Tech Rav
Discussions of Jewish EdTech

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tech Tips for Teachers: Gemara Websites

There is a wealth of Talmud resources available online. Here is just a few of some of the famous and lesser known websites that can be used by teachers or recommended to students.
A Page from the Babylonian Talmud A great way to learn how to navigate a standard page of the Babylonian Talmud using hypertext.

Introduction to Talmud Webquest A webquest created by Rabbi Naphtali Hoff based on the page of Talmud website above. This is a great introduction to the Talmud for ninth graders.

Dafyomi Advancement Forum: The Internet Center for the Study of Talmud Great for teacher prep, this site has written and audio classes for the entire Talmud including point by point summaries, review questions and answers, insights on the Daf, and background to the Daf. Indispensible!

Dafyomi.org Audio shiurim on all of shas by Rabbi Grossman of Los Angeles.

Daily Gemara by Rabbi Eli Mansour Rabbi Eli Mansour of Brooklyn's Daily Daf Yomi class.

E-Daf.com, your online source for Talmud Daf Yomi in Tzuras HaDaf The entire Talmud in a graphical format the way it appears on the standard printed page.

Mechon Mamre Talmud The whole Babylonian Talmud in Hebrew text on the web.

Webshas A tremendous index of Jewish topics contained in the Talmud.

Hamakor 215 topics indexed with sources from Tanach until the present day.

Rabbi Pittinsky's 9T2 Gemara Page The How to Learn Gemara Page that I created with a 9th grade class in Frisch 6 years ago.

Rabbi Moshe Yeres Talmud Babba Metziu Eilu Meztiut High School Class Project with fascinating Gemara flowcharts, PowerPoint and analysis by Moshe Yeres of CHAT in Toronto Canada.

Gemara Class Wiki A Gemara wiki created by Rabbi Adi Krohn of the Fuchs Mizrahi School in Cleveland.

YUTorah.org The leading source of thousands of audio and print shiurim by YU's leading Roshei Yeshiva.

Torahweb Audio and print shiurim by leading Roshei Yeshiva.

Rabbi Eric Levy's Recorded Shiurim Audio shiurim by the Rav and many others.

Bergen County Beis Medrash Program Audio shiurim by the Rav and many esteemed rabbanim.

Rabbi Yisroel Chait Audio Classes Dozens of audio Gemara shiurim by Rabbi Chait of Yeshivas Bnei Torah in Far Rockoway.

Chaburas.org Amazing chaburas written by Rabbi Aaron Ross.

Rabbi Jachter's Halacha Files Print shiurim by Rabbi Howard Jachter.

Rabbi Doniel Neustadt's Weekly Halacha Class Print shiurim on many topics in Halacha.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tech Tips for Teachers: Intelligent Design on Trial and other gems from Nova

The acclaimed PBS program Nova offers a wealth of online resources. Recent episodes can be watched for free. Projected onto a whiteboard or SmartBoard with ceiling mounted speakers this can be quite an experience. Each episode is divided into 5-10 minute segments together with a written transcript so you can preview it and choose exactly which parts of the program to view with your class. Each episode also has educational links and interactive activities connected to it. Nova even has a site devoted to teachers where you can search for Teacher's Guides by subject.


Nova's homepage with information about all programs is here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/. Their site devoted to teachers is here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/teachers/.


One episode that might be of particular interest to many of our students is Intelligent Design On Trial. This episode focuses on the recent controversy over the Dover, Pennsylvania School Board's mandate to teach Intelligent Design together with Evolution and the court case that this initiated. You can view the entire episode here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/id/program.html. This episode's website with supporting links is: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/id/. There is another PBS website devoted to Evolution here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/.


Another episode of interest for both our history and Torah Studies departments is one devoted to the Bar Kochba's letters. Here is the link to the program: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/scrolls/program.html. Here is the supporting site for this episode with many useful links: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/scrolls/.


For recent history, this episode about Sputnik is particularly interesting. You can watch the program here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sputnik/program.html. You can view the supporting site here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sputnik/

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tech Tips for Teachers: Creating a Classroom Blog

A blog is a web log or online journal that can be about almost anything. For example, this post your reading appears on my blog which is devoted to educational technology. What makes blogging a new and exciting medium is that it allows people to easily write to a wide audience, post pictures and links to their favorite websites, articles, or videos, and others can writes replies on the blog. This makes the blog a truly interactive writing form which is ideal for reflective reading and writing in a modern classroom setting.

In an earlier post, I quoted from Anne Davis who is currently conducting a great deal of research on blogging in the classroom. Anne Davis has a posting on her blog called Picture Tommorow's Schools. She says:

My day began by reading this quote..."Write daily for 15 to 30 minutes. Many scholars believe that writing requires big blocks of time. They're wrong. Research shows that scholars who write daily publish far more than those who write in big blocks of time. The problem with big blocks of time is that they're hard to find. In contrast, when you write daily, you start writing immediately because you remember what you were writing about the day before."

To me this is the greatest rationale for classroom blogging. It trains our students to write often. Students can create their own blogs as a kind of journal with your feedback and the feedback of their classmates or they can comment to your blog about different topics as regular assignments. The teacher can then provide feedback as well as moderate student comments. Anne Davis lists a number of ways to use blogs in the classroom.

Here is a Video about blogging in a High School English class posted by sheehy at TeacherTube.com.

You can check out examples of classroom by blogs by looking at the following sites:

  1. Resources from Safe Classroom Blogging to Improve Student Writing
  2. SupportBlogging.com's exhaustive list of teacher and student created blogs
  3. A Judaic Studies Blog devoted to learning Melachim Bet


The best place to start creating your own blog is the site that hosts my blog, http://www.blogger.com/. Education World has step by step instructions for this.

  1. Go to Blogger.
  2. Click Start Here or Learn more about it and then click to begin.
  3. Type in your username, password, name, and e-mail account.
  4. Fill in a title and description for your blogging Web page.
  5. Keep the circle by "Host at…."
  6. Type an address for your blog.
  7. Click to accept terms of service, and then click Next.
  8. Select a template and click Finish.
  9. Type an entry. (Maybe something like, "This is my first blog entry.")
  10. Choose different formatting if you wish (to bold, italic, etc.).
  11. Hit Post and Publish.
  12. Wait a few seconds and then hit View Web Page.
Here is an online tutorial (without sound) on how to create a blog.

If you don't want to make your student blog public, it allows you to restrict viewing of the blog to only students that you choose. This way the blog can only be open to your class. You will have to regulate your blog to make sure that student postings even if they are only viewable by others in the class maintain an appropriate level and tone. If you have students blogging, you will want to post blogging rules like these.

Here is an article from EdTech magazine about rules for blogging for teachers.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Tech Tips for Teachers: History Resources and Maps

There are wealth of great resources online for teaching history. Here are 2 that I have found to be the most effective:


For ancient history, the BBC incredible interactive activities that you can d with your class on a Smart Board or projected on a whiteboard. Here is the link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/. This site also has a great deeal of British history and modern history focused on the world wars.


For modern history, Historyteacher.net is a tremendous resource. It has separate sections focusing on AP American History and AP European History, over 140 PowerPoint presentations, and links to maps, lessons, assignments, and reviews. Here is the direct link: http://www.historyteacher.net/index.htm.
I have also found some great websites for online maps.

For modern maps, nothing can compare to online Google Maps and the free download Google Earth.

http://earth.google.com/
Google Earth combines the power of Google Search with satellite imagery, maps, terrain and 3D buildings to put the world's geographic information at your fingertips.

Here are some more resources:
WorldAtlas.com http://www.worldatlas.com/aatlas/world.htm

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/
Xpeditions is home to the U.S. National Geography Standards—and to thousands of ideas, tools, and interactive adventures that bring them to life.

http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/features/MapCenter/map.aspx
Explore the world through a dynamic atlas

For historical maps, the top resource for maps by countries, events, and time period as well as links to other sites is the Perry-CastaƱeda LibraryMap Collection.


http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/histus.html (direct link to US historical maps)

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/middle_east.html (direct link to Maps of the Middle East)

A collection of free digital maps for educational use.

http://geography.about.com/od/historicmaps/Historic_Maps.htm
Find historic online maps of cities, countries, and the world.

http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/20centry.htm
Historical Atlas of the Twentieth Century

http://www.davidrumsey.com/
The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection has over 15,800 maps online. The collection focuses on rare 18th and 19th century North American and South American maps and other cartographic materials.

http://mapww2.narod.ru/
MILITARY MAPS OF WWII

http://home.versatel.nl/gerardvonhebel/
The Historical Atlas of Europe: The development of Europe's modern states from 1519 to 2006

http://www.zum.de/whkmla/histatlas/haindex.html
World History at KMLA

Maps of historical events by Encarta.

http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/prehistory/egypt/maps/mainmap.html
Map of Ancient Egypt.

http://www.israel-mfa.gov.il/MFA/Facts+About+Israel/Israel+in+Maps/
Israel's story in maps.

Here are some resources for Biblical maps.
http://searchingthescriptures.net/main_pages/maps.htm Excellent Biblical Maps in color by time period. The later maps are from a Christian perspective.

http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/olam_hatanah/index.asp Hebrew resources for each chapter of Tanach including many great maps.

If these sites are not adequate you can purchase a school license for all the maps from the top educational mapmaker, NYSTROM. The website is: http://www.nystromnet.com/index.cfm?fa=Products.product&CATEGORY_ID=5&CHILD_ID=496&PRODUCT_ID=954

Finally to view some offbeat maps, some real and some fictional, check out: