Part 2: Real Stories Document Studies
Historical Beit Midrash: Historical texts are excellent for studying in chevruta (meaning “fellowship”), a method of partner learning that grows out of the Jewish tradition. Give each pair 1–3 texts to study, choosing from the excerpts from memoirs by Rose Cohen, a Jewish worker, and by Louis Borgenicht, a Jewish factory owner.
- In pairs (you may choose to pre-assign the pairs or allow students to choose their own), students read the text line by line, making sure they understand all of the vocabulary and asking one another clarifying questions as necessary.
- Students should restate the passage in their own words. What is the author saying?
- Next, students should ask one another some questions about the text. What more do you want to know? What do you not understand? What additional information do you need?
- Last, provide students with the discussion questions included with the text and have them discuss the answers together.
- Be sure to reiterate that there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to interpretation and opinion. Disagreement makes the conversation richer and opens up opportunities for learning and new ideas.
- End with each chevruta (learning pair) writing one thing on a large KWL chart (three columns; one each for what students know, want to know, and what they learned) and reviewing their responses as a class.
Alternative Methods for Document Studies
Method 1: Small Group Work
Divide students into groups of 3–4 (depending on the number of students in class). Students should read the selected passages together and then use the discussion questions as a guide for talking about the issues presented in excerpts. Teacher will bring students together for a summarizing discussion and point out key themes.
Method 2: Large Group Work
Rather than splitting into groups, some educators may choose to read these texts together as a class and discuss the questions together as a large group.