curiosity • Are socially expansive and aware • Have the ability to relate feelings • Still enjoy spending time with their parents As Jewish children, 5th and 6th graders… • Have basic Hebrew decoding skills • Have established a connection to Community Synagogue as a spiritual home 3
Ut pharetra, diam in consequat vulputate, leo turpis consequat dui, vel sodales risus odio non turpis. What kinds of experiences will children and families have as participants in the Chavurah? Weekly Mifgash (Meeting) for 5th and 6th graders The Weekly Mifgash will begin with an opening ritual, developed by the learners and their morah derech. Because the Chavurah will meet in different places throughout the year, the opening ritual will serve an important role in uniting the group each week. After the ritual, the group will enjoy a snack while discussing a “connection question,” like “What’s the best thing that happened to you this week?” Next, one of two types of learning will take place: exploring Jewish answers based on learners’ real-‐life, every day questions (“What does it mean to be a good friend?”), or exploring the learners’ questions about Jewish content areas (God, Torah, ritual, Israel, etc.). Instead of deciding in advance what’s important to teach, the morah derech will engage the learners in a process that uncovers their questions and then create learning to address those questions. Family Limmud (Learning) for the whole family The Family Limmud is an opportunity for the whole Chavurah to come together once a month to build community and learn together. A Family Limmud may be a trip to a museum in New York City on a Sunday, or a Friday night dinner at the home of one of the Chavurah families. Each Family Limmud experience provides an opportunity for parents to serve in two important roles: as learners alongside their children, and as educators of their children. Parents are supported by the morah derech, who works with each parent to determine what kind of role they’ll play in Family Limmud. Community Kesher (Connection) for the Chavurah Although the Chavurah provides a unique opportunity to learn with a small group of families in a multitude of settings, the connection to Community Synagogue and the wider community is an important element of the Chavurah. Chavurah families can join other Religious School families for J-‐Living events throughout the year, including Come in From the Cold (a Havdalah program) and a nature hike, as well as attend Shabbat morning services periodically throughout the year. Chavurah 5th and 6th graders also get together for social events with other 5th and 6th graders, including the annual Maccabia Games. 4
Highlights of 5th and 6th Grade Chavurah Model Classroom Model Models Parents play an active role as Parents participate in the J-‐Life partners in Jewish learning. The program. th Family whole family comes together for 5 grade: Prayer Involvement experiential learning opportunities. A 6th grade: Jewish Identity sense of community, among parents and kids, is built through ongoing interaction. Learning takes place in various Learning takes place on Wednesday Time and Place settings, on days and times afternoons and Saturday mornings at determined by the Chavurah. Community Synagogue. Learning is guided by the questions The fifth grade curriculum covers of the learners.** Prayer, Lifecycle, Holidays, and an introduction to the Holocaust through Hebrew learning is integrated into the lens of the mitzvah of saving a life. Curriculum Weekly Mifgash, and learners meet one-‐on-‐one with a Hebrew tutor The sixth grade curriculum covers through weekly Skype sessions. Prayer, Jewish American History, History, and Prophets through the lens of social action. Learning is facilitated by a morah Learning is facilitated by experienced Students and derech (guide), a “Jewish personal and knowledgeable teachers. Teachers trainer” for the whole family. There are approximately 15 students Learning takes place in small cohorts in each class. of up to 10 students/families. **What does it mean that learning is guided by the questions of learners? Over the summer and as the school year begins, the morah derech will begin to find out what the 5th and 6th graders are interested in learning about. This will take place through online surveys, in-‐person focus groups, and “launch lessons,” interactive lessons that are designed to open up conversations about what learners are interested in exploring. Once the morah derech has a good idea of the learner questions, he or she designs learning around those questions. The learning can include anything from text studies, discussions, games, art projects, role playing, and much more. Additionally, Educational Resource Providers (ERPs) such as Teva, Explora-‐Torah, Hazon, and Storahtelling will serve as resources for planning learning experiences, both for the 5th and 6th graders as well as for families. 5