How might we connect the history of the Jewish People to who we are and hope to be within Jewish communities? Nitzanim (3rd – 5th grade) learners in both South Philly and Center City spent our third unit of this year working to answer this question. Through study of the Yetziyat Mitzrayim (Leaving Egypt) text and child-driven research, each learner had the opportunity to design, propose, and execute a project diving deep into one facet of the traditional Pesach (Passover) haggadah, connecting past present and future through story and ritual. The South Philly Nitzanim crew were especially excited to participate in their first in person PBL showcase!
We began our projects with text assignments. The learners had a chance to share their areas of interest with educators, and every learner was assigned a section of the haggadah, with most of the learners focusing on different moments in the maggid (story). Once learners read their longer texts, they used an in depth worksheet to identify why they were drawn to their sections, what questions their text raised for them, and how they might use their text to answer our driving question and connect history with the present and future of our Jewish community. Kids worked at their own pace during project time to research, draft, collaborate, edit, and refine their projects. We were awed by the level of dedication and cooperation demonstrated by our learners’ knowledge and application of the text. Each learner reflected on how different modalities would help clarify or deepen their audience’s understanding of the text, and selected one (or more!) modalities to work with.
Here are few examples:
- Scavenger hunt
- Write/lead a discussion
- Create a survey
- Write and lead a meditation
- Write/draw a comic
- Write a madlib
- Craft a matzah cover
- Write a joke book
When learners were happy with their progress, they shared updates with their peers and educators, often coming together as a community to help each other make videos, practice leading part of their presentations, and offer empathetic and constructive feedback in the form of “I like” and “I wonder” statements.
Learners created short presentations to share their projects with their grown ups at two showcases in either Makom Community location. Grownups had the chance to hear an overview of all of that location’s projects, see the Haggadah pages for the entirety of Nitzanim in both locations, and then get a deep dive into their learner’s projects.
In Center City, Nitzanim learners drafted digital pages for our multimedia Haggadah, which educators were able to compile into one awesome flipbook of links and embedded content.
South Philly Nitzanim spent the week putting the finishing touches on their projects and preparing the space for their parents, including crafting a bulletin board that highlighted stand out moments of learning from this unit, and making name tags for all the family members that were coming. One of the most special parts of project-based learning is the way it allows students to synthesize the learning we do every day through their own unique lens, and all the elements of the showcase from the presentations, the set up, and of course the projects themselves really displayed that. Coming together with all our families was especially meaningful due to the focus on Jewish history and future that the PBL projects explored. When discussing what everyone learned from these projects, one parent shared that their child’s project, which was a reimagining of a family Pesach tradition, showed them how much this particular tradition had meant to their child, and explained that the practice had actually been passed down to them from the previous generation. Many of them expressed the hope and excitement for the future of Jewish communities that you gained from viewing these projects, and we couldn’t agree more. It was a wonderful time, and we could not be more proud of the work completed by our awesome Nitzanim kiddos!