Thursday, May 12, 2016

Last Day...

Last Day in New York

Once our bags were packed and we checked out of the hotel we headed toward the final monument of the tour - the 9/11 memorial and museum, and a visit to the observation deck of the Freedom Tower, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere standing 1776 feet tall. 

The 9/11 memorial is a series of waterfalls at the footprints of the original towers. Several of the students had family friends who perished on 9/11 and we were fortunate enough to find the names of one of them Lorenzo Ramzey. 

The 9/11 Memorial and Museum tells a somber story and for some it was difficult to hear. Before entering the museum spaces we spoke to the students about what they may see and what happened on September 11, 2001. We reminded them that their parents, their school and their community are all here to keep them safe and that work is constantly being done by security personnel and armed forces toward that effort. They had many questions and we answered them and reminded them that we didn't always have all the answers but just like anything in history that has affected us, we are tasked with learning so that it may never happen again.  Upon entering the museum, students saw remnants of fire trucks, pictures of those who perished and heard recordings of the day's event. They also saw pieces of steel foundation, staircases and the original slurry wall that holds water from the Hudson River back.

When we left the museum area,  we sat in a circle under trees and shared what we learned and about how we felt. We spoke about how the Holocaust, while so much greater in magnitude, was caused by those with the same intent of destruction.   

We were inspired by the growth and rebuilding at the World Trade Center. Many buildings were destroyed on 9/11 - not just the twin towers. In their place, is growth and re-development, including the Freedom Tower. We were fortunate enough to spend time high in the sky on the observation deck and observe city views from a new point of view. 

For lunch,  we headed to Washington Square park in the middle Greenwich village, for a Yom Ha'Atzmaut picnic lunch and a chance to play I the sunshine before heading home. To our surprise, students from NYU (the NYU campus surrounds the park) had organized a Yom Ha'Atzmaut celebration with music, celebration livelihood and joy. They shared some flags with us  and our students were eager to share in Israeli pride. 

Now the trip has come to an end, and as they travel home, we know that our students enjoyed their travels and learned more then they realized, bringing fill circle not only the knowledge of their heritage and Judaism, but of Math, Science, History and Art. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Day 4 - New York City!

What a day filled with adventure and learning! We started with a visit to temple Emanu-El, the largest reform synagogue in North America, if not the world. As today was Yom HaZikaron - we started with a discussion about what that means as a day of remembrance for Israel's fallen soldiers and how it is juxtaposed by being followed with Yon Ha'Atzmaut as a day of celebration.  Students had insightful commentary about dedication and remembrance for fallen soldiers in the state of Israel, the bitter memories of those times, in comparison to the sweet memories of freedom, liberty, and the creation of a Jewish state of Israel. We observed a moment of silence and the group chanted Kaddish as they were led by Max and Ilan. Following Kaddish, we were joined by a docent and historian named Hadassah. She told the students about the construction of the facility before the depression and elaborated on the architecture. Students had insightful questions about the structure and community and compared it to what they learned at Eldridge Street on the opposite side of town.

Following temple Emanu-el, we did a walking tour of Rockefeller Center, and then back towards Time Square before catching the bus to go to Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Once at the Met, the students were encouraged to look for and engage in history through art, artistic styles, and to learn. Each group was charged with completing a mission through the museum and documenting their learning.  They were each asked to complete the following:
1.  Life imitating art! Take a picture of yourself in front of a piece of art or next to that piece of art, imitating it! Feel free to be creative but remember to be appropriate. Sculptures, paintings or other similar items are all acceptable.

2. Find something from ancient history - Greek Roman, or Egyptian! There is part of the Temple of Dandur set up in one section of the museum, sculptures, displays, and much much more! Have fun exploring.

3.  Find a piece of art by any of the impressionist artists. These include Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Vincent Van Gogh and Camille Pissaro among others. Be sure to photograph yourself alone or in a group  in front of that art. 

4. Find something from American history. Think about our Presidents, founding fathers, or anything else representing the United States of America. This can be a painting, a statue, or other artifact. Be sure to photograph yourselves in front of it as well.

5. Bonus! Find something that interests you take a picture and tell us why you found it interesting!

Several of the groups upon seeing the Sunflower painting by Vincent Van Gogh recalled a 4th grade art unit where they learned about Van Gogh and then themselves painted sunflowers. Another student asked about the dot paintings, referring to the Pointilism styling of painting  by Georges Seurat and recalled painting sailboats themselves in that style as first graders. It was wonderful to see and hear about learning becoming real and dynamic while having it move outside the classroom wall. They experienced this with joy and enthusiasm. Many students also enjoyed the roof top garden where the set of the mansion from the movie Psycho is on display.   

When asked about their favorite part of the Met, this is what the students replied:

Favorite things at the museum:

Max: bronze Greek chariot
Maya: Georges Seurat and Pointilism
Hannah: painting of the person on the subway
Dunn: painting of George Washington Crossing the Delaware
Alex: painting of George Washington Crossing the Delaware
Adam: statue of Perseus with medusa's head
Guy: anything by Vincent Van Gogh
Daniel:  anything by Vincent Van Gogh
Omri: sunflower painting by Claude Money
Everett: specific details in paintings
Seth: psycho mansion
Ezra: psycho mansion
Ilan: My favorite part was the pigeon and the girl 

So no trip to New York is complete without a Yankees game! So after the Met, we trekked to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and enjoyed a game of the Yankees versus the Royals.
It was a very action packed day!


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

STEAM TODAY but save the Art for Tomorrow!

While the focus yesterday in New York was on Judiac studies, Jewish heritage, and Jewish history, the focus today shifted towards the general studies side of the Kadima curriculum. As a school dedicated to the on going learning benefits of STEAM curriculum, we ensured that the math, engineering, and science components of STEAM were  addressed today.

Our day begin with a tour of the upper west side and Central Park. We learned of the importance of green space within the urban environment and the need for recreational space. We visited Strawberry Fields – a dedicated space created in honor of John Lennon by his wife Yoko Ono. At the "Imagine" Mosaic, students sang Beatles songs and enjoyed learning the history of that side of Central Park. 

Central Park was followed by a driving tour of Harlem and other areas north. Students learned the importance of the Apollo theater for African-American culture, and visited the outside of the theater.  We learned today that jazz musicians used to refer to the cities they played in as apples. When a musician booked a job in New York, they were fortunate enough to be working in the "big apple" as New York was the biggest city of them all! 

After stretching our legs on the upper West side, we very fortunate to visit a unique museum – the National Museum of Mathematics. At this museum, students worked in small groups in interactive and hands on learning spaces designed especially for children in their developmental range. Exhibits dealt with a range of mathematical topics, including speed and velocity where the children were able to design Galileo tracks, motion, geometric shapes, and other logic-based games. Their level of engagement and excitement in this space is indicative of the really strong math department at Kadima! Thank you Ms. Levant and Mrs. Garnick for bringing math to life for the students. 

For the afternoon, we headed to the Natural History Museum. We started the visit in the planetarium area of the museum, including a planetarium show. After the show, students had an hour to explore the rest of the vast museum. To ensure learning opportunities while having fun, we created a photographic scavenger hunt! 

Students were asked the following (and they came through!) 

1. Find the location of armor in the museum. Take a picture in front of armor displays of your choice with your group. 

2. Find the large great whale and  photograph it. 

3.   Find a display of an extinct animal of your choice. Take a group photograph in front of that creature. 

4. Last one! Find an exhibit of your choice different from each of the three previously mentioned in the game. Take a picture of your group in front of the exhibit. 

5. List one thing you learned in the planetarium show. 

5. Bonus question:  Find one artifact from the movie Night of the Museum, take a picture of your group in front of the artifact. 

As we headed into the evening, we enjoyed an elegant pre-theatre dinner in an elegant restaurant and then enjoyed a showing of Matilda at the Shubert Theatre. Our evening wrapped up with a late night New York Pizza snack before heading to bed!  

Monday, May 9, 2016

Jewish Heritage

The focus of our New York trip today was on Jewish heritage. We traveled downtown where we boarded the Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty ferries. We learned of the important history connected to those two areas of New York and importance to the Jewish people in the United States. The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France and a representation of high end architecture and engineering at the time. Ellis Island was the gateway of millions of immigrants into the United States from the late 1800s through the mid-1950s. So many Jewish immigrants entered New York through Ellis Island at the lower parts of Manhattan that those neighborhoods were often considered some of the busiest and most crowded  in the world of their time, compared to cities like Mumbai today.

From Ellis Island, we visited the Museum of Jewish Heritage located in Battery Park. Our tour guide was lovely and took time to explain important facts about heritage, culture and ancestry to our students. We looked at family trees and how family was the focal point of Jewish life then as it is now.  Each student also shared about their own heritage and recalled the immigration and family units they have studied at Kadima. 

Jewish learning continued as we moved further uptown. We soon found ourselves in the middle of Chinatown, in a neighborhood that was once completely inhabited by orthodox Jews. There we visited the Eldridge Street synagogue and museum. We learned how the building was refurbished, and how the neighborhood changed over time. The predominantly Jewish neighborhood was tightly populated with many tenement apartments. The neighborhood was called the "Jewish" lower Eastside. Students learned that as Jewish immigrants became more successful, they purchased homes and move to more up-and-coming neighborhoods further uptown. The neighborhood then became open to new immigrants once again. The Eldridge Street docents took us on a walking historical tour of the local community. We were able to see the original buildings that houses banks, newspapers and other high end buildings  - several were 10-12 stories high- the tallest sky scrapers at the time. 

After dinner, the group had additional free time to spend in Midtown. Collectively, the students decided to visit the Empire State building! At one point this skyscraper was the tallest in the world and was built at record speed.  Tomorrow, students continue learning about the importance of their heritage and connect it back to their Kadima curriculum.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Welcome to the Big Apple

Our sixth and seventh graders traveling to New York have arrived safely! After an early-morning flight departing from LAX, students have checked into their hotel and have already begun to experience big city life. The group enjoyed a lovely dinner at Ben's Deli and then headed to TIMES SQUARE. Of course the stop included the Hershey's store and a stop at Junior's for Cheesecake before walking back to our hotel. Students are waiting with anticipation for tomorrow to arrive as they embark on learning through visits at Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and a walk through downtown Manhattan. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Bruchim HaBaim - Welcome to Israel

Kadima 8th grade delegates to sister school Ort Yad Singalovski, in Tel Aviv, departed from Los Angeles yesterday and have safely arrived in Israel today! This trip is part of the Tel-Aviv Los Angeles school twinning program of the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles.  By connecting Kadima students to students in Israel, we fulfill one of the key points of our school mission - creating a love for and connection with our Jewish homeland of Israel.  Students spend their Kadima educational careers learning about and supporting Israel.  This culminating experience, as graduating 8th graders, enhances this connection.  For some this is their first trip ever to Israel; for others the trip shines a light on Israel in a way they have never seen it before!  We invite you to track this blog and watch their experiences together as they learn, grow and honor Israel. 

Upon their arrival, students were greeted warmly by their hosts. Upon arrival in Israel, students and their chaperones took a bus to the old city of Yaffo. They walked along the cobbled stones of a city that is 5000 years old and enjoyed views of the modern city of Tel Aviv. Our Kadima students loved reconnecting with their Israeli partners. After their walking tour through Yaffo, they were picked up by their host families, exhausted but happy!