With the opening of the 2009-10 school year, 5 more elementary schools around the FSU will begin to implement the TaL Am curriculum of Hebrew language and Jewish heritage, bringing to 700 the number of FSU elementary school students studying in the TaL Am program.
During the 2007 and 2008 school years, the Heftziba program - a joint project of Israel’s Ministry if Education and the Jewish Agency - and the administration of the Ohr Avner Foundation, have been implementing a pilot project of the TaL Am program in ten elementary schools. The positive results of the pilot project have brought the addition of the new schools.
The project’s implementation is being funded through Israel’s Department of Education, the Ohr Avner Foundation and the Avi Chai Foundation, which supports the development of the program in other parts of the world.
The TaL AM curriculum is taught in grades one through five in over 400 Jewish day schools outside of Israel. More than 29,000 students study this special curriculum. TaL AM is based on up-to-date research in cognitive learning and language acquisition. It was developed by the TaL AM team and master teachers, led by Tova Shimon, the program’s director, with guidance from experts in curriculum design, language acquisition, subject matter and student assessment. It incorporates feedback from 25 pilot testing classes that have implemented TaL AM at each grade level for a period of three years.
The main goal of this educational project is to foster students’ connections with the Jewish people, with the State of Israel, and with their Jewish heritage, while creating a unifying language (Hebrew) and skills in all students. At the same time, it applies a program involving unique voices suitable to the needs of each school and community. It has been adapted to the needs of the Jewish identity and education issues facing the schools in the FSU.
The structure of the TaL AM program is based on the notion that the best learning environment for children is one in which knowledge is acquired through a variety of activities, using each of the five senses. In addition to studying from textbooks, students use music, games and visual aids to learn the Hebrew language and to develop a keen understanding of Jewish concepts and values.
Students develop their Hebrew and heritage literacy in a gradual and spiraled process, building new ideas and concepts atop an expanding foundation of knowledge. The program gradually helps foster Jewish identity by allowing children to explore their Jewish roots and traditions in an exciting manner. By making the study of Hebrew and Judaism relevant to the children's everyday lives, the program enables them to develop a true appreciation of their heritage and understand the need for continued, lifelong Jewish study.
The curricular materials of the TaL AM program include workbooks, CD's, videos and instructional manuals as well as library books and books on CD which are arranged in organized and attractive packages.
In order to ensure successful implementation of the programs, TaL AM regularly hosts a series of teacher training institutes at various locations around the world, where some of the architects of the program work closely with teachers to develop mastery of the curriculum and its innovative cognitive based learning methodology. All schools wanting to launch the TaL AM program must first have their teachers participate in the training institutes.