Union for Reform Judaism

Eight Steps to a Great Chai Lesson
Feb. 9, 2009
  1. Carefully read the lesson twice. It's best to read the lesson a few weeks before you plan to teach it. This will give you enough time to get anything you may need. Then read it again before actually teaching it to be sure you are comfortable with the lesson content and flow.

  2. Review the background information and lesson perspective presented in the Introduction. If you need more information, refer to the materials in the "Reading Resources for Teachers" section. Jot down your thoughts about additional resources you might use:

  3. Determine whether you can readily obtain the materials needed for the lesson. If an item may not be available, or seems to difficult to obtain, determine how you can adapt the activity to work with what you do have. Be sure to write down your solution for future use or problem solving.

  4. Think about the Enduring Understandings, the big ideas that we hope students will retain about the subject long after they've left the classroom. If it's helpful to you, restate the enduring understandings in your own words.

  5. Review the Evidences of Understanding* for the lesson.
    Make a list of the things you would expect to see, hear, and read that will show that the students understand what you are trying to teach.

  6. Estimate whether you will be able to conduct the lesson in the one-hour timeframe for which CHAI lessons have been designed. Think about the factors in your specific situation that might make the lesson last more than one hour (for example, the size of your class, the abilities and learning styles of your students, etc.) If you think any particular lesson will take longer than the allotted time, or if your class only meets for 45 minutes, you may want to make one of these choices:
    1. Follow the instructions contained in the lesson for selecting/eliminating certain activities. (If there are no instructions, or if you feel you need to cut more than what is suggested, determine for yourself which activities should be omitted.)
    2. Adapt the lesson into a two-session lesson. Write down your "plan".

  7. Reflect on how you will actually introduce the lesson to your class. Although each lesson contains a set induction that is designed to help move the students from their own knowledge and experience to a new level of learning, each class has its own personality that the classroom teacher knows best! Given the nature of your class and what learning experiences may have previously occurred, jot down your thoughts about how you will introduce your class to this lesson.

  8. Review the concepts and the language used in the lesson. If any of these seem a bit too difficult for your students and you are having trouble figuring out how to adapt them, pose the question to one of the following CHAI resources: your temple educator, your Union regional educator, or the CHAI listserv. Take note of their suggestions and write them down for future use.

* Ultimately, the real "evidence" of understanding will be the Jewish choices our students make during the course of their lifetime, an outcome we may or may not be able to see. In the short-term, however, we do want to ensure that our students have understood the specific lesson and its meaning.