Weekly Learning Journal

Weekly Journal: identify one occasion of a learning breakthrough/learning block. Focus, process, and outcome: did others play a role in the process? How were you affected or changed by this situation?

Week of 6/22

Learning block: Defining Midrash In Yehuda's class, we are studying Jewish texts, which is a very new process for me. I'm a fan of defining and categorizing these texts: is it from the Talmud, and more specifically, from the Mishnah or the Gemara? Is it a Tannaitic writing, or from another time period? Beyond this, is it apodictic or exegetical? Or is it simply a narrative story? What is the context around the text?
Learning breakthrough: Tractate Shabbat

Throughout my Jewish education, I was never aware of what I don't know, and I just always assumed it was a large amount. I had a learning breakthrough when I was able to apply something I had learned in seminary to Yehuda's class. We were assigned to read Tractate Shabbat from the Mishnah (from the Talmud Bavli) and compare it with the Tosefta tractate on Shabbat. I had a learning breakthrough in that I used my prior knowledge about the 39 forbidden melachot (creative work) and where the rabbis had deduced them from (based on work needed for buidling and preparing the mishkan) to interpret the text. Without this prior knowledge, I would have been very confused about the connection of these 39 forbidden melachot listed in the Mishnah, and the Tosefta discussion about the connection between the commandment to build and prepare the mishkan and whether or not this should be done on Shabbat, or only on Shabbat, or never on Shabbat.

Week of 6/28

Learning block: Leila's class, in trying to decode the rules about phonics. There is some ambiguity about where to break up the syllables: Is it wa/ter or wat/er? Is it to/geth/er or to/ge/ther? It's difficult to decode rules, even though I know how to implement them. I thought that I understood until Laliv asked me to explain some things to her. That's when my gap in understanding emerged. I thought that I understood these rules before, but it turned out that I merely understood how to use them, but not explain them.
Here's where the block occurred: the "bossy R" refers to an /r/ sounds that, when coupled with a vowel, kind of takes over the vowel, as in /er/ and /ar/ where you barely hear the vowel, and it's written phonetically as /R/. My learning block was as follows: I asked people in the class, including Lea who has taken this class before, about it, and everyone seemed to agree that regardless of whether you hear a difference between cart and first, the vowel-R is indicated in the same way: /R/. It didn't make sense because I always thought the reason we write phonetic marks was to differentiate different sounds, therefore if two letter/letter combinations sound different, there should be two different phonetic marking for them. I could not own this information (that two different sounds are phonetically marked with the same symbol), and therefore was not satisfied with this information. In this instance, others' insistence and my trust in their expertise (Lea's) confused me even more. I wasn't just confused, I was actually convicted of an opposing view.
Learning breakthrough: when I talked to Leila, she explained that for the purposes of this class, we would be using a somewhat simplified view of phonetic markings, and the /R/ was just to indicate that the R takes over most of the sound.

Week of 7/6

My learning breakthrough this week was in applying what we have been learning about in Teaching Reading to the actual practice of working with children. There is a huge gap between learning to teach reading versus actually doing it, and the beginning step is the biggest obstacle. In Teaching Reading, we have watched videos and reviewed students' work, but my breakthrough came when I administered a dictation exercise. The sentence was something like, "I waited for the big yellow bus. It stopped for me to get on." I saw that the students' listening and comprehension skills could actually ber analyzed from this exercise, whereas before I was very uncomfortable thinking that these children's literacy education was in my hands. It was an "aha!" moment in that I went from understanding the theoreticals behind the test (it makes sense that you have a child write down what you say in order to assess what they hear and comprehend and know how to translate into letter), to actually seeing this process in action. Lo and behold, some students could write down entire words, complete with silent e's and all, yet others clearly had a problem differentiating out initial and final sounds.