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Middle School Explores Innovation!

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.

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Mitzvah Moment with Grade 5 Families

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.

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Kindergarten Water Experiments

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.” 

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Grade Two Science: Sink or Float

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
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Digital Citizenship Week

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.
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Grade One Violin Class

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.

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It's a RUNderful Life!

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! 

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Everything S'more Fun in Grade 1!

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!

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Grade 6 Overnight at Pushing the Envelope Farm

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.

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Sukkah Building in Kindergarten

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.

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New Mishpachot (Family) Names!

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.

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Faculty and Staff Professional Development Near, Far and Abroad!

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.

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Ya'aleh v'Yavo, Rise Up and Aim Higher

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.

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CJDS Faculty at Constructing Modern Knowledge at MIT!
Our educators inventing the future at the Constructing Modern Knowledge Conference at MIT. It's a minds-on institute for educators committed to creativity, collaboration and computing. They are engaging in intensive computer-rich project development with peers and a world-class faculty. Our CJDS faculty are saying, "This conference is terrific, mind-blowing and challenging in a good way. It's wonderful to learn more about integrating art and technology and creativity and embracing play."--all values we embrace at Chicago Jewish Day School.
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Junior Kindergarten and Grade 8 Exploring Non-Living and Living Objects
Junior Kindergarten students have been exploring nonliving and living objects. They began their investigation outside of the new campus by looking at the different objects around them. They discovered what's alive and what's not and the criteria of why things are alive. The following week, they examined flowers and labeled the different parts. They used their critical thinking skills to discuss how they grow and take in nutrients to stay alive.
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Lag B'Omer Celebration!
Lag B'Omer is the name given to the 33rd day in the counting of the Omer, the 49-day period between the holidays of Passover and Shavuot. Around the world, Lag B'Omer has primarily become a children"s and family holiday. It is customary to hold family and school picnics on this day. Some communities give children "bows" and "arrows" in memory of the students of Shimon bar Yochai. Schools in Israel are let out for the day. At night, the skylines are lit up by huge bonfires signifying the light of Torah that survived and grew from the Roman occupation.
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Kindergarten Animal Shelter!
For the past few weeks, the Kindergarten students have been making discoveries about all different kinds of animals. The students’ curiosities were sparked by a trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo, where they were able to observe animals in their natural habitats and generate intriguing questions that provoked further learning. From there, students decided they were interested in uncovering more about how we can take care of animals and what zookeepers do to keep animals healthy, happy, and safe. 
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#KidsToday--Middle School Arts Project
Within every generation, progress is spurred by external factors far beyond individual actors. Often it’s the youth who are quickest to adapt to new practices and beliefs creating tension between themselves and the adults in their lives. One of the main motifs of Bye Bye Birdie is this idea of the generation gap. Although we see it countless times throughout the show, perhaps the most fascinating thing is that we see this very same struggle today. While the arguments and battles may differ, the theme remains the same: how do we adapt to new ways of thinking while holding on to what we hold dear? Over the course of this production, students examined this timeless argument through an integrative research-based project, as they sought to answer the question, What are we fighting for, and why?” 
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Discover Jewish Day Schools Highlights Morah Jackie Moss-Blumenfeld!
"Our teachers and school staff care deeply about the school, the children with whom they work, and Jewish education. They understand and embrace the school’s mission, adopting and supporting the principles we value as a school community. Because we believe that students are inspired by adults who appreciate learning and who pursue their own emotional, intellectual, and religious growth, the school encourages and provides ongoing educational opportunities for teachers, parents and all community members." -CJDS Mission and Vision
 
Yasher Koach to Morah Jackie Moss-Blumenfeld (Grade 1 Hebrew and Judaic Studies Teacher) who was featured in the joint communication from Discover Jewish Day School and Spertus Institute showcasing Jewish educators who are helping to build a foundation of Jewish learning for a new generation.
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CJDS in JUF News: "Chicago Jewish Day School makes "Exodus" to New Campus"
CJDS was featured in the JUF News, April edition! Thank you to JUF News writer and CJDS Parent, Paul Wieder for writing our story!
 
"Chicago Jewish Day School has made its long-anticipated move to a new campus in Chicago's Irving Park neighborhood, a permanent home that includes state-of-the-art classrooms, central worship and learning spaces, and extensive athletic and recreational facilities designed to enhance the school's commitment to academic excellence.
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CJDS Participates in National Student Walkout
Nothing exemplified our relationship with our Edgewater neighborhood more than the 17-minute walkout. Initiated by our middle school students, the walkout demonstrated their concern, and ours, for school safety. The March called on our leaders to figure out how to keep our schools safe and stop gun violence. We remembered the fallen victims from  Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as their names were read in a moment of silence. 
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Google Expeditions!
Field trips to virtually anywhere! Bringing 3D imagery to the classroom, Kindergarten through Grade Eight students had the opportunity to explore Google Expeditions. Each grade chose an expedition, from visiting outer space, going inside a cell to see DNA, touring the Colosseum and more! By exploring the virtual-reality expedition, students were able to learn new facts, ask more questions and collaborate together to discover the endless possibilities!
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Grade 6 Observes Ancient Egypt Artifacts
The Nile River was a source of water and life for the Ancient Egyptians. Students examined a scarab beetle, papyrus paper and other objects to identify common themes of life along the Nile and learned how to operate a model of a shaduf, an ancient water-lifting device still in use today. Using these secondary-source artifacts and their text study of the ancient Egyptians, students crafted an evidence-based essay on the impact the Nile had on the culture and economy of the ancient Egyptians- paragraphs of which can be seen below!
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Fourth Year Participating in Poetry Pals
Grade 4 students traveled to the Mecca Center in Willowbrook to join with children from Queen of All Saints (QAS)and College Preparatory School of America (CPSA) through their Poetry Pals program. Poetry Pals is a Chicago non-profit youth arts organization that uses creative expression to promote understanding, cooperation and peace in our multi-faith society. The program brings together Grade 4 classes from diverse faith communities around the city to foster partnership, expression and friendship through poetry, spoken word, rhythm, music and art. 
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Hot Off the Press!
Our very own, Cortney Stark Cope, Director of Admissions, is featured in the Chicago Parent's article on "How to Pick the Perfect School for your Family." As Cortney states, "A good school with good teachers will take the needs of each individual and individualize their learning." At CJDS, we take our cue from the students — and are particularly attentive to student individuality. The question, “What is best for the student?” is at the core of all decisions.
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Creation and Formation of Rain
Junior Kindergarten students have been studying Beresheet, the story of creation. During Morah Alex's class on Friday, students had so much fun exploring and modeling the creation/formation of rain (second day of Beresheet). The cups with the water (Mayiim) represented the atmosphere, and shaving cream represented the clouds (Ananiim). Students used syringes and pipettes (fine motor skills) to add colored water to the cloud. After the colored water traveled through the clouds, students observed the colorful droplets traveling down, simulating the process of rainfall (Geshem). The students experimented with different colors to observe how colors can blend together.
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It "Wheel-y" Works in Grade 3!
Grade 3 engineers created their own waterwheels this week! In their water and climate unit, students are learning about how waterwheels were used in the past and how they have innovated over the years to harness and produce energy. Using only a few objects, students were challenged with creating their own waterwheels and answering the essential question: what is needed to make the waterwheel system function well? After their experiment, they created a chart of what went well and what was challenging in creating their water wheels.
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Sink or Float?
Grade 2 has been experimenting around the factors that affect buoyancy. They learned that the material and shape of an object affect the object’s buoyancy, while its size does not. They also learned that items will float in bubbly and salty water and the position of the item on the water affects the item’s buoyancy. Last week, the students either made or brought in an object to check its buoyancy. They tested the students’ buoyant items to see how much “cargo” each boat could hold. Afterwards, they reflected in writing the following questions: why they chose that item? Did it float? What factors affected the buoyancy of their item?
 
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Investigating Hurricane Harvey
Grade 8 students have been investigating Hurricane Harvey in Science class. After watching a video about the hurricane, the students came up with a lot of questions, which they grouped to address the science behind how hurricanes form, the behavior of water once it hits the ground and the geological variable that impacted the flooding and water draining afterward. They even put on their Jewish lens to question God and natural disasters (thank you to Rabbi David Wolkenfeld for helping lead that discussion!).
 
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#WeAreAble
Our middle school participated in a disability awareness program the other week and it was a hit! Grade Seven students, Jordy Heinrich and Yael Handelman, along with Morah Lindsey, Morah Sue and the entire middle school faculty and staff, organized two days for our middle school to learn about different disabilities. They learned the importance of focusing one peoples abilities rather than their disabilities. Our students stepped up and said Hineni. We are so proud of our entire middle school! Special shout out to our guests who joined us on those days:
 
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Hineni Spotlight: Giving Thanks
Through school experiences, our students gain creative-thinking and critical-thinking skills and develop a passion for lifelong learning. They also appreciate their teachers, their education, and the resources that are available inside their classrooms.
 
This week's Hineni moment goes out to Moreh Henry"s Grade 8 Judaic Studies class and in particular, Eli! 
 
Eli and his classmates have been using Rabbi Yitzhak Frank's dictionary and Gemara card for their studies and have been persistent on thanking him for creating this helpful resource. And they did just that. Read the email chain of Eli and Rabbi Frank...
 
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Extra, Extra, Read All About It!

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.

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CJDS Rams Champions!

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.

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Junior Kindergarten Integrated Hands-On Learning
Every day, our Junior Kindergarteners delve into hands-on learning.
 
Each hands-on learning class is thematically connected to the unit of the week. In the fall, students were introduced to building skills like hammering nails (golf tees) into pumpkins. During their building unit in the winter, the students used levels to build a leveled and balanced structure and built a bird feeder for the Bayit. In the spring, when they were learning about living and nonliving things, students filled the bird feeders with food as living creatures need food for survival...
 
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Kindergarten Off to "Israel!"

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!

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Yom HaShoah-Holocaust Remembrance Day
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Pushing the Envelope Farm Field Trip
Our Grade Five and Six students ventured to Pushing the Envelope Farm this week! Pushing the Envelope Farm is a community farm and education center in Chicagoland's Fox Valley. They explore Jewish connection to the land, and they also provide hands-on educational experiences.
 
In the fall, our Grade Six students camped out at the farm and had an opportunity to plant, weed, and harvest organic vegetables, mill their own flour to make hummus and pita with a bike-propelled blender, chase chickens, set up tents, roast (kosher!) hot dogs, laugh, debate, and make real-world connections to their school-related coursework.
 
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Grade Three Kabbalat Torah
Our Grade 3 students kicked off the end-of-the-year culminations this past Tuesday with their Kabbalat Torah ceremony. The students have been studying and practicing the prayers during their morning tefillah service and held a ceremony for their families and friends to culminate their Grade Three year at CJDS. With their parents, they came under the chuppah and each of them read from the Torah.
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