In this week’s #viewfromtheprincipal, I’d like to spotlight one of the unique ways our students engage in partnered learning on a daily basis, better known in the Jewish tradition as Chavruta study.
I was walking by Mr. Costello’s 4th grade classroom today and couldn’t help but peek in and observe. The students are deep in learning about the history of California. They are learning about the Gold Rush, immigration factors, and California’s unique geography and topography.
What then, you may ask, does this have to do with a system of partnered learning developed by ancient Jewish sages to understand Divine laws?
Unlike the more conventional methods of learning in schools where students tend to memorize and repeat the material back in tests, Chavruta learning puts each student in the position of analyzing the text, organizing their thoughts into logical arguments, explaining their reasoning to their small partner, hearing each other’s reasoning, and then questioning and sharpening each other’s ideas, often arriving at entirely new insights into the meaning of the text.
Bringing this particular mode of learning into our general curriculum not only honors our traditions, but it also helps students develop critical thinking skills, become more effective readers and writers, and empathetic human beings. It allows us to create a more diverse learning environment – one in which all students, and the texts they study, are heard and considered.
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