Category: News Archive

2021 Mayefsky Memorial Parenting Lecture

The community is invited to join the ATT for the 35th Annual Rabbi Isaac Mayefsky Memorial Parenting Lecture on Motzoei Shabbos, December 11, 2021 at 8:00PM at the Associated Talmud Torahs, (ICJA Entrance – 8233 Central Park Avenue) in Skokie. The theme of this year’s lecture will be “Raising Resilient Children in a Confusing World” and will be presented by Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, captivating speaker and renowned educator.  Rabbi Rietti will address how to enhance relationships with children and how to build a child’s resilience in our ever-changing world. He will explore the Torah’s timeless and successful parenting prescription. The program will provide parents with skills that can be applied to children of all ages. Admission is free.

To see the brochure, click here.

For more information, contact the Associated Talmud Torahs at 773-973-2828.

Learning and Teaching: Pre-Covid, During Covid, Post Covid

Now that we’re completing this unusual year, it’s important to reflect on the challenges and successes and celebrate what our schools managed to accomplish.

We anticipate saying good riddance to many of the pandemic protocols next year, but much of what teachers and administrators learned this year will continue into the future.

As students and teachers adapted to learning during a pandemic this school year, some students struggled more than others. At the same time, others who struggled with traditional learning started to thrive and learn beyond their typical in-person classroom learning. 

Moving forward in education after COVID

It’s time to look forward to what happens next. 

At Janice Levitan’s recent professional development class, ATT teachers discussed interesting findings to help them plan for future teaching and learning. She explored the use of Google Classroom and other online resources that teachers used successfully during the past year. She also offered suggestions on how they  can be used in today’s new learning environment. 

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Google Classroom was a key tool in this year’s new learning environment. Whether students were in school or at home, Google Classroom ensured they always had access to their assignments and work. Those schools that adopted Google Classroom will likely continue using it in future learning.

Key benefits to Google classroom include: 

  • Students in school and at home can see all the work and materials. 
  • A teacher can post videos, Docs, Slides, Sheets and Forms and can choose to differentiate work with ease and privacy.
  • Teachers can view work in progress and make comments in real time. 
  • Grade books exist to track student progress. 
  • Paperless assignments are cost effective and environmentally friendly.

Google features for better education 

Using Google Docs in the classroom allows for open-ended questions that are easily modified for student needs. Questions can be scaffolded and assignments are able to be tailored to student needs. Teachers can also provide different prompts or rubrics for different students. 

Google Slides is great for interactive work and fill-in-the-blank assignments. Teachers are able to differentiate learning while using Google Slides. Simple worksheets can become interactive ones and add-ons like Peardeck and Nearpod can help teachers explain content. 

Teachers can use Google Forms to take quick assessments of learning. Forms is self-grading, gives immediate feedback and is a great tool for quizzes. Like many Google classroom tools, it’s very user-friendly. 

Using Google Sheets is an effective tool to look at data. When you create a Google Form, you’ll be able to see all the data collected in a Google Sheet. 

Teachers and students can keep track of assignments with Google Calendar. It can also be used to schedule appointments with students and parents. 

Virtual learning tools 

Several virtual learning tools help teachers with review and instruction especially for absent and at-home learners. These include:

  • Loom records quick videos of your screen. Teachers can walk students through an exercise or show them how to use virtual learning software. 
  • EdPuzzle  a teaching tool used to place interactive content into pre-existing videos from a variety of sources, such as TED, YouTube or into teacher-made videos 
  • Kahoot! is a game-based learning platform that can be used as educational technology in schools and other educational institutions. Its learning games, “kahoots,” are user-generated multiple-choice quizzes that can be accessed via a web browser or the Kahoot app.

Ways for students to share work include: 

  • Loom
  • Flipgrid is a website that allows teachers to create “grids” to facilitate video discussions. Each grid is like a message board where teachers can pose questions and students can post video responses that appear in a tiled grid display.
  • Screencastify, a free screen recorder for Google Chrome. No download required. This allows teachers to record, edit and share videos in seconds. Screencastify is the number one free screen recorder for Chrome. 
  • Padlet  is a digital tool that can help teachers and students in class and beyond by offering a single place for a notice board. 
  • Kahoot

Other online educational resources that will continue to prove useful for student learning:

  • TeacherMade allows quick creation of online worksheets and more.
  • LiveWorksheets is an interactive worksheets maker for all languages and subjects. Teachermade and LiveWorksheets are very similar, so teachers can decide which one suits them best. 
  • Khan Academy provides individualized instruction for students and is most well-known for math support.
  • Go Formative allows for testing and evaluation of student work.
  • Anchor  is a website to create, distribute and host podcasts.
  • Vocaroo is the simplest audio recorder on the web.

When the pandemic restrictions are officially over in schools, there is still a benefit to using these tools because they allow for individualized instruction and differentiation that is often challenging to execute in the classroom. Additionally, these resources provide a central location for materials and a calendar to keep track. 

These resources also allow for hybrid learning and enhance creativity in both teachers and students alike. Learning about these new strategies and tools can help teachers as they navigate the constantly changing learning environment. 

A Taste of Torah – Parshas Sh’lach

Written by: Rabbi Mordechai Raizman

Heads Up

In this week’s Torah portion we read about the sin of the spies. The spies were leaders of the Jewish people who were sent on a mission to check out the land of Israel. The spies returned with a pessimistic report claiming the Jewish people would not be able to conquer its inhabitants and inherit the land. The people believed them and cried upon hearing this report, causing Bnei Yisroel to be punished by wandering 40 years in the desert before entering the land of Israel.

This story is retold later in Sefer Devorim with a fascinating insight given by the Seforno (a 16th century scholar). The Seforno asks why were the Bnei Yisroel really crying?   Did they really think that G-d was incapable of bringing them into the land? Didn’t they just witness miracles saving them from the plagues in Egypt and at the Red Sea? How can we understand this?  The Seforno says they were crying because they served idols in Egypt and felt they were unworthy of entering the land of Israel. Their doubts were not about G-d’s ability rather their own frailties. They felt that they had sinned in the past and were unworthy of entering the Holy Land.

According to this interpretation, why was this action of crying such a grave sin that the Bnei Yisroel received such a harsh punishment? In reality, weren’t the Jewish people just being remorseful for their past sins?

One can learn a great lesson from this narrative. Yes, it is proper to reflect on one’s past; yet one has to be careful not to allow it to paralyze oneself and give up hope. In G-d’s eyes, there is never a point where one is totally unworthy. There is a phrase – seeing is believing. The opposite is just as important – believing is seeing. When one believes in oneself and in the G-d given talents that one receives, one will be able to keep on moving forward and see the potential of what lies in store.

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.

Keeping the Flames of Faith Alive

Over 25 ATT educators recently joined three speakers who provided different perspectives of inspiration based on their personal experiences. The event was presented by ATT’s Kirsche Department of Holocaust studies.

A sense of gratitude filled those educators who were able to learn from these incredible experiences. One ATT teacher participant was grateful to hear the touching set of first-person memories and says, “These men are rarer than diamonds and are to be cherished.”

Finding ways for Holocaust education to be a meaningful experience for students at various ages is a fine balance. Fortunately, the speakers provided inspiration and practical tools for effectively and meaningfully teaching the Holocaust. 

Inspiration in faith, tradition and strength  

There is much to be gained from hearing the first-hand accounts of survivors and relatives of survivors. The lessons and stories can enrich education and inspire students. 

Rabbi Yosef C. Golding is the son-in-law of Rabbi Yosef Friedenson, a survivor of Nazi atrocities. Rabbi Golding wrote Faith Amid the Flames depicting his father-in-law’s uncrushable Jewish spirit. Rabbi Friedenson’s optimistic confidence in a brighter future is thanks to his emunah and fortitude during the war and beyond as he built a family and legacy

The book depicts numerous examples of kiddush Hashem displayed in the ghettos, concentration camps and DP camps. 

Mr. Israel Starck, a Holocaust survivor, author and lecturer emphasizes that educators must teach how the Jews lived, not how they died. He encourages teachers to make the teachings uplifting and relevant with lessons of how the Jews lived during their pre-war life and during the Nazi atrocities. These stories can inspire students and make them realize the importance of their Jewish mesorah

Teaching stories that occurred during liberation is another strategy that will also provide meaningful lessons of resilience to children of any age. Mr. Starck writes of these experiences in his book, A Boy Named 68818.

Rabbi Dr. Yitzchak Shkop, a son of Holocaust survivors of Auschwitz, was raised in a community of survivors. He described witnessing the unbelievable relationships that fellow survivors had for each other and how they reconstructed their lives with supreme emunah in G-d after the war. 

This rebuilding was a product of their suffering. They saw everything in life – both large and small – as a gift, a miracle and a joy. They had no daily expectations and appreciated all aspects of life. 

These three perspectives underscoring emunah, mesorah, strength and gratitude were all well-received and will further the teaching of Churban Europe through a lens of inspiration.

Annual Teachers Educational Conference goes virtual and exceeds expectations

Once again ATT adjusted its mirror, pivoted and surpassed the many challenges to hold its usual annual Teachers Conference Day (TCD) for 600+ teachers.

With Rabbi Avrohom Moller and Mrs. Chani Friedman at the helm and a dedicated committee of school representatives, this year’s virtual professional development exceeded everyone’s expectations. 

With 49 sessions and 41 noted international, national and local presenters, there was something for every interest and grade level, pre-nursery – high school, focusing on the current topics of today’s educational environment.

Chaya Shapiro’s presentation

The virtual conference removed several challenges, in-person social distancing and masking, the weather and parking. It proved to be the perfect vehicle for presenter-participant engagement and small group and large group discussion. Gauging from the feedback that ATT received (see testimonials below), the conference was a smashing success.

Participants were thrilled to stay home on what proved to be a Chicago winter storm, and gifts of hot cocoa bombs from the ATT were a welcome bonus.

Because the event was virtual, the ATT was able to draw from renowned leaders in general and Jewish education around the world.

Mrs. Suzy Koontz

ATT’s Teachers Conference Day is an opportunity for teachers to get a glimpse of new ideas and methodologies in teaching, both in Jewish and general studies. Teachers are also able to collaborate with colleagues from throughout the ATT system in the workshops and small teacher-facilitated discussions. While this program is just one of many professional development opportunities for educators that the ATT offers throughout the year, the sheer number of attendees and speakers makes it the most exciting. Chicago is the only city in North America with a system-wide umbrella organization like the ATT for all the local Jewish day schools, which makes this PD day an exciting program that is unique to our city.

Courses were on topics as diverse as the speakers and teachers themselves, including topics like:

Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, MEd
  • Emotional regulation and challenging behaviors
  • Central auditory processing disorders
  • Student engagement and motivation
  • Content specific skills and critical thinking
  • Technology tips and tools
  • Strategies for dealing with the effects of the pandemic
  • Kinesthetic strategies for literacy and math
  • Nurturing resilience in students
A session from Danielle Bloom, EdD

Speakers and partners had this to say:

Thank you so much for the opportunity to present to your teachers this morning. I have received so many lovely emails of thanks and appreciation from your teachers.
^ Suzy Koontz, Math and Movement, Movement and Literacy, New York

Many thanks for having me in your line up for speakers at this very professionally run teacher training course. I was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly it all went, thank you.
^ Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, New York

Thank you very greatly for the honor of being part of this valuable and exemplary program.
^ Rabbi Dr. Dovid Fox, Los Angeles

I really enjoyed being a presenter and had a wonderful audience who was engaged, respectful and asked great questions. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of such a wonderful day.
^ Stephanie Dickstein, LCSW, Elizabeth Mayer School, School District 73.5

I want to thank you for the opportunity to teach this morning and to congratulate you on a very well-organized event. I hope you get great feedback on the entire day.
^ Nina J. Henry, LCPC, CADC, JCFS Chicago

Thank you for inviting me to speak at the educational conference today.  I enjoyed speaking to my group of teachers, and it was an honor to share and learn with them.  I hope the rest of the day was a success.
^ Melissa Fisanich | English Teacher
Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School – Annette M. & Theodore N. Lerner Family Upper School Campus

Thanks again for the opportunity, and for putting everything together for another successful ATT conference. Even the pandemic didn’t stop you guys!
^ Daniel Alkhovsky, Co-Director Walder Science

Thank you so much for the opportunity to present yesterday. Both my own session and the joint session I did with my brother were learning experiences for us.
^ Danielle Bloom, New Jersey

Rona Novick, PhD

Participants had this to say:

כל הכבוד  ! Wow- as someone who signed up and participated- the process was seamless. And the sessions were good and thought provoking. And imagine if we were not virtual and we would have had to go out in this weather ? HKBH takes care
^Arona Lichtman, Arie Crown Hebrew Day School

R’ Rietti was excellent! By far the best one I’ve been a part of in a while! (His sessions were) all very good. Thank you.
^ CR Feldman, Cheder Lubavitch Hebrew Day School

Every year I learn.  Every year I grow.  Every year I’m inspired. Every year I am very thankful.  This year was truly outstanding.  Every word and every moment was filled with knowledge, guidance, practical tools and inspiration! 
Surely every benefit to every student, every teacher and every school that will come from these classes is a zechus for all of you who made this learning possible.
^ Ronya Friedman, JDBY

Thank you for planning today!! It was really fun and useful. I liked all my presenters!
^ Marsha Arons, ICJA

Rabbi Zvi Grumet

The teachers here were Mrs. Levin, Mrs. Chaya Eichenstein, Mrs Faith Neuman, Mrs Devorah Goldstein, Mrs PIller and Mrs Mannes and myself.  We all watched the same sessions together– Mrs Hebel, Rabbi Raizman and Rabbi Rietti. We had positive feedback even from some of our most critical teachers!  Thank you very much for a robust, well run program.
^ Sara Neuman, BYHS

The session with Rabbi Rietti was absolutely amazing! Thank you. 
^ Sara Atlas, JDBY

Thank you so much! Everything was so organized. BH there was a lot to learn. All my presenters were excellent!!
The best part was the Bracha of not having to leave our houses today. Chasdei Hashem!!!
^ Sarah Leah Grinblatt, Arie Crown

I stayed by R Jonathon Rietti for all three sessions because I was so enamored with his discussions.
^ Rivkie Levitin, JDBY

I’m not a “tech” person – at all. You couldn’t have made the registration process more clear & more easy to follow. Also, I could have listened to Rabbi Rietti all day long! Not only was his content so educational & well-organized, but R. Rietti’s whole demeanor made his presentation most enjoyable.
^ Ahuvah Klein, Arie Crown

I really enjoyed the sessions that I attended today. Although hopefully next year we will be back to normal, I hope that we can still consider presentations on Zoom. For next year perhaps we can find someone who can discuss teaching Hebrew.
^ Shelley Stopek, ICJA

Thank you for all your hard work!  All three sessions were excellent and practical! 
^ Rusie Cziment, Arie Crown

Thank YOU! I just wanted to thank you for an amazing ATT teachers day. I enjoyed all the sessions and gained a lot both practically and spiritually.
^ Susie Rosen, Arie Crown

This was a great format for me personally.  I really enjoyed all the sessions!  The hot cocoa bomb was an added plus!! This took a lot of work to make it happen!
^ Yosepha Krohn, JDBY, BYHS

Mr. Alkhovsky’s math session was great!  I gave him Excellent in all categories and then wrote this.  “He shared research and then let us experience it for ourselves.  The games were great as is, but also have the ability to adapt to our students needs.  LOVED IT!”
^ Stephanie Pederson, ICJA

Rabbi Binyomin Segal

I have not heard systematic feedback from faculty yet, but the 2 sessions I went to (Danielle Bloom and Shani Taragin) were outstanding. Shani generously stayed around and answered questions through most of session 3. Both sessions pertained to ongoing work and discussions our Tanach department is having.
^ Dr. Jeremy Kahan, ICJA

I don’t know about anyone else but I enjoyed my presenters this morning.
^ Hedy Wechsler, JDBY

Today was an amazing ATT Teacher Conference Day. More than 600 day school teachers were in attendance! Of course, unlike other years, these presentations took place over zoom, but the content and the breadth of topics were fantastic.
^ Rabbi Leonard A. Matanky, Dean, ICJA

First of all, thank you for all your work to make today’s classes as successful as possible. I very much enjoyed both classes. I am hearing from other Rebbeim that Rabbi Rietti’s class was amazing.
^ Rabbi Avrohom Landsman, Yeshivas Tiferes Tzvi

I really enjoyed all the sessions I was in. 
^ Meira Schur, Arie Crown

I cannot adequately express my gratitude for YOUR incredible labor of love in doing EVERYTHING to make yesterday the successful conference day that it was! It was an honor to be on the committee and to moderate. The classes that I attended were well presented and meaningful. I am sure that the entire menu of classes that you put together were all equally so.
^ Chaya Minkus, Arie Crown

I wanted to share with you how much we appreciated the ATT in-service day, especially Rabbi J. Rietti’s speeches.  I attended his first session, along with a number of moros/teachers who were attending the classes in the JDBY building.  His presentation was so engaging and his content was extremely relevant.  The feedback from the teachers post-session was incredibly positive and many of the teachers who had signed up for other classes for sessions two and three, decided to attend Rabbi Rietti’s sessions instead.  Throughout his presentation there was silence in the room, with all teachers riveted to his every word.  At the end of each session, there was overwhelming positive feedback! I noticed that he gave many teaching strategies, but also put a big focus on how we, as adults, can be resilient and not get lost in anxiety during these trying times.  This is EXACTLY what our teachers needed to hear!  We are finding that many teachers are currently dealing with so much in their personal lives, that it can be hard for them to be emotionally present with their students.  I speak on behalf of many of the moros and teachers here in JDBY, telling you how phenomenal Rabbi Rietti’s speeches were, and how much they were appreciated.
^ Mrs. Breitman, JDBY

Thank you for a wonderful program and such a variety of workshops and lectures. Teachers felt they gained and learned. Also thanks for the attendance report.
^Tamar Friedman

Thank you for an outstanding conference day.  The variety of topics were excellent, touching upon such relevant and important topics with experienced and outstanding speakers.  It was difficult to choose just 3.  I look forward to the recordings to be able to access some more great classes.
Thank you as well for the attendance sheet.  All of my Limudei Kodesh teachers participated for all three courses and were actually looking forward to the classes they chose.  Many voiced difficulty in deciding which interesting course to take.  The attendance sheet will help me follow up on the classes they took. Thank you again.
^Leah Rivka

Thank you! I wanted to let you know, every teacher really enjoyed their sessions. The entire day was well organized and the speakers were fantastic!
^Shoshana Safirstein, Director of Early Childhood, ACHDS

Keeping the Memory of the Holocaust Alive in the Next Generation

The charge to Jewish educators to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive in the next generation is gaining urgency. 

And of course, the Holocaust is an emotional topic for the classroom, triggering complex questions on emunah and other complicated discussions. 

But every generation should have a relationship with the Holocaust. Teaching it can give students perspective and inspiration. The goal in teaching the Holocaust is to teach students how to investigate the context, dynamics and complexity of the experience. 

To better support teachers, the ATT recently held a professional development session in collaboration with the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. Rabbi Reuven Brand, Rosh Kollel of the YU Torah Mitzion Kollel, provided insights into teaching this difficult subject to students in grades 7-12. 

Rabbi Brand is a noted scholar of the Holocaust, who has presented to the entire spectrum of audiences with sensitivity, clarity and practicality. 

Different approaches to teaching the Holocaust

Using an interdisciplinary approach of integrating Holocaust stories in other subjects to inspire students in mitzvos and Torah observance can be a powerful way to approach the subject. 

Sharing moving stories about Jews in the Holocaust finding ways to keep mitzvos can be an inspirational way to help students relate to the subject. There are incredible stories of Jews who found miraculous ways to wrap tefillin, keep Shabbos, have a Pesach seder and other moving examples during the Holocaust. 

When effectively sharing stories from the Holocaust, it’s important to know the audience and share the information sensitively. With some of the sensitive material, giving the students an opportunity to journal about their feelings can be a helpful way for students to engage with the stories. 

Showing artifacts can enrich students’ knowledge of what happened during the Holocaust, bringing the lessons beyond the page. When sharing artifacts, it’s important to use them in a meaningful way, sharing a story or lesson about what the artifact means. 

An effective way to inspire students is to give them an opportunity to explore the material themselves, such as projects on Holocaust-related topics and personalities as well as pre-war and post-war topics of interest. 

It’s important to differentiate between source material when planning lessons about the Holocaust. Primary sources give students more of a feeling of authenticity than secondary sources, but both can be used to enrich lessons.

Accessing Holocaust resources 

There is a wealth of information for planning meaningful lessons about the Holocaust. Teachers can gain access to many resources for teaching the Holocaust from Yad Vashem and the U.S. Holocaust Museum and Illinois Holocaust Memorial Museum websites and Spertus Library

For educators, it is increasingly important to make responsible choices in teaching methodologies when instructing their students about the Holocaust. This era of history should be taught in the most realistic and experiential way while tying in its relevance and impact on today’s Judaism. 

Following any Holocaust lesson, the next step is to ask students, “What do we do now that we have learned about this?” 

The Holocaust played such a pivotal role in our Jewish history, and finding ways to teach students about the history, repercussions and being open to the more complex questions that come up provide a rich and necessary educational experience. 

ATT & JCC Chicago Partner for Summer 2021

We are excited to announce that the Nathan & Shirley Rothner ATT Summer Program is teaming up with JCC Chicago Apachi Rogers Park Day Camp to provide the best of both worlds to our families this summer!

Located at Bernard Horwich JCC, Apachi Rogers Park has long provided a variety of exciting activities, all in a Torah-rich environment! Summers at Apachi are as enriching and meaningful as the school year for campers and counselors alike.

Through a range of electives, the Nathan & Shirley Rothner ATT Summer Program has provided campers countless avenues to learn and grow. When looking for a new home and wanting to expand offerings to families, the J was the natural choice. We are thrilled to announce this partnership and excited to share programming details in the coming weeks!

An Amazing Variety of Activities to Choose from This Summer! ATT families will recognize a diverse array of activities they have come to love and expect from their summers in the Nathan & Shirley Rothner ATT Summer Program. On top of Apachi’s swim lessons, sports, arts, music and other traditions, campers will be able to select activity tracks, such as self-defense, fashion design, cooking, gymnastics, archery, rocketry and more!

Fantastic Facilities! Campers will also enjoy all the benefits that a summer at Apachi Rogers Park has to offer! Bernard Horwich JCC’s five-lane indoor pool provides the perfect venue for swim lessons and free swim fun. Campers as young as two years learn to swim from expert instructors, while older campers continue to build confidence through water sports and games. The J’s spacious, air-conditioned indoor activity spaces, full-size gymnasium and basketball court, and outdoor athletic fields and playgrounds set the stage for an active and social summer for campers age two through counselors-in-training entering high school.

Safety & COVID PrecautionsChildren need camp now more than ever. Last summer Apachi Rogers Park adhered to COVID safety protocols that kept our campers, counselors, and their families safe all summer. With our proven track record of a safe and successful summer and zero COVID transmissions over the course of five weeks, the JCC is ready and prepared to keep your child safe while providing a fun, active, and social summer, regardless of what the coming months hold. More information on our approach to camp last summer can be found online, and feel free to reach out to Camp Director, Matt Steinberg, for more information:

Questions? Join us for one of our upcoming Zoom Info Sessions for more information!
Tuesday, January 26 at 8pm: Register Here!
Tuesday, February 2 at 8pm: Register Here!

Special Introductory Pricing! Now through February 28, ATT families are eligible for special introductory pricing! Sign your child up for an incredible summer and save up to $350 per camper for eight weeks of memories that matter more than ever. Scholarship support is available for qualified families. Visit our website for more information, including pricing and registration details!

We hope to see you at the JCC this summer!

Shelley Stopek and Susan Feuer, Nathan & Shirley Rothner ATT Summer Program Coordinators
Rabbi Mordechai Raizman, Chief Executive Officer, Associated Talmud Torahs
Matt Steinberg, Camp Director, JCC Chicago Apachi Rogers Park

Knowing the difference between sight vs. visual processing

When it comes to learning, visual processing can affect how a student performs. The ATT in collaboration with Walder Education offered an informative and practical professional development session on Visual Processing, presented by Dr. Neil Margolis, O.D., a board-certified developmental optometrist. 

Dr. Margolis defined and described the different visual processing skills and their application to learning. Sight refers to seeing clearly while visual processing refers to the brain’s ability to use and interpret visual information. Students whose academic performance does not meet aptitude predictions may have visual processing weaknesses. 

Dr. Margolis explained that vision is the understanding and interpretation of what one sees. A person’s vision cannot be measured like eyesight because vision itself is cortical, using the whole brain. When efficient, vision is thought to account for up to 80 percent of learning. 

When inefficient, it interferes with learning.

Visual processing skills

There are many areas of learning where visual processing skills come into play. Some of these areas include learning to read, reading to learn and copying information accurately.  

Specific examples of visual processing skills include: 

  • Recognizing known words correctly when reading
  • Navigating the page accurately when tracking
  • Checking copying accuracy
  • Judging spacing 
  • Layout as well as remembering and visualizing what one sees

Poor tracking causes a student to lose his or her place, skip words when reading, and misread known words. Teachers can raise awareness by observing a child’s posture, horizontal head turn, vertical head tilt, and blinking or winking. 

Visual-spatial skills affect the navigation aspect of tracking, organizing spacing when copying, direction of letters and words, and lining up columns. This will affect a student who is struggling with this skill in the following ways:

  • Determining where to go next on the page
  • Spacing between letters and words and size of letters and words
  • Finding the correct spot when looking back and forth
  • Discriminating between the letters “b” and “d”, was and saw, numbers 13 and 31
  • Understanding math diagrams & graphs

Support for visual processing

Fortunately, many of the activities to build visual processing skills can be fun and enjoyable for students. Puzzles and games are great ways to help students strengthen their visual spatial skills. As students self-regulate their learning, they need visual discrimination. This includes noticing differences between similar words and letters as well as noticing errors of copying.

Students can learn to check their work and start to notice directional differences. The students reading accuracy may be affected by misreading similar-looking words. Visual discrimination requires noticing differences based on size, color, shape, internal detail, orientation, pattern, internal or external features. 

Teachers and parents can help students improve visual discrimination by using tools and techniques. Matching objects based on criteria of color, shape, size can be helpful, especially for younger children. Matching pictures, patterns, or word searches is a useful technique.  

Using multiple criteria, having them spot the difference or correct an error can help them develop skills. It’s also beneficial to have students sort objects in a hands-on approach with sorting coins to build visual discrimination skills. Students can also list words having the same beginning or ending sounds. 

Helpful accommodations 

A teacher can help by circling differences the student may not have noticed in copying. By highlighting the beginning or ending of words before reading, teachers can provide extra support for the student to gain skills independently. 

There are many helpful accommodations to make the lesson more accommodating to students with visual processing disorders. Some of these include: 

  • Use highlighters
  • Use different colors
  • Increase white space on the page or increase the spacing between lines
  • Cover non-relevant components
  • Put less on the page
  • Use bigger print
  • Stand against a plain background
  • Read slower
  • Use text to speech software
  • Specifically point at a figure or word or have the student use his or her finger on the page to keep track

Dr. Margolis stressed the importance of the appropriate classroom accommodations that can be used to support students having visual processing difficulties. Because visual processing affects classroom performance, it’s important to address correctable visual skills. 

One way to do this is to help students notice what is relevant to the task or situation. This will ultimately build student self-esteem and confidence as the child uses effective effort and practice to achieve better outcomes in learning.

Visual memory also influences learning. This type of memory includes working memory (both short and long-term) affecting recall and recognition of letters, words, and sight word vocabulary. Often there is visualization through verbalization. This helps a child visualize objects, words, sentences, and paragraphs of information to aid in learning as visual memory is necessary for recall and comprehension.

By recognizing the difference between sight and visual processing, educators will be better equipped to help students thrive in learning by giving them the support they need.