muse: n. a source of inspiration

Links You’ll Love

We got a Silhouette cutting machine for our new innovation lab, and I could not be more excited! A Silhouette is used to (are you ready for this?) cut stuff out of paper, cardboard, cardstock, fabric or vinyl. You use the Silhouette Design software (which is a free download) to design your image, and then send it to the cutter. There are lots of ways that we’ll be able to use this – let me know if you want a demo or to play. And check out my Pinterest board for ideas!

If you’re looking for vintage photographs, check out Shorpy. You can search or just browse to see the amazing photos uploaded by users. It is crowdsourced content, so you may want to be careful having students use it.

Passover is on its way! For links to Passover websites, videos, games and more, check out Jacob Richman’s site.


April 8, 2016 Posted by | Jewish, Links You'll Love, Silhouette CAMEO, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

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

Friday links you’ll love

Visit Omanoot – a beautiful web portal aimed at strengthening people’s connection with Israel by speaking to them in the language of art

Wanna learn something? Check out Khan Academy at  Khan is a not-for-profit organization with the mission of providing education to anyone at any time. There are over 2000 videos on everything from Algebra to Venture Capital.

Looking for media to share with your students? Visit Open Culture at  This fascinating website features free audio books, podcasts, online courses, movies, language lessons, ebooks and textbooks. I apologize in advance for the hours you will lose there.

Love the classics but don’t want to read them? If you prefer to get your Jane Austen, Geoffrey Chaucer and Mark Twain via audio book, there are lots of places to do that. How amazing is that? FREE audio books!! Get yourself to and see what’s there (and did I mention they’re FREE?).

February 11, 2011 Posted by | Jewish, Links You'll Love, Technology | , , | Leave a comment


lifelong learningWhen Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was at the University of Chicago I had the good fortune of hearing him speak at an inservice. He speaks about “flow,” the field of behavioral science examining connections between satisfaction and daily activities. This isn’t anything new: it’s the rhythm (or flow) that results when you’re involved in self-directed, self-controlled, goal-related, meaningful activities. You know – when you’re involved in something that is so absorbing that ‘you lose track of time.’

Good teachers know how to channel “flow” and their students benefit from being introduced to activities that engage them.

How do we provide those activities for our supplemental school students? How do we move Sunday school into that realm?

How can we use technology to further that goal?

January 2, 2008 Posted by | Education, Jewish, Technology | Leave a comment

Inspiring educators

Okay. I’m pretty convinced that kids are using technology, and that they are well-served by a greater integration of technology into education. I see that there are a lot of educators who are using it, and many fine digital resources for teachers who aren’t using it but would like to.

Here’s where I see the big void: support for the teacher who wants to use it but really needs some hand holding through the process, particularly in the world of Jewish supplemental education.

Even in an area like Chicago’s north shore (where I teach), where there are lots and lots of Jewish educators, it’s hard to locate people who are (a) using technology in religious/Hebrew school or (b) people who want to collaborate/share with others who use it.

There’s no “Jewish educators who use technology in religious school” agency/coalition/group.

How do we share? How do we tap into the collective wisdom? How do we help to move our desiring-but-uneducated colleagues along?

December 28, 2007 Posted by | Education, Jewish, Technology | 1 Comment

Check out the CAJE 33 wiki

Head over to the CAJE (Conference on Alternatives in Jewish Education) 33 wiki. CAJE is using the wiki format to brainstorm and collaborate about the upcoming CAJE 33 and share ideas (see Joel Hoffman’s thoughtbites on motivation and are we teaching alienation?) about where Jewish education is and where it should be going.

Like any other beginning wiki, it’s a little messy in terms of structure; you’ve got to spend a little time navigating the site and checking out the various sections before you get a clear sense of what’s there and where it can go. Yup, it’s messy to start a wiki – and pretty scary to start because you’re handing control over to the community. It’s easier, really, to set up a webpage (although, does anyone REALLY do that anymore?) where you’re the boss; or even a blog where you still direct the conversation. Kudos to CAJE for taking the step to create an online collaboratory and encourage conversations about some pretty difficult topics (and to dream a little – see the Utopian brainstorming going on in the whatif discussion).

Wandering through makes you feel like you’re in a room with some really interesting people who have some really interesting ideas; one corner is talking about the future of Jewish education, one group is bemoaning the lack of supplies and adequate training, the three people in that group are sharing some ideas about programs that looked like they would be really great but really sunk… Oh wait – it looks like a CAJE…

This is some great modeling, by the way, on how educators can use the wiki format for planning. How can you incorporate wikis into your presenting, planning and process?

December 8, 2007 Posted by | CAJE33, Education, Jewish, Wikis | | Leave a comment

More from Jewish crafters…

The post that’s received the most comments (admittedly not exactly a record-shattering amount, by any means) is the one about Jewish crafters. I have to laugh, with all my work in technology and education… that the post that gets me found by search engines is that one!

It gets me to thinking how we can form an online community of people who use crafts to explore and express their Jewish identity. Somewhere to share patterns, resources, etc.

It goes along with my frustration over this season. I love to buy craft and shelter magazines but get so frustrated that it’s all Christmas-y. I would love a place where I could go for inspiration without seeing a whole bunch of  things that I’ll never make.

November 22, 2007 Posted by | Craft, Jewish | 1 Comment

Sderot – City Under Siege

Check out this powerful movie made by two tenth graders in Israel. They visited the city of Sderot, spoke to the residents, and created this film. Not only is the content excellent, but it’s a wonderful example of what high school kids can produce. Kol hakavod.

September 6, 2007 Posted by | Filmmaking, Jewish | Leave a comment

Rewiring the Jewish Teacher

Okay, the title is hokey – but the article accurately describes much of what I experienced at CAJE. And I was accurately quoted, so I’m happy.

“Now in its 32nd year and under new leadership, CAJE decided to address the issue of technology and education with this year’s theme, “Engaging 21st Century Jewish Learners.” Amid the myriad workshops available every hour, teachers could choose to follow a technology track throughout the conference or simply drop in on more than a dozen sessions devoted to exploring the intersection of technology and Jewish life, covering everything from what a blog or a wiki is (online sites for posting and sharing information, photographs and videos) and how to use them in the classroom, to what are the ramifications the Jewish community faces in an increasingly digital world.” read more

August 26, 2007 Posted by | CAJE33, Education, Jewish, Technology | Leave a comment

What I learned from presenting at CAJE

I’ve thought a lot about what I learned from the people I spoke to during CAJE. I actually had a lot of thinking time as we drove with Allie to Orlando so that she could start her internship at the Big Mouse House (see her blog here).

What’s the next step for integrating technology into Jewish supplemental education?

Here’s what I think we need now:

Opportunities for sharing – cooperative wikis. How amazing would it be if a group of educators committed to creating wikis on various subjects, with each educator taking responsibility for a particular section?

Blogroll sharing – are you using a blog with your class? Are you using a blog to communicate with your teachers and/or parents? Are you willing to share so others can use yours as a template?

Social networking. Are you using FaceBook to communicate with your teens? What are some of the pitfalls? Successes?

What Internet sites are your favorite places to go when you’ve got those “night before Sunday school blues?”

Lesson plans that incorporate technology. Is technology giving you a new twist to an old activity?

We need to find out what it is we don’t know. If you could design the perfect tech class for educators, what would it be? Do you want to learn movie editing? Claymation? Flash?

Smartboard technologies – anybody using smartboards?

CAJE’s desire to feature technology at CAJE32 was a great start – now let’s see where it goes from here.

August 15, 2007 Posted by | CAJE33, Jewish, Technology | Leave a comment

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