Five Reasons Schools are Switching to Kol Yisrael and Alef Bet QuestWritten by Vicki Weber, 09 of August, 2011 Kol Yisrael has online Hebrew practice to increase student time on task.
We asked educators why they are choosing and using Alef Bet Quest and Kol Yisrael: The Prayers of Our People and how are they integrating these ground-breaking materials into their Hebrew programs. Here are some of the reasons they described.
"FUN AND FRIENDLY MATERIALS, BOOK+DIGITAL FORMAT"
“We weren’t really looking to change our primer,” said Barbara Brot Bailey, K-3 Principal at Temple Rodef Shalom Religious School in Falls Church, VA. Barbara attended a demonstration of the software to see it in action. “The look of Alef Bet Quest was so new and fresh, the graphics were great. The layout and pacing were good and, of course, having a digital companion was really exciting.” (Want to sample Alef Bet Quest online? Click here.)
"MORE TIME ON TASK IN HEBREW"
“We want to add an extra hour a week at home from third grade on,” said Sarah Hanuka, Director of the Religious School at Wilshire Blvd Temple in Los Angeles, CA. Sarah and her Hebrew coordinator Eran Bar-Adon came to Behrman House this spring looking for a way implement home study to augment their once-a-week program. “We wanted something with ‘oomph!’” Sarah said. They will be introducing Alef Bet Quest and Kol Yisrael into their school this fall. “It gives students that extra reading practice.”
Susan Goldberg Schwartz, Director of Lifelong Learning at Temple Beth Zion, Amherst, NY, saw this first hand when she introduced Alef Bet Quest in her school last year. “Alef Bet Quest was a success from the very beginning,” she said. “Students happily and independently choose to go on their computer when they get home and do their homework. Parents have commented to me that their older children who didn’t have access to this interactive curriculum never wanted to do their Hebrew homework.”
In fact, parent and student reaction to Alef Bet Quest was a big factor in Susan’s decision to move into Kol Yisrael as well. “Since using Alef Bet Quest, the feedback from both parents and students has been very positive. Last year, fourth grade parents were asking for ‘the books with the CD’s.’ Their children were asking for them, too. While we had planned on utilizing Kol Yisrael 1 in the middle of the fourth grade year, we ended up beginning it much earlier in the year than we had planned.
Barbara has reported a similar experience in her school. “The kids are doing the homework and the feedback from parents is that because of the Hebrew video games it’s much easier to get their children to do the homework. It has that fun component!”
"ONLINE ASSESSMENT AND IMMEDIATE FEEDBACK"
Tracking student progress is a key feature of Alef Bet Quest and Kol Yisrael. Students can see immediately how they did on an exercise and educators can easily monitor how much students are practicing and how well they are learning the material. “Students move through the chapters more quickly than the other text books, as they get immediate feedback when using the online exercises,” said Susan.
"SUPPORT FOR A VARIETY OF LEARNING STYLES"
With its combination of reading exercises, gaming exercises, and the ability to say the Hebrew out loud and then hear it pronounced, Kol Yisrael and Alef Bet Quest support a variety of learning styles. “It reaches students where they are,” said Susan.
"HELPS EACH SCHOOL MEET ITS EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVES"
Alef Bet Quest and Kol Yisrael can take students from decoding through prayer literacy. They also have the flexibility to be mixed with other materials to reach the specific goals of individual schools.
“Our third graders study the modern state of Israel,” said Barbara. “The virtual tour of Israel in Alef Bet Quest tied in very well with our curriculum. Our team of third grade teachers has been together for several years; they reviewed the program and their response was very, very positive. It has worked very well for their classes.”
Lee Brice, Educator at Congregation Gates of Heaven in Schenectady, NY has students using the software both at home and at school. “We decided to use Kol Yisrael and supplement from some other sources, including Mitkadem. This is our first year with the series, and so far so good! The students keep the books in class and the CD at home. We also have computers in the classroom, and the students spend some time practicing with the computer as an activity station. And of course, the teachers have to learn how to do the games from the students!
Sarah’s plan is to use New Reading Hebrew and the matching Practice, Drill and Review Workbook as a pre-primer in third grade. “It just plain works, especially with special needs kids and newcomers for catch-up,” said Sarah. “It gives them such a feeling of accomplishment at the end of each section. It’s fast and builds self-esteem.” Students will then use Alef Bet Quest in fourth grade, followed by Kol Yisrael in fifth and sixth grades. “We want to instill Hebrew reading confidence in the kids. It’s also key for us to help students develop an emotional connection to the prayers.”
Proficiency in Hebrew, engagement in religious school, and using technology in school were joint goals of Susan’s. “A number of years ago I was approached by grandparents of students in our religious school. They were concerned that their grandchildren were bored in class, and they wanted to help us find a better way to engage them and to enhance Jewish learning for all students at Temple Beth Zion. They were equally concerned about the future of the Jewish community. Through their generous gift, we were able to furnish white board technology in three of our classrooms. That same year, we decided to try the newly published Alef Bet Quest in our third grade, which fit perfectly into our goals of using technology in our school.”
Susan has since added Kol Yisrael 1 to her curriculum as well. “We want our students to be comfortable reading Hebrew as they prepare for B’nai Mitzvah and into their future,” she said. “However, the greater goal for us is that they have a positive learning experience as they progress.”
What are your goals in Hebrew? Let us help you determine the best combination of materials to help you achieve them. Take a look at “How to Choose a Hebrew Program” to get started. Read more about Alef Bet Quest and Kol Yisrael: The Prayers of Our People.
MORE INNOVATION TO COME: THE BEHRMAN HOUSE ONLINE LEARNING CENTER
Kol Yisrael and Alef Bet Quest, as well as Behrman House's coming digital pre-primer, Ready, Set, GO Alef Bet, will be featured in the Behrman House Online Learning Center giving you and your students one-click access to all the online components of this comprehensive five-year, blended-learning Hebrew program, and letting you track every student’s progress automatically.
To be introduced into a growing number of test-site schools this fall, the Behrman House Online Learning Center will be widely available in early 2012 to give you plenty of time to evaluate it for adoption in your own school next year. We’ll have a lot more to tell you about it in the coming months.
Invitations to apply to become an Online Learning Center beta-test school will be going out soon. If you’d like to be on the list, just click here to email us and let us know. Be sure to include your name and contact information in the email!