For most graduates of the JETS No Teacher Left Behind course, the skills and techniques that they learn during the course are put to use in their classrooms. Teachers in Amsterdam, however, took the concept one step further and have created an online Jewish school for 9 and 10 year olds who have little or no opportunity to learn about their Jewish heritage but who are eager to do so.
The pilot class of the Jeled (Jewish European Learning Experience Dot.net) Online school launched in November, 2014. While the class, right now, involves younger children, the school administration plans to expand the school to older grades in the near future. The school was conceptualized as an online learning site for families living in small communities, but in the end, the majority of the families who signed up live in and around Amsterdam. Parents heard about the school via emails, phone calls and online postings.
The students meet once weekly online and the plans for the school include periodic real time meetings. Over Succot, the students and their families gathered in the teacher’s succa where they met one another. The instructor presented a model online class to set the tone for the year to come and to provide the parents with an overview of what and how their children would be learning. After the get-together at the teacher’s house, the kids and a staff member went out to explore succot in the neighborhood, while parents sat together to hear more about the program. This was the perfect opportunity for the staff to encourage the parents to stay involved, and they committed to remain engaged in their children’s Jewish learning. The families, the staff discovered, are extremely motivated about the program. They like the “modern” way of teaching. Parents and teachers even agreed that the teacher would assign homework (provided that it was as engaging as the types of online tools that were demonstrated at the meeting).
Jeled classes are 40 minutes long. The material concentrates on basic Judaism, holidays, Israel and other timely topics. The class launched in early November 2014 and the first month was devoted to the “Jewish family.” During Kislev, the class will be learning about Chanukah. As the school expands, the administration plans to introduce more topics to meet the needs of present and future students and, most importantly, their families. There are also plans to expand the program to other European countries.
Read more at JETS Israel.