Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten teachers are on a journey of studying and embracing the Reggio Emilia approach to learning. At the core of this approach, Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten children are honored as we embrace the knowledge and wonder that children bring to the learning experience. The environment inspires their exploration, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving as they build a deeper understanding of the world around them. As a Jewish school, Judaism serves as the lens in which we educate our children. Key elements of a Reggio-inspired classroom include...
Inside the Classroom Blog
Grade One students immersed themselves in the study of the Great Barrier Reef and the marine world! This inquiry-based unit teaches students how to ask good questions, how to do research about the world around them, and how to use their voices to make the world a better place.
Connecting to the Grade One theme of Tikun Olam, repairing the world, students learned the importance of taking care of our world through song, research, and prayers for our oceans and the beauty of nature. They were introduced to the geographical setting and the marine life that inhabits the reef, and they used their knowledge to build their own Great Barrier Reef in the classroom. The students applied for a job in an underwater sea lab, played the role of scientists studying various parts of the marine world, and then prepared to present their research to others both orally and through the written word. Students also created artistic representations of objects and life found underwater, both with their General Studies teachers and with their Art teachers.
Our Grade Two immigrants arrived at CJDS's "Ellis Island" on Wednesday! This unit was an extension of the Voyage of the Mayflower. As with that unit, through the reading of different books and the wonderful stories from their families, the students discovered: difficulty of deciding to leave one’s country and move to a totally new country; the different reasons why people make/made this decision; and the difficulty of adapting to a new country. The class discussed the connection to their grade level theme of “kavod,” respect, and explored the question of what part of these immigration stories show respect to oneself? To others?
Essential Questions during this unit were:
- Why do people immigrate?
- How do we use the process of immigration to make sense of and learn about the world around us?
The CJDS Rams basketball team kicked off their season this past Monday. It's already off to a great start! It was a milestone moment in CJDS history as we hosted our very first HOME game in our New Campus Gym! The CJDS Scoreboard was dedicated by the 2018 Grade 8 Graduating class, and the first winning points on the board were to one and only... CJDS Rams! JV and Varsity both played on Monday afternoon against Lincoln White and again on Wednesday against Audubon. It was wonderful to see so many CJDS Rams fans on the sidelines, from parents to grandparents, fellow students and more.
CJDS transports your children to new educational heights. Our busing can get them there!
The fifth CJDS bus was added to our bus routes this week! We are so happy to accommodate 67% of our student body by offering this transportation service from the city to the suburbs. #CJDSBusTransportation
Mishpachot (families) is a beloved tradition at CJDS. Every Friday afternoon, students in Kindergarten through Grade Eight eat lunch and celebrate Shabbat together. We believe significant learning occurs when students have the opportunity to interact with other students, both younger and older.
On the Friday before the break, Grade Eight students led their own mishpacha groups in a presentation on kindness and friendship. They read books and led a discussion with the other students.
#CJDSCommunity #SocialEmotionalLearning #Mishpachot
You can't scroll through social media without coming across an ad for a coding class or an article about coding with children, especially in December during Computer Science Education Week or as popularly known as #HourofCode. There is a good reason for that! Coding is not just another language or something that techie people do. When students code, they are collaborating with their peers and gaining critical, computation, and creative thinking skills. Coding plants the seeds for everything from problem-solving to ethical responsibility. Starting at an early age, students gain a deeper understanding of the logic and advanced thinking behind the programming. Here are examples from a few of the grade levels:
CJDS believes in the importance of Rising Up and Aiming Higher, thinking beyond ourselves to make the world a better place.
With the help of our Grade 5 students, CJDS held our second annual Thanksgiving Holiday Drive, supporting two organizations: Make-A-Wish Foundation and Care for Real.
Good News! CJDS is extending the deadline for the Make-A-Wish Foundation donations. The mission of Make-A-Wish
It's been a tradition for Chicago Jewish Day School students to light the Hanukkah candles at the Jewish United Fund. This year, our Grade Four students were invited to light the 2nd night with elected officials and community leaders. Our students shined by sharing their Hanukkah joy with the Chicago community. Tune in here to watch the video of them lighting the candles and their Hanukkah sing-a-long.
Over 300 people in our CJDS community joined together to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah! Hosted by our Parent Committee, the evening was filled with delicious food, crafts, games, like Flip the Latke, Pin the Candle on the Hanukiyah and a Hanukkah-themed Photobooth! We lit the first candle together on our 6-ft LEGO Hanukiyah, which was built by our very own students in their mishpachot, multi-grade families. Our sing-a-long was led by the talented Cantor Sheera Ben-David of Temple Sholom and CJDS Parent of Baxter Miller, Grade 2.
This week in Hebrew/Judaic Studies, our Grade Three students started preparing to become Maccabees. They learned about the story of the Maccabees, pretended to be Greek, in case a Greek soldier came by, experimented with olive oil, and began to decorate their battle shields. The classroom has become ancient Judea, and they are ready to fight to keep our Jewish identities!
Our Grade 5 students culminated their Medieval Times unit with a beautiful performance of dancing, singing and playing instruments. Through the integration of art, music, language arts, social studies, and Judaic Studies, each student picked a research topic that took place during the Medieval Times, including but not limited to castles, medicine, feudalism, sicknesses and cures, Joan of Arc and more! They presented their projects with physical renderings, a poster, a thesis essay, a story in Jewish Studies about the Spanish Inquisition and a timeline linking the Medieval period to the Spanish Inquisition. All of the projects and papers were created in school, so it was a beautiful presentation and wonderful surprise for the parents.
Grade 8 students continued their space investigation using Lego Mindstorms Robotics. Similar to NASA engineers, our students programmed the rovers to complete specific tasks remotely, as if it were on the surface of a planet, like Mars. They used computational and critical thinking skills to code the rover using a laptop, test their code using the rover, and then go back to the original code and revise it to successfully complete a mission. Students collaborated in teams and if you were to walk in, it looked like a NASA control room!
In our Mayflower unit, students study the history of the Pilgrims and Strangers on their journey to the New World. We researched and learned the historical events leading up to the voyage. Every student took on the role of an actual passenger who was aboard the Mayflower. Students embodied their roles and spent a week on our classroom Mayflower simulating the journey. Before they boarded the ship, they recited the Traveler's Prayer to have a safe journey to the New World. On the ship, they experienced water contamination, a storm, and the birth of a baby! As part of the unit, we integrate non-fiction reading and writing journal entries. We also use technology to create a comic strip showing daily life and family structures aboard the Mayflower. Our Hebrew/Judaic studies teachers make the connection between the parasha Lech Lecha when Avraham left his home to journey to a new land.
Integration is a central component of Chicago Jewish Day School's curriculum. Integrated learning is when children broadly explore knowledge across various subjects as they relate to a certain theme. Kindergarten students are using the app, Seesaw, to document and share the learning they do in class with each other. Through technology, students can enhance their understanding of basic addition with the opportunity to visually demonstrate and explain their thinking to their peers. This activity not only improves students' understanding of math and technology, but also empowers them to apply critical and creative thinking skills that elevate their learning. This holistic approach reflects the interactive nature of the real world and promotes lifelong learning.
Hot off the press! CJDS Grade 7 students featured in the JUF News for their Walk for Water initiative. Thank you to CJDS Parent, Paul Wieder for writing the article and joining our Grade 7 students on their walk!
Chicago Jewish Day School students ‘Walk for Water’
"How does it feel to walk three miles-lugging a jug of water?
Seventh graders at Chicago Jewish Day School (CJDS) wanted to know. They had learned that, in South Sudan, villagers often must walk more than three miles, sometimes several times a day, just to get clean water-leaving little time for education.
This week, Grade One students started Math Centers. Both classes are coming together twice a week to participate in rotating learning centers. Students will be doing various independent, partner, small-group, and teacher-led learning activities. These centers offer opportunities for supporting developing skills, reviewing previously introduced concepts, and challenging students as appropriate.
Our mathematics program is a research-based and field-tested curriculum that focuses on developing children’s understandings and skills in ways that produce life-long mathematical power.
Last Friday, the middle school students had the opportunity to experience part of the innovation process. Using the 125th Anniversary of the World's Fair in Chicago as the launchpad and looking at innovation over the years both here and in Israel, students worked in multi-age groups to brainstorm problems they encounter with functionality throughout their day and then come up with innovative solutions. Problems identified ranged from not enough storage space in lockers to not being able to keep track of kippot to wanting more independence in their school day. Some of the innovation ideas sketched out included a kippah dispensing machine for our hallways and student ID cards that would help facilitate attendance, carpool, and entrance into inner locked doors. The Beit Midrash was full of energy and enthusiasm as students worked through the innovation process. Morah Alex will be continuing to make time available for further exploration and opportunities to take these initial ideas further during designated recess times.
Last weekend, the Grade 5 room parents organized a class outing, not only to bond as a class community but also to make a difference in our world. Grade 5 students and their families volunteered at Cradles to Crayons, an organization that provides children living in homeless or low-income situations, with the essential items they need to thrive -- at home, at school, and at play. Thank you to our CJDS families for always weaving values of Tikun Olam and promoting justice, peace, compassion, and respect in our world.
Kindergarten has shown interest in investigating the qualities of water. They have been experimenting with what materials hold water well, what happens when they mix colors into the water, and what happens to materials that sit in water overnight. Students have also been interested in how to use water to power their ongoing project, the “shrinking machine.”
Stellar opportunities in middle school science classes this week as students of Grade 8 investigated lenses and telescopes. When experimented with different shaped lenses, students began to understand how light bends or refracts. Afterward, students used those same lenses to build their own telescope.
Grade Two students have been experimenting around the factors that affect buoyancy. Over the past couple of weeks, they have:
- Experimented with objects of the same shape and material but of different sizes, in order to discover whether size is a factor that affects buoyancy
- Examined the effect of bubbles on the buoyancy of an object submerged in carbonated water
Across the nation, schools are engaging in learning and making a commitment to being digital citizens. Digital citizenship is appropriate and responsible behavior regarding technology use. Digital citizens think critically about what they see online and learn to make their own smart and safe choices online and in life.
At CJDS this week, we engaged in conversations on what our rights and responsibilities are to the world of technology. Students' responses were:
- We have a right to be safe online.
- We have a right not to be cyberbullied, and we should report if you see cyberbullying to an adult.
- We have a right to our privacy.
- We should take care of our devices.
- We should be mindful of what we post online.
- We should find a healthy balance regarding the amount of screen time we use each day.
This year at CJDS, Grade One students are partaking in a 10-week musical enrichment study of the violin. This program is running concurrently with the students' music curriculum and introducing the students to the basic elements of playing the violin. Elana Hiller, a former CJDS teacher and Suzuki violin teacher, is partnering with our music teacher, Rachel Jaffe, to work on developing skills in musicianship and instrument fluency.
This is just the beginning of what we hope will grow into a thriving string/band program at CJDS. Students will have an evening concert in December to showcase their newly learned violin skills.
CJDS Cross Country season has officially begun! The team, composed of Grades 4-8 students, has already participated in two races: Oui 5K and the Lane Tech Invitational. The runners learn and embrace the importance of staying active, encouraging their teammates, self-discipline and personally striving to reach their goals!
This week in the Grade One classrooms, they read Bailey Goes Camping by Kevin Henkes. Students reenacted the book by participating in all of the same activities that Bailey does on his "campout." The students dressed "down" by wearing pajamas and brought sleeping bags or blankets to fully participate in the camping experience. Just like Bailey's "campout," the students used their imaginations to simulate the sequence of Bailey's adventure: "roast" marshmallows, "eat" hot dogs, and make s'mores. They went swimming, fishing, on a bear hunt (for pictures of bears), lived in a tent, listened to ghost stories and fell asleep under the stars. It was a wonderful experience for all and a great opportunity to really bring the book to life!
Grade 6 students had a fantastic time at Pushing the Envelope Farm this week, using the time to truly bond as a community!
We don't know how it is possible, but with each passing year, the farm trip seems to get better and better! This year, they learned and interacted with chickens, pickled vegetables and planted micro-plants. They made their own lunches from the harvested vegetables and donated the produce from the farm to the Illinois Food Depository.
We embrace the knowledge and wonder that children bring to the learning experience. Using the Reggio Emilia inspired approach, the environment inspires their exploration, creativity, critical-thinking and problem-solving as they build a deeper understanding of the world around them. Through materials provocation, Kindergarten students were invited to engage in an exploration of sukkah building! The students used recycled materials and classroom art supplies to create their own versions of a sukkah. Many included elements such as fruit, tables, an open roof, and a lulav and etrog.
Grade 7 students were featured on WBEZ 91.5 Chicago yesterday! They were on a segment called "Global Activism" on the show, Worldview. Worldview is about how race, ethnicity, gender, identity, the environment, religion, politics, and economics drive and shape the news.
Mishpacha is a beloved tradition at CJDS. Mishpacha means family in Hebrew, and our mishpacha program gives students a family at school! On Fridays, students gather in multi-age groups to eat lunch and celebrate Shabbat together. You might find older students reading to younger students, students drawing, coloring together or doing holiday-based projects together, students playing fun community-building games, students braiding challah dough or students working on tzedakah projects.
This year our mishpachot will be named after famous Israeli landmarks or people. Students will spend time in mishpachot learning about the person or landmark for whom their mishpacha is named and will do projects around that person or landmark. This is just another way for us to help foster a love for Israel and Israeli culture.
One of the many reasons that makes CJDS remarkable is our outstanding, one-of-a-kind faculty and staff. They are kind, innovative, and always encouraging our students to push themselves to the next level in their education. In their discretionary time, they continue to be role models to our students by volunteering at the animal shelter and nursing homes, being a Make a Wish Wish Granter and generally demonstrating their leadership in our Jewish and Chicago community.
Ya'ale v'Yavo are two words that come from a special prayer that we include on Rosh Chodesh (the first day of the Jewish month), the High Holidays, and the pilgrimage holidays (Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot). The prayer sets out multiple steps one would need to ready oneself to be judged favorably by God. It is interesting to note that there are eight verbs in this prayer; eight separate steps one needs to take to succeed. The prayer is sending the message that showing up is only the first step - that we need to keep climbing that proverbial ladder to achieve our goals. Our students will explore this idea through holiday celebrations, guest speakers, trips, and in classroom meetings throughout the year.
CJDS in the JUF News
Check out the Noted and Quoted section in the October JUF News to see an article about our Grade Six students answering the call of Hineni. Below is the article:
Students at Chicago Jewish Day School (CJDS) are using the Book of Ruth as the basis for their schoolwork... and to learn about the issue of hunger in society. They will learn about the history of farming in ancient society, the science and environmental impact of farming today, and even the math involved in planting a garden. They also will hear from a representative of the Chicago Food Depository, visit Pushing the Envelope Farm, volunteer at The Ark, go on a food-waste tour of Mariano"s supermarket --and, like Ruth herself, glean at the community garden at Temple KAM Isaiah Israel. Pictured: Chicago Jewish Day Schools" Grade 6 students planted, weeded, and harvested organic vegetables at the Pushing the Envelope Farm, a community farm and education center that explores Jewish connection to the land.
After a long seasons consisting of 6:30 AM practices and multiple games a week, the hard work and dedication paid off as the Boys Junior Varsity Volleyball team brought its first trophy and championship to the Chicago Jewish Day School community. After losing three consecutive years to one of our biggest rivals Near North Montessori, the team was finally able to overcome this tough and talented school by working together, trusting each other, encouraging one another, and lifting each other up when things became difficult.
Where in the world is the CJDS Kindergarten class?!
Kindergarten has officially launched their Israel unit! They begun their unit by discussing what they already knew about Israel and what they want to learn more about Israel. They looked at the Israel map and located some of the cities in Israel.
To kick off their unit, the students took a simulated flight to Israel! Before heading to the airport, the teachers prepared them for their overseas trip by making passports, travel bags, luggage tags and packing lists. They arrived to the "CJDS International Airport" yesterday morning where they presented their passports, paid for the tickets, went through security, and boarded the aircraft of El Al Airlines. They watched an informational safety video in Hebrew and off they went to Israel!