Teaching Israel in an elementary school in the Reshet.il network in Latin America
Reshet.il – "Shituf", Latin America
Location:Six countries in Latin America: Argentina (Buenos Aires and Rosario); Uruguay (Montevideo); Ecuador (Quito); Brazil (San Paolo, Rio de Janiero, and Porto Alegro); Mexixo (Mexico City); and Chile (Santiago)
Name of implementing organization:Reshet.il, a network of Jewish schools in 6 countries in Latin America
Date of initial project approval:February 2009
Brief description of the local Jewish community
Project aims and objectives
Most Jewish schools in Latin America face a shortage of written materials for teaching Israel. The solution is not to import materials from Israel. Project Shituf aims to solve this problem through the active participation of the local teachers, who themselves will develop the new materials. Thus, all the materials will be appropriate for use with students in Latin America, both in terms of content and level.
After 2-3 years work on this project, the schools will have a database of 30 thematic units on Israel, written by local teachers, which will provide a basis for teaching Israel in Jewish elementary schools in Latin America.
Reshet.il is a network of Jewish elementary schools in Latin America, established in 2004. The network was established for the purpose of providing enrichment and trainingfor teachersconnected to teaching Israel.
In 2009, the schools in the Reshet.il network decided that it was time to take a new look at the Israel education curriculum taught in the network schools, and to establish a list of subjects relevant for regular inclusion in Israel instruction. It was decided for this project that each school would select a subject which it was interested in developing for a particular age group. The school also would appoint a team of teachers responsible for developing and writing this unit.
All of the teams receive enrichment lectures presented by lecturers from Israel who are experts on content and methodology. They also receive individual support from tutors on content and methodology, which help them to develop the new units. All the units undergo a process of pilot use, evaluation, correction, language editing, graphic design, and translation. They then are uploaded to the Reshet.il website, for use by all the schools in the Reshet.il network.
14 teams of teachers have developed teaching units on a variety of subjects connected to Israeli society and culture, the Land of Israel, Israeli advancements in science and technology, and Israeli folklore. Topics have included: Communities Within Israel and Their Leaders; The New Israeli; Israeli Creativity in Science and Technology; Settlement of the Negev; Ecology and the Environment; The Goal of Aliyah; Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel.
The teams worked intensively to write the units during the course of 3 months. They were supported by Israeli content and methodology supervisors. All of the consultation was provided via e-mail, Skype, and enrichment lectures via the internet platform Wiziq.
In August 2010, there was a conference in Argentina at which representatives of all the schools presented their work. The conference enabled the participants to appreciate the scope of their joint accomplishments, and they returned to their schools with ideas for developing and implementing new units, and new ideas (after completion of the pilot phase) for implementing the units developed in other schools.
During the second semester, the teams implemented the units in the classrooms, and were able to observe the reactions of the students. Many schools were in touch with parents about the project through internet blogs and digital newspapers. School principals and teachers completed feedback forms. Photographs and videos documenting the project were uploaded to the project website. The Project Director also followed progress on a daily basis, via special forms completed by teachers after each lesson.
After evaluation of the pilot, the teaching units received final corrections, were translated into Hebrew by the teachers, went for final examination by the Project Methodological Supervisors, and were submitted in final form to the project administration. In December and January, the Hebrew language version of the units were edited, the units were translated into a third language (either Spanish or Portuguese), and they underwent graphic design to make them a more coherent whole. They will be uploaded to the Reshet.il website, in all 3 languages.
In March 2011, new teams, comprised primarily of teachers who taught the pilot units in 2010, will begin the work of developing and writing new teaching units.
Main budget elements
- Payment to teachers who developed the units
- Payment to lecturers
- Project Director
- Annual meeting in Buenos Aires, for representatives of all the schools
- Translation, editing, and graphic design
- Internet infrastructure to connect the participants in the project and the project staff, and maintenance of the project website
The project's successes
- The success of the local teachers' in writing high quality educational materials about Israel
- Successful and innovative use of the internet for instruction and supervision, enrichment, and follow-up on the work of the teachers
- Meeting the project timetable
- Willingness to involve additional institutions in the work of each school
Difficulties encountered along the way
The principal difficulties actually contributed in the end to the success of the project. Teachers were not accustomed to the academic demands, and the sessions via the internet often did not help them understand what was expected of them. Both the teachers and the academic supervisors invested many more hours than had been expected, and not always with immediate success.
While the school administrations supported the project, it did not always receive the attention required and expected by the Project Director and the teachers.
It initially was expected that during the second year the composition of the school teams would remain stable, and that this would reduce the considerable investment of time and effort required to train the teachers in the first year. However, due to the subsequent rotation in composition of the teams, it is anticipated that the second year's work will be more intensive than originally was planned.