muse: n. a source of inspiration

The little things matter

Last week, during the confirmation service, one of the kids spoke about something that happened in Israel during a synagogue trip. She used the story to illustrate, to her, that Judaism is capable of evolving.

During a b’nai mitzvah service in Israel, it was discovered that no one had brought a yad (the pointer which helps you keep your place while reading the sacred scroll without touching it) for the Torah reading. Our quick-thinking rabbi pulled a pen out of his pocket as a substitute and proceeded with the service. (I’m sure it was held in such a way that there was no potential damage to the Torah.)

Clearly this had an impact on our young student, who thought enough of the incident to relate it last night.

I’m sure that the event was quickly forgotten by many of the people in attendance. But not everyone. As educators, we need to remember that you never know what small gesture will have the greatest impact on our students. I know I can use this reminder. Small things (or words) matter.

June 11, 2014 Posted by | Education, Jewish | , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love – 4-11-14

Can sharing a film stop bullying? Interesting question. The makers of this film have created a little film with a meaning. The film is a plaintive black and white animation with the simple message that sharing bullying – talking about it – will end bullying. Every time you share it the film gets a little shorter, metaphorically wiping bullying out. Check it out (but don’t use Chrome – it crashed my Chrome browser several times).

Next week, we will participate in what writer Maya Bernstein calls “a model of creative education.” I’m talking, of course, about the Seder. Read more here.

Looking for SMART Board lessons? Check out Modern Chalkboard.

Tackk is an online space to create, well, anything you want to share with anyone. It kind of reminds me of Glogster, except that you don’t need to register (but your Tackkboard will expire in 7 days if you don’t), and Tackkboards can be any size. They kind of expand as you add more stuff to them. It’s super easy to add text, videos or photos. Layout options are limited (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). Visit Tackk using a computer or an iPad for more information.

April 11, 2014 Posted by | Links You'll Love | , , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love – 11-1-13

Studio Jew endeavors to “provide access to Jewish learning, even on the most basic level.” It’s the brainchild of Leah Weiss Caruso, who’s looking for people to participate in the content creation. D’var Torah, anyone? C’mon, you know you wanna…

Journalist Clive Thompson believes that digital writing is making kids smarter. Read his article here. Kathleen Costanza unpacks it – and adds her own resources for digital writing here.

Do not blame me if this website sucks you in! Check out Moovly to create animated videos. Know that cool effect where it looks like you’re writing on the screen? Yeah, you can do that there – along with animated presentations. This could be a good one to use with your students. You can add sound effects or record your own voice. I love this!

Apparently interactive whiteboards haven’t become the darlings of the edtech industry that they were expected to be. Read more here.

Edtech guru Wes Fryer has developed a website that lets you choose what kind of media you want to create (e.g. a narrated slideshow, or video or five photo story) and then get step-by-step directions to set it up. It’s a unique way of approaching creating media with your class. Check it out!

Some of you are already using Google docs in class. Here’s a great article with some ideas that integrate Google docs with teaching writing.

November 1, 2013 Posted by | Links | , , , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love – 10/4/13

October is Connected Educator Month. How can you become a connected educator? One way is to attend the first ever Chicago area JEDcamp on October 20th right here. Visit our website for more information. Or go directly to the registration site.


Want to use QR codes? Here’s a nice roundup with 12 ideas for using QR codes in your classroom.

YouTube has launched a library of copyright free music that your students can use for their projects. Learn more about it or visit YouTube’s audio library.

Funded in part by AT&T, Educade is a collection of lesson plans that you can browse by grade, subject, tool and/or platform. It’s very cool – and you can add your own!

Interested in building your digital classroom this fall? PBS is offering free webinars on awesome topics like incorporating social media (as in Twitter) into your classroom and how to integrate tablets (as in iPads). The webinars will be recorded so you can view them afterwards. Check out the “get your tech on” site.

October 4, 2013 Posted by | JEDcamp, Links, Links You'll Love | , , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love – 3-22-13

Venerable Jewish songster Craig Taubman is giving away some more music. You can download his acoustic Shabbat album FREE!

I totally love the Library of Congress! We should – we pay for it… Check out their guide to using Primary Sources. It includes a lovely analysis tool as well.

How would you like Albert Einstein to read to you? REALLY! You can hear Einstein’s 1941 radio address on “The Common Language of Science.”

The Anti-Defamation League just put out an inspirational video “Imagine a World Without Hate.” Do not watch without a box of tissues handy!


Finally, speaking of videos… if you’re looking for a Passover video to liven your holiday preparations, check these out:


The Maccabeats‘ take on Les Mis and Pesach:


Muppets’ Matzah in the House:


And, from Aish – if today’s media told the Passover story:


Chag Pesach Sameach!

March 22, 2013 Posted by | Links You'll Love | , , , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love – 3-7-13

PowToon is a great way to create an animation – whether you’re creating one for your class or if you’d like a great web-based tool for your students to create one. Sign up for your free account! Here’s how one teacher used it to introduce a new unit to her class:

I’m a big fan of’s website. I especially like their timeline on 200 years of literary history of The American Novel

Isn’t it fascinating how people interact with screens? Think of all the screens we stare at: TV, computer, iPad, iPhone… British artist Robbie Cooper wants to document our faces while immersed in screen interaction. He’s got a new project that he’s trying to get funded (using the awesome crowdfunding resource Kickstarter) called The Immersion Project. It will be easy to participate – agree to have your computer webcam take a photo every couple minutes while you’re playing a game or otherwise entranced by technology. Robbie envisions a website, exhibition, book and documentary on the topic. Can you imagine a display of our students’ faces while they’re engaged in tech?

I know many of you are already using and loving Socrative as a way to have your students electronically answer quizzes. Another resource is InfuseLearning. It’s free and your students can use it with any Internet-connected device. You set up a classroom and your students join – it’s as simple as that! You can run quizzes, have your students complete exit slips, or you can push a web link out to your students’ devices. I love it!

My colleague Carol and Lynn’s discovery projects have sixth graders traveling all over the web to research and present some fascinating information! In particular, some of their students have really fallen in love with Prezi to organize and present their projects. Kids like it cause it’s slick and, since it’s in the cloud, they can work on their presentations at school or at home. I know I’ve mentioned Prezi before, but if you haven’t checked it out in a while, pop over there – they’ve changed the interface quite a bit and made it much easier to use (and now it feels much more like PowerPoint or Keynote, which makes it especially attractive to our students).

Sometimes, especially this time of year, we get so stressed out trying to get so many things accomplished that we forget one of the things we teachers tend to value: creativity. We Are Teachers has a lovely article on 40 ways to integrate creativity into your lessons. Mason jar dioramas – I love it!

Finally…you are aware, aren’t you, that Pesach is just around the corner? Check out a crowdsourced resource on creative seders and other resources that can enrich your Pesach celebration. And feel free to add anything you like to the Google doc!

March 7, 2013 Posted by | Links You'll Love | , , | 2 Comments

Looking for iPad apps for Jewish educators?

Check out this Google spreadsheet – lots of apps for Jewish educators. Nicely done!

February 6, 2013 Posted by | Mobile devices and apps | , , , , | 4 Comments

Links You’ll Love – 1-25-12

There are a few good websites to use if you want to create a timeline, but one of the nicest is Preceden. A basic account is free, but you should know that timelines are viewable by the public. Timelines are interactive and can include media.

And now… math in action (literally). Mindshift has a great article about how one fifth grade teacher blended math and dancing to teach about patterns.

Proving that you can find beauty in anything, Professor Gary Greenberg invented high-definition, three-dimensional light microscopes that he uses to take unbelievable photographs of the most mundane of subjects…sand. Viewed – and photographed – through Dr. Greenberg’s invention, sand becomes a real work of art. View his gallery here.

Happy Tu B’shevat! Per the Open Siddur Project, The first ever published seder for Tu Bishvat — Pri Etz Hadar (The Fruit of the Majestic Tree) — can be found in a kabbalistic text, first published as a pamphlet in Venice in 1728. The first three sections have been translated. Go hug a tree!

January 30, 2013 Posted by | Links | , , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love

Mission US, a project supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment of the Humanities, is an immersive multimedia project designed to teach US history. Current missions are focused on the revolutionary war and slavery – more are planned for the coming years. Check it out.

Northern Arizona University has created a nice tool to help teachers figure out how to integrate technology into the curriculum. Start with the level of integration you want to support (entry, adoption, adaptation, infusion or transformation) and click explore the different characteristics available. Sample lessons are available and there are links to common core standards.

Barack Obama’s second inauguration will be Sunday, January 20th. What do you know about all the inaugurations that have taken place throughout US history? The Library of Congress (love that place…) has a nifty website with artifacts from every inauguration in history, including a scan of George Washington’s first inaugural address, pictures from Lincoln’s second inaugural and a photo of the ticket to FDR’s fourth inauguration. Like many of the LOC sites, this one isn’t exactly a stunning interface, but it’s loaded with good stuff (and because it’s the LOC, you can feel free to use any of the images without fear of copyright violation).

Bar mitzvah – keep it or trash it? There was a flurry (and I mean a FLURRY) of posts on the web this week in response to rabbinical student Patrick Aleph’s post at Aleph’s controversial article (Ban the Bar Mitzvah) started quite the discussion. There are over 50 comments on his article on kveller, and numerous bloggers responded as well, including posts at:,,, and Not only is the question provocative, but the flurry of responses is a really interesting example of how blogging can inspire great conversation. Fascinating!

January 11, 2013 Posted by | Links You'll Love | , , , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love – 11-30-12

Here’s an interesting blog post about the things a parent needs to think about when putting a 13-year old on Facebook.

This is so much fun! ReadWriteThink has a trading card maker! Imagine having your students make trading cards for their favorite literary characters (or mathematicians…or biblical characters…).

Next Tuesday, if you’re free between 1:00 and 1:30 pm, check out this free webinar on Common Core standards.

Thought piece of the week: Rabbi David Lehmann, president of Hebrew College, shares his thoughts here about why creativity needs to be a theological goal for Jewish education.

…and finally: How would Rube Goldberg design a machine to light the chanukiah? The folks at the Technion think it would be this way!



November 30, 2012 Posted by | Links You'll Love | , , | Leave a comment


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