The Kohelet Prize Database
Development of Critical and / or Creative Thinking
Awarded for excellence in facilitating student success at the upper three echelons of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy: Analysis, Evaluation, and Creation. Preference will be given to approaches that are scalable across multiple developmental levels and replicable across multiple disciplines.
Explore the Kohelet Prize Database
- Interdisciplinary Integration (79)
- Real-World Learning (105)
- Learning Environment (30)
- Differentiated Instruction (45)
- Development of Critical and / or Creative Thinking (56)
- Risk Taking and Failure (12)
- PBL - Project Based Learning (161)
- IBL - Inquiry Based Learning (94)
- UBD - Understanding By Design (76)
- Constructivist (72)
- Montessori (15)
- Blended Learning (67)
- 21st Century Skills (155)
- Art (100)
- Computer Science (58)
- Gemara (52)
- Halacha (75)
- History (107)
- Ivrit (71)
- Literature/ English (123)
- Math (69)
- Mishnah (59)
- Music (39)
- Science (112)
- Tanach (127)
“B’chol Dor Va’dor” is an independent anchor activity for accelerated Tanakh students that encourages meaningful inter-textual exploration of Tanakh requiring creativity and reflection. Students identified underlying themes of Pessach by analyzing eighteen events in Tanakh that took place on the dates of Pessach. Their work culminated in the creation of their own Seder Symbols which were then used at their family sedarim to help enhance the experience of these themes on Pessach.
צער בעלי חיים Compassion towards animals – Examining an ancient Jewish value through a modern real life question: Should Zoos exist or not?
Should Zoos exist or not? This was the question that led a Jewish Values course section that dealt with the value of "״צער חיים בעלי , Compassion towards Animals. Students were encouraged to dive into the subject searching for various pieces of evidence to support their claims and eventually present their argument in a "court".
Note: all attachments are products of students' work, except for the following: "Argument document", "Jewish texts" and "curriculum".
While discovering the events from 1920s-1940s, students focused on the lens of a particular individual that may have lived during the time period and experienced the events that occurred. Each student was asked to reflect on social, political, and economic events from the lens/perspective of the assigned individual to synthesize the information learned.
Students collaborate to design/build a modern, personal Mishkan & furnishings, incorporating motifs, imagery from the ancient Mishkan, and applying wisdom gained from interviews with senior citizens, exploring: "What makes a quality life, and how can we make life better?" Students then return to Senior Center, using their completed designs as springboard for deeper reflection on how to heal after trauma and how to reach our deepest Human potential.
Second grade students designed Chumash covers based on individual pasukim from Lech Lecha or Vayera. They brainstormed ideas and charted their creative thinking, making the steps of their process visible. The final image they designed and embroidered into their Chumash cover synthesizes symbols they generated based on words from the pasuk and colors the words represented to them.
This integrated writing and science unit focuses on energy, and asks the driving question “How and why should we use energy wisely?” Students investigate what energy is, where it comes from, and how we use it. They conduct research on sustainable fuels, write persuasive essays advocating for the use of a particular source of energy, design billboard advertisements for their chosen energy source, and participate in a debate judged by industry experts on different forms of sustainable energy. Finally, students design and create their own tikkun olam service-learning projects to make a positive difference in our community’s use of energy.
Students learned the concept of a value and discussed different American values that exist in society. In groups they extracted various values from certain American texts (such as "The Gettysburg Address") and then connected the values they discerned from the text to values they could infer in a short piece of American fiction. The students had to then devise a lesson plan to teach the short piece of fiction and the value to a high school class. My students presented their work to the class and also wrote individual reflective papers about the entire learning experience.
In a ground-breaking incorporation of collaborative technology in the classroom, fourth grade boys and seventh grade girls piloted an integrated multi-week project in language arts and history respectively. Students were provided with project guidelines and a bank of iPads and worked in teams to share their findings in an original video using script writing, costuming, set design, acting, videography, and audio-video editing.
This entry highlights five different techniques that are used to design a class while focusing on critical and higher order thinking skills.
The attached curriculum is part of a project in our school to ask higher level questions in our Navi program, instead of focusing on just translating the words on the page. Our curriculum spans Grades 10, 11, and 12 – and focuses on different areas of critical thinking at different grades. The attached curriculum focuses on the grade 10 portion of the project.
This is a revolutionary approach which incorporates innovative technology to engage students in using higher order thinking in Jewish texts. Using the platform of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, students are guided to create their own content as a means of presenting their understanding of the texts. This approach is also being used by secular studies teachers in our school.
Our submission, “Developing Critical Thinking in a High School Statistics Class,” aims to teach students the necessary tools and help them develop the perspective to critically analyze and evaluate numerical and statistical information. Teaching critical reading and critical thinking and creating opportunities for students to practice and develop these skills are key components of the unit. There are many possibilities for interdisciplinary integration and multi-level adaptations.
The 9th grade EVERlab unit focuses on the integration of the concepts, themes and structures from two different courses: Tanach I and Ancient World Civilizations. The unit begins with students brainstorming the overlapping content from eachcourse and moves through scaffolded design, collaboration, and critical thinking exercises in order for students to refine and deepen integrated topics they have chosen themselves. Students ultimately develop projects that demonstrate this integrated thinking.
I facilitate critical thinking through a steady practice of reflection and problem-solving with my students. I believe that these social and emotional practices help them think creatively about themselves and, ultimately, their learning.
This was a lesson where my history teacher colleague, Barry Kirzner, taught the basic ideas of fascism, and we compared Haman in Megillat Esther to that model. We spoke about the relevance of fascism and of the megillah in modern times and what they mean to us today.
Powered by video instruction and analytics, this 21st century approach to teaching Tanach and Jewish Law helps students master storylines and basic concepts before coming to class. Teachers use repurposed instructional time for higher-order thinking activities (analysis, evaluation and creation), highlighted by a protocol for guided group discussion of Sefer Yehoshua and project-based learning related to the laws of kashrut.
For the past five years, I have taught at a cloud-based school in which I have built a digital portfolio-driven course for 9th and 10th grade English. This course is premised on periodic self-assessments and benchmarks of portfolio "publishing" at the quarter and semester points. The attached document details the moments of self-assessment, the uses of self-assessment in the school calendar, the uses of self-assessment as a means for formative and summative assessment, and the development of metacognition in each student through the personalized differentiation of goals, challenges, and successes as readers, writers, and students. While used in high school English, this model for cloud-based portfolio keeping works on any level of student production and teacher assessment--from Elementary through High School, and for
any discipline, too.
Students use hands-on obstacle courses, field trips and models to replicate actual Halachic scenarios they are likely to find in their own lives. Students take the knowledge they have studied. research the best ways to implement it and create a life-like interaction with these Halachos.
My Hero Next Door – Documenting and Preserving The Heroic Life Journeys of Senior Citizens in Virtual Reality
Grade 9 English students at TanenbaumCHAT will create immersive reality / 3D documentaries on the heroic lives of Jewish senior citizens in their community.
Students will also design an app that will serve as an archive, an online film festival and a digital portfolio, featuring Jewish elderly people through the lens of the hero's journey story framework.
The unit, lesson plans and the immersive reality documentary app will be offered to Jewish high schools around the world to create their own films on Jewish seniors, and upload them on the app.
Our ultimate outcome is for the heroic journey of 200,000 Jewish seniors to be archived and shown online in our communities.
I teach the same students 4th grade Texas History and then 5th grade US History the following year. We put on an Immigration Fair for 2-5th grades using what we learned about Immigration into both Galveston and Ellis Island.
In conjunction with science and social studies, students learn about real-world problems that affect humankind on a global scale. Students are challenged to think critically and creatively as they plan and engineer products that address the real world problems.
A first-in-its-class Integrated Learning Lab and Enrichment Option for 6th-8th grade boys and girls was configured for the 2016-17 school year, based upon the successes and lessons learned in earlier pilot studies in 2013-2016 (see, for example other submissions from this school). The goal of this ambitious program is to more fully involve students in the process of discovering, analyzing and engaging with new information, while giving them real-world experience in using the critical-thinking and technological tools imperative for rational, safe and productive interaction with today’s networked world.
Gann 11th graders studied 20th century U.S. history through the stories of Jewish elders. They learned skills in oral history, contextualized the elders' stories in the grander scheme of U.S. history, and developed a final project that applied their learning to their own lives.
This unit was developed to help students increase their knowledge of mitzvot and virtues and help them be more discerning when choosing people to hold in high esteem.
This curriculum introduces students to an academic approach to Jewish history with the intention of enriching their study of traditional Jewish texts like the Tanakh and Talmud by offering context and background to these sources. Additionally, this curriculum will expose students to academic concepts and methods regarding Jewish studies that often come up in university courses. If done in a thoughtful way, this can blunt any potential surprises or discomfort students may have when these ideas come up on a secular campus.
Using the Design Thinking Model, the Kindergarten classes redesigned and created a more efficient and organized library based on the needs of our school community. The children researched, interviewed, and engineered in order to enhance our JPDS-NC South Campus Community Library which houses picture books, non-fiction, fiction, easy readers, Hebrew, and Jewish values books in an inviting environment which is conducive to learning and reading for fun.
Using information gleaned from I Kings 3-8, students designed tourism promotional websites about King Solomon's kingdom. Content areas covered needed to include: his administration and government, cultural sites, testimonials & reviews and a gift shop.
The grade 5 students study the Exodus narrative through the lens of the Big Idea topic: “Who goes out from slavery to freedom? One who understands the meaning of a miracle and responds to its call.” This unit involves study in many disciplines, including Chumash (Torah) study, Hebrew language, Visual Arts, Music, Dance, Language Arts, and Social Sciences. Learning in all disciplines contributes to the final project, the Dramatized Haggadah performance, which is written and performed by the students.
Over the course of last school year first graders learned the basics of coding using Scratch Jr. Each lesson in Scratch Jr. also included concepts that were taught elsewhere in the curriculum. The first graders extended their coding skills late last spring by programming our resident robots to travel to a designated spot and ask and answer the Mah Nishtana in the correct order as we had studied in class in preparation for Pesach.
Kellman Brown Academy is committed to the principle that ALL of our students are critical thinkers and problem-solvers. Through introducing the Makers Movement into the culture of the school, students are challenged to "make" what they need to solve real-world problems using their imagination and any materials they can get their hands on. The Makers culture promotes independence, ingenuity, and collaborative work.
Fourth Grade students were challenged to transform the school's maker space into a full-scale Mishkan. Students self-organized to design and build the various components of the Mishkan using limited materials, tools, and resources. These constraints intentionally mimicked the design challenges faced by the Israelites.
As a summative capstone to my student’s learning of the Jewish applied science of Torah, I decided to create a Moot Beit Din project in the eighth grade, in which student would learn about current controversial issues and make a judgement based on sources. They would research halachah, science and other relevant information, then debate their topic and the other students would form the court, passing judgement and justifying their decision based on the information presented.
“My Family Story” was a collaborative unit between my 8th grade history students at Beth Tfiloh, their art classes, the Jewish Museum of Maryland and the Diaspora Museum (Beit Hatfusot) in Tel Aviv. As the opening unit of my ancient history course, students delved deeply into their personal histories and identities, conducted genealogy research, interviewed family members, researched immigration stories, and created family trees; they then chose one aspect of their family history to depict artistically and worked with the guidance of their art teachers to create visual representations of their unique family stories. The “My Family Story” unit culminated in an evening event that began with a multi-generational prayer service at one of Baltimore’s oldest synagogues and featured an art exhibition at the adjacent Jewish Museum of Maryland, where the students showcased their work to siblings, parents, grandparents and community members.
Hillel Day School eighth grade students experience an integrated Judaic Studies learning opportunity as part of their final year at Hillel. Instead of separate Rabbinics and TaNaKh classes, students are guided through classic and modern texts of many genres to explore, thematically, our Hillel Day School core Jewish values. The students are encouraged to explore deeply, and to begin asking the many great questions that arise as they synthesize their developing Jewish identities with our modern world.
Whether it is marrying off two characters from "Once Upon a Time" in an Orthodox Jewish ceremony, designing ad campaigns around Nezirut or creating Ten Plagues theme parks using Minecraft, my students have done it all. My mandate as a teacher is to enable students to access content in a rich, creative way that showcases their unique, creative thinking and knowledge on the topics.
"Cereal of the Week" makes the Parsha come alive! Every cereal parsha has divrei Torah in it. It took me 3 years to complete. It is all online at: http://www.chinuch.org/item_detail/Cereal-Of-The-Week-Parsha-Program. (71 parsha cereal sheets) Every child loves cereals! Many parents told me their children did not want to be pressured at the Shabbos table with parsha questions, and the weekly parsha cereal sheet was the answer!
I have attached some samples. There is a cereal for every parsha, yom tovim, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Chanukah, and Purim. It is a great method to help remember what each parsha is about! Students also now think of their own ideas of which cereals apply to a parsha.
Mishnah was made to be sung. Well, if not sung then certainly repeated (coming from the root shanah). How better to get our students to repeat -- and through repetition, remember -- the mishnayot of Pirkei Avot than by singing them? How better to get our students to sing sections of Pirkei Avot than by having them write and record their own songs?!
Students create two pictures for each Mishna, one that shows a literal meaning and one that shows a deep understanding. This long term project is used to develop higher level thinking in students. Students learn how to ask questions and think deeply about material.
Analyzing Leah Goldberg's poem שירי סוף הדרך, that deals with the reflection on life at an old age and the decisions one makes in order to make their life meaningful.
The poem deals with the phases of life, the ever-changing point of view about life as we grow older, and the motivation and decision to make each and every day meaningful not matter what circumstances are ahead.
This poem is taught in the 11th grade, where students are asked to understand the figurative language, to discuss points of view as they're portrayed by the main character in each stage of life, and reflect upon them.
At an end-of-unit assessment, the students are asked to bring their personal reflection in the form of a video clip, picture, movie trailer, poem, book ,or other, and explain the connection to the Goldberg's poem. The students are asked to follow a rubric in order to understand how to present their reflection. The rubric calls for an oral presentation in Hebrew while using new vocabulary learned in class and the ability to connect to the content discussed in class.
An example of a clip that conveys the message of the poem is attached (a story of a remarkable teacher). I have presented this clip to the students and we discussed its relevance while connecting the main message to our poem.
In the 7-8 Division, the eighth grade students participated in a PBL experience where the students created the ideal civilization based upon their own creativity, and ideas from our study of Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, Alexander the Great, and ancient Rome. In addition, the eighth grade students participated in a PBL experience that compared similarities of world religions.
Students explore the over 3000 year old tradition of Hebrew writing using the traditional equipment of quill, parchment and ink. A key aspect of the course is for student to reach a proficiency in scribing so they can analyse different Torah scrolls/Megillot found in our school, and evaluate their respective merits. Students also explore the deeper meaning of the letters (i.e. why is a dalet shaped like it is, and has the name it has?) exploring a chosen letter, and seeing how its deeper messages relate to the world and their lives.
Every year my high school senior English classes dive into a series of writing exercises and research to create outstandingly honest narratives integral to their self-understanding. The students then publish these essays in a class magazine that they themselves design and distribute.
This is a Google Slide presentation about the mitzva of Ushpizin, welcoming honorary guests into the sukkah, which integrates content and skill building, as well as Hebrew language acquisition. It was originally designed for use as a flipped classroom.
The Ma’ayanot STEAM initiative orchestrates a learning environment which fosters creativity and reasoning, compelling students to evaluate, ideate, prototype, test, and iterate . Our philosophy is one of Constructionism which shares constructivism’s connotation of learning as ‘building knowledge structures’ and adds the idea that this happens most pronounced in a context where the learner is consciously engaged in constructing an entity. Students are forced to engage dynamically with their creations in order to prevail in the fruition of their design.
The Perelman Jewish Day School Student Council inspires real-world learning of civic engagement in our school. The Student Council provides students with opportunities for leadership and ownership of actual student issues. Students have a forum for discussing our school environment and exemplifying good citizenship.
After introducing my English students to literature circles with great success, I decided that I wanted to use that model to create "Tanach circles." In Tanach circles, students choose a sefer of Nach that they would like to learn, and then they learn the sefer independently, and meet four or five times per semester to have a sort of "book club," in which they each must prepare a submission about the material and engage in a discussion around the material that they learned. At the end of the year, student groups have a collective siyum celebrating their learning, and sharing with the other groups an introduction to their chosen sefer as well as some of their favorite points that emerged in their discussions.
Traditionally, verses in the Torah have been taught in the classroom to younger students in a superficial and mindless format. The assumption is that young minds are incapable of grasping anything but the most simple concepts. By dividing each verse into an outline format, each phrase in the verse can be seen as it relates to other phrases in the same verse and to phrases in adjacent verses and these relationships can be used to promote critical thought in the classroom.
the challenges of teaching Talmud in a postmodern age and my attitude for dealing with them using art, particularly literature, as an entry point.
After reading novels including Out of the Dust, The Miracle Worker, The Outsiders and A Long Walk to Water, students, as a final project, had to write and present their own TED Talk related to overcoming adversity. It could be personal or about a person that they knew. They watched several TED Talks, we studied the format, and instead of writing an essay, my students were required to write a speech using a hook, an anecdote to rig the reader in, a strong introduction, a body paragraph and statistics to support the points made, and a final concluding paragraph with a powerful clincher or message. They were also required to prepare visuals as well. (As a side note, those who felt uncomfortable exposing information, could choose a more neutral topic related to NGO's and how they are helping people through out the third world in particular.)We then invited parents to the band room, set up the room to seem like a TED conference, and the students presented their speeches. It brought many parents to tears, and was a powerful lesson on human strength and endurance even during difficult times.
Our elective based tefillah program offers various options for students to connect to prayer in a way that is most meaningful to each student individually. One elective offered was a tefillah vaad. The vaad was a group of self selected students who were tasked with designing and implementing the electives that were offered during the next semester. While those students ran their electives for other students, the next group of vaad members were working on the next semesters options of electives.
Torat Chayim: Real World Learning in Tanach and Gemara; Analysis and Integration through Real World Application
How do we engage students in the rigorous, text based learning of Tanach and Gemara while helping them learn how to apply their learning to their lives and the world around them? A portfolio of sample projects are provided that serve as different models in answering this question. These projects challenge student to extract values, apply and synthesize their learning in various "authentic" ways.
The goal of the unit was to show how Megillat Esther forces the reader to consider what their own personal identity is, in addition to how they incorporate their religion and nationality into their identity.
Jeremiah Chapters 18-19 explore the interplay between God and His people as the fashioner of Jewish destiny through the agency of a potter. Jeremiah’s symbolic action comes to life as each student experiences "becoming" the potter, realizing the challenges of imprinting one’s vision on another. This project enhances the tefilla experience for our students as they explore the Yom Kippur piyyut - KaChomer BeYad HaYotzer, Like Clay in the Hands of the Potter - and helps shape their understanding of the roles of fate and free-will, both in the history of the Jewish people and in their own lives.
Yeshivat Noam: Connecting the Past to the Present and Making it Relevant to Middle School Students Using the Arts and Technology
Our unit of study explores the Immigrant Experience of 1880-1924 and the Holocaust to guide students to connect to the past which will broaden the students' understanding of his/her role in the present and his/her place in the future. Through the lens of individuals (Holocaust Survivors and New-Immigrants), students will be able to connect, appreciate, and apply key moments in history.