New Digital Resources to Support Blended Learning in Judaic Studies
Looking for Judaic Studies resources to use in the fall? Look no further! These new online resources are just what you need to bring the world of Torah to your digital native students.
Created by Frankel Jewish Academy, this website offers two free educational games you use to teach Jewish history, halakha, and much more.
Sparks of Eternity
Taking place during the siege Jerusalem, this game gives students the chance to step inside an interactive historical environment. They are tasked with helping Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai escape from Jerusalem and must also explore the digital world in order to save the Oral Torah from destruction by the Romans. Along the way, students will meet other famous rabbinic figures and learn about the historical period through gameplay. Their learning can be further enhanced by a resource section containing Jewish texts on which the game is based. Available for PC or Mac as well as on iPad, the game can serve as an excellent supplement to text-based learning and would make an engaging blended learning rotation station.
This game picks up where the above game left off and gameplay centers on the ancient city of Yavneh, where the rabbis built a center of Jewish life and learning after the destruction of Jerusalem. Students players get to participate in building a new world for the Jewish people in Yavneh by engaging in a variety of activities, ranging from agricultural tasks and quests to observing Jewish holidays, rituals, and laws. Designed for educators, the game also offers special features to assist teachers in integrating the game into the classroom. Through the educator’s portal, teachers can create an online class community in the game and assign questions and quests to students. As students work together as a class, they contribute to the advancement of their game community and unlock new sites, including the Beit Midrash. Teachers can use the game’s Beit Midrash to pose questions to students and can provide rewards in the game when students have completed these challenges. The Talmid Chacham character provides an additional opportunity for teachers to create a custom question pool for students. Your class can play on a PC or iPad. Seamlessly integrating fun and authentic Jewish learning, this game has the potential to become a classroom favorite.
Nicknamed the “Google of the Bible,” the recently launched HaTanakh.com has a lot to offer your students. In addition to exploring an easily navigable full-text Tanakh, students will also be able to study rabbinic commentary and Targum line-by-line alongside the biblical text. Audio and video options related to topics in the biblical text are also displayed on the side as you navigate through the Tanakh. One particularly helpful feature is the toolbar at the top, which provides visual organization and summaries of each section in the biblical text. For example, students studying the Book of Genesis would see Creation, The Creation of Man, The Garden of Eden, The Tree of Knowledge, and so on. The toolbar also provides other visual organizational categories, including location or character and weekly parasha. As students navigate around the Tanakh text, the highlighted sections of the toolbar change dynamically, providing a visual grounding in where the current text being studied is located in relation to other sections and topics. Students can also gain an understanding of geographical locations mentioned in the Tanakh. After searching a biblical location, students can see the city on a map and can also toggle on and off cities from different time periods. Additional features that will be useful for teachers include articles, lessons, and weekly parasha resources. Though the site isn’t yet complete, it already has a lot to offer your students and provides many ways of engaging them in learning Jewish texts.
Yonah Kirschner, former Project Manager, Digital Content and Communications at The Jewish Education Project.