Research has shown that multi-sensory learning stimulates more neural pathways in the brain. I created Judaic themed, multi-sensory felt boards to be used in the classroom to drive differentiated instruction. The felt boards are used to address the different learning styles and interests of my students.
This project describes how multi-sensory felt boards are used to drive differentiation in content, process and outcome for Parsha and Yahadut in the classroom, based on my students need.
The latest brain research, has shown that multi-sensory learning is learning that treats a child as an active learner and makes usage of techniques that stimulate more neural pathways within the brain. The quality, quantity and consistency of stimulation will determine to a large extent the number of brain synapses that are formed. I really wanted my class to provide a positive impact on the their current development and provide brain connections that would last a lifetime. Multi-sensory learning does just that, by stimulating more neural pathways within the brain.
I had been looking for a way to teach Parsha, Yahadut and many other concepts through tactile mediums. With the help of a creative friend, the Parsha/Yahudut felt board was born. There are many diverse ways in which I use the felt board to differentiate in my kindergarten classroom.
I am able to differentiate the content (fact and concepts) presented based on quick pre-assessments and react to their needs, readiness and interest. There might be students that remember the Parsha from last year, and I would therefore present additional facts to this group. Or perhaps there are students who are hearing about their Jewish Heritage for the first time and need to be exposed to the basics.
I am able to differentiate the process (or activity) and product (or outcome) by providing various options at differing level of difficulty using the felt board. I might need to offer different levels of support for different students. For example; some students would retell the Parsha story replete with details. Other students might be working on identifying main characters, while others might be working on their sequencing skills. Additionally, I am able to integrate many other skills such as math and critical thinking. I might instruct a student to put the sun on the top of the felt board and the water on the bottom; or to show me two animals entering Noach’s Ark. I might work with classifying items belonging to a specific day of creation. We might complete an activity, “I was brave like Queen Esther when I…..” after completing the Purim story. The students can “light” a felt menorah demonstrating mastery of the laws of Chanukah. Around Pesach, after learning about slavery through the felt-board, we might complete this sentence,” The Jews in Egypt worked hard for King Pharoah because ________, the last time I worked hard was______”.
Each child is able to tell the story on their own level. There are students that love to share the Parsha with a partner, and those that like to visit the felt board alone.
As you can see, the felt board and its many uses is an integral part of my teaching.
Through the usage of these felt boards, I was able to tap into the diverse strengths and styles possessed by each individual student. The visual learner was able to view the Parsha through the felt visuals; the auditory learner was able to listen to the felt-board narrative; the bodily/kinesthetic learner was able to feel and grasp the felt pieces; the verbal-linguistic learner and the interpersonal learner were able to retell the story in their own way using the felt board; the logical-mathematical learner was able to make use of sequencing and put the felt pieces in logical order; the musical-rhythmical learner was able to sing the songs associated with each piece and the intrapersonal learner was able to reflect about the story and ponder its bearing and relevance to him/her personally.
- The number of student retaining the imparted information increased dramatically.
- There was an increased level of excitement regarding learning Parsha.
- There was a major increase in retention rate among the students regarding basic recall questions.
- The students who had previously had shown difficulty classifying and seriating where showing gains in this area. ( A student who cannot classify cannot reliably separate the irrelevant from the relevant. Similarly, a student who cannot seriate, will have a hard time comprehending events as they are described verbally.) The telling over of concepts through a felt board gave visual and contextual clues to help students who were struggling in this area.
- The students language and oral skills increased: through listening and speaking the children built up “Parsha Vocabulary”, they developed strategies to develop ideas for speaking, and they used a clear voice to communicate.
- The students learned how to listen and respect the opinions of their peers.
- With the help of the felt-boards, I get to see my class rethink about what they have learned, extend their skills and become more involved.
Chana Sheinberger has been teaching for over 25 years. Chana has been the recipient of the Walmart Teacher of the Year Award, Margate Teacher of the Month, and a recipient of the Grinspoon Steinhardt Award for Academic Excellence. Chana graduated from NOVA with a Master's in Education. Chana has taught in Australia and Israel. Chana has a love for teaching, learning and aims to instill an understanding and love of Judaism/Torah Values while developing a passion for life-long learning into her students.