Author: ATT Chicago

Digital Tools for Bloom’s Taxonomy

A Virtual Trip to Bar Ilan University for ATT Teachers

ATT teachers were treated to an incredible three-part series over the past few weeks entitled “Digital Tools for Bloom’s Taxonomy.” The program was part of a partnership with the Lookstein Center of Bar Ilan University in Israel. 

These three workshops addressed practical and engaging methods to help students become better learners. The series covered six digital tools, each matched with a category in the taxonomy. For each tool, participants explored specially created examples and learned how to create their own lessons using the tool.

  1. Knowledge and Comprehension 

The first class focused on Knowledge and Comprehension through levels in the taxonomy that help students understand and remember. Teachers saw how the tools Edpuzzle and Quizlet can help teachers with classroom implementation.  

EdPuzzle is a free assessment-centered tool that allows teachers and students to easily create interactive online videos by embedding either open-ended or multiple-choice questions, audio notes, audio tracks, or comments on a video. Student responses are shared with the teacher.

Quizlet is a free website providing learning tools for students, including flashcards, with study and game modes. A teacher starts by creating his/her own flashcard study sets with terms and definitions. There is a wealth of ready-made quizlet card sets that are public domain for sharing. Flashcards can be made using English or Hebrew fonts. Quizlet has a free version for studying and a paid version for student tracking and assessment.

  1. Application, Analysis and Evaluation 

The second class focused on Application, Analysis, and Evaluation, the levels in the taxonomy that help students apply and analyze what they have learned. This lesson showcased the tools Padlet and Flipgrid

Padlet is a free online tool that is best described as an online notice or bulletin board. Padlet can be used by students and teachers to post content or notes on a common page. The notes posted by teachers and students can contain links, videos, images and document files. Padlet can be an interactive addition to any classroom and is a great brainstorming tool that allows for communication between teachers and students or between peers. 

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Padlet’s free version for all users allows teachers to create up to three Padlet boards at a time. Padlet also offers Backpack for Schools, a bulk pricing plan, that gives schools more privacy options, extra security, student portfolios, and more.

Flipgrid is a website that allows teachers to create “grids” to facilitate online video discussions. Each grid is like a message board where teachers can pose questions, called “topics,” and their students can post video or written responses that appear in a tiled grid display. Flipgrid develops a sense of community for students. A library of created videos can be accessed, or teachers can create their own videos.

  1. Creation

The final class focused on Creation, which is the level in the taxonomy that helps students produce digital projects and products. The many facets of the Google Apps Suite were featured during this session. Google Apps are very useful for student collaboration as well as active participation in content. Speakers presented strategies to use with Google Docs, Google forms and Google slides. 

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Participants learned how to work with one shared document and how to share a unique document with each student. Examples included using Google docs or Google slides to teach text, invite comments and display comprehension. 

The group also discussed ways to use a Google form as an exit ticket, which can be a sample reflective exercise to bring closure to the class. The Google Suite can be used with Hebrew documents as well. Specific advantages of Google Classroom were explored as well as rules for digital collaboration.


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The teachers left each class with new tools to assist them in designing materials that will ensure student learning.

The what, how and when of behavior intervention plans

Parents and teachers working with students whose behavior challenges are impeding learning can breathe a little easier knowing there is an effective strategy to help. 

According to Mrs. Rusi Sukenik and Mrs. Ellah Orevi-Greenberg of REACH, changing one’s behavior is possible. They agree that it’s difficult and challenging to achieve, but when following the ABC steps (The Antecedent Behavior Consequence Model), it is attainable.

Change is possible – The ABC’s of behavior 

In a recent interactive workshop, Mrs. Sukenik and Mrs. Orevi-Greenberg discussed the step-by-step process of identifying a behavior of concern and how to modify it. The first step is to recognize the antecedent to the behavior, the trigger that sets off the problematic behavior. This requires that teachers describe the behavior using observable, nonjudgmental language rather than subjective language. 

The consequences then reinforce the behavior itself. Positive behavior results in a positive response from others. In order for this to be effective, the response needs to be universal and appropriate – otherwise the child is receiving mixed messages regarding the desired particular behavior.

Following are some possible functions of behavior: 

  • the child wants something
  • the child wants to escape/protest a situation
  • the child wants attention
  • the child has sensory issues (the child likes/does not like a particular feeling)

Understanding these is useful in helping teachers consider options of how to change antecedents and consequences. 

Awareness of our responses to our children’s behavior is paramount to successfully helping them change a disruptive behavior. 

Understanding the A, B, C’s of Behavior can be an important and valuable tool to a teacher’s strategy toolbox.

Data collection tools and methods to change a student’s problematic behavior

When it comes to helping a student overcome a challenging behavior, collecting data to first understand that behavior is a key step in the end goal of improvement.

A Taste of Torah – Parshas Nasso

Written by: Rabbi Mordechai Raizman

The Strength of Community

In the last verse of this week’s Torah portion Naso, it states, “When Moshe will come to the Ohel Moed to speak with Hashem, he will hear the voice speaking to him … between the Keruvim.”  What is the significance of the word of G-d coming through the Keruvim? Why does G-d specifically speak through this venue?

The Keruvim were angelic-like figures that were on both sides of the Ark. Their wings were spread upwards, yet they were facing each other. Their stance is a physical reminder of how we should study and apply the timeless lessons of the Torah in our daily lives.

We all need to look upwards and strive to improve ourselves every day. Yet, there is a condition being taught to us here how to grow spiritually. As we climb the ladder, we must be cognizant of our brothers and sisters around us.  Personal growth cannot come at the expense of others. When we grow as individuals, it is in the context of doing it together with our community. We are responsible for each other and need to keep everyone in mind to grow as a tzibbur (community), helping each other attain greater heights.

That is why Hashem speaks to us through the KeruvimHashem wants His presence to be felt in this world. It is felt through the words of Torah that He has given us. The symbolism of the Keruvim is the ultimate goal. He wants all of us to strive for greater heights with the people around us as a community.

A Taste of Torah – Parshas Bamidbar

Written by: Rabbi Avrohom S. Moller

This week’s parsha is devoted to the regimentation of the Jewish people during their years in the desert. The 12 שבטים (tribes) were counted and organized into camps with a very specific configuration, both during traveling and when they camped. The center of the camp was always the holiest. When they were encamped, it was the אהל מועד (Tent of Meeting) containing the ark and the holy vessels that stood in the center surrounded by the 12 tribes in their designated configurations. The mishkan was the center of the communal service and sacrifice to Hashem. During travel, the holy vessels were covered and carried in the midst of the procession. Throughout the description, there are warnings to maintain careful boundaries and that the Holy should not be trespassed upon.

Rav Shamshon R. Hirsch (prominent Jewish thinker and Chumash commentator 1808-1888) notes the dichotomy in this arrangement. The Tabernacle and the Torah that sanctifies it are the unifying presence in the midst of the camp. This conveys a message of affinity to the Torah and its constant presence in our lives. However, at the same time, the Torah must be regarded with extreme awe and approached with respect and trepidation.

Rav Hirsch explains that these formalities are an expression of the Jew’s relation to the Torah. The Torah is not a set of communal values that were developed by the Jewish people to guide the community’s interaction. It is a G-d given Torah, imposed  from the outside which we must accept and use to model our thinking and our lives. Nothing else will work for us. Therefore, it is in our midst; yet, it is also separated from us by boundaries to assure that we have the correct attitude when we relate to it with respect and trepidation.

The centrality of the Torah to our lives, the accountability it creates for us and the awe we have for it are merged with our joy that Hashem has chosen us to receive His Torah. It is the Torah that testifies that we are His chosen people, and it is the Torah that is His expression of love to us. We reciprocate by expressing our love for Him by learning His beloved Torah, toiling to understand it and to come closer to Hashem through it.

A Taste of Torah – Parshas Behar-Bechukosai

Written by: Rabbi Mordechai Raizman

Reflections on Meron

Parsha Bechukosai begins with Hashem’s words, “If you will walk in my chukim and keep my mitzvos and fulfill them…” Chukim generally refers to laws for which there is not an explanation. Therefore, we don’t usually understand the depth of their significance. Mitzvos, on the other hand, describe those commandments for which we do have a level of understanding, e.g. charity, justice, etc. The question is often raised about the order of the choice of words that is being described in the posuk. Wouldn’t it be more fitting to say first if you walk in my mitzvos since one has the ability to understand what is expected? Then wouldn’t it follow that the natural progression would be that one would be able to even keep the chukim as well? Why does Hashem begin with the commandments that we cannot understand?

I believe this goes back to the beginning of our relationship with Hashem at Har Sinai. We uttered the famous words Naaseh Vnishma, we will do and then we will understand. Our faith in Hashem led us first to accept whatever He sends our way. Our ancestors had total faith that whatever it would be, it was for our good.  They clearly saw the Hand of Hashem in their lives redeeming them from Egypt and all the miracles performed for them. They saw His loving embrace, and they knew enough to understand that they did not understand everything. We need to follow this behavior and walk with the chukim and move forward like our ancestors did.  We need to continue experiencing and developing the relationship between ourselves and Hashem by observing the chukim. After we make that commitment, we can progress in our relationship with Hashem. At that point, we are ready to grow and move further. If it started the other way around, we would question and question and perhaps never move forward.  The following story illustrates this point.

The Klausenberger Rebbe Zatzal was a survivor of the Holocaust who lived through several concentration camps including Auschwitz. He lost his wife and 11 children. On one occasion he was asked the question, “After all that you have been through, do you have any questions for Hashem?”

He replied, “Yes, I have many deep questions. I know if I would ask them, Hashem would invite me up to Heaven to give me the answers Himself. However, I prefer to stay down here on earth with the questions than up there with answers.” He moved forward and continued teaching and building Torah following the war. He walked with the chukim.

The grief and pain that Klal Yisroel is feeling now is immeasurable. We are all reeling from last week’s events. Forty-five souls left this world, many young with so much yet to offer this world. We do not have the capacity to understand this, and yes, we may have questions.                                                                                               

Let us take a moment to step back and see all the miracles and good in our own lives, the tremendous growth of the Jewish people after the Holocaust, the millions of Jews now living in Israel, and the mere fact that we were able to have 100,000 people plus celebrating in Israel together on Lag Ba’omer from all different backgrounds, Chassidic, Sephardic, Litvish, Secular, etc., that came together in unity. Aren’t all those events miraculous? Haven’t we all seen the Hand of Hashem just like our ancestors?  Let us take a cue from them and the Klausenberger Rebbe. Let us walk with what we do not understand as well.

Sometimes faith lies in the question not the answer.

A Taste of Torah – Parshas Emor

Written by: Rabbi Avrohom S. Moller

This week we read about the mitzvah of Sefiras HaOmer, the counting of the Omer. Reb Yaakov Kamenetzky (Rov and Rosh Yeshiva of Torah Vodaas, 1891-1986) quotes a midrash which attributes this mitzvah to the fact that the Jewish people expected that the Torah would be given immediately upon leaving Mitzrayim. When this did not happen, they asked Moshe Rabeinu for an explanation. Moshe told them that Hashem expects a 50-day preparatory period before the Torah would be given. The Jews began counting the days until Matan Torah as they prepared their minds and souls for their encounter with G-D and the receiving of the Torah. To remember this special anticipatory period, the Torah made a mitzvah to remember and capture the excitement we had when we prepared to receive the Torah.

Reb Yaakov z”l connects this idea to another theme of the sefira days, the death of Rabbi Akiva’s students. The Gemara (Yevamos 62b) tells us that Rabbi Akiva had 24,000 students and they all passed away during the weeks between Pesach and Shavuos because they “did not give honor to each other.” Why was this failure visited upon Rabbi Akiva’s students during this time in particular?

Reb Yaakov explains that the sefira period is supposed to take us back to the freshness and excitement we had regarding the gift of Torah. When someone really cherishes an idea and an ideal, they cannot get enough of it. If the students of Rabbi Akiva, who no doubt were very learned, would have been sufficiently excited about learning Torah, they would have given each other respect and gotten along so that they could have gained insight or Torah thought from each other. Once there was competitiveness and disrespect, it showed that they were not relating to Torah learning as the greatest opportunity and exhilarating experience; it was content to be mastered. This was a failure for them and a desecration of the Torah ideal.

In the weeks leading up to Shavuos, we should reflect not only on our commitment to Torah learning and volume of Torah that we learn. We should also reflect on our relationship with Torah, our Ahavas HaTorah. Do we find it exciting? Is it a high priority for us to develop ourselves as people of Torah? These questions are very important because that is what Hashem wants us to develop as a ממלכת כהנים וגוי קדוש – a nation of priests and a holy nation.

A Taste of Torah – Parshas Achrei Mos-Kedoshim

Written by: Rabbi Mordechai Raizman

Walking with You

In the beginning of the second Torah portion of this week, we are commanded to walk in the ways of Hashem. Rashi explains this commandment does not refer to doing the mitzvos, but rather, the effort that goes into the action of doing them. The reward for this effort as stated in the ensuing verses includes peace, prosperity, and that G-d will rest His presence with you and walk with you. How do we understand the meaning of this last blessing? How does G-d walk with you?

The Seforno (a 16th century commentator on the Chumash) explains that walking with you means that G-d is ready to interact with us wherever we may be. We should not limit our interactions with G-d to only designated places for Torah and tefillah. Yes, our synagogues and Batei Medrash are places where the presence of Hashem is felt. However, we have to understand that they do not have to be the only places.

If we do as the Torah commands us, to walk in the ways of Hashem, applying ourselves as much as we can in the effort of doing the mitzvos, we will have the ability to feel His presence wherever we are. It is not about how much we do, but rather about the effort we put forth in doing. This effort leads us and keeps us focused on strengthening our connection with G-d in our synagogues, in our homes, and wherever we may be. The more effort we put in, the more we are thinking about doing His will, which will subsequently lead to feeling His presence in all aspects of our lives.

A Taste of Torah – Parshas Tazria-Metzora

Written by: Rabbi Avrhom S. Moller

“And the man with the leprous curse shall have tattered clothes, his hair should be wildly grown, he shall hood his face to his lips and call out, ‘I am impure, I am impure.’ ” (Vayikra 13:45)

This chilling description of the metzorah, leper, who is cast out of society is quite depressing. If we were to encounter such an unfortunate on the outskirts of our city, we would probably give him wide berth. However, when we analyze this description more carefully with the help of our sages we see that the Torah is teaching us some important lessons for those who are suffering and those who are aware of their suffering.

The metzorah is suffering through this ordeal because of his anti-social behavior. The Gemara in Erchin 16a tells us that tzoraas is caused by defamation of others. The offender is now receiving a very public and humiliating divine punishment from which he cannot escape. It is his role to accept it with humility and contrition by acting as a mourner (there are many parallels between the metzorah’s behavior and that of the aveil, mourner). This invokes Divine mercy since the purpose of this punishment is to get the person to reflect on his bad ways and to repent. A person who is accustomed to negate others will have difficulty accepting his own shortcomings and will need to work hard to attain real contrition.

What can we do to help this person who has been cast out? We understand that he has been punished in a very harsh way but that being judgmental is the wrong thing to do. When we see a person suffering, it is wrong to suggest that we know the reason or to tell the person to repent. He needs our empathy and support, not our judgment. When he cries out that he is impure, it is so that we have pity on him and we pray for him. (See Shabbos 67a.)

When Iyov is visited with terrible suffering and his friends try to explain Hashem’s reasons for his suffering, he is very hurt. Hashem tells them that they have sinned in doing so. Friends are there to empathize, to be helpful and sometimes to be silent and pray that this person’s suffering comes to a happy ending. It is not one’s place to explain or to suggest to the sufferer what he could or should do differently.

There is a story told about a young widow in Yerushalayim who lost her husband suddenly and was devastated. The Tzaddik of Yerushalyim, Reb Aryeh Levine Z’L, came to pay his condolences. He was so devastated that he could not utter a word. He simply sat and cried. This unfortunate woman later related that his visit brought her more comfort than all of the well-intended words of comfort and reassurance that she heard during the Shiva.

As adults we need to model this empathy in word and deed. If our children see us as non-judgmental people with the ability to empathize and support people who have made poor choices but are ready to change, they will emulate that behavior and make this a world in which people can redeem themselves.

A Taste of Torah – Parshas Vayakhel-Pekudei

Written By: Rabbi Mordechai Raizman

This week’s parsha, Vayekhel, discusses the building of the Mishkan (tabernacle) and Betzalel who was given the task of building it by himself. The parsha also includes the pasuk,V’chol chacham lev bachem yavou vyaasu es kol asher zivah Hashem,” meaning any wise-hearted person can come and fulfill the command that Hashem gave them to build the Mishkan. If this was Betzalel’s assignment why is the directive being given to anyone who wants to do it?

Horav Moshe Feinstein, z”l, asks this question and suggests the following thought. Yes, it is true that Betzalel was given the assignment to build the Mishkan. However, Hashem wants to impress upon his people that any undertaking’s success should not be dependent on one individual for several reasons. First, we never know what tomorrow brings. If something had happened to Betzalel, how would the Mishkan been completed if he was the only one who knew how to build it? Second, as a society, it is our responsibility to help build and maintain our community to ensure its growth and survival. We cannot assume or expect one person to do everything no matter that person’s skill and commitment or the size of the job.

This pasuk teaches us a very important lesson to transmit to our children. As adults, we must step up to the plate to become active participants of our community. We must realize that a successful community cannot rely on one or a few people to sustain it. Although, there are individuals who are natural leaders, Klal Yisroel must understand that it is everyone’s obligation to become involved and offer assistance wherever and whenever needed and that these actions will also train the next generation to be productive members of our society.

A Taste of Torah – Parshas Ki Sisa

Written by: Rabbi Avrohom S. Moller

This week, we will read the special addendum of פרשת פרה together with the weekly sidra. This special reading discusses the need for ritual cleansing from contact with the dead by preparing and sprinkling the ash water of the פרה אדומה, the Red Heifer. The connection to this part of the holiday cycle is that we need to pay attention to our preparation to bring the Korban Pesach, and all Jews are obligated to be ritually pure by the time that Erev Pesach arrives. The entire process and mitzvah of Parah Aduma is fraught with mystery and seems to defy human logic. Those involved in processing the Parah Aduma become ritually impure because of their involvement, yet the ash which is produced is used to purify people who are tamei — impure from contact with the dead. This paradox led Shlomo, the wisest of all men, to declare, “I thought I would be the wisest; yet it eludes me” (Koheles 7:23).

Interestingly, Rashi quotes Rebbi Moshe HaDarshan who gives a partial explanation to this exotic ritual. He says that since the heifer is the mother of the calf and the Jewish people sinned with the Eigel HaZahav, the Golden Calf, “Let the mother come and clean up the soiling caused by her child.” This explanation seems vague and creates more questions than answers. Firstly, what is the connection between tumas meis – the impurity which results from contact with the dead and the sin of the Golden Calf?  Secondly, how does this ritual correct that sin?

The sin of the Golden Calf was the result of the Jewish people losing their composure. They thought they had just witnessed the demise of their leader Moshe Rabeinu, and therefore they were leaderless in the middle of the desert with no plan. They were desperate for an intermediary to intercede with Hashem and to carry on the mission of Moshe. They figured that they would do what they had seen the Egyptians do, resort to idolatry which would provide them with a way to control their destiny. They knew that this was a terrible deviation from what they had just been told at Har Sinai but they rationalized it as, desperate situations justify desperate means.

The essence of their sin was this rationalization. They had been taught by Moshe time and time again that they need to trust Hashem and rely on Him alone without attempting to resolve issues about their destiny with human solutions. This is where they failed when they made the Golden Calf. The consequences of this failure were dramatic indeed. The Gemara (Avoda Zarah 5a) explains the pesukim in Tehillim 82 where Hashem exclaims, “I had planned for you to become immortal like the angels; indeed (because of the sin of the Golden Calf) you will have to die like people.”

We had arrived at Har Sinai proclaiming, “Naase V’Nishma,” willing to do everything even if we could not understand the logic. This is the secret of the angels. They obey without questions and this attitude would have brought us immortality. However, we regressed during the Eigel HaZahav and lost this promised status. Thus, mortality is an outcome of our inability to place sufficient trust in Hashem and follow him without resorting to our own devices. This is what Rebbi Moshe HaDarshan is suggesting about the ritual of Parah Adumah; it is inexplicable and seems irrational, yet we follow it without question to train ourselves not to question Hashem’s reasoning. This is how the mother comes and cleans up the soiling caused by her child which relates to how the Parah, a mature and stable adult cleans up the impetuous action of the wayward child.

This special reading is part of Chazal’s planning to prepare us for the Yom Tov of redemption, Pesach. This holiday reaffirms our faith and trust in Him and the message of the Parah reminds us what the level of expectation that Hashem has for His people. Let us usher in this season with renewed faith and trust and the commensurate loyalty to His word.