The Summer Sandbox

Getting Creative in Jewish Education

Click here to register for the Sandbox!

The 2014 Sandbox Schedule: 

July 21-23

The RealSchool Summer Sandbox is a time for you, someone who is passionate about Jewish education, to get together with those who are like-minded in order to make a project you can implement in your educational setting. Our focus this year is on creativity: how to imbue it into the classroom; use it to redesign your courses; and make space for it in the larger educational setting.

Following is the schedule for the 2014 Summer Sandbox:

Monday, July 21

Day One: Creativity

9:00-10:00 AM: Welcome and Why? Why do we need more creativity in schools?

10:00-11:30 AM: Why begin with a question?
JEDLAB Book Club on A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger

11:30-11:45 AM: Break

11:45-12:30 PM: The "What If?" Challenge

12:30-1:15 PM: Lunch at the Sandbox Coffeehouse: Where Good Ideas Brew

1:15-1:45 PM: How do I create? What do I create?

Sandbox Session A: Design Challenge begins for one-day participants
Sandbox Session B: How can Project-Based Learning (PBL) and Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL) unleash creativity in you and your students?

1:45-3:15 PM: Day One Iteration Time
Work with a partner, a team -- or by yourself -- and dream up something creative for your classroom or school setting. 

3:15-4:00 PM: Presentations and Reflection

Tuesday, July 22

Day Two: Are You Game?

9:00-9:30 AM: Welcome and Introduction to Game-Based Learning

9:30-11:00 AM: Playing for Keeps: Game-based Learning, with Barry Joseph
According to a recent study, 95% of teachers report using digital games for their classroom learning.

But what is games-based learning, exactly? Where does Jewish education stand within this fairly recent educational practice? And how can you identify the right types of games to advance your educational objectives? In fact, should youth be playing games . . . or making them?

Whether you are just getting started or want to take your work to the next level, this session will help you to keep in the game. 

Barry Joseph is Associate Director of Digital Learning at the American Museum of Natural History. Since 2000, he has developed innovative programs in the areas of youth-produced video games, mobile and augmented learning, virtual worlds, digital fabrication, alternative assessments models, and more, always seeking to combine youth development practices with the development of high profile digital media projects that develop 21st Century Skills and New Media Literacies. Now, at the Museum, he is helping to guide youth learning programs to leverage digital tools to advance informal science learning. He has been hugged by Oprah and is writing the first history of seltzer. This work can be followed at and @MMMooshme

11:00-11:15 AM: Break

11:15-12:00 PM: Workshop Choice

Sandbox Session A: How can I game my class?
Sandbox Session B: Rubrics 101: How do I grade in a creative and/or gamified classroom?

12:00-1:00 PM: Lunch in the Sandbox Coffeehouse

1:00-1:30 PM: Rubrics 101 for anyone who missed it

1:00-3:00 PM: Day Two Iteration Time

3:00-4:00 PM: Presentations and Reflection

Wednesday, July 23

Day Three: Creating and Sustaining Culture Change

9:00-10:15 AM: Welcome and the Change Challenge, with Matt Williams
The Ten Billion Dollar Game

The Jewish communal infrastructure is, as the Forward has pointed out, about as large as CBS. The industry of Jewish education alone probably costs in the neighborhood of ten billion dollars annually. Thinking from 30,000 feet and taking seriously the Jewish journeys of all its students, children and adults, how would you allocate these funds? How much would we decide camps should get? Schools? Birthright? Programs for the elderly? How do we even begin to make that decision?

This thought experiment is a sobering process that requires difficult decisions and ruthless analyses. But it is also an empowering opportunity to reconsider your place within the Jewish education eco-system and your capacity to be a value-added change agent in your particular location in the interconnected network. 

Matt Williams studies how religious cultures are transmitted and taught in the modern 
world. In particular, he’s interested in how people learn to navigate competing approaches 
to understanding history, politics, information and the day to day. Currently, he’s working 
on a history of the “Judaism” entry of wikipedia and a historiographic analysis of popular 
conservative historical works. His main project, though, is on the history of kiruv in 
America. Secondarily, he studies education technology and is a member of the Consortium 
on Education’s Digital Future in Silicon Valley.

Currently, Matt holds a Jim Joseph Fellowship for the study of Jewish education, a 
Wexner Fellowship, and Davidson Scholarship. He has been a Leadership Alliance Early 
Identification Doctoral Fellow and a Summer Fellow at the Center for Advanced Judaic 
Study at the University of Pennsylvania. To date, Matt has received numerous grants and 
awards for his research and teaching. Matt and his wife, Amy, live in 
Palo Alto, California. He is an avid cyclist and always game for a conversation.

10:15-10:30 AM: Break

10:30-12:15 PM: Sandbox Session on Creative Change, Matt Williams
How to Build the Perfect School

In 17th century Amsterdam, the members of what was known as the Portuguese Nation (Portuguese refugees from the Expulsion) set out to build the perfect Jewish day school.  What makes their story so fascinating and so salient is that, for starters, each family controlled a significant amount of the country’s capital. They were a filthy rich community. And I don’t mean Jewish American wealthy, I mean like Russian Tycoon wealthy. They even were committed to educating the relatively poor members of their community. Their schools often had leftover scholarship money; think about that for a second... Also, conversely or perhaps relatedly, the system is famous or infamous for producing one of the greatest philosophers of all time, the man considered by many to be the first modern thinkers in history - Benedict Spinoza. 

This parable, for all of the reasons implied, serves as a useful platform for a thought experiment. Stepping back, if resources weren’t a problem, what would your school look like? And, further, would you be happy with Spinoza as the outcome?

10:30-12:15 PM: Day Three Iteration Time

12:15-1:00 PM: Lunch in the Sandbox Coffeehouse

1:00-2:00 PM: Finish Prototypes

2:00-3:30 PM: Presentations

3:30-4:00 PM: Next Steps and Goodbye!

You may sign up for all three days of the Summer Sandbox, or individual days. If school leaders can only attend one day, we recommend Day Three. To register for the Summer Sandbox, click here

The Summer Sandbox is sponsored in part by The Covenant Foundation, and we thank Yeshivat Noam for hosting the program.

Hotel Accommodations 

401 South Van Brunt Street
Englewood, NJ 07631

320 Route 17 North
Paramus, NJ 07652

50 Route 17 North
Paramus, NJ 07652


  1. Is this conference about technology or is it about incorporating all game ideas into the classroom?
    Kaylee Frager

  2. Hi Kaylee. There is no specific technology focus to this conference. It is all about creativity, games, and passion, and how to incorporate those into your class and school.