ROSH HaSHANAH 2016 = 5777















Take a few minutes to learn something new… and sweet!  

Have a happy and sweet new year.

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Swipe and swipe again. It’s all there!

(cross-posted on Sight Line Nurturing a field of vision – focusing vision for the field)

There’s lots of apps out there – millions, to be exact – with new apps released daily. Here’s a 4 minute, 4 app review especially fun for Jewish educators or those interested in Judaism.  Happy swiping.

  1.  The app is a cornucopia of videos with educational and entertainment topics, from  adult classes to kid channels, food shows to music.  Chabad, found around the world in every remote corner, and probably in your Jewish.tvvery own neighborhood, is as close as your back pocket. Start on the home page and peruse the featured option, which opens up to “Editors Picks”
    and “Most Viewed” or enter through the “Channels” option and be prepared to find it all.  There is a search option which allows you to search by keyword for the video of your choice.
  2. Prayer Player is a great app for learning to decode/read the prayers while learning the traditional melodies. With 10 different prayers to choose from, there’s multiple ways to practice reading while having fun. Each prayer has a translation and transliteration option, line by line audio and some history.  It’s fun having kids play this app in pairs – helping each other pop the correct balloons – or for an adult to sit and “coach” Hebrew reading. This app is great for all ages and especially fun for younger learners.
  3. BetaMidrash is currently available only as an Android app but one definitely to keep an eye on. This app has thousands of Jewish texts merged with open source translations from the folks for limitless exploration and learning opportunities for the novice and maven alike.  Like the Torah Library app from Davka, one of the earliest pioneers in the Torah technology field, huge libraries of ancient Jewish texts are always at your fingertips for whatever your needs are without ever needing to dust books.  Torah Library has easy to use search, bookmarking and sharing functions.  Davka Corp has a multitude of other apps to explore for every age learner.
  4. The Israel App is a digital travel guide to use for planning a future trip, self-guiding your visit or enjoying a virtual tour of the most famous and most esoteric places in Israel.  ReIMG_0136plete with historical facts, audio, images and useful travel information (like hotel/car rentals, weather, phone numbers and restaurant info), this free Israel App is like having a concierge in the palm of your hand.  The GPS guided walking tours lets you  walk every corner of Israel without worrying about getting lost.  When loading the app you have the choice of streaming in realtime, pre-loading content (no data connection required once loaded) or manually pre-loading content picking and choosing exactly what you’re looking for. Perfect for use while exercising, too. Turn on the app, plug in your headphones, hop on the treadmill and walk through the land of Israel as you stay in shape.  Wish you were planning a trip, but for now your classroom is as close as you’ll get? This app is a super tool for teaching/learning about Israel, and a lot of fun for students to explore independently.

But if you are actually planning a visit to Israel be sure and also download the Israel Railways app for all the train travel info you need or check out any number of the other Israel travel apps in the app store.

So go ahead and swipe, and then swipe again. It’s all in there.


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Learning is easy as… (A B C) Alef Bet Gimel

Learning Hebrew is as easy as ABC or… Alef, Bet, Gimel. I use a variety of ios apps to teach Alef Bet to beginning learners.  Here are a few of my favorites.

AlefBet OTG – “on the go” app-tly describes one of the powerful ways in which apps and tablets have changed the learning game today.  Learning Hebrew doesn’t need to end when a student gets picked up from school. It can continue in the car, at home, anywhere devices are welcome.  In fact, it doesn’t even require a teacher, a classroom or a schedule.  Hebrew learning apps can be used solo, with friends or family members of all ages.  So go ahead and have some fun learning. Ready, Set, Go!


The AlefBet OTG is simple to use and age appropriate for all ages.  A pre-schooler can just as easily use this app as an adult learning the basics of alefbet.  This interactive app uses audio and visuals together with your finger to teach the name, sound and writing of the letters.  An added bonus, learn some vocabulary words, too.  (Click on the graphic for annotated directions.)AlefBetOTG_Script

UNINTENDED USE: Practice writing script inside the printed letter on the “blackboard” portion of the screen

Ilana Lasri and her series of יאן טאן “Yan-Tan” apps are quite useful once you get comfortable with the layout of the page. She offers directions in Hebrew, and directs users to her other apps but don’t let this confuse or discourage you. After spending time with these apps I really like them and I think you will too. And so many of them are free!  NOTE: With the recent updates of ios 8 and 8.1 there are glitches with these apps. Sit tight – the developer is working on fixing the bugs (and while you’re on the site check out some of their other fab and free apps)

Part 1: Alef-Bet (חלק 1:אותיות א’’ב) is very similar to AlefBet OTG and costs 99cents. Choose a letter from the Alef-Bet board on move in order of the letters (backwards or forwards) by clicking the R/L arrow on either side.  Tap on the letter in the circle to hear the name and sound of the letter. Tap the box and see the way the printed letter is written. The large box has the letter with color coordinated arrows allowing you to trace the shape of the letter.


The Part 2 app costs .99 and teaches letter recognition coupled with vocabulary words that begin with the chosen letter.  It’s a fun way to practice letters and learn some useful Hebrew vocabulary too, but instead of learning one word that begins with the letter, this app teaches 14 words peYanTan_Part2r letter!  As with Part 1 once familiar with the layout and what to click the extra Hebrew on the page doesn’t get in the way – and might even be a bonus brain-based learning techniques.

Part 3, another free app, is a series of letter and word identification/matching games that build on the previous two parts – or can be fun for those that already know some basic Hebrew letters and words.  So go ahead and have some fun learning.


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Lines that Connect

There’s a Jewish sentiment often attributed to Theodor Herzl that says, “If you will it, it is no dream.”  But in reality willing something, no matter how strongly you wish it, is often not enough to flip an idea from dream to reality.  Under the best of circumstances and the finest of intentions, as the Scottish poet Robert Burns penned, the best laid plans of mice and men makes dream-flipping a lot more challenging than single-minded determinedness and willful vison.Herzl

But it is a good place to start, and connecting with others who share the same mindset is a smart strategy to adopt.  I know this to be true – I’ve experienced it repeatedly firsthand, as recently as this week.   The 11th JEDCamp event (an official edcamp especially inviting for Jewish educators and educators of Jewish students), JEDCampLA, took place on Sunday because of tenacious dream-flippers and a healthy dose of strong will visionaries.  And, connections that cross communities, cultures and continents.  

I first met Dr. Rabbi Aaron Ross in an online asynchronous EdTech certificate course that caught my attention a few years ago as I was exploring the power of tech integration to enhance and advance the learning experience for the learners and the educators.  Connecting asynchronously takes a certain amount of time and intention but yields great rewards.  Besides for serving as a panelist for the Transforming Education Through Technology event I was co-organizing with the Jewish High Tech Community of Silicon Valley Aaron also served to connect me to the world of connected education that ultimately had my path crossing with the Powerful Learning Practice network and a robust online network of colleagues (PLN) in the Jewish education world.  (Not to mention connecting my daughter with her first job, but that’s another story for another post!).

If a straight line is the shortest distance between two points than I must be destined to walk a long time for the zigzag route keeps proving rich and rewarding experiences for me.  Meir Wexler co-founder of #JEDCHAT and fellow classmate in the inaugural YU20 EdTech Certificate course taught a fantastic PD session for me on Project Based Learning to a group of educators in Palo Alto while sitting in Florida.  I have yet to meet him in person, though Facebook tells me he and my son are connected through a summer camp experience.

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 1.42.12 PMOh, the lines that connect!  Because of Meir, his colleague Seth and Aaron Ross I came to know about the EdCamp world and the JEDCamp spin-off which led me straight away to connect with Kristen Swanson, co-founder of the EdCamp Foundation.

I’ve since organized 3 JEDCamps in the San Francisco/Bay Area and this past Sunday I proudly participated in JEDCampLA a connection that began after I blogged my post-JEDCamp reflections.  Dvora, a tenacious dream-flipper and like-minded visionary sent me a tweet and the story continues to wind on down the road.

Cross the line and connect.  You never know where it’ll take you but if you will it, it is no dream.

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The EdCamp Challenge: Pass it on

Hello EdCamp Organizer, Newbies and Wannabes. I’m Debby Jacoby a JEDCamp Organizer in San Francisco – JEDCamp is EdCamp especially inviting for educators in Jewish education systems or Jewish educators. Thank you Kristen Swanson for pulling me into this awesome world and for nominating me to the EdCamp Challenge. I’ve organized 3 JEDCamps so far so here are My 3 tips for Moving People Along throughout the day – especially first timers who might be unsure.

Tip 1: Set up your registration table and Session Board in the same room AS the breakfast or coffee. This gets people in the room right away, prevents a log jam in the lobby, encourages edcampers to start meeting others right way, and gets them close to the session board (whether to post a session or survey the options). And since everyone is in the same room it’s easy to welcome and start the day on time.

IMG_5892 Tip 2: Not everyone shows up on time, and for 1st time JEDCampers the what to/how to might be confusing. At JEDCampSFBay we had a 10 minute How-To-Edcamp mini session that ran simultaneous to the 1st session allowing EdCamp newbies to get a more private tutorial on the rhythm and flow of EdCamp sessions… while still allowing time to get in to the tail end of Session 1
Tip 3: In each Session Room we put a Room Rules and Protocol Card which has suggestions for getting the session going. It starts with IF You Are the Session Facilitator START BY INTRODUCING YOURSELF then go around the room having everyone say their name. Then announce the session title (making sure everyone in the room intended to be in that room) and finally review the EdCamp rules – which basically are – no one person owns the conversation – the room does AND vote with your feet – – if you’ve had enough for WHATEVER reason and want to check out another session, go for it. That’s how EdCamp works.

Those are my tips for Moving People Along. And now I nominate Aaron Ross at Yavneh in NJ and Noah Cohen at Wornick in Foster City.

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See One. Do One

(cross-posted on edjewcation in the classroom)

I’m spending the morning learning about edublogs, meeting some wonderful educators and student blog samples and being encourage (and supported) to launch our own.

In the field of medicine the philosophy of See One, Do One, Teach One guides the learning.   It feels like an appropriate framework for blogging in the classroom, too.  

Encouraging students to blog is a powerful layer of learning as it calls on the skills of reflection, organized thinking, assimilation, vocabulary, writing, and so many other necessary skills needed for today’s learners (think Bloom’s Taxonomy and beyond). How much more so that educators feel comfortable blogging!

See One, Do One and if you’re ready for the next challenge – Teach One!


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