Shalom! Aleph Bet Jewish Day School is often described as a tiny treasure within the area’s private school community. Located not far from the center of Annapolis, for over two decades Aleph Bet has been teaching writing and respect, vocabulary and values to elementary school children from all over Anne Arundel County. The texts and traditions of Judaism are interwoven with twenty-first century skills and information in an academic program that has earned certification from the Association of Independent Maryland Schools (AIMS) and approval by the Maryland State Department of Education.
Small classes and caring, qualified teachers produce graduates who are compassionate, competent, and confident - ready to meet the challenges of secondary school and to contribute to their communities.
To learn more about Aleph Bet or to schedule a personal tour, contact our Head, Nan Jarashow at 410-263-9044 or email@example.com.
Recently, the fourth and fifth graders approached me with earnest faces, eager to share their business plan and to ask me for a loan. Like scores of near-graduates before them, they were about to begin a weekly school supply sale, the School Shuk. They had selected inventory, determined prices, assigned tasks, and just needed some cash to get started. I had no problem floating a loan to these careful planners who showed so much determination to succeed.
Now, under the proud gaze of their math teacher, Diane McGrady, the kids conduct business each Friday during recess. Eager youngsters crowd around the tables to check out the pencils, erasers, and novelties. At the end of the year, the class will deliberate about what charity will benefit from the profits they have made through their sales.
"Done that." "Done that." "Know that." Such was a fifth grader's comment on the tasks she encountered during a "shadow day" at the Middle Years IB program recently. This is the time of year when empty seats appear in the fifth grade classroom as soon-to-be-graduates take days off to visit Key School, Indian Creek, and public magnets like the International Baccalaureate, STEM, and Performing and Visual Arts programs. The transition to middle school usually causes some anxiety in anticipation - "Will kids be friendly?" "Will I know the right stuff?" "Will I be able to open my locker?" But our students come back from these visits reassured and ready to be ready for their next step. They discover that they know plenty - sometimes sixth grade work reviews what they have already studied - and that there are friends to be made wherever they go.
The transition is bittersweet for their teachers. We know we'll miss them, but we're proud to send them off with the skills and the confidence to succeed. We love to hear about alumni triumphs in the County Science Fair or History Day competition, or that they've made the honor roll. And we enjoy seeing graduates return for Empty Bowls Night, to help out in the library or classrooms, or join us for school-wide celebrations.
Learning from Each Other
As teachers, we hope to inspire our students to become lifelong learners. Part of that process takes place through activities and experiences in the classroom that convey the value and the delight of learning. We also model the behavior of continued learning, both informally and in structured situations.
This fall the Aleph Bet faculty has enjoyed a chance to learn together - and to teach each other - through a series of weekly mini-lessons that kick off each faculty meeting. Using the book High Yield Routines, we have taken turns introducing 5-minute flexible math warm ups that strengthen number sense in our students. For instance, one routine, "The Daily Number," consists of posting a number on the board and asking students to write or tell something they know about it. If seven is the number of the day, students could share that it comes after 6, is the sum of 2 and 5, is the number of days in the week, is equal to 51-44, is written with only straight lines, is one-tenth of seventy, is a prime number, or is the square root of 49 - and they would all be correct! Depending on the grade level, the number could be an integer, a fraction or a negative number, and could be one digit or nine. In just a few minutes at the beginning of class, or in a short transition time, students can respond at their own level, learn from each other, expand their concepts of number, and have fun brainstorming!
Our Green Status
As part of our Green School status, we have been developing curriculum that introduces students at all grade levels to the challenges that face our local ecosystem. For example, the fourth grade studies wetland habitats. Last year, at Jug Bay Wetland Sanctuary, students studied soil types and they tested water for pH, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity to determine the health of local creeks and rivers.
This year, as fifth graders, they are looking at changes in population levels for the inhabitants of the Bay area as another way to gauge the health of the Chesapeake. They have tracked fifty years of population data for oysters and blue crabs, and they will be taking a look at statistics for rockfish and bald eagles. We hope that early awareness of the environmental challenges in our region will lead to responsible action throughout our students' lives.
In the first grade room this morning as the students were studying the November calendar and anticipating special events in the month ahead, a child announced this year's overlap ofHanukkah and Thanksgiving, a once in 70,000 year occurrence. The internet is full of ideas for recipes and decorations, and we encourage our students and their families to exercise their creativity to commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
For the month of November, we are reserving a space in our display case for turkey menorahs, cornucopias of dreidels, and any other Thanksgivukkah Judaicart our school community can imagine and create. Let your imaginations go wild, and bring in your creations for our students to enjoy!
This year our faculty decided to adopt the "Daily Five" as a framework for our language arts block. I have enjoyed visiting the grades during Daily Five time to see both the consistency of practice from grade to grade and also the adaptations our professional educators have made so that the framework serves each unique group of learners.
The basic framework has students spend time during the block onreading to self, reading to someone, listening to reading, word work, and working on writing. The system is grounded in the understanding that to get better at reading and writing, it is necessary to read and write (!), so busy work and extraneous activities are minimized. Students develop stamina for both reading and writing, exercise choice in what they read and write, and are coached by the teacher, individually or in small groups, to implement reading and writing skills and strategies more effectively.
The sun was bright, the ice was smooth, parent chaperones were abundant, and the skaters were intrepid! Our second annual Quiet Waters Ice Rink PE class for grades 2-5 was a hit. With lots of adults to assist with lacing skates, we were on the ice in short order and spent the better part of two hours refining our technique. For some it was polishing backward skating or attempting spins, but for most it was figuring out how to stay upright - or learning to glide without the support of a "walker." Hot chocolate was a good excuse to take a quick break, but most of the skaters were back on the ice in minutes, ready to try again. We're very thankful to all the parents who joined us and made such a delightful afternoon possible!
"To project your voice, show your TEETH!" That's just one of the acting tips guest teacher Mary Beth Bowen offered our fourth and fifth graders in a whirlwind visit. She took them through a quick round of exercises for voice, gesture, sound effects, and expression. Then she engaged the students in a discussion of bullying - What is peer pressure? What makes people act like bullies? What strategies help victims to deal with bullies? What can bystanders do to help? Finally, she handed out two page scripts, allowed for a quick rehearsal, and - less than forty-five minutes after she arrived - staged the Bullying Prevention Readers Theatre.
It couldn't have been a more valuable experience for the class. The kids got to think and talk about situations that most of us encounter at some point in life. And they participated in an intense acting workshop just as they're beginning to rehearse for the biennial all-school play!
Drama in the Curriculum
Who would believe a mouse could help a lion? And yet it happened in the familiar tale, recently dramatized by our kindergartners. The class studied the story, polished their production, and then invited the other classes to come and see. The audience was charmed by the actors and remembered fondly their own roles in the story in years past. Most Fridays this fall, the fourth and fifth graders have acted out Sedra Scenes, skits that bring the weekly parsha to life, for their schoolmates during Kabbalat Shabbat.
Many of the school's dramatic productions are similar to these, impromptu or briefly rehearsed playlets performed for a school-day audience. But we are now beginning work on our biennal extravaganza - the all-school play - which will involve all students and have an evening showing. Fourth and fifth graders will have speaking roles in The Big Bad Musical, and younger students will serve as chorus and extras. Students learn much through this experience - stagecraft, how to work as part of an ensemble, self-control, and confidence. Mark your calendars, and tell family and friends to reserve Tuesday evening, March 11. It's sure to be great!
A frigid night, warm soup, good friends. Those were the key elements in Empty Bowls Night. More than one-hundred diners enjoyed the hearty goodness of Chef Steve Lebowitz's homemade soups, and each was able to take home a unique bowl decorated by an Aleph Bet student. The crowd was composed of more than 80% of current Aleph Bet students and their families, a number of alumni families, and some community friends of the school, all of whom seemed to enjoy the schmoozing as much as the slurping! Although a final accounting is not complete, it looks as if we netted close to $700 to donate to the local Lighthouse Shelter and Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger. Thank you to Steve and PTO volunteers for cooking, setting up, and cleaning up; to our teachers for serving so that families could enjoy the meal together; and to all our parents for partnering with us to develop a habit oftzedakah in our children.
To request information, please select from the options below or contact our Head, Nan Jarashow at 410-263-9044 or firstname.lastname@example.org.