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Jewish Education Action Plan

Jewish Education Action Plan

This document provides information about the sources used to gather data about the student. If an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) was used, the date of the IEP and the school should be noted. It also indicates that the parents agree that, unlike an IEP, this JEAP is not a legal document.

Please contact Sherry Grossman at the BJE: 617.965.7350 x229 or sgrossman@bje.org with questions about the JEAP.  Click Here to download the JEAP form.

Introduction

The SUV car was originally made to travel not on our major highways, but the back roads. It was built to roll over the western mountains, to travel unpaved roads and to chart new territory. For most children, learning occurs as they travel the highway, following the other cars, merging and changing lanes as necessary. They can negotiate the highway with a car, and really don’t need an SUV to take them to their destination. That is true for most, but not all, the students in our classrooms. There are others for whom the highway is blocked, and they need to take the back roads to arrive at their destination. These students need an SUV to take them around the curves, up the hills, and down the mountains in order to even get close to where they need to go. It is for just these back roads, that this Jewish Educational Action Plan or JEAP has been created – to enable students to travel the ups and downs and curves on the road to learning. It is a tool for sharing important information to help the child with special needs meet success in the day school or congregational school classroom.

 

Purpose

This JEAP was developed in the hopes that parents and teachers could work together, sharing information about a child’s special learning needs, in order to help the student obtain a successful education in a Jewish setting. The JEAP works much like an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), which, when used correctly, helps teachers set the roadmap for the child’s education. Unlike an IEP, a JEAP is not a legal document. Jewish schools are not legally mandated to provide an education for students with special needs; however, we are morally mandated to do so.

The main purpose of this form is to have one place for the important and relevant information about the student’s learning issues. The special educator uses the JEAP as a means to gather information and to synthesize this data into a document that can be used by non-special educators. The classroom teacher can then use the JEAP to obtain information about the student’s special learning needs as well as ways to create and adapt lessons so that the student with special needs can be successfully included. For students who are on an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), the special educator can use this form to translate that information in a meaningful manner to the teachers in a Jewish educational environment, either a day school or supplemental school (i.e., congregational or independent). A JEAP can be used to share information from the public school, from educational evaluators, from the parents, and from other professionals, as well as from the student.

The JEAP form is condensed onto one sheet for ease of use. One sheet can easily be shared with the teacher. The information needs to be distilled and condensed so that the classroom teacher can easily review it. This is a form to be used and not stored away.

The description below expands on each category to help the special educator know the kind of information to be included on the JEAP.

Vision Statement

This section allows the student and/or the parents to envision the future and decide what they really want for their child. The following kinds of questions can be asked:
  • What role do the parents see Judaism playing in their child’s life?
  • What rituals are practiced at home that can be taught and reinforced in school?
  • Are there specific services or parts of services that the child enjoys now for which skills can be taught for future participation?
  • What are their plans for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah?
  • Are there plans for a trip to Israel?
  • Will the child be attending a Jewish camp program?
  • Will the child be expected to participate in other informal Jewish programming such as youth group activities?

 

This vision should help determine the objectives for the teachers. In congregational school settings, parents often want their child just to be comfortable in a Jewish setting. That vision is quite different from a parent who wants their child to be able to lead shacharit services on a Saturday morning. Another parent might want their child to ask the four questions (or at least one of them) at their seder. These different visions would lead to very different objectives.

A discussion about an upcoming Bar or Bat Mitzvah celebration is an important one to have if the child has not had one. Often parents of children with special needs assume such an event is not open to them. Parents of children as young as six, have indicated they have no expectations for their child to have a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, even though the child was severely handicapped. It is important to open the doors and explore the possibilities; planting the seed may be sufficient to put this on the parents’ horizon. With the use of technology, students without speech have been able to successfully be called to the Torah. Considerations of alternative times for B’nai Mitzvah can also be discussed. Some synagogues have used Shabbat mincha services which are shorter and have less attendees than the morning service; Rosh Chodesh services might also be considered.

Student Strengths/Preferences

This section enables the special educator to gather information about the child’s successes. In what situations does the road replicate the smooth highway? We start from the position of strength; we begin by looking at the positives of the child. Here is the chance to have this child be more than a paper report. What is it that endears this child to parents, teachers, and friends? What are some of the child’s interests and abilities? What have been some of his/her major accomplishments? What is the child’s learning style? What does this child like to do in school? Does the student function best with clear guidelines or does she/he need a visual model to follow? Does she/he do well in groups, especially if given a specific task or does she/he work better alone? Does this student need manipulatives in order to remain attentive? Is this a student who works well in a quiet space without visual or auditory distractions?

 

Considerations/Cautions

We can now look at what tips the road and we fear the child will fall off. Parents and teachers often learn to read a child and the situation and can step in before the crash occurs. In this section we are looking for the warning signs, helping to create the map of the back road. Many children have difficulty with transitions. Is this a child for whom a warning signal, even as concrete as a timer, helps ease such transitions? Does the student get upset if his/her things are touched by another? Is this a student who needs help initiating the work, but once it’s begun can work fairly independently? Is this a student who is easily distracted or has a short attention span? Does the child have difficulty following oral directions? Many of these situations are “red flags,” indicating the highway is about to end. With sufficient warning the JEAP can help divert the child onto the safest route for this next detour.

 

Formal & Informal Assessment Results

In this section, the testing results are summarized in lay terms so that classroom teachers find the information helpful. Test scores need to be interpreted so that the teacher knows what areas are of difficulty. If a child has a language processing disorder, what will that mean for learning a second language with different symbols and that is read from right to left? What are the implications for teaching the student with an information processing speed disorder? Is there a behavior plan for this student that is used successfully at home or, for the child in a congregational school, at secular school?

 

Present Level of Functioning

This section provides information about the child’s actual work and progress. Here the special educator provides as much data as known about the child’s current level of functioning, such as reading level, writing ability, and social skills. Sometimes specifics may not be known, but whatever is known about the child’s current performance level should be given even if that information is descriptive or based on observation. What books or curriculum materials are being used?

 

Objectives

Based on the vision statement and the information already provided in previous sections of the JEAP, clearly stated objectives should be developed. It is important that these objectives be observable and measurable so that they can be achieved. To say the child will be comfortable in the school would be very difficult to measure, but to say the child will attend class 7 out of 8 times would be easy to determine. Objectives should be relatively long term, but achievable within the academic year. For example, saying the student will orally read (or chant) with fluency one Hebrew prayer would be more long term than saying the child will read five Hebrew words. These objectives must take into account the child’s capabilities and current functioning. Twice a year the objectives should be reviewed to determine whether they have been achieved or whether they need to be modified.

 

Adaptations

It is this section that will provide the most useful information for the teacher as it indicates the kinds of changes in content, process, and outcomes that will enable the student to succeed. Changing the content enables the student to have different (smaller and more obtainable) objectives. Changing the process offers the student other ways to learn the material than just reading. Finally, adaptations in the outcomes, enable the student to show what s/he has learned in a way more suited to his/her learning style and abilities. What follows are examples of such changes. Change in content: Perhaps the child needs to learn less prayers than the rest of the class, as long as s/he can still participate by joining with the class for the beginning or ending words. Change in process: Will this student be successful in finding information on the web and printing it out for the group or class? Can this child use audiotapes rather than reading the book? Change in outcome: Perhaps this is a child who can draw a picture of the Bible story studied rather than writing a summary. Is this a child who can create a song or tune that represents the story?

 

Motivators/Reinforcers

This section provides information about what motivates the student and what reinforcers can be used effectively. Certain activities engage students and motivate them to participate. For some students it can be watching a video, finding a fact on the computer, reviewing work in a game format. Some students will work effectively if they receive reinforcement for completing their work. Such reinforcers can be listening to music, receiving a sticker, playing a game, or using a computer.

 

Organizational Strategies

Many children have difficulty organizing their work. Their desks are filled with papers, both important and not, books, toys, food, etc. Their backpacks are equally stuffed and they often do not remember to take papers out, give newsletters to parents, and/or complete their homework or return it even if completed. This section provides ideas for helping this child to improve these organizational skills. Will this student be helped by color coded folders or checklists? Will this student be able to participate in class if given a listing of work to be done or an outline of the day’s plan?
 
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