At the Ottawa Jewish Community School (OJCS) in the capital city of Canada, teachers across disciplines enjoy experimenting with cross curricular activities. The entire faculty has embraced that learning a new language is more fun and meaningful when it is project based. We thank OJCS, who joined Hebrew at the Center during the winter of 2023, for sharing how Kitah Dalet combined Hebrew vocabulary, Jewish history, math, and computer programming into an interdisciplinary unit of study to create a computerized tour of Jerusalem. Their wonderful 4th grade teachers, Faye (General Studies) and Dana (Jewish/Hebrew studies) co-planned the unit and their students got together with both teachers on Fridays to collaborate on this cross curricular task linking Hebrew vocabulary and mathematical coding skills.
The students translated a Hebrew directional piece of writing, where a character moved around the city of Jerusalem giving a tour and naming different famous places, such as the Jaffa Gate, Tower of David, and the Kotel. Once the students translated their directions, using keywords such as ‘turn left/right’ (שמאלה/ימינה) they then needed to program their Sprite, in a coding program named “Scratch,” to move around Jerusalem. Their “Sprite” needed to give correct key facts from the text, at the appropriate time and place, providing the coding to link the backgrounds.
When a group of educators from Israel visited their school, the educational leaders of OJCS left it in the hands of the capable 4th grade students to explain their projects to their guests, to the best of their ability, in Hebrew. The Israeli guests were paired with Grade 4 students as they continued working on their unfinished projects.
What better way to help the Israeli educators understand the power of bilingual Project Based Learning (PBL) than engaging directly with the OJCS 4th grade students? The beauty of this PBL is that it goes beyond the subjects it intends to teach and onto learning important 21st century life skills such as collaboration, teamwork, problem solving, perseverance, presentation, and interacting with adults they don’t personally know but who are trusted by their teachers and school leaders. Most importantly, if you ask any of the students, they will say – !היה כייף IT WAS FUN! The visiting Israeli educators were engaged, impressed, and had a wonderful time ‘יןךק visiting the the Ottawa Jewish Community School.