A Carnival of Blogs

What a wonderful evening last Tuesday night was at OJCS!  A FULL Gym and even-fuller hearts from a Chanukah Family Program for the (Rock of) Ages!  And that candle-lighting ceremony…I am still choked up.  Thanks to our teachers, our students and – of course – our families and friends for filling the darkness of these troubled times with the light of our spirit and ruach.  You can check out all the beautiful images and videos (Flashmob says what?) on our various OJCS social media.

Somehow we had a whole rest of the week to navigate after that…

I spent ten minutes of actual time trying to find out what the analogy is from a gaggle of geese or a flock of seagulls is to a bunch of (mini) blog posts and, indeed, it is a “carnival of blogs”.  (For real.)  And so, with Winter Break Itch starting to spread, I thought it might be useful to swap out my usual way-too-long blog post this week for a small series of mini-mini-posts, updating and reminding you of things to know.

Let the carnival begin…

Each year, I typically dedicate 3-5 blog posts to “touring the OJCS Blogosphere” as a way of helping you see how much amazing content our students and teachers create as part of our normal way of operating.  It is also with the hope that our students (and teachers) can see that the work they do matters; that by putting authentic and meaningful work into the universe, and that by the universe commenting back with feedback, that it will inspire our students (and teachers) to do their best work and to fulfil the “moral imperative of sharing”.  YOU are the “U” in “Universe”.  Momentum begets momentum.  A snowball grows as it moves.  So please, whether you are a parent or a grandparent in our school or not.  Whether you are a fellow-traveller in Jewish education or not.  Whatever brings you to this blog, please click out of it to the OJCS Blogosphere, read any blog or blogfolio and make a quality comment.  Not to put it on too thick, but it is yet one additional way to help our community feel seen and not-so-isolated.  Just a few unexpected positive comments from a few unexpected locations causes such enthusiasm…

Remember at the end of last year and the beginning of this year when we said we would be leaning farther into the Science of Reading?  Well, that is well underway with our investment into Amplify Reading.

Why did we choose Amplify? 

It is the platform that most closely aligns with the evidence-based body of research referred to as the ‘Science of Reading’. The Science of Reading research shows the need for students to have word recognition skills (such as phonemic awareness, decoding skills through phonics, and reading fluency) and language comprehension (including knowledge of vocabulary, morphology, and syntax) in order to read and comprehend text. 

Teachers have been rolling it out and you can check (Guess where!) Classroom Blogs for more information.  Like this one from our Middle School Language Arts Teacher, Jess Mender.

What about this renovation we’ve been hearing about?

That is a thing that is going to happen!  After having to share the sad news of our postponement last year, we are back on track.  We will be confirming the project and the schedule in the weeks ahead and with that comes the contingency plans for the end of this school year when we fully expect to be under construction so that we are “move-in ready” for the start of the 2024-2025 school year.  This is tremendously exciting and I cannot wait to share updated renderings with all the magic coming our way.  We know that the true value of what happens in a school is in the people and the activities, but we do know that the physical space matters.  Our children and teachers deserve a space as innovative and creative as they are and we are looking forward to this first phase of renovation launching the transformation from past to future.

Like the renovation – oft-discussed, but not-quite-yet tangible – is our school’s 75th Anniversary.  And like the renovation, which has slowly been ramping up quietly and is going to be ready for take off near the end of this school year, so, too will be the series of events celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Ottawa Jewish Community School (founded as Hillel Academy).  There are (I checked) fewer than 15 Jewish Day Schools in North America older than the Ottawa Jewish Community School, and most of those are in communities with much larger Jewish populations.  This is an incredible achievement and an extraordinary validation for those with the vision and the courage to create and sustain our special school.  An anniversary year is an opportunity to celebrate and to appreciate – and yes, to fundraise.  The past and the present of Jewish Ottawa is entwined with our school; securing the future of OJCS is how we help secure the future of Jewish Ottawa.

Now more than ever.

I Just Need Something Light & Normal: Annual Blog Cloud

As I wrote last week, I just can’t decide if to blog and about what.  I realize that it would be perfectly acceptable not to, considering all the things.  I will say that the force of habit weekly blogging for over 10 years has built up, makes it almost impossible for me not to, so it seems like the way I am navigating things is a toggling back and forth from posts that are “normal” and posts that are “current”.  This week, I just want to write something light and, thus…

…it is a perfect time for one of my favorite little blog posts…running my blog through a “word cloud” program and seeing what happens!

If you missed last year’s punny post

I genuinely do enjoy this annual exercise in “word-clouding”.  If you are unfamiliar with the idea, in a nutshell, word clouds (through an algorithm only they know) take any piece of written text and represents it graphically in a way which highlights frequently-used words.  It is a fantastic device for visually summarizing the essence of a written text.  Another great feature is that, not only can you cut-and-paste in any written document, you can type in blogs, websites, etc., and it will go back and search them for content, add it all up, and spit out a word cloud representing the sum of all its written content.

This is my seventh such annual post here at OJCS and I have done them each, as stated above, in November.  So, what does this year’s “blog cloud” look like and what does it reveal?  [If it is too small on your screen/device you can go ahead and zoom in.  Or just scroll up!]

 

I just put last and this years’ clouds side-by-side to do a little comparison.

“Jewish”, “Learning” and “Time” remain strong.  Not surprisingly “Goal” made it in.  (We are doing our goal-setting conferences as I type.)  Israel is also not surprisingly more prominent than last year at this time.

“Students” and “Parents” have also returned to prominence.  “Blog” and “Make” are highlighted which makes sense based on our programmatic priorities.

I love to see “Feel” and “Experience” and “Build” and “Plan” make this year’s list.  “Share” is pretty nice to see as well.

What words would you have expected to see?  What words are you surprised to see?

If you see something interesting in my OJCS “blog cloud” let me know in the comments!

And there you go.  A normal post written at a normal length.  It feels good for just a few minutes to act as if things are as they ought to be.  I look forward to a time when all my posts can be this simple.  (But definitely not this short – who can express a coherent thought in less than 1000 words?)

OJCS Celebrates Innovation Day

One of my great joys over the last six (!) years has been watching the evolution from “Science Fair” to “STEM” to “STEAM” to “Innovation Day”.  Each iteration has brought our school – and our students – closer to a high dream of fusing science benchmarks with STEAM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Art-Mathematics) standards with Makerspace skills all blended together with creativity, student voice and presentation rubrics to become this thing that we now call “Innovation Day”.

However, we might as well have called it #OJCSNorthStarsDay since a day like this reaches so close to so many of them…

…”We learn better together”?  We sure did today as, for many, collaboration was the key to innovation.

…”We own our own learning”?  Students had lots of opportunities for choice-making which inspired their creativity.

…”A floor, but no ceiling”?  The sky was the limit as to how high they chose to aspire.

…”Ruach”?  Did they have fun?  Check out the smiles below and tell me.

I want to be super clear and name that not only did I have virtually nothing to do with the planning and facilitation of this day, I also had virtually nothing to do with the documentation of this day as well.  It is my pleasure to use my blog to showcase the work of those who did.

The primary drivers of Innovation Day at OJCS were Josh Ray, who serves as our Makerspace Lead and Middle School Science Teacher, and our Lower School Science Teachers.  Everything that you are going to see below is the fruit of their labours – with photo collages captured by Staci Zemlak-Kenter, who dabbles in social while serving as our Development Director.   Together with Global Maker Day and the regularly scheduled lessons in our Makerspace, Innovation Day shows how OJCS serves as an incubator of innovation for it students (and teachers!).

So.  What was this day all about?

In a nutshell…this:

Grade 8 – Simple Machines Project

We often say that doing something with a machine requires less work. In this design challenge, you will be responsible for helping upgrade the gymnasium and physical education programming here at OJCS. Using your knowledge of simple machines, your task is to use the design thinking process to design, test, and build a simple machine prototype that enhances our physical education curriculum.

Your Goal: Working on your own or in a group, decide which simple machine game or project template you will use to build your project. After researching the six different types of simple machines, create a plan for your prototype. Determine what materials you will need and, the size and quantity of materials. Then, plan how you will proceed. All sections will be presented as part of a 5 section (Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test) presentation to be displayed on a tri-fold board and presented in front of judges.

Grade 7 – Filtration Project

You are now working for the Clean Water Environmental Engineering Company and have been asked to design a new water filtration system for a small community with a polluted water supply. First, the company is going to look at different types of filter material to determine which ones work well. Then each group in the company will design a filtering system to clean up the polluted water.

Your Goal: In this hands-on project, you will investigate different filtering methods for removing pollutants from a dirty water mechanical mixture. You will design, build and test your own water filters.

Grade 6 – Electricity Project

Your Goal: In this project, you will build a series circuit that lights a bulb using a power source and conducting wires. Then predict what will happen to the brightness of your bulb if you add more bulbs or batteries to your series circuit, and test your prediction.

Grade 5

Grade 4 – Medieval Times & Pulleys/Gears

Grade 3

Grade 2

And our JK, SK & Grade 1s celebrated all things “Science” as well!

Did our students have an amazing day putting all their passion, talent, knowledge and creativity to good use?

I’d say “yes” – this was a great day of learning at OJCS!

La célébration de la semaine de la Francophonie 2023

While our teachers and parents are busy participating in this term’s parent-teacher conferences, I’m going to take a peek forward in anticipation of what should be a very exciting week at the Ottawa Jewish Community School.  Let me be the first to welcome you to the inaugural La célébration de la semaine de la Francophonie, featuring our second annual – but first with parents – Francofête.  [For a bit of background, you are welcome to revisit last year’s post about Francofête and how it builds upon past celebrations of French at OJCS.]

We are so pleased to let you know that next week (March 20-24) will be “La célébration de la semaine de la Francophonie 2023”!  The goals are simple – to spend a week marinating in French, celebrating the work of our students and teachers, highlighting the strides our French program has taken in the last few years, and elevating French beyond the boundaries of French class, into the broader OJCS culture.  The highlight will be the Francofête on Thursday, March 23rd at 6:30 PM in the OJCS Gym.

So…what to expect from “La célébration de la semaine de la Francophonie 2023”?

  • To set the ambience, we will have a customized French music playlist to greet our students each day upon entry and announcements and anthems en français.
  • On Monday, students will experience special activities and programs during their French classes.  This will include the dix mots de la francophonie (the ten words for this year’s francophonie).  What are they?  Glad you asked!  Learn along with our students:
    • Année-lumière
    • Avant-jour
    • Dare-dare
    • Déjà-vu
    • Hivernage
    • Lambiner
    • Plus-que-parfait
    • Rythmer
    • Synchrone
    • Tic-tac
  •  Students will also learn about l’Organisation Mondiale de la Francophonie dans le monde (World Organization of La Francophonie) and Canada’s role therein.
  • On Tuesday, we will hold a major dress rehearsal for the Francofête.
  • On Wednesday, we will take the last ninety minutes of the day for a school-wide “station-to-station” program with our Grades 7 & 8 students guiding our students to teacher-led activities featuring our very own pop-up OJCS French Café where they will enjoy authentic (kosher) French treats.
  • Thursday brings us the Francofête!  Parents will be welcome to join us at 6:30 PM and each of our grades will share songs, dances, knowledge and the joie d’apprendre that comes with French learning at OJCS.
  • We’ll finish the week with a special round of French Reading Buddies!

And many more surprises…

So there you go…voilà!

Parents at OJCS will hopefully look forward to lots of opportunities to peek in and/or to see pictures and videos during this year’s celebration and to join us for the Francofête.  We’ll look forward to building on this in future years as we continue to showcase French in our trilingual school.

Great appreciation to our entire French Faculty and to Madame Wanda in particular who has led this year’s celebration.  This should be a week filled with ruach – errr…joie de vivre! [French North Star Alert!]

A Ruach Week Trip Around the OJCS Student Blogfolio-Sphere

I can assure you that this regular reminder of our student blogfolios with its concomitant plea for your visitation is not a function of being out of ideas of what to say (or because I have been busy making costume changes all Ruach Week!).  It is also not a function of believing that blogging is the primary or most important thing that we do at OJCS – it is not.  But because blogs and blogfolios do makeup the spine of which much else is built around; and because they are outward facing – available for you and the general public to read, respond and engage with – I do want to make sure that I keep them top of mind.

For most of my professional life, I have had two children in (my) schools where they maintained blogfolios.  I subscribed to them, of course, but I am not going to pretend that I read each and every posting, and certainly not at the time of publication.  So this is not about shaming parents or relatives whose incredibly busy lives makes it difficult to read each and every post.  As the head of school where blogfolios are part of the currency, I try to set aside time to browse through and make comments – knowing that each comment give each student a little dose of recognition and a little boost of motivation.  But I am certainly not capable of reading each and every post from each and every student and teacher!

When I am able to scroll through, what I enjoy seeing the most is the range of creativity and personalization that expresses itself through their aesthetic design, the features they choose to include (and leave out), and the voluntary writing.  This is what we mean when we talk about “owning our own learning” and having a “floor, but not a ceiling” for each student.  [North Star Alert!]

It is also a great example of finding ways to give our students the ability to create meaningful and authentic work.  But, it isn’t just about motivation – that we can imagine more easily.  When you look more closely, however, it is really about students doing their best work and reflecting about it.  Look at how much time they spend editing.  Look at how they share peer feedback, revise, collaborate, publish and reflect.

Even having come out of COVID-functioning, our classroom blogs and student blogfolios remain important virtual windows into the innovative and exciting work happening at OJCS.  In addition to encouraging families, friends and relatives to check it out, I also work hard to inspire other schools and thought-leaders who may visit my blog from time to time to visit our school’s blogosphere so as to forge connections between our work and other fellow-travelers because we really do “learn better together” [North Star Alert!]

So please go visit our landing page for OJCS Student Blogfolios.  [Please note that due to privacy controls that some OJCS students opt for avatars instead of utilizing their first names / last initials which is our standard setting.  That may explain some of the creative titles.]

Seriously go!  I’ll wait…

English, French and Hebrew; Language Arts, Science, Math, Social Studies, Jewish Studies and so much more…our students are doing some pretty fantastic things, eh?

I will continue to encourage you to not only check out all the blogs on The OJCS Blogosphere, but I strongly encourage you to offer a quality comment of your own – especially to our students.  Getting feedback and commentary from the universe is highly motivating and will help this snowball grow as it hurtles down the hill of innovative learning.

What Is The Impact of ChatGPT on Jewish Day School Education? [M. Night Shyamalan Spoiler Alert]

As an AI language model, ChatGPT has the potential to revolutionize the field of education, including Jewish day school education.  Jewish day schools are institutions that provide both general and Jewish education to Jewish students.  These schools aim to foster a strong Jewish identity, community, and religious practice among their students.  ChatGPT can have a significant impact on these schools in several ways.

One of the most significant ways ChatGPT can impact Jewish day school education is by providing personalized learning experiences.  With its ability to understand and analyze vast amounts of data, ChatGPT can create individualized learning plans for each student based on their strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles.  This will help teachers to design and deliver effective and engaging lessons that cater to each student’s unique needs.

Moreover, ChatGPT can help students learn Hebrew and Torah more efficiently.  Hebrew and Torah are fundamental aspects of Jewish education, and learning them requires a lot of practice and repetition.  ChatGPT can provide students with virtual flashcards, quizzes, and interactive exercises to help them learn these subjects more efficiently.

Another way ChatGPT can impact Jewish day school education is by providing students with instant feedback.  ChatGPT can evaluate student assignments, essays, and quizzes and provide immediate feedback to students, helping them to identify their mistakes and improve their performance.  This feature will help teachers to monitor students’ progress and provide feedback in real-time, saving them time and effort.

Lastly, ChatGPT can improve communication between teachers and students. With its natural language processing capabilities, ChatGPT can help students ask questions and receive answers in real-time. This feature will help students to clarify their doubts, and teachers to provide assistance promptly.

One of the main challenges that Jewish day schools face with AI is maintaining a balance between technology and human interaction. AI has the potential to enhance student learning by providing personalized instruction and adaptive assessments.  However, it cannot replace the importance of human interaction in the learning process.  Jewish day schools must be mindful of how they integrate AI into the curriculum and ensure that it does not detract from the importance of relationships between students and teachers.

Another challenge presented by AI is its impact on Jewish values.  As Jewish day schools incorporate more technology into the classroom, there is a risk of losing the emphasis on ethical behavior, communal responsibility, and human connection that are central to Jewish values.  Educators must find ways to integrate technology into the curriculum while still emphasizing these values.

In conclusion, ChatGPT has the potential to transform Jewish day school education by providing personalized learning experiences, helping students learn Hebrew and Torah more efficiently, providing instant feedback, and improving communication between teachers and students.  AI presents both opportunities and challenges for Jewish day schools.  While AI has the potential to transform education and enhance student learning, it also raises concerns about the impact on Jewish values, human interaction, and ethical considerations.  Jewish day schools must navigate these challenges and find ways to incorporate technology into the curriculum while still emphasizing the importance of relationships, ethical behavior, and communal responsibility.

If you are a frequent reader of my blog, you might have (you should have!) caught onto the big reveal…that I did not write any of the above.  But if you didn’t read closely, or are not as familiar with my voice…you may not have known at all.  I simply asked ChatGPT to write a 500-word blog post on, “What Is The Impact of ChatGPT on Jewish Day School Education?” and voilà.

Terrifying?  Exciting?  Confusing?

Yes.

Luckily, if you are a parent at OJCS, you can at least know that we are already working to better understand all the ways in which this is already impacting teaching and learning.  We have already blocked access from our local wifi so that students’ work can only be their own while done at school.  We have provided our teachers with free AI detectors which allows them to run submitted work to see if it was created by AI.  Our amazing librarian, Brigitte Ruel, has already cranked out a really helpful blog post with background and additional links that you should really check out.  She is also preparing a workshop for students.

Like all technology, there are both good and bad, appropriate and inappropriate, passive and active, and meaningful and less-meaningful uses.  They are tools and our job as educators is to determine if and how they are useful to furthering a student’s learning journey.  It is also our job to prepare students (and parents) for the world in which they live and will keep learning in, and thus we have a responsibility to teach them how to navigate technology – even AI – in alignment with our Jewish values.

Whether you are just finding out about this now, or have already been worrying about what it means, know that we are already working hard and have more work ahead of us.  We’ll look forward to sharing more – in our own original words and voices – in the not-too-distant future.

A Chanukah BONUS Trip Around the OJCS Blogosphere

Chag urim sameach!  Happy Chanukah!

It was so wonderful to see so many of you at our Annual Chanukah Family Program last night!  I’ve never seen our Gym so full!  That is what it looks like with a school of nearly 200 students and their families…who knew?!  The kids were amazing and it was so nice to see so many people from our OJCS Family come together to celebrate.  (Check out our social and “The Hadashot” for pictures and videos from this special evening!)

I hadn’t prepared to blog an additional time prior to Winter Break, but as I’ve been poking around the OJCS Blogosphere, I saw so much Chanukah ruach that I thought I might as well take advantage of the opportunity and provide a second “Trip Around” post.  [Click here if you want to revisit the trip we took earlier in the year.]

From the OJCS JK / Gan Katan Blog (click here for the full blog)

Happy Chanukah! – Posted on December 19

Today we made some beautiful unique marbelized invitations for our Chanukah show tomorrow evening! If you’re interested in the process and the science, please click here. We learned about the miracle of the ‘shemen’ (oil) on Chanukah, why shemen (oil) does not mix with mayim (water), and experimented with different kinds of paper that we called ‘thirsty’ (watercolour paper) and ‘not thirsty’ (cardstock). We also celebrated the first day of Chanukah with some singing, candle lighting, and window decorating. A very big TODAH RABAH! to Ivri’s family for bringing us a beautiful chanukiyah and some lovely candles!

Happy Chanukah!

From the OJCS Grade 1A / Kitah Alef-A Blog (click here for the full blog)

From Friday Features – Posted on December 16

Chanukah is almost here!! We can feel it in the air!

Here are some things we have been doing !

In math we have been working on different graphing activities for our math Unit on Data Management. We conducted a survey for our favourite Chanukah Treats. We are working on a booklet using 3 different types of graphs. Bar Graphs, Pictographs, and Tallie marks. We are looking forward to seeing how your family likes their Latkes, when our homework is returned on  Tuesday.

From the OJCS Grade 3/ Kitah Gimmel-A Blog (click here for the full blog)

Oh Chanukah, Math-manukah – Posted on December 14

This week we took our problem solving skills and applied them to a series of Chanukah themed Math problems!

We worked on 4 different problems;

Morah Lianna made latkes for her friends and family. She fried up 72 latkes for her 18 students in 3A and all of the 35 teachers at OJCS. How many did she have left after 3A and all the teachers ate their latkes?

Morah Lianna was collecting gelt to play dreidels with. She collected 80 chocolate coins, but while she was on recess duty, Mrs. Cleveland ate 17 of them and Ms. Beswick came to take 25 of them. How many chocolate coins did Morah Lianna have left?

Morah Lianna and Cooper were getting ready to light the Chanukiah. She had 28 candles ready for the holiday, but Cooper accidentally ate 6 candles and broke 4 more. How many candles did Morah Lianna have left?

Morah Lianna was making Chanukah gift bags. She made 8 bags in total. Each bag will have 2 dreidels, 2 sufganiyot, and 5 chocolate coins. How many dreidels does Morah Lianna need to buy? How many sufganiyot does Morah Lianna need to buy? How many chocolate coins does she need to buy? What if she wanted to make 10 gift bags in total, instead of 8?

The students worked in small groups to answer their problem.

   

Then they all shared their thinking and reasoning in order to learn from each other! We even worked as a class to correct some of the errors we made with our Math operations (#NorthStarAlert! We Learn Better Together)

Stay tuned for next week’s Chanukah related Math problem!

Hope you enjoyed the brief tour and, I bet, if you take a peek after reading this post, you’ll see even more Chanukah joy reflected.  Enjoy the last few nights of Chanukah!

BTW – if you like a playlist and a signature cocktail for your celebrations [I see you Nancy!], why don’t you go ahead and make yourself a Chanukah Gelt Martini and vibe to this playlist:

Annual Blog Cloud

It has all the makings.  It is mid-November.  It snowed for the first time.  American Thanksgiving is growing closer.  For whatever reason, this has become the sweet spot for one of my favorite little blog posts…running my blog through a “word cloud” program and seeing what happens!

If you missed last year’s punny post

I genuinely do enjoy this annual exercise in “word-clouding”.  If you are unfamiliar with the idea, in a nutshell, word clouds (through an algorithm only they know) take any piece of written text and represents it graphically in a way which highlights frequently-used words.  It is a fantastic device for visually summarizing the essence of a written text.  Another great feature is that, not only can you cut-and-paste in any written document, you can type in blogs, websites, etc., and it will go back and search them for content, add it all up, and spit out a word cloud representing the sum of all its written content.

This is my sixth such annual post here at OJCS and I have done them each, as stated above, in November.  So, what does this year’s “blog cloud” look like and what does it reveal?  [If it is too small on your screen/device you can go ahead and zoom in.  Or just scroll up!]

I just put last and this years’ clouds side-by-side to do a little comparison.

Guess what didn’t make the list at all?!

COVID!

“Jewish”, “Learning” and “Time” remain strong.  “Community” is back and “Students” and “Parents” have also returned to prominence.

We see “Middle” and “Makerspace” and “Blog” show up in a big way, with “Makerspace” debuting in this post.  I think “Middle” is a reflection of how much time, energy, thought and care we are putting into our OJCS Middle School to continue to ensure that it has both a “value add” and a unique “value proposition” of its own.  It makes sense that the OJCS Makerspace, now that it has launched as a hub of innovation, has raised its profile.

I think the word “back” is so prominent because we have been so excited about all the amazing programs and conversations that we are finally able to bring…back!

Next year I hope to see “Mitzvah Trips” make the list.

What words would you have expected to see?  What words are you surprised to see?

If you see something interesting in my OJCS “blog cloud” let me know in the comments!

OJCS Celebrates #GlobalMakerDay

Sure, we were a bit delayed in joining in with the rest of the school world due to the Jewish Holidays, but we more than made up for it with an incredible day of learning, making, innovating, and joy as the Ottawa Jewish Community School celebrated #GlobalMakerDay on Thursday, October 20th!  We might as well have called it #OJCSNorthStarsDay since a day like this reaches so close to so many of them…

…”We learn better together”?  We sure did today as collaboration was the key to innovation.

…”We own our own learning”?  Students got to choose which challenges inspired their creativity.

…”A floor, but no ceiling”?  The sky (literally in a few cases) was the limit as to how high they chose to aspire.

…”Ruach”?  Did they have fun?  Check out the smiles below and tell me.

I want to be super clear and name that not only did I have virtually nothing to do with the planning and facilitation of this day, I also had virtually nothing to do with the documentation of this day as well.  It is my pleasure to use my blog to showcase the work of those who did.

The primary drivers of #GlobalMakerDay at OJCS were our #MakerspaceThree.  As I shared a while back in a post about the (re)launch of our OJCS Makerspace (generously supported by a gift from the Congregation Beth Sholom Legacy Fund), we have three teachers who spent much of last year in a consultation with Future Design School (generously supported by a grant by the Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s Fund for Innovative Capacity Building) – Josh Ray, who serves as our “Makerspace Lead”, Faye Mellenthin and Michael Washerstein.  [With a huge assist from our Global Learning Lead Julie Bennett!]  Everything that you are going to see below is the fruit of their labors – with photo collages captured by Staci Zemlak-Kenter, who dabbles in social while serving as our Development Director.  This, along with the beginning of regularly scheduled lessons in the Makerspace, is just the beginning of how this space will serve as an incubator of innovation at OJCS.

So.  What was this day all about?

In a nutshell…this:

Do you want to see what all 15 challenges were?  If so, keep scrolling!  [NOTE: You will not be able to click through to the videos and printables.]  If not, feel free to jump to the end!

Did our students have an amazing day putting all our skills, materials, creativity to good use?

I’d say “yes” – this was great day of learning at OJCS!  What new dream will we dream in the OJCS Makerspace?  Stay tuned!

This Year’s First Trip Around the OJCS Blogosphere

I thought I’d take break from Jewish Holidays despite today’s amazing Sukkah Hop (follow us on social!) and next week’s climactic chagim, to take us on our first tour this year of The OJCS Blogosphere.  Recognizing that it still may be a new routine for families and that most families surely don’t have the bandwidth to visit all the blogs, it is my pleasure to serve as your occasional tour guide.  I do this a few times a year to inspire OJCS families to invest a little time, to inspire other schools and thought-leaders who may visit my blog from time to time, and to forge connections between our work and other fellow-travelers because we really do “learn better together” [North Star Alert!]  This week I will focus on classroom blogs and, in the future, I’ll curate from school leadership blogs as well as student blogfolios.

From the Middle School Jewish Studies Blog (click here for the full blog)

Grades 6-8: Yad B’Yad Mitzvah Initiative Update – Posted on October 12

Our Mitzvah Trips are off and running! The Yad B’Yad (hand in hand) Mitzvah Initiative provides students with incredible opportunities to give back to our community and put their Jewish values into action. The theme of our Mitzvah Trips for this month is Kehillah Kedoshah. The phrase translates to a sacred or holy community. Students are learning about the importance of community. We are focusing on donating our time and giving back to others in our community. Our goal is to interact with and support various communities in Ottawa. Our first three Mitzvah Trips have focused on engaging with valued members of our Ottawa Jewish Community.

Together, they helped OTT at KBI Supplementary School step into the new year on the right foot by working to beautify the space. Students painted the walls, set up classrooms, and organized learning spaces.

The second week of our Yad B’Yad mitzvah initiative allowed our middle school students to make mini apple pies and challah buns to donate to the Ottawa Kosher Food Bank. Thank you to A Dashing Pinch – Village Café for overseeing our efforts and baking these delicious treats!

Our third week provided students with the opportunity to get creative! Students spent time creating decorations for our sukkah. In addition, a group of students went to the JCC to help make decorations for their sukkah. Check back soon to see what other amazing Mitzvah Trips that students are participating in.

From the Kindergarten – Gan Blog (click here for the full blog)

On International Dot Day, SK Made Their Mark – Posted on September 16

On September 15, 2022, the kids in SK celebrated International Dot Day!!!  If you’re not sure what International Dot Day is all about, here’s a little explanation:

September 15th marks the anniversary of the publication of best-selling author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds’ The Dot, a “story book for all ages.”

Starting in 2009, a group of educators began celebrating this date as International Dot Day — a day for classes to explore the story’s powerful themes: bravery, creativity, and self-expression.

The Dot tells the story of a caring teacher who reaches a reluctant student in a remarkably creative way. In Peter’s book, the teacher dares a very resistant Vashti to “make her mark.” Vashti’s breakthrough begins with a simple dot on a piece of paper. Encouraged by her teacher she sets off on a journey of self-discovery, letting her creativity bloom and, ultimately, inspire others.

from The Educator’s Handbook for International Dot Day

To mark this special day yesterday, after reading the book, the kids got to explore their own creativity by making their own unique dot.  They experimented with colour mixing by using markers on coffee filters and then spraying them with water at the Saturation Station.  They also drew their own special masterpieces to make their mark.  We listened to and watched a video of the “The Dot Song” written by Emily Arrow and Peter H. Reynolds…. you can watch the video and do the actions at home here.

The school year may have just begun, but the kids in Senior Kindergarten have already made their mark in a big way!!  Check out the pictures below and then keep scrolling for some important upcoming dates!!!

From The OJCS Library Blog (click here for the full blog)

Life Cycles and Migration Storytime – Posted on September 28

Today we read the beautiful book Bird, Butterfly, Eel by James Prosek.  This will give us a great introduction to the subject of both life cycles and migration.

For a follow-up activity, download the amazing activity guide booklet available at the National Environmental Education Foundation website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our teachers and students are doing some pretty fantastic things, eh?

I will continue to encourage you to not only check out the blogs on The OJCS Blogosphere, but I strongly encourage you to offer a quality comment of your own.  Getting feedback and commentary from the universe is highly motivating and will help this snowball grow as it hurtles down the hill of innovative learning.