News

2018

  • February

    Fifth Graders Teach Lessons of Peace through Performance of Hebrew Play

    This week, fifth graders performed the play Dira Lehaskir (Apartment for Rent), which tells the story of a group of animals looking for a new tenant for an apartment in their building. One prospective renter after another comes to see the apartment but finds fault with one of the current tenants. Audience members, which included parents and students from other grades, were introduced to a mouse, a hen, a cuckoo bird, a pig, a giraffe, a cat, and a dove, among other animals...
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  • Sixth Grade Leads Middle School Community in Morning Tefillah Service

    This morning the sixth graders led their middle school peers and families in a traditional Shacharit (morning) service. Students shared introductions to each of the prayers that included the meaning of the prayer, the history of the prayer, their thoughts about the prayer, and their creation of a modern version of the prayer. In addition, students read beautifully from the Torah, volunteering to take on this challenging task...
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  • Fourth Graders Explore Music Learning through a Different Lens

    To challenge students to explore music through a different lens, music teacher Kimberly Lostetter partnered with Doron Neuburger, maker educator in the BUILD space, to integrate music with making. One of the fourth grade classes was tasked with designing a tactile, visual representation of a whole note. They asked the questions, “How many half notes fit into a whole note?” and “How many quarter notes fit into both a whole note and a half note?” After answering those questions, students worked together to create their visual representation, which Ms. Lostetter will use when teaching the younger students about whole notes...
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  • Photographs and Empathy Help Eighth Graders Connect with Pre-war Jewish Life in Europe

    In order to better understand what Jewish cultural and communal life was like in Europe prior to World War II, eighth graders found photographs of European Jews taken from 1900 to 1938 and analyzed them. In addition, eighth graders researched the town and country where the photos were taken, to better understand the historical ramifications. Finally, they found their own family photograph similar to the one they selected to analyze (for example, one student selected a pre-war photograph of a family riding bicycles and compared it to a photo of his family on a bike ride), to show how life before the Holocaust was not that different from their own lives today...
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  • Third Graders Synthesize Learning about Victorian Era with Culminating Project

    After learning all about the Victorian era in San Francisco and touring the Haas-Lilienthal House to learn more about Victorian-era architecture, third graders synthesized everything they have learned by creating Victorian homes using recycled materials. In the CREATE space, students used a shoebox as a starting point to bring to the life the many aspects that exemplify Victorian homes. They then used many different types of materials and resources to replicate traditional features, such as dormers and weather vanes...
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  • New Curriculum Helps Kindergarten and First Graders Explore Music

    This year music teacher Kimberly Lostetter is using a new curriculum for kindergarten and first grade. “It’s called ‘First Steps in Music,’ and is designed to help make students musical in three ways: artful, tunefulbeatful,” says Ms. Lostetter. “Children are not as exposed to music early on as they used to be and I noticed they were having a harder time associating with music. This curriculum gets back to the basics and lays a foundation before we move on to written music...
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  • Second Graders Demonstrate "Menschy-ness" at Tefillah and Community Celebration

    This morning the second graders led a community celebration and tefillah for their families and the first graders. The program elaborated a social and emotional learning theme that integrated many aspects of the curriculum in the exploration of what it means to be a mensch—a Yiddish word whose connotation means “a person of integrity and honor.” For the past several months, in both general and Judaic studies, the second graders have identified the qualities requisite to becoming heroes, sheroes, and mensches...
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  • Fifth Graders Participate in Colonial Simulation

    Fifth grade students are currently participating in a colonial simulation designed by fifth grade humanities teacher Kaitlyn Huston. For the simulation, students have been divided into three groups—New England, middle colonies, and southern colonies—and are working in groups to research life in their colonies in depth, “focusing on topics ranging from types of colonial governments to relationships with indigenous peoples,” explains resident teacher Matt Druyen...
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  • Fourth Graders Perfect Their Jump Rope Routines

    Fourth graders are currently engaged in a jump rope unit in P.E. “The unit hits a lot of different aspects of the yearly curriculum,” explains teacher Sam Dossick, “hand-eye coordination, daily exercise, creativity, and the continual progress of the lower body and the upper body working together to perform a movement pattern.” Working individually and guided by a set of criteria, fourth graders are creating their own jump rope routines...
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  • Guest Speaker from ING Addresses Seventh Graders

    Seventh grade social studies students enjoyed a special presentation and Q&A session with Ameena Jandali, an American Muslim speaker representing Islamic Networks Group (ING). The class has been studying Islamic civilization and the foundation and tenets of the religion. "Ms. Jandali is an impressive and affable woman in the Muslim community and in the Bay Area," says social studies teacher Allison Stine...
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  • Eighth Graders Develop Product Ideas for Market Equilibrium Project in Math

    For their market equilibrium project in math, eighth grade students begin by identifying real-world needs and creating products to meet those needs. Products conceptualized this year range from the practical and possible (a sleeping mask that regulates temperature and a diet pill that actually works) to the silly (a beauty pillow that prevents waking up to a "bad hair day")...
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  • Fourth Graders Share Important Values at Community Tefillah

    This morning, fourth graders proudly led their parents and the third through fifth grade village in a tefillah and community gathering. Students wove in learning about Tu B’Shvat, sharing with all in attendance the values they have learned from this important holiday...
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  • Lucy Calkins Writers Workshop Curriculum Guides Kindergarten Writing

    The Lucy Calkins writers workshop curriculum, developed at Columbia University, provides an excellent framework for developing young kindergarten writers. They read stories and talk about the components of a story before generating ideas for their own story—for the nonfiction narratives unit, a true story...
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  • Seventh Grade Experiential Education Focuses on Leadership, Tzedek

    Our seventh graders embarked last week for their three-day, two-night outdoor education trip. This experiential education trip focused on the themes of leadership and tzedek (justice), two themes that permeate the seventh grade curriculum. Students collaborated in group challenges; hiked through the woods; spent time discussing different types of leadership and the choices they can make around tzedakah; and participated in tefillah rotations including fitness and mindfulness, poetry and prose writing, and making inspirational cards for the Raphael House...
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  • Sixth Graders Learn to Translate Word Problems to Math Expressions through Games

    Playing the game “Four of a Kind,” in which they must match similar expressions written three or four different ways, sixth graders are learning to translate word problems into expressions or equations. “This activity helps build the foundation needed for them to take real-world math problems, often represented as word problems, and turn them into solvable equations,” says teacher Gin Saepharn...
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  • Tu B’Shvat Scavenger Hunt Teaches Students about Plants and Trees at Brandeis

    Brandeis holiday coordinator Sandra Menachem wanted to re-envision the way Tu B’Shvat is celebrated at Brandeis. So, she worked with Director of Jewish Learning Debby Arzt-Mor and the middle school Jewish life committee to create a school-wide scavenger hunt where students in all grades went around the school locating the many different types of plants and trees we have here on campus...
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  • January

    Brandeis Alumna Named One of 32 American Rhodes Scholars in 2018

    Brandeis alumna and current Stanford University senior, Madeleine Chang ’09, was recently selected one of 32 American Rhodes Scholars from a candidate pool of 866. Rhodes scholarships provide all expenses for two or three years of study for each scholar at the University of Oxford in England...
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  • Famous Israeli Cartoonist Shares Insight with Sixth and Eighth Graders

    Michel Kichka, famous Israeli cartoonist, was on campus today to speak with our sixth and eighth grade students. Kichka presented an insider’s view of the work of a caricaturist and cartoonist and shared how he goes about his work. He also demonstrated his work for our students...
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  • Science and Judaic Studies Come Together for Second Graders as They Celebrate Tu B’Shvat

    In preparation for Tu B’Shvat next week, second graders are learning about the importance of the holiday from both a Judaic studies and a science perspective. Dubbed the “new year of the trees,” Tu B’Shvat  is celebrated by Jews around the world as an ecological awareness day...
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  • Shakespeare a Hit in Seventh Grade Language Arts

    Seventh graders are immersed in a language arts unit on the famous William Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet. “Our work with the play addresses two of our seventh grade throughlines: ‘How can we be thoughtful readers and writers’ and ‘What does it mean to love reading?’” says teacher Isaac Jacobs-Gomes...
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  • First Graders Build Prototypes for Testing the Direction of Wind

    As part of their air and weather unit in science, first graders spent time on Monday building their own wind vanes to show the direction of the wind. “They’ve been learning about weather and all the tools and instruments used to measure the weather, such as a rain gauge, thermometer, and anemometer,” explains resident teacher Abby Stanford...
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  • Fifth Graders Not Only Learn Body’s Digestive System, They Act It Out, Too!

    The second semester science curriculum in fifth grade focuses on biology, “looking at the different systems that multicellular organisms use,” says teacher Eitam Kohen. To begin the semester, students are focused on learning about the human body and will then move on to plant systems afterwards...
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  • Fourth Graders Observe the Convergence of Art and Science

    Fourth grade artists traveled to the Conservatory of Flowers last week to explore the work of American artist Georgia O’Keefe, who is best known for her large close-up studies of flowers and plants. “The fourth grade art curriculum focuses on the intersection of science and art,” explains art teacher Cathy Withrington. This field trip also helped the fourth graders hone their observational drawing...
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  • Seventh Graders Explore Museum Exhibits about How Messages Transmit Culture

    On Friday, January 12, the seventh grade visited the Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) and the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) to learn about how stories, dance, and masquerade transmit messages about culture. The two museums are currently collaborating, presenting exhibits that explore the meaning behind the stories we tell. Students toured CJM’s exhibit Jewish Folktales Revisited: Artist as Maggid (Storyteller) and MoAD’s exhibit EN MAS: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean...
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  • Sixth Graders Learn Importance of Verb Estar

    Sixth graders in beginning Spanish are just about ready to move from Level 1 to Level 2 in their curriculum, Auténtico Spanish Program. In order to master Level 1, “students are learning the verb estar ("to be") and integrating it with the vocabulary and grammar they have been learning,” says teacher Julieta Zuniga...
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  • Ulpan Or Curriculum Puts Emphasis on Conversational Hebrew

    One of the main goals of the Ulpan Or Hebrew curriculum is to teach students to translate English to Hebrew in their heads. To do this, students participate in a number of dialogues where they must translate a conversation from English to Hebrew. “My seventh grade students are acting out a dialogue from English to Hebrew,” says teacher Tammy Broner...
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  • Lower School Students Honor Martin Luther King Jr. and His Legacy

    At last Friday’s lower school assembly, students gathered to honor the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. “This assembly is dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. and changemakers all over the world,” said Jenny Rinn, director of lower school, to begin the assembly. After a first grader shared the definition of a changemaker—someone who sees a problem in the community and has the courage to take action to make a change—second graders in 2W stood up in front of the group and read the beginning of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and then shared their own dreams...
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  • Fifth Grade Artwork Selected to Display at Contemporary Jewish Museum

    As part of the Contemporary Jewish Museum’s Shabbat Design Challenge for students, eight Brandeis 5th graders submitted work. Over 60 students from around the greater Bay Area submitted work and 18 of those submissions were selected to be on display at the CJM during the CJM ArtBash on Sunday, January 28 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Mazel tov to 5th graders Jacob B., Zachary N., Sadie P., and Rachel R. on having their work selected for the display. “I put this Shabbat Design Challenge out to my students as an optional project, meaning those who were interested could participate...
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  • Students Shine in Annie Jr.

    Middle school drama elective students took to the stage this week after spending months rehearsing the musical production Annie Jr. Annie Jr. is part of Music Theatre International’s Broadway Junior program, and features all the charm of the Annie musical, capturing Little Orphan Annie's exciting journey through 1930s New York as she looks for her family. “Students had been asking that we do Annie as our musical, and I thought it was the perfect production because it has many different roles and is well liked and well known,” explains director and drama teacher Crystal Brown...
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  • First Graders Learn about the Heart from a Brandeis Alumni Father-son Team

    For the last 10 years, cardiologist Dr. John MacGregor and his son Jacob (class of 2016) have visited Barbara Eisenhauer’s first grade class for a lesson about the heart. Dr. MacGregor and Jacob began the lesson yesterday morning by providing the first graders with an overview of the heart. “This year, they delved much more deeply into the relationship between the heart and the lungs,” explains Ms. Eisenhauer. “The students came away with the understanding of how the pulmonary artery carries blood to pick up oxygen and how the aorta carries the oxygen-rich blood back...
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  • New Multimedia Collage Elective Teaches Middle Schoolers a New Way of Expressing Ideas

    A new elective this year—multimedia and collage—is teaching middle school students a new way of expressing their ideas. Taught by David Starfas, the class began with students learning about traditional collage techniques before moving into digital collage techniques. “The magic with collage is when we use our imagination to make something new out of the old,” says Mr. Starfas. The students' task for the semester was to create a collage image of an animal wearing clothing. “To do this, students started by drawing the elements of a background and scanning those elements onto the computer...
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  • “Take a Trip Down the Nile, It’ll Be Worthwhile” – Sixth Graders Create Nile River Travel Brochures

    Sixth graders became travel agents in their social studies class, creating travel brochures highlighting the Nile River and four sites along it, as well as the pharaoh who commissioned the building of the sites: the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Karnak Temple Complex, the Dayr al-Bahir temple, and the Abu Simbel temples. “This assignment brings some purpose to what the students are learning about in their ancient Egypt unit,” explains teacher Allison Stine...
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  • Kindergarteners Explore Solar System and Tinkering at Chabot Space & Science Center

    The kindergarten field trip to Chabot Space and Science Center on December 17 was an exciting part of the science unit on outer space and the solar system. Students explored the exhibits, looked through telescopes, sat in a rocket, climbed into a black hole, and saw lots of space memorabilia. Kindergarteners saw the IMAX movie The Cardboard Rocket, about children who take a trip through space to visit each planet. They also had the opportunity to visit the Chabot Space and Science Center’s new space, Project Create, a tinkering and making space for all ages...
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  • Victorian Era Studies Come to Life for Third Graders

    The current social studies unit in third grade focuses on the Victorian era in San Francisco’s history. In addition to talking and reading about Victorian life, students have had the opportunity to see their learning come to life through playing Victorian-era children’s games. They tried their luck with Victorian-era games including jacks, whirligigs, button toss, and tops. Third graders also visited the Haas-Lillenthal House, a Victorian-era home that has been converted into a museum...
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