Ji in South America: A brief report and summary by Anat Goodman
With sincere thanks to the Ministry of Diaspora Israel, CET, Matan Kahana, Hana Holland, Ruben Rosenberg, Daniel Persman, Oved Avrech, Reut Avrech, UNIT.ED- MEIZAM HATFUTSOT staff at CET and all the amazing educators who took part in this journey! I had the pleasure of visiting and training teachers from 17 schools in South America. Three schools in Sao Paulo, Brazil, three schools in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, two schools in Montevideo, Uruguay and seven schools in Buenos Aires, Argentina. All of which took place in January and February 2019.
The journey was powerful in many ways and I will attempt to share my findings and thoughts in this brief report, with some further suggestions to move forward.
Aims of the visit
- To raise Jewish children’s motivation to learn and engage with Jewish education, their Jewish identity and connection to Israel
- To increase the number of Jewish educators utilizing EdTech and innovation in class
- To improve teaching methods in Jewish Studies, Hebrew and Zionism
The visit construct
I was warmly welcomed by Daniel in Sao Paulo, Ruben in Rio de Janeiro and Oved in Uruguay and Argentina. Each day was perfectly organised, and visits were well coordinated. I received all the information and context for every school I visited and was greatly taken care of during the entire journey.
I conducted a 3-hour training during each visit, which included:
- Pedagogy for the 21st century
- Demonstration of the Ji Tap platform, app and LMS
- Hands on part where the teachers designed and created interactive games using Ji Tap, on various Jewish Studies or Hebrew topics, according to their own needs. Teachers created an interactive game for teaching / Jewish / Israeli culture and/or Hebrew.
The training construct
In each training, there was a group of 18 – 56 educators in a session. During each training the teachers learnt how to:
- Find interactive games on the Ji Tap platform and use them in their classroom.
- Create interactive, high-quality interactive games easily and quickly for classroom use.
- Enable learners to create and design educational games easily and thus engage in a meaningful and motivational learning experience.
- Create groups, classes and assign games to learners by level, interests, and differentiate teaching.
- See students’ products and get students results and reports.
The training included about 286 teachers in 15 Jewish schools in 3 countries, reaching over 10,000 learners!
The teachers were all incredibly passionate and inspirational, warm, and open for innovation and learning. They could clearly see potential in Ji Tap and were very excited by it.
I enjoyed every minute of my time, felt at home and welcomed and left feeling passionate that Ji can help lead a real change in the way children engage with Jewish and Hebrew education.
All the schools I visited have excellent potential for incorporating innovation in JS and Hebrew teaching, and it is necessary to ensure continued support for the educational team according to the needs of each school. The schedule I was given was very effective yet in order to create a real change in any educational setting, more time and deep training on site is needed so the staff can not only see the full abilities of the platform, but also experience it in their classes and reflect on the process.
All the schools will benefit greatly by sharing created interactive content of teachers in Portuguese and Spanish, thus creating a community of teachers in South America who will share ideas, content and students’ projects with its members.
It is worthwhile to invest in Portuguese and Spanish translations of interactive games at different levels and content. For example, the series of Parshat Bereishit, Wonder Women of Israel, Ji Alef-Bet, etc.
Many teachers integrate technology by using presentations or smartboards, but still maintain a traditional frontal lesson structure in which a teacher does most of the talking while students listen passively. Few teachers use technology and innovation for projects that foster active, independent, and creative learning. During the sessions in each school, emphasis was placed on the integration of pedagogy, JS and Hebrew content and technological innovation. The emphasis was on a mind shift from “I teach” to “I facilitate active learning opportunities in which my learners use technology and actively engage with Jewish Studies and Hebrew.”
It was an honor to be a part of the UNIT.ED project and work with the amazing team at CET and their educational leaders in South America. It was an honor to have the opportunity to meet and train wonderful and talented educators and get to know the Jewish educational schools and system South America.