February 2, 2018 - 17 Shevat 5778 - Yitro
ES Highlights
D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
Pinat HaParasha
Chagigat HaChumash
Report Card Grading
Cardboard Challenge
Third Grade Principals' Coffee
Next Principals' Coffees
Understanding Our Differences
Chesed Chaverim
Family Learning
STEM Update
Bracha Bee
Screen Time
Cold Weather Reminder
Lost and Found
Social Time!
ECC/MS/US Newsletters
ES Calendar
Wednesday, Feb. 7
Grade 4 Principals' Coffee 8:00-8:45 a.m. 

Sunday, Feb. 11
Family Learning

Tuesday, Feb. 13
3:00 p.m. Dismissal

Wednesday, Feb. 14
Grade 5 Principals' Coffee 8:00-8:45 a.m. 

Monday, Feb. 19- 
Friday, Feb. 23
February Vacation, 
No School

As always, please see the Kol Rambam Weekly for the all-school calendar, events and PTA notes.
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Dear Parents,

We had a great week at school!
Please read on for the latest Elementary School news and information about upcoming events. 
D'var Torah
by Rabbi David Saltzman
Moshe's father-in-law Yitro blessed G-d when he heard about all that G-d had done for the Jewish people:
וַיֹּאמֶר יִתְרוֹ בָּרוּךְ ה' אֲשֶׁר הִצִּיל אֶתְכֶם מִיַּד מִצְרַיִם וּמִיַּד פַּרְעֹה אֲשֶׁר הִצִּיל אֶת־הָעָם מִתַּחַת יַד־מִצְרָיִם׃
"Blessed be G-d, Who rescued you from hand of Egypt and from the hand of Pharaoh, Who liberated the people from Egypt's power. Now I know that G-d is the greatest of all deities: the very thing they plotted came on them!" (Ex. 18:10-11)
What exactly did Yitro mean with the words ' בָּרוּךְ ה ?
The HaKetav V'Hakaballa suggests two meanings:
רגילים לתרגמו לשון שבח והלול (געלאָבט),
The usual explanation is one of praise and glory.
Certainly, after Yitro heard firsthand about the miraculous defeat of Pharaoh and the saving of the Jewish people, that intervention by G-d deserved praise and glorification.
He then offers another possibility:
וי"מ שהוא תואר אליו יתברך, להיותו כולל כל הברכות ומשפיע שפעת טובה לזולתו
Others explain that this word is a description of His attributes, namely that G-d contains and comprises all blessings and He showers others with these blessings.
According to the first explanation, the word baruch is used as a praise of G-d. The second explanation, however, is saying that G-d is the controller of all events that happen in the world, and He determines to whom and when these blessings arrive. It's interesting to note that Yitro concluded from the Jewish people's escape from Egypt that ALL good that happens is a direct result of G-d's influence. Whether the benefit is escape and freedom from a harmful foe, or simply eating an apple, each event deserves the recognition that G-d is the provider of this enjoyable experience.
These two ideas of the HaKetav V'Hakaballa work in tandem. Once we realize that G-d is the provider of the benefits that we enjoy in this world, on a personal and national level, this will motivate us to bless G-d with the proper berachot for all good things, great and small.
We asked the children: What other berachot do you recite that, if you thought about the details, would increase your hakarat hatov to Hashem?
Click here to save or print the D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
by Rabbi David Saltzman      

Yitro questions why people are standing in line all day in front of Moshe. According to Ramban, Moshe answered that he had 3 responsibilities: To daven for the people - לִדְרשׁ אֱלֹהִים , to judge them - וְשָׁפַטְתִּי , and to teach them Torah - וְהוֹדַעְתִּי אֶת חֻקֵּי .
Expanding on responsibility number one, the Rav explains that when a person davens for someone who is ill, Hashem judges the sick person and decides whether they are worthy of being cured. Sometimes, if the person does not deserve to be healed, perhaps a family member who is pained by the situation could warrant a restoration of health for the sick person.
The Rav asserts, based on an alternative reading of a gemara in Berachot, that a talmid chacham who is unrelated to the sick person has the same power as a relative to heal the sick through tefilla. When the talmid chacham expends extra effort and energy and joins in the pain of the sick person, Hashem will send a cure to the ill person on behalf of the talmid chacham. Since the talmid chacham does not deserve to be in pain, the sick person is healed.
Therefore, tzadikim, talmedei chachamim, and neviim have a special responsibility and obligation to daven on behalf of others. This was the first responsibility, among many, that Moshe fulfilled for the people.
Pinat HaParasha
Please click here  to view the  Pinat  HaParasha for Parshat Yitro. You are encouraged to print the document and use it as a source for discussion at the Shabbat table.
Chagigat HaChumash
The Brener gym was brimming with excitement this morning as second grade families and friends joined together for the annual Chumash celebration. This exciting milestone event marks the recent accomplishments and future learning of our second graders in Chumash, the study of which they began just this year.

Family and friends joined the second grade students and enjoyed the student presentation, which included the children singing beautiful Chumash-related songs, dances, and percussion instruments.

We also saw a video of the second graders enjoying learning in their classrooms, responding in Hebrew to questions about their learning and what they were looking forward to at the Chagigah.  After the video, and a d'var Torah about shalom preceding the giving of the Torah at Sinai, the students were formally presented with their new chumashim along with sweet and tasty cookies and honey.

Many thanks to the teachers - HaMorah Raphaelle, HaMorah Ruth, Mrs. Bassi, and Ms. Brooks - for teaching and preparing the students, and to Mr. Malkin for his musical accompaniment. We also thank the second grade PTA parent volunteers for the delicious refreshments.

Report Card Grading Rubric Key
We hope that you've enjoyed reading your child's report card.  Because we neglected to send you the definitions of the number grades that appear for each subject category, we are including them here.  Please contact Rabbi Saltzman, Reena Slovin, or your child's teacher if you have any questions.
  • 4 - The student has a complete and detailed understanding of the topic and/or demonstrates the skill, process, or behavior with consistency and proficiency
  • 3 - The student has a good understanding of the topic and/or demonstrates the skill, process, or behavior with proficiency much of the time
  • 2 - The student has only a basic understanding of the topic and/or demonstrates the skill, process, or behavior only some of the time
  • 1 - The student does not demonstrate a basic understanding of the topic and/or is unable to demonstrate the skill, process, or behavior 
  • NA - Not applicable to this child

Cardboard Challenge
On Tuesday, the 5th graders participated in a collaborative cardboard challenge with the 7th graders.  They prepared by watching a video called "Caine's Arcade" about a boy who built a cardboard arcade. Then they collected empty cardboard rolls to use in their challenge.  The students formed groups which then discussed and chose their arcade games.  They used cardboard, tape, hot glue, pom poms, pipe cleaners, sticky cubes, bouncy balls, etc. to create a real game that they all played at the end. The 5th graders learned to use recycled materials, worked with older students so they could get used to Middle School, and worked as a team.  They had a lot of fun and left with a cookie! 

We want to thank Morah Dana Bar-Or and Ms. DiOrio, who helped organize and run the event. We especially want to thank the Mamane family, who donated much of the great cardboard tubing.

Third Grade Principals' Coffee
Our third grade Principals' Coffee took place this past Wednesday morning with a large group of parents in attendance. The principals were joined by Katie Hillman, Elementary School social worker, and both third grade lead teachers, Michal Bessler and Tamar Benjamin.

Katie started the meeting by describing the social/emotional curriculum that we are using in Grade 3, which is a combination of two different programs. One is taught on a weekly basis by Michal Bessler and is based on Open Circle, a social and emotional learning program for grades K-5 aimed at developing skills for recognizing and managing emotions, empathy, positive relationships, problem-solving, and developing a classroom community where students feel safe, cared for, and engaged in learning. Hamorah Bessler integrates many of the Open Circle concepts with Jewish learning and Torah, as well as our middot theme of hakarat hatov . Recently, these lessons have focused on teaching children how to compliment and praise one another for their actions. Compliments must be sincere, true, and appropriate.
Additionally, Tamar Benjamin uses a program called Mind Up, a mindfulness-based social-emotional program created by the Hawn Foundation with activities around topics such as gratitude, mindfulness, and perspective-taking. Tamar folds in relevant popular children's books so that students can learn reading comprehension strategies, along with developing social/emotional skills. Class Dojo is connected to the Mind-Up program in that it promotes being aware of oneself, developing a growth mindset, focusing on the present moment, and recognizing strength in yourself and others. Students also practice perspective-taking - understanding how we make others feel. The third graders have been learning a great deal about their brains and sensory needs. Parents are able to look at their child's Class Dojo progress, which is a good way to ask children about what kinds of behaviors they exhibited in order to earn points.
Our third graders recently had their first session of the Understanding Our Differences program, funded through the Ruderman Foundation. This program teaches children about different types of disabilities and life challenges and provides another important means of sensitizing our students to the needs of others. The third graders learned about deafness. They were very engaged and asked respectful questions. Parents who are interested are encouraged to volunteer for these programs, as they can serve an important need.
Other topics discussed included long-term projects. Parents asked that when these types of projects are assigned to be completed at home, the teacher set short-term goals at weekly intervals and have check-ins so that the students neither complete it all at the beginning nor wait until the very end to complete it. Ms. Benjamin and Hamorah Bessler also encouraged parents to schedule playdates for their children with classmates over the weekend. Most tend to play with the same friend or two, and a good way to help them broaden their friendships is through playdates. Katie Hillman suggested that the parents organize some Sunday activities or outings for small groups of third graders and parents, intentionally getting together with other children with whom they don't typically play.
Next Principals' Coffees
The next Principals' Coffee will be for Fourth Grade parents, and will take place  Wednesday, February 7, from 8:00-8:45 a.m. in the library on the third floor. Principals' coffees are taking place for parents of students at each grade level on mornings in January and February. The coffees are an opportunity for parents to talk with the principals, ask questions, give input, and learn more about different aspects of Maimonides students' life and learning at a particular grade level.

Come and meet other families from your child's class and ask the principals questions about the class, curriculum, or anything else!
Upcoming coffee:
5th grade - Wednesday, February 14
Understanding Our Differences
by the 3rd graders

On Tuesday
in third grade we had a special program called Understanding Our Differences. At the program we lip read, listened to a deaf person speak, and signed in sign language.

We did lip reading. Some classmates mouthed sentences. We learned that if you have a moustache it is hard to lip read what you are mouthing.

We listened to a deaf person speak. His name was Gary, he always helps with Understanding our Differences. Gary was born deaf.

We learned how to sign the sign language alphabet. We learned the American and Hebrew sign language ABCs. We also learned how to spell our names in sign language.
This is what we did at the Understanding Our Differences learning about people who are deaf.

Chesed Chaverim
by the shlichot

We had a chesed chaverim with 3rd-5th grade. We learned from Honi and the Carob tree midrash about "הכרת הטוב" to our ancestors and doing good to our friends. We did the "מירוץ לעץ" and saw that we can learn a lot from the trees and all Hashem's creations.
With kindergarten we learned about Israeli fruits and heard the story "שישה בשקיק"!
Family Learning on Sunday 2/11
Next Sunday there will be Family Learning from 10:15 - 11:30 a.m. in the Brener lunchroom. We will be learning about and experiencing the special mitzvot of Purim. Come prepare grape juice for the Purim
seudah and learn how to write a megilla with sofer Ben Houben. These are just some of the activities and learning planned for next Sunday . See you then!

STEM Update
On Tuesday the 5B section combined Chumash and STEM in a brick-making project. Rabbi Reisman and Mrs. Smith collaborated on this unique project. After learning about Pharaoh's reluctance to provide straw to the Jewish people in Egypt, the 5th graders got to work on making their own bricks using various materials. After making a first brick, the students made a second one using different measurements. The materials used for each brick were carefully measured and documented. After the bricks dry, they will be tested for durability, and the class will try to determine which mix of materials will make the strongest brick. 5A will participate in this special project next week.

Bracha Bee
This year we have been concentrating on learning how to show הכרת הטוב to Hashem. One way of showing hakarat hatov is through reciting ברכות. In keeping with that theme, we will have a school-wide Bracha Bee for grades 2-3 and 4-5.
Students in grades 2 - 5 are now learning about brachot. Students will continue to learn about this important topic from now until February vacation.
Students received lists of brachot to study, which will also be reviewed in class. Students should continue to study the lists at home . Click on the links below to download the packets:
The qualifying round will be on Monday, February 5, when all students will answer questions about ברכות on a Google form containing about 30 - 40 items and will need to identify the appropriate ברכה. There will also be some questions where they will need to fill in the missing words of ברכות. The top five scorers from each grade will move on to the school-wide Bracha Bee, which will take place before February vacation.
Here are some studying tips for the students:
1. Pace yourself over the next few weeks. Study two pages a week.
2. Have someone test you on the appropriate brachot for different foods.
3. Say the ברכות out loud to learn them by heart. Learn the meaning of the ברכות.
Good luck studying, and remember to say your ברכות before and after eating!
Screen Time for Students
We know that many parents try to limit screen time for their children and would like better guidelines or alternative means for students to practice their skills.  
We have compiled the chart below with our recommendations and requirements for each grade. If your child does not do well with these programs and you would like alternative ways for them to work on their skills, please let the teachers know and they will be glad to make other suggestions and/or supply other materials.

Reflex Math
KeyboardingWithout Tears
or Typing Club
Ariot Cal or iTalAm
Dah Ber
20 minutes a week; possibly more for specific students.
2x week
15 Minutes
Recommended 15 minutes a week;
possibly more for specific students
Recommended 15 minutes a week
1 x week
15 minutes or more
Recommended 2x week
10-15 minutes;
possibly more for specific students
2x week
10-15 minutes
As assigned by teacher
Recommended for specific students
Required 3x week
15 minutes
between school & home
Required 2x week
15 minutes
 As assigned by teacher
Optional & Occasional
Recommended for specific students
3x week
15 minutes until completed  
Typing Club: Optional up to
3x week 15 minutes
As assigned by Teacher
Recommended for specific students
3-4x week
15-20 minutes until completed
As assigned by Teacher

Important Cold Weather Reminder
Although the cold New England winter weather has arrived, we continue to enjoy outdoor recess unless the temperature is below 20 degrees. Students should be reminded that they must bring warm winter coats, hats (or hoods), and gloves to school each day. They are required to bring these out to recess with them, but may take off layers as they warm up when playing outdoor recess games. When there is snow on the ground, students need to wear boots in order to walk on snowy areas and snow pants if they want to play in the snow. Students will not be permitted to stay indoors during recess.

Lost and Found - השבת אבידה
We are in the process of collecting items that have been sitting in the Lost and Found collection for several weeks and will be donating them shortly.  Please take a look at the photos below to see if anything looks familiar and retrieve it.  

We request again that you put your child's names on their items so that we can easily return them when found.  Most jackets and coats come with sewn-in labels which only require a marker to write your child's name.
Social Time!
There's so much going on here at Maimo! Be sure to check out our social media to get the inside scoop (with lots of great photos) on happenings at school.  
Follow us on Twitter and Instagram

See What's Happening in the Other Divisions
Lots of wonderful things are happening at Maimonides School!

If you'd like to take a peek at what's happening in the other divisions, click to visit the Early Childhood Center, Middle School, or Upper School newsletter pages.

If you would like to contact a specific school office, please use these emails:

!שבת שלום
Rabbi, Reena, and the Maimonides ES Faculty