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Updated info on Tuesday, Nov 09, 2010.

Shalom Friends.

The Tools for Torah online platform program is on hold for now - until further notice.
Thank you all for participating and dreaming along with me.
Hope to meet with you in Yerushalayim Habenuyah very soon!
 - Chayim B. Alevsky

SEE a short 

POWERPOINT    or    YouTube VIDEO 
presentation about our  "Live Teacher's Collaboration" program.

The details of the program are below.

Our Online Teacher's Meeting for this summer's collaboration was all caught on tape for your benefit.

You will learn all you need to know to begin your collaboration right away!
Watch the video with some teacher friends - you'll be able to discuss what you see and understand it better.

The meeting is recorded in a fancy program with various options.  You can see the video and hear the voices of the presentors, while you see the shared computer screen.

In order to be able to see and hear the meeting properly, you need to use Internet Explorer, and - as it attemps to play the file for the first time, it will automatically install a few items. Allow all the installations to install and when they are all done, restart your browser and click/enter the link again.  If you do not see the video and screen and hear the audio, then it did not finish setting up. Try again!


Dear Teacher Friends.

Imagine having a team of teachers like yourself, helping you prepare your goals, plans, lessons and materials for next year’s Chumash, Halacha, Navie or any other Judaic studies class, free of any charge.

Now stop imagining.

One of our goals at Tools for Torah is to provide a global collaborative platform for quality teachers to brainstorm and create meaningful, effective Judaic studies' lessons and materials.

We’ve secured a brand new, USER FRIENDLY virtual “Teacher’s Lounge” for you to prepare your classes together with other quality teachers who will be teaching the same subjects and grades.

Last year, we tried to use the Wiki – and very soon realized that it is not at all user friendly, actually, very unfriendly, even for advanced users.

We've searched the world of technology for months, tried many different programs. There are so many options, some more costly, some more complex etc. etc. With simplicity and "user friendliness" being our first goal - after much deliberation, we've settled on a simple combination of tools that is very do'able, even for the beginner.

Here are some of the details.

There are three parts to this collaboration:

1. A way for all team members to see and share each other's computer screen.
2. Voice communication amongst each team.
3. Online colaboration, hosting and indexing your idea, files and information.

For 1&2 - to see and hear each other, we've chosen Microsoft Live Meeting, a high quality, easy to use webconferencing program.
For 3 -  we've chosen Microsoft SharePoint.

These are the programs the Microsoft teams use to collaborate on their projects.
While SharePoint has many incredible and complex features, for our purposes, it is as simple and user friendly as your own home computer’s file/folder system.

If you've already signed up, you should have working accounts with these programs.

Here is the Login info for both programs:
Visit www.livemeeting.com/cc/toolsfortorah  
Username: (your own) FirstName.Lastname
Password: TeachersUnite

Visit http://sharepoint.toolsfortorah.com/  
Login: (your own) FirstName.LastName@Toolsfortorah.com
Password: Welcome1

Here are some links and tutorials for both programs.


Microsoft's LiveMeeting Solution Center:

A 60 second peek at LiveMeeting:

A quick, very informative commercial:

You can see the Microsoft tutorials here: http://www.microsoft.com/uc/lmoc/r2/from_client/website/LMOC.html?product=LM&locale=en-us&page=0&status=open

or see Live Meeting in action in these progressive demo videos here:

Demo 1. Overview and basics

Demo 3. Meeting details

Finally, also useful - but perhaps just for fun:

(If your computer does not have audio, you can conference with other teachers via regular telephone, using a provided free phone conferencing program.)

Here is Microsoft's written tutorials on LiveMeeting.

How Microsoft LiveMeeting works in short:
Anyone can be an "organizer" and invite other teachers to join them in a meeting.

Each organizer can invite many friends to join a meeting, via email, for a scheduled meeting, or to join an existing meeting by clicking on a link.

Each meeting has one "presenter" and (any number of) attendees.

The meeting "organizer" starts out as the "presenter."
The "presenter" shares his screen with the "attendees."
All "attendees" can see the "presenter's" screen, and control it - with the "presenter's" permission.
Anyone can invite others to join the meeting.

Every "attendee" can be promoted to "presenter", by the "organizer", and share his/her screen, and give the controls to  any of the other attendees.

If you wish, you can also use the built-in video conferencing features to see each other as you brainstorm.

We have already secured enough LiveMeeting licenses for our team to collaborate on many subjects and various levels.

Please familiar yourselves with Sharepoint via the videos below.

This Time It's Easier!!!
Last year, we also provided a clearly structured template for your lessons, based on the tried and true, effective UBD (Understanding By Design) system, which seems to be the ultimate in lesson planning, but this too takes commitment, time and patience to do right, and most or all of our teacher team was scared off by that structure.

We’ve learned from the past. Now, on to the future…
While Tools for Torah is not giving up on those lofty (UBD) goals, we are going "light" on them for now.
Our aim for this summer, is to provide a user friendly platform and structure, where teachers can creatively collaborate and benefit from each other’s ideas.

Our new collaborative platform is open to quality teachers of all grades, from K – through high school, for all Judaic subjects.

Tools for Torah had provided of treasure of Torah Texts as a resource library, in Lashon Hakodesh and English, for your research and lesson materials.

Along with these, there will be a treasure of generic resource materials created by teachers for teachers, for the purpose of creating all kinds of skill builders, understandings, games and activities. 

In our online conference, we will present the new collaboration technology and the resources, our guidelines for planning and posting, along with suggested scheduling and grouping ideas, and tips and tricks for collaborating.

This conference will only be online, so you will need to have an available computer with internet access and speakers during that time. A phone connection will not be beneficial for this conference as we will be demonstrating how our new collaboration platform works.

Many ask me: “What is the difference between this program and Chinuch.org (formerly EChinuch)?”

Chinuch.org provides an immeasurable service to the teacher community. A tremendous volume of teacher’s work, to which I post and of which I’ve personally benefitted many, many times is available to anyone and everyone, and countless teachers - and thereby students - have gained tremendously from their vision and hard work.

Our goal in this collaboration process is different. We are inviting creative thinkers to join live and brainstorm together about how to teach/transmit a specific theme, Posuk, concept, idea, skill or lesson, in a creative, effective way, and share that information online, right into a specific lesson.

We are not looking for fill in worksheets, which many have (including myself, in “My Very Own Chumash Workbook series distributed by Torah Umesorah Publications). We want Tools for Torah Teacher’s Lounge to be a resource of creative ideas and lesson plans tailored to a specific topic and Chumash, Novie, Halacha etc. lesson.

Our system is structured by very specific content lessons; Chumash Lesson; Parshat --- Perek --- Pesukim --- - --- and here goes your idea. This is what you did in class that worked wonders. Here is a game you played to convey this lesson. This is an activity the kids can do that will engrave this skill for life. Here is a song that you composed that teaches the meaning of life… all directly connected to these Pesukim, this Chumash lesson theme.

In the meantime, here’s what you can do to help yourself and all others in the world of education;

Teachers and Principals;
Please spread the word with all quality teachers of ALL SUBJECTS & GRADES to join our efforts by signing up. Have them signup at http://www.toolsfortorah.com/TeacherApplicationForm.html.

Email me for access to all these programs, so you can decide if you want to send your teachers to join!

Spend some time familiarizing yourself with LiveMeeting and SharePoint via the wonderful online tutorials above and below. Bear in mind that we do NOT need most of the complex features in Sharepoint, we will only use the library to host and index our materials, and a spot to arrange for our meetings.

Note the best times during the summer in which you can collaborate/conference with other teachers on your lessons.

Thank you for taking the time to help the world of Jewish Education.
Looking forward to “meeting” you again soon IY”H,

 - Rabbi Chayim B. Alevsky

and more...


  NEW! My Very Own Chumash Workbook Series going digital! Click here!


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of Chumash Workbooks in honor or memory of a loved one?
We are looking to print 10 different workbooks for the upcoming school year.
Email or Call: 203.887.6044

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