January 19, 2018 - 3 Shevat 5778 - Bo
ES Highlights
D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
Pinat HaParasha
Yom HaIvrit
Professional Development
Family Learning
First Grade Principals' Coffee
Next Principals' Coffees
Screen Time
Bracha Bee
Cold Weather Reminder
Lost and Found
Social Time!
ECC/MS/US Newsletters
ES Calendar
Sunday, Jan. 21
Family Learning
Wednesday, Jan. 24
Grade 2 Principals' Coffee 8:00-8:45 a.m.
Winter Concert 
4:00 p.m.
Tuesday, Jan. 30
3:00 p.m. Dismissal
Wednesday, Jan. 31
Grade 3 Principals' Coffee 8:00-8:45 a.m. 
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
In this week's parsha, after the Jewish people have been living in Egypt for 210 years and spending a portion of them in back-breaking slavery, Pharaoh finally agrees to let them leave Egypt. During the plague of the firstborn, Pharaoh summons Moshe and Aharon and gives them the directive to vacate. Then he tacks on one last request, as the pasuk says:
גַּם־צֹאנְכֶם גַּם־בְּקַרְכֶם קְחוּ כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְתֶּם וָלֵכוּ וּבֵרַכְתֶּם גַּם־אֹתִי׃
Take also your flocks and your herds, as you said, and begone! And may you bring a blessing upon me also!
The same Moshe and Aharon that he recently banished from the palace, he is now asking for a blessing? Furthermore, what kind of blessing was he requesting?
Let's focus on the purpose of the blessing. Rashi comments that Pharaoh asked
וברכתם גם אתי. הִתְפַּלְּלוּ עָלַי שֶׁלֹּא אָמוּת, שֶׁאֲנִי בְּכוֹר:
Pray on my behalf that I should not die because I am a firstborn.
Even so, still quite a brazen and shameless request.
The Neztiv writes that perhaps Moshe at first was going to heed the request, but later changed his mind because:
היה מפני שפרעה שינה דבריו ונהפך להיות רודף אחריהם. שוב אבד הבטחת משה לברך אותו בתפלה:
Since Pharaoh changed his mind and gave chase to the Jewish people, Moshe no longer needed to keep his side of the bargain and bless Pharaoh.
In an interesting play on letters: Pharaoh was the ב - כ - ר (firstborn)
He was asking for a                                             ב - ר - כ (blessing)
Which he lost when he gave chase with his            ר - כ - ב (chariot)
In order to receive a blessing, one needs to be worthy of the beracha. In our tefillot every day we ask for blessings from G-d for our family, health, Israel, Tzahal, friends, and livelihood. We need to ask ourselves if we are acting in a way that will merit the blessings we request.
Click here to save or print the D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
by Rabbi Dov Huff
The Rav points out that in this week's parsha there are two "bechoras." The first is the bechora that is determined by the father - his firstborn. This bechor earns the right to the inheritance by being his father's "right-hand man." The extra help he provides as his father's oldest son entitles him to the double portion enjoyed by the bechor.
The second type is the bechora determined by the mother. This is the bechor of kedusha, and is the bechor mentioned in this week's parsha when Hashem tells us to "sanctify the firstborn." What is the function of this bechor?
The Rav explains that this is the educator. One cannot compare what a child learns from his parents to what the child learns from their older siblings. In a way the oldest children are the ultimate educators of their younger siblings. They lead by example and show the younger children how to navigate the world in which they all find themselves. This is the kedusha of the bechor from the mother.     
Pinat HaParasha
Please click here  to view the  Pinat  HaParasha for Parshat Bo. You are encouraged to print the document and use it as a source for discussion at the Shabbat table.
Yom HaIvrit
On Wednesday, Rosh Chodesh Shevat, shlichot Renana and Avigail introduced the students to Yom HaIvrit, the birthday of Eliezer Ben Yehudah. The students learned how he re-established Hebrew as a living language in the Land of Israel. They also learned how he made up new words for items that did not exist in Biblical times. Students then made Hebrew letters and/or words out of clay, focusing on some of the new words invented by Eliezer Ben Yehudah. The learning culminated  on Friday with an Oneg Shabbat and a special Kahoot review game.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Professional Development
For the past several years, the faculty at Maimonides has commemorated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by working together in a reflective and collaborative way to advance our professional growth, thereby improving the learning experience for our students.
Our faculty in-service day began with the entire Elementary School faculty engaging in this year's B'Yadenu project. Over the last four years, "B'Yadenu" has been the framework within which we have organized our collaborative professional development work.  The B'Yadenu project has enabled us to address two overarching goals: continued adult learning, and improved learning for all our students.
This year's B'Yadenu project is focused on implementing Data Wise, an eight-step process for collaboratively and holistically improving learning that was devised at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.  The entire Elementary School faculty has been learning and following the Data Wise process during all our faculty meetings, focusing on reading comprehension in all subject areas.  On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we began Step 4: Dig Into Student Data.  We have been looking at data that includes assessment results, student work samples, and teacher visits to one another's classrooms to determine where our reading comprehension instruction may be falling short, and we will then generate and test strategies for improving student proficiency in this area.
Following a school-wide faculty luncheon at which two Maimonides alumni spoke, the Elementary School and Early Childhood Center faculties joined together for a Coding and Robotics workshop. Dr. Marina Bers, joint professor at Tufts University's Eliot Pearson Early Childhood Center and department of Computer Science, taught our teachers and administrators how to program KIBO robots and discussed using and integrating them in a variety of curricular areas.  Working in small groups, we built and programed KIBO robots to perform dances from different cultures around the world, adding an arts component in building the robot, and then demonstrated what we did with the larger group. We saw examples of other points of integration already done in our school and others, and planned ways we could do more of this type of work.  Dr. Bers was assisted by Dani Carrus, Laura Bradford, and Katie Smith - our Computer Science Leadership Team - formed and trained by Marina through the generosity of the David Sulman Computer Science Initiative.
Family Learning and Hebrew Storyime on Sunday


Come join us for Family Learning this Sunday from 10:15 - 11:30 a.m.! 2nd-5th graders will be learning about Tu BeShevat and how we can show hakarat hatov for all the benefits and enjoyment that we receive from trees. Kindergartners and 1st graders will be entertained by music, crafts, and a reading of the classic story "Eliezer and the Carrot."  See you then! 
First Grade Principals' Coffee
During this round of Principals' Coffees, we are focusing on social dynamics in the classrooms. First grade General Studies teacher Dani Carrus came to the meeting to share the social / emotional curriculum that she is using with the first graders, under the direction of Elementary School social worker Katie Smith.  This curriculum involves the integration of three different programs that Hamorah Dani is drawing upon in her lessons:
  1. Mind Up - A mindfulness-based social-emotional program created by the Hawn Foundation, with activities around topics such as gratitude, mindfulness, and perspective-taking.
  2. Social Thinking - A program to help children develop their social thinking and social skills, including sharing space effectively with others, learning to work as part of a team, and developing relationships with family, friends, and classmates.
  3. 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.
While specific lessons are taught, this curriculum is also fluid in that the children work on skills and issues that are happening in real-time in the classroom.
Dani describes this first grade as a wonderful group in terms of taking care of each other.  When a student tripped on the way to art in the Saval building, so many friends wanted to help that they were late for art.  When it's time to clean up, they all pitch in.  When the teacher reads postcards at the end of the day, the whole group applauds when someone gets a postcard or a Lexia certificate.  
The parents attending the coffee sought advice about some behaviors they notice in their children, and the following recommendations were made:   
  1. Give choices when a child does not want to cooperate with the family plan.
  2. Have clear routines around homework and let students be as independent in its completion as possible.  Offer help but give them space.
  3. In order to help children deal with frustration, it's important that adults model what they should do when we get frustrated.  It's helpful to label it in the moment, as in: "I'm starting to feel frustrated.  I think I'm going to count to 10 and think about..."  Giving children a choice, or finding something else they can control - such as taking a drink or a breath - can be helpful.
  4. Since some children's first response is to be physical when they feel an emotion, we try to avoid this by having a "no touching" rule.  We encourage students to tell another student who is too close to them, "You're in my personal space, can you please move, even though I like you," etc.
Next Round of Principals' Coffees
The next Principals' Coffee will be for Second Grade parents, and will take place  Wednesday, January 24, 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 coffees:
3rd grade - Wednesday, January 31
4th grade - Wednesday, February 7
5th grade - Wednesday, February 14
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

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 study the lists at home through January 29 . 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!
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