Sunday, July 29, 2012

Others with RealSchool's Philosophy

We've been busy this summer investigating who else out there share's RealSchool's philosophies, and unsurprisingly there are tons of people and schools who do. Here is a collection of some cool and interesting ideas in education:

Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey created the following chart, comparing personalized, differentiated and individualized learning. RealSchool, of course, is all about Personalized Learning:

In fact, Ms. Bray is a Creative Learning Strategist. Here are some of her thoughts on 21st-century learning:

I have an idea. Let’s flip learning. Your students have been 21st century learners most of their lives. They know how to use all of the technology. If they don’t, they figure it out. Why not make them more responsible for their learning? What if…
  • your students create the videos about the content to flip the classroom. 
  • involve your students in lesson design. Be partners in unpacking the standards and designing activities. Children today are very resilient and smart if we give them the chance. Check out this post from Kathleen McClaskey and myself on Personal Learner Profiles and the Common Core.
  • See Think WonderAsk your students to brainstorm and prioritize questions about the topic. This post on Making Just One Change where I interviewed Sara Armstrong helped me understand the importance of inquiry.  Michael Wesch encourages his university students to wonder. 
  • Imagine your students building lessons with you as partners in learning.

Dave Truss, an educator in Canada, is busy creating a new school built on inquiry-based learning:

Mr. Truss has these thoughts to share on his terrific blog:

1. Time- Pro-D, preparation, planning & play – CSS [his school in Canada] has significantly more prep & planning time than most public schools could ever afford, but I do think we have to start being creative about the amount of time teachers spend in front of students vs how much time they spend collaborating and learning… after all, we are just as much in the learning business as we are the teaching business.

2. Co-teaching & collaboration opportunities 
- I think this is where we can start to get really creative in two ways: First, we need to get two teachers in the same room, including doubling up the classes and having 50-60 students in a larger room, or in learning commons. Secondly, blended learning models could mean that at times, one teacher has 2 classes that are using a technology guided program or activity, freeing up extra time for other teachers to meet. It is ironic, and unfortunate, that tighter class size limits are factoring into play in BC right when blended learning is going to push the envelope of continuous supervision of students in set classes.

3. Models & Mentorship
 - We actually have working models like the Calgary Science School to examine. At CSS new teachers are told not to plan anything until they meet their colleagues. New teachers aren’t handed the toughest positions, and they aren’t handed packages of work or set programs to teach. As Stephen Heppell says, “…you get ideas from colleagues, and from other schools, and… when your experience touches someone else’s experience”.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

What is RealSchool?

This blog is about the RealSchool experience. Here, we will update you on the progress of the RealSchool teams. What is Real School, you ask? RealSchool aims to reform education by piquing students’ interests in a variety of different fields that they may not be able to study in a traditional classroom. In fact, RealSchool is nothing like a traditional classroom. Students decide on the material they’ll be studying; their teacher serves only as a facilitator but not as an expert in the field of study; and all work is project-based and collaborative. RealSchool’s faculty advisor is Mrs. Tikvah Wiener, who was inspired by Ken Robinson’s revolutionary video about reforming education. Check out the video here:

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hallways of Learning

Turning the school hallways into a place of learning:

The last event of the year for RealSchool was Detox for the Decalogue:

Students signed up for No Sugar Drinks Day, agreeing to drink only water
on the day we focused on physical health

Thanks to M and C Vending for donating the water bottles for No Sugar Drinks Day!

Students could paint in the relaxing, de-stressing style of Jackson Pollack
on the day we focused on alleviating mental strain

Students got to daven at a special minyan for the day we focused on spiritual health,
but then also signed up to do mitzvoth, which we proudly posted on our Har Sinai.
We were therefore able to focus on mitzvoth bein adam l'makom and bein adam l'chavero
Detox for the Decalogue, a three-day preparation for Shavuot run by RealSchool, began on Wednesday, May 23 with a focus on physical health. The school's vending machine company, M and C Vending, donated 400 bottles of water, so we could offer bottled water to those students signing up for our No Sugar Drinks day. The Natural Spot in Teaneck donated a whey protein drink mix, which we raffled off, and RealSchool members also posted myths and facts about physical health throughout the school. Thursday's focus was on mental health. Freshman Ronit Langer started the day off with a dvar Torah after davening about the mental health benefits of prayer. Students were offered opportunities to visit a yoga/meditation room and a lounge that had been converted into a playroom, complete with hula hoops, pumped up music and brain teasers and other puzzles. Students could also de-stress with a Jackson Pollack-like painting session and learn fun facts about the mind that we posted for the day.

On Friday, May 25, a day focused on the soul, students could participate in a Decalogue Davening, a special minyan that began with a discussion about why tefillah is important. "PrayPals" then visited classrooms, polling students about what is inspiring about Frisch tefillah and what should be improved. The focus on tefillahcovered mitzvoth bein adam l'makom. For mitzvoth bein adam l'chavero, RealSchool made a Har Sinai and had students write a nice thing they would do for someone else over the course of the weekend. We hope Detox for the Decalogue: Body, Mind, Soul got the Frisch community ready for Shavuot, the holiday on which we received the Torah!

Following is a found poem made from the student survey responses about the inspiring nature of tefillah:

I like davening
In silence
And at my own

Davening is peaceful

And gives me time
To reflect on my
Day and what
I've done.

Tefillah is important
To me
When I'm down
Or without hope,
It gives me
And a purpose
In life.

I like having a set
To communicate with
It forces me
To continually refresh
The relationship.

I like the personal
Aspect of tefillah,
Not only reading
The words
But making them
My own.

Tefillah gives
Me the feeling
That I always
Have someone
To lean on.

It gives me
A chance to pour
Out my feelings to Someone
And to thank Him
For everything
I have.

It makes me
Feel like God is listening.

Images from the event:

Detox for the Decalogue logo

Detox for the Decalogue: One of the posters for Physical Health

Detox for the Decalogue: One of the posters for Mental Health

Detox for the Decalogue: One of the posters for Spiritual Health

Spiritual Health

Thanks again to our sponsors:
M and C Vending  201-342-8363
The Natural Spot 1440 Queen Anne Road, Teaneck, NJ  201-862-1055

The Frisch Fashion Show

The Frisch Fashion Show took place on May 21, 2012.

RealSchool Arts member Karen Segal designed the event's logo and T-shirt, but the majority of the work for the show was completed by the amazingly talented Danit Bretter, Judith Benichou and Golda Marcus. The show was entitled "You are Beautiful. You are Enough," and, inspired by the style of Man Repeller, had freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior girls modeling eclectic, bohemian, preppy and formal clothing in ways that inspired a sartorial sense of individuality and fun.

Neiman Marcus Last Call Studio in Paramus, NJ; Ezrah's Closet, a division of Project Ezrah; and the Teaneck Gown Gemach donated clothing for the event. Glam Salon in Englewood, NJ were the first to donate their services for the show and did a beautiful job on the models' hair and make-up, while former Frisch student Ilana Prager also generously donated her services and was an additional make-up artist for the night.

Proceeds from the event as well as from the bracelets and T-shirts sold at it went to Frisch and Sharsheret. If you still want to purchase a bracelet or T-shirt, email

Here is a link to the presentation that ran as the models walked down the runway. The presentation features the work of artist Barbara Kruger and reinforces the message "You are Beautiful. You are Enough":

Student-Run Day of Learning

The Religious Identity, Marketing and Arts teams came together to create a totally student-run Yom Iyun on March 18, 2012. We called the event Sichot B'Emunah. Students created and presented nine lectures on different areas of Tanakh and Talmud and The Arts team created an exhibit about the Fibonacci sequence, God's hand in the world. The Marketing team promoted the event, getting patrons and sponsors and compiling the source book the student presenters made. Sixty people from the Frisch and wider community attended.

Here are pictures of the student-designed flyers for the event as well as the event itself:

RealSchool's Finance Team

The Finance team began instructing students on financial responsibility:

If you want to know what to do with your money, or as Finance Team members Hannah Swieca and Caroline Brauner put it during their RealSchool Finance presentation, "how to allocate your funds," check out the PowerPoint they prepared and presented. Stay tuned for more updates on Alex Goldbill's investment and money-saving decisions.

Here is a link to the Finance team's presentation:

Digital Learning Day

Digital Learning Day was February 1, 2012 and RealSchool: Marketing responded by polling Frisch students on how they viewed technology and education:

The Frisch School Response to Digital Learning:

As technology has begun playing a larger role in education, it is important to ask ourselves: does technology help or hinder the learning process? In honor of Digital Learning Day, many of the Frisch English teachers gave their classes a wiki assignment to discuss this very issue. There were over one hundred responses, each student bringing a fresh perspective on technology's place in education. After reading through the responses, RealSchool Marketing classified them into broader categories. The data is
displayed in the pie charts below. While most students agree that technology enhances learning, many are also wary of the overuse or misuse of technology. Students are primarily concerned with distractions- like Facebook, Hulu, and Youtube – that are available on the Internet.

Thank you to Gabrielle Schlakman, Danya Schlussel and Penina Warburg for compiling the information from this survey.

RealSchool Art Exhibit

One of the first RealSchool events of the year was created by The Arts team and was an exhibit in the style of Maurizio Cattelan's Guggenheim retrospective:

During Chanukah week 2011, Frisch's freshmen completed an art project with art teacher Mrs. Ahuva Mantell. Freshmen took clothing and refashioned it to create statements about how they view themselves. They then added poetry they wrote that also reflected a positive self-image. Given the fact that the Greeks focused too much on physical beauty, the aim of the project was to show how this focus still plagues society and that students need to empower themselves to fight cultural messages about what constitutes ideal physical beauty. The RealSchool arts team wanted to share the freshman project with the rest of the school.

"The RealSchool exhibit aimed to show Frisch students how to interpret art in a way that high school kids can connect and interact with, explained junior Sheer Singer, a member of The Arts team.

Sheer Singer, Laura Friedman, Rebecca Zakheim and Eliana Pickholz hung the original clothing and poems in the lobby of the school building. They also placed mannequins around the school with the freshmen's fashions, and across the Beit Midrash placed a mirror to encourage students to look inside themselves and see a beautiful, worthwhile person. --  Jordana Fremed, RealSchool: Journalism

Original Maurizio Cattelan exhibit at the Guggenheim

Frisch RealSchool exhibit

Frisch students perusing the freshman Greek week art project

2011-12 RealSchool Teams

For the 2011-2012 school year, the following RealSchool teams were formed:

App Making
The Arts, including Fashion
Religious Identity
Social Entrepreneurship
Web Design

Here are a few mission statements from individual RealSchool teams:

App Making:

Don't just wish an app existed, make it exist! As the app team, we are devoted to learning the ideas and methods required to make a mobile application. With the growing use of smart technology in our educational system, we can definitely see the benefits of learning how to write apps. Anyone can tap a few buttons, but few can tell those buttons what to do. Being a part of something bold and new and changing and enhancing the environment around us are our goals.


The goal of Real School Nutrition is to spread the word about the importance of maintaining our bodies’ maximum health so that we can live long, healthy lives and function at our optimal capacities. In Real School Nutrition, using the collaborative and self-empowered approach that Real School stands for, our branch has the amazing opportunity to explore nutrition through numerous lenses. As a result of the many minds at work, we aim to consolidate a variety of concepts regarding what it means to be healthy. Using this myriad of health styles, Real School Nutrition hopes to help each person find what is most effective for him, giving him the tools to reach health. The Nutrition branch aspires to lead and direct numerous projects, educating students about the various controversial topics in nutrition and to collectively learn how we can all problem solve together.

One of the biggest problems in America today is the over-ingestion of many harmful food products. Many of the high sugar and chemically induced foods lead to the toxication of our bodies, weight gain and many other harmful effects.

Mission Statement

On the February 7, 2012 meeting of RealSchool, all RealSchool members collaborated in order to contribute to the club's mission statement. Following is the new RealSchool Mission Statement:

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I?” -- Hillel, Ethics of the Fathers, 1:13

RealSchool is a group of clubs that are linked together by a matrix of shared beliefs about how one learns and the way learning benefits the self and others. One of the key values of RealSchool is that learning should be self-directed, that is, what one learns should be chosen by the individual. However, once a student has selected a RealSchool team in the area of interest s/he has, all learning takes place collaboratively. Learning at RealSchool is also primarily experiential rather than based on the knowledge of an expert, commonly referred to in the past as a teacher. In addition, RealSchool encourages -- no, demands -- divergent, creative thinking that enables students to apply their knowledge and skills to real life and the challenges of the real world.

The relationship that all RealSchool members are taught to create within the RealSchool community and with the broader world is a caring, symbiotic one. Students may join a particular RealSchool team because of a talent or interest they have, but they must learn about the talents that others possess and how to help others pursue their interests. Therefore, though the process of joining RealSchool begins with the self and an individual’s interests, it ends in a stronger community, as students are not only consumers, that is, recipients of help from RealSchool teams, but are also producers, that is, ones who give help to fellow teams and ultimately to the larger community.

Built into RealSchool’s DNA, then, is a focus on student empowerment: students choose what and how to learn. However, students also come to realize that by doing the very things they love, they can benefit not only their peers but the community and world at large.

Copyright Frisch RealSchool 2012

Our RealSchool logo was made by RealSchool member Jamie Lebovic
Thanks, Jamie!