Sparking Student Creativity with Sefaria

Why might we want our students to be creative in their engagement with Jewish texts?

How might student learning change when they create their own materials?

How might Sefaria support student creativity around Jewish sources?

Credit: Original image can be found here; CC-0

(שמואל א ב, ב) ואין צור כאלהינו אין צייר כאלהינו...

Hannah further said: “Neither is there any rock [tzur] like our God” (I Samuel 2:1). This can be understood as saying that there is no artist [tzayyar] like our God...

Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value. - Sir Ken Robinson

How might we encourage creativity with Jewish texts?

  • Model and allow access and exploration
    • Use Sefaria's Topics Pages to allow students to pursue interests
    • Check linked articles for modern content
    • Grapple with the sources directly
  • Encourage a multi-media approach
    • Students can pair different kinds of media with texts: audio, video, images
    • Consider the different ways that students encounter texts
  • Showcase and celebrate student achievement
    • Students create more sheets than teachers
    • Collections are a way to collect and share student work

Below are some samples of different ways that educators can take advantage of Sefaria's technology to support and encourage student creativity, engage parents, and empower students to take ownership over their own study of Jewish texts:

Pairing Art with Texts:

These middle school students explored the concept of teshuva, repentance, in advance of the High Holidays. Students were asked to create artwork that expressed something about their understanding of this concept, and then to pair the art with texts they studied. The resulting sheets were sent home to the parent body as a record of the students' preparation for the holiday season. You can see samples here and here.

In a supplementary school, elementary-aged children researched their Hebrew names, found texts and created or discovered artistic renderings, and asked their parents how their names were chosen. The teacher gathered all the information on to a source sheet, and then asked the parents to add their input as well. The resulting sheet was turned into a visualized sheet and shared with the school community.

Pairing Activism with Texts:

8th graders learned about the concept of Kevod Habriyot, showing honor and respect to other humans. Students were asked to actively engage in a project that would express this value, and to use Sefaria to research texts that explained how their projects were tied to this concept. The teacher grouped these sheets to make a public collection on Sefaria, which was shared with the entire school community and beyond. You can see the collection here, and a sample of the student work is here.

Student Generated Teaching Materials:

Students from 5th grade and up can create their own materials on Sefaria, in response to scaffolded teacher instructions. Students enjoy mixing media with text, sharing their materials and counting "views" and teaching others with their learning. Student-generated sheets live in the students' Sefaria accounts, and continue to be a source of learning and pride when students rediscover them months or even years after they were created. You can see some high school examples here and here.

Your Turn to To Try!

Here is the Sefaria Student Course. Open it up, and try lesson #3. You can either complete the lesson as described, or redesign the lesson to meet the needs of your class.