Sept 11/09 A long time and here it is again

September eleventh brings a rush of associations. We still mourn our loved ones in New York. We still quake at the reality of urban terror and know it could recur anywhere, anytime.

September 11th is also the birthday of some fine virgos: Wendy, Jamelah, Craig and Krista.

September 11th is almost getting serious. Almost getting Autumn.

In school, it’s jumping into new technology at a new hi-tech school.

Menu Bar of SmartBoard

Menu Bar of SmartBoard

We’ve got Smartboards in our classrooms and teachers bring laptops into class in order to maximize their use.

Laura approaching the menu bar

School’s been heralded off to this start with weekly staff instruction. Our English staff got its first private class on Wednesday. About half of us, or more, are already using the boards in class. We’re finding that the kids enjoy the sessions. Flashcards have never been so high resolution before. Our painstakingly prepared powerPoint presentations do their magic. For us it means hours and hours of prep. Theoretically, we’re building up a reservoir of materials.

As English teachers in Israel, we’ve always needed to put in huge amounts of creative time in readying our materials. We’ve had to adapt authentic materials so that our students can work on mandatory projects. We’ve toured the globe to bring them sound clips and interesting activities to stimulate their many intelligences.

We’ve investigated techniques to focus students with ADHD, and now the SmartBoard, I feel, will aid us in all of these components.

I feel the focus and I love it when students ask to go one more time through the vocabulary flashcards and I burst out laughing when a class of Special Ed kids finally all pronounce ‘laughed‘ correctly along with the magenta framed flash card.

So, it’s good.

The laptop is, however, heavy! And the distances between classes and the English Centre is not small. On Sunday, I strapped on a pedometer to measure the distance. Sunday I did 5,000 steps just going back and forth.  Tuesday was a lot less: 3, 695! Together with biking to school and back, I’m just about commuted into aerobic health. Unfortunately, it’s never enough.  A good walk around the fields is the best and I hope I’ll still have time when the clocks go back to Winter time and throw darkness on those precious early evening hours.

Qassams? We’ve had a few in this area. In Mifalsim, they had a Red Alert. We’re always reminded that the fortified school and the ongoing construction of home shelters is not for nothing.

May the weekend be quiet,




Tanka, coming to the End of Ma’ale Habsor High School – June 18/19

Endings are part of a natural cycle.

Ma’ale Habsor is ceasing to exist and in its place there will rise “Nofei Habsor”. To drum this home, the teachers of Ma’ale Habsor took themselves to Tanka, a mini-Indian experience set in Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael.

Running this spot is Netta Aloni, a one-time teacher, art therapist. Spending some time in the U.S. as a Jewish Agency delegate, she came upon a teacher by the name of Bear Heart and embarked on a Vision Quest. The Indian way made such an impression on her that upon returning to Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael, she pushed the idea of opening a small site dedicated to giving others a taste of the Indian way of looking at life. The ten years it took to establish Tanka was thanks to her determination (and a timely Buffalo totem).

We began our trip with lunch outside.IMG_4415IMG_4420 And then entered the wooden building, sitting in a circle around a ‘salt rock’ lamp. Netta began to present her interpretation of the Native Indian Way of life. What I’m presenting here is my understanding of her understanding. Please excuse wild generalizations and correct misinterpretations if you see them. (with thanks)

Brief  take of the Native Way

We learned of the four main components that make up the native way of life:

The circle (all life occurs in cycles, beginnings and endings are cyclical from our first meeting to our separation)

The sanctity or ‘happiness’ of the circle (if one person in the circle is unhappy, then all will  feel unhappy, and so it is imperative to find the weakest link and resolve it.)

the Earth as mother, she gives, she protects and we need to respect her.

and compassion, we are all perfect in our imperfection.

We learned about the drum, the flat wonderfully resonant instrument made of elk skin or more rarely buffalo skin.

arodrum16-1side-backWe found that a light touch of the drum stick brings far more sound than a harsh beat. So the world offers echoes of that which we put out: we put out good intentions and good echoes back down upon us.

We chanted:


“Vishita, doya doya doya

Vishita, doya doya hey

Wahsa tanaya heya heya

Wahsa tanaya heya hey”


“Mother earth is under our feet

Mother earth, we hear your heart beat”

These simple chants with simple, resonating drum beats did wonders for our alpha waves. The calming centering effect was undeniable. Drumming is a marvellous tool, used for healing. Children are taught to drum from a young age  and so the drum becomes a part of life.

We took a look at a tipi:



We learned that the tipi is the only family property and that the youngest daughter is the one to inherit it. She thus will always have a secure place from which she can look after her parents, feed her family and at the same time cultivate her healing power.

A husband will bring his personal belongings to his wife’s tribe, but he will never possess the tipi.

Moving from one circle of life to another

The cycle of life dictates that as we end one cycle, we ponder on what we’ve received and what we’ll take with us in the next cycle. To formalize this passing from one phase to another, we passed a three coloured braid around our circle. Red signified mother earth, the doing, blue represented the analytical, the observation and purple the combination of considering what needs to be done, its solution and implementation.

passing the braid around the circle

passing the braid around the circle

The braid came home with us back south to the Negev. But not before we had an evening in Sheffayim and an outing in Tel Aviv.

(to be continued…)

Last Day of School Year! June 17, 2009

It’s done. We’ve closed the last day of school and said goodbye to Ma’ale Habsor. Forever-ish.

Next year, we’re Nofei Habsor. A new school complex. A new student composition. New teachers. New rhythms.

The shots above show a few of the scenes at the end-of-year celebration. Dancers were cool. Eleventh graders were cool. 8th graders were cooler.
Linor, Lee and Gal gave us some good musical riffs. Ariel and Or in the band. (not shown – sorry)
We had speeches from Vered Tal, Zmira Ben Yosef and Martin Sessler – our Principals. They spoke of the sadness to be saying goodbye to the past, but hopes for a better and far more interesting future.
New School heading towards completion

New School heading towards completion

Kibbutz school Ma’ale Habsor will be together with Moshav school Habsor- our new name is ‘Nofei Habsor’ (the scenery of the Habsor region). Our new building is heading towards finishing touches, and our staff will take its last end of year field trip together as Ma’ale Habsor.
Off to an Indian village called “Tanaka”, a night in the Shefayim Hotel and tomorrow’s investigation of Tel Aviv.  Cheers. See you soon.