What life choice would you make?

Your village is caught in a pogrom. Should you stay and try to rebuild your village, move to Israel, or move to the United States, the land that you have heard is full of opportunity? As an intellectual, you are swayed by the writings of Trotsky and you want to help bring about change for all of Russia; but as a Jew, you face major discrimination. Do you stay or leave?

These are the types of choices the 5th graders considered as they began the study of Jewish immigration this week. Each student was given the opening story of a character and then were given two choices. The choice they made determined how the narralowereastsidetive continued and then, once again, they were given the choice of two paths. The students chose their own adventures, moving from location to location in the school as they made their choices and discovered how those choices affected their lives. It was an exciting and fun way to begin the unit and start their exploration of the issues and themes of immigration.

The unit will culminate in a class journey to the Lower East Side of New York, to see the institutions and streets that were home to the millions of Jews, including many of their own grandparents and great-grandparents, who immigrated to the United States between the years of 1880 and 1920.

Songs for Zimriyah 2016!

Here is a playlist of the songs for Zimriyah this year in case students and families want to practice at home!


All School: Shiru Shir, Shir Hachodashim, Rabbi Akiva, Nerot Shel Ahava, Mishe, Echad Mi Yode’a, Yom Huledet

Grades Pre-K, K, 1, 2: Basukkah shelanu, Shana Tova, Hashkediya Porachat, Letsan Katan

Grades 3,4,5:  Bashana haba-a, Sukkat Shalom, Ki Tavou,

Alumni song: Yesh Li Chag

Rhode Island: Warmer and Cooler?

Third grade has learned so much about our own state of Rhode Island this year! From geography, to government, to people, to the Jewish history of our state, we have really become experts! We are now putting that kno59d0f2c2-3a53-4b5a-bcd0-dbdb5e6a1187wledge to good use by creating travel brochures about Rhode Island. As a bonus, we have a real audience to whom to present these; they will be used as centerpieces at a conference at Brown University. This motivated the students even more to create the most interesting and accurate brochures. As a challenge, they designed their own Rhode Island logos for the front covers of the travel brochures, to replace the controversial “Warmer and Cooler” design.


We brainstormed all we learned abo5af46ee8-f6c9-4ddd-b479-e276d10204e2ut Rhode Island and researched even more to find out new things we were interested in. Then we went to work actually creating our brochures. I loved how unique each one was, from concentrating on the Rhode Island Red hen to the Pawsox, Del’s Lemonade, and coffee milk, each student included his or her own personality and joys of this state in his or her brochures! We had “experts”, the fifth graders, come in to critique our work, since they have 6f1b60c8-269c-4cc8-b41d-edb7bd83d326already learned about Rhode Island.


Now our brochures are ready for the public. The students are very excited to be able to have them on display at Brown, but are sad to give them up. I don’t blame them after all the hard work they put into this project!



Welcome to the Shark Tank

For students in grades 3-5, the design lab has been transformed into a Shark Tank. The TV show Shark Tank, regularly aired on ABC, inspired me to challenge students to create something worth selling and that would convince sharks to invest in. While many students created prototypes, others, like Ezra, were billionaire investors (aka “sharks”). Ezra took it upon himself to interview the designers in his class in order to get an idea of their products, past sales, current locations, offers, and valuations prior to their pitches.

The following video is brought to you by students in the fourth and fifth grade. Cooper is pitching his product, Your Home Security. Welcome to the Shark Tank!

The Mitzvah of Consolation

While I was out of school to take care of my Dad and then, to sit shiva (the seven day Jewish mourning period after a funeral), the students continued their academic learning. But they also participated in the very important Mitzvah of comforting a mourner. With teacher support, they talked about grief and loss and then used some time to write cards of consolation and support. When I returned to RI to sit for the last couple of days, many of the students came to my house to offer their condolences. Waiting on my desk in school was a stack of beautifully hand-designed and written cards that encouraged me to be strong and to look for the rainbows after the rain. I cannot begin to express the deep sense of gratitude and consolation that I derived from these gestures. They were incredibly meaningful and touching and underscored that the values that we are trying to impart through our curriculum and culture at JCDSRI are truly understood and being incorporated into the identities of our students.

imageThis has been a difficult time for me but knowing that our students are truly living by the values which we are teaching has brought me much comfort and has filled me with a deep sense of gratitude and blessing that I am a part of this community. Thank you.

Jingle Project! (Video)

During the last few weeks in music class students have been working in groups to create their own products or stores and write corresponding jingles. Later, we used the products and jingles to create whole commercials! Students came up with so many creative and interesting jingles and commercials!

Here is an example of one of them:

Want to see more JCDSRI Jingles? Check out our Youtube playlist here!

5th graders Meet with Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea

The fifth graders recently wenPicture with Sec of Statet on a field trip to the Rhode Island Statehouse. However, this wasn’t just a typical tour of the beautifully historic building. We had a special half hour meet and greet with Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, which included a round table panel discussion! In preparation for this memorable visit, the students visited the web page of the Office of the Secretary of State, and learned about the responsibilities of this elected official and how her number one priority is making government more accessible and transparent for the citizens of RI. After reading and discussing the information on the web page, students then wrote a few questions that they wanted to ask the Secretary when we met her later that morning. I was very impressed with the curiosity and the genuine interest the students had in learning about government offices and officials, as well as the intellectuRound Tableal and sophisticated questions they wanted to ask at the round table discussion.

Students asked questions such as: “What was the hardest part, in your opinion, about running a campaign for office, and ultimately winning the position?” and “What are your plans to improve the election process? What did you do to make housing more affordable for families in Rhode Island?” After our meet and greet, we went on an incredibly informative tour of the statehouse and the amazing questions continued to flow. Our tour guide commented that she had never met such a curious, well-informed, knowledgeable group of fifth graders. When we returned to school, I felt a deep sense of pride that my students were able to engage in a meaningful discussion with an elected official about the future of our state, which ultimately will be in their hands one day.

Jump - statehouse

Tu B’Shvat

tu bshvatWe are in the month of Shvat and we count the days till the New Year of the Trees. A beautiful and festive wall display about the holiday and trees in the school lobby is a joint effort of several teachers and classes. The fifth grade students’ contribution is of beautiful drawings of trees and people planting trees. These drawings are the students’ interpretations of citations from the bible that relate to trees, and they are also the lyrics of the song we learn for this holiday, “כי תבואו אל הארץ” Ki Tavou El HaAretz.