We talk a lot about evidence of learning at MJDS. In the case of Jewish Studies, the question becomes: what type of evidence can we gather to show how students are strengthening their Jewish identities? In our new vision of fifth, sixth and seventh grade Jewish Studies, students and families have more choice and voice in their Jewish learning . We have been and will continue to offer classes that meet certain core expectations for Jewish learning. For example, all students need to take a class about Torah/text, Jewish holidays, Jewish history, Israel, and Jewish philosophy before they finish seventh grade. In addition, they can take classes like Jewish Film, Jewish Ethics in Practice, or Comparative Religion.
This year we are piloting this model. In one class students focused on big questions like: Why am I here in the world? Other students worked to recreate the Zionist Congress from 1897. Their peers in a third class used traditional text analysis skills to explore their own identities and beliefs.
As students continue learning through this model, they will be gathering and creating evidence of different ways to be Jewish. By the end of their journey at MJDS, they will be exposed to many different ideas of what it means to be Jewish. When they walk out the Star Door as graduates, they will bring these many perspectives with them and be excited about continuing their Jewish learning journeys.
We would like to share an example of student work from one of our classes. We have seen that our students can handle really hard questions and present evidence of their learning in ways that feel true to who they are as individuals.
Thank you to Mallory M. for being willing to share her work with the world! Click below to see Mallory’s animation about her beliefs about God and the process by which she tried to explore this issue in her Jewish Philosophy class.