The "Step By Step Approach"
Teaching Gemarah

1. How do we teach Gemarah according to chazal at the ages of 10?

2. To understand the answer we first must understand the skills involved in teaching gemarah.

3.

4. Knowing these are the skills we will look at ways to help our Talmidim master each one. After observing ways of dealing with all of these skills we will understand the answer as to what chazal meant and as to what we can expect from children and what we cannot expect from them.

5. Dealing with the reading aspect of Gemarah:

In my opinion a translation sheet with all or some of the translation pointing out each word (depending on the age of Talmid) are important. We cannot expect the Talmidim to absorb unlimited amount of new words without some aid. Choose key words to work on during each amud, and be sure to test them on isolated words, not only sentences. These translation words sheets should be used during class the first couple of times learning the gemarah. Let the children feel it is easy to review! They can test themselves. Reading it themselves helps them understand or grasp what they couldn't learn by hearing (auditory The milim sheets can be filled in during class as well. These words can be drilled by having "BEES". I have written in hand outs how to make a BEE. Some children will show weakness with memorizing words and be understanding of these weakness.

Have them number the lines of their regular gemarah . This will help them keep the place

Announce at the beginning of the year how Aramaic is different than loshon hakodesh, they are all beginners and we are all on the same level.

6. Punctuation and reading fluency,

1. Using our translation sheets and translating each line the way it is read can help the children with the proper punctuation.

2. Talmidim can fill in comas during class to aid them with correct punctuation's of sentences.

7. Comprehension

The method that I use and I have found that other rebbeim use as well is what I call steps. This is a brief synopsis of the gemarah in step form (look at handout). These can be used on many levels.

The benefits

1. Children can review with little help

2. Parents know how you explained the gemarah

3. Rebbeim will see a difficulty in advance

4. Child will understand the sequence of the gemarah

Some examples of a difficult gemarah are:

1. Many steps

2. Difficult concept: Example "Yiush shelo midas". This gemarah is a simple 3 step gemarah

3. Trumah shelo midas is another example of a gemarah that many children have hardships with. You can explain as many times as you want that just like trumah shelo midas is not trumah yiush shelo midas is not yiush.

4. A gemarah such as proof, no proof , proof to no proof

Color coded markers top highlight steps

After teaching the steps choose about six color highlighters. Each color will represent a kind of gemarah step.

Example

Case = yellow

question = red

Explanation = green

answer = blue

proof = purple

no proof = orange

You can use this method in several ways depending on grade level. At the lowest level you tell them what to highlight. gradually you ask them to read out loud and a boy can tell the class while being monitored by the rebbe, till eventually the talmid can master this on his own.. A photocopy of the amud can be distributed and the talmidim can be tested on their abilities. I asked the boys how they liked the highlighting and what benefits they had. Some of the boys answered that they saw the words better = meaning visually it was easier to discern the words from all the words that were on the page. so another benefit is making it visually easier.

To answer the original question, there are many gemarahs that I would equate to algebra which is far higher a level of comprehension needed in their secular classes.. Therefore chazal are telling us not all gemarahs can be understood by all talmidim until age 15. What we are to do is teach all the skills which include mikrah, mishna, and many gemarahs that are appropriate for them. The beauty of gemarah is that while teaching one gemarah everyone in the class can achieve on their level what ever level they may be on.

However we must keep in mind this concept and not turn talmidim off of gemarah before they have reached the level of maturity needed for gemarah.

Overhead projector

The use of visual aids can greatly make many gemarahs easier. For example, depending on the perek, there may be some graphic picture that can explain a concept to child very quickly such as on Elu metzios. Charts can be used as well these can easily be prepared by the rebbe and used in the future years.

 

What do we do when a talmid is stuck and can not get through a certain step?

After several attempts at understanding a gemarah we must go to one of the other skills in the gemarah and come back a while later, but if afterwards the child still doesn't understand we must encourage him not to feel bad. All the efforts will eventually develop his mind to understand at a later time. I have seen too many times that going over and over is pointless, you will only get the child to repeat by rote rather than real comprehension. This is why when we question the child a little differently he can no longer answer since he really didn't understand the concept.

Biographies of Tannaim

Davka has a computer program called Talmud Tutor Plus. In this program there are printable biographies of all the Tannaim and Amoroim listed in order of generations and listed according to whether they lived in Eretz Yisroel or Bavel

 

 

Sample of teaching order:
Change around order to as you see appropriate.

Read from regular gemarah. Read once or twice
Explain steps using step sheets
Use overhead: Chart or diagram
Ask Talmidim to review with translation sheets independently.
Fill in the milim sheets independently
Go over steps. Ask different children different steps. Ask in different orders. Example step 4, 6
Highlight gemarah (older classes do it by them selves)
Ask boys to read for all to hear.
Drill individual milim /BEE at end of amud or sugya

Motivational techniques

A method I have been using to get the talmidim motivated to review I have a bulletin board beautifully decorated with all the talmidims names on it. as well as all the blatt gemarah in our perek. If a boy is tested on an amud gemarah a circle is placed on his name on that blatt, after he is tested on the next amud which is an entire blatt a star is placed there in its place. The stars and circles are also color coded. Red is Metzuyan, blue is Tov Meod and yellow is Tov.

 

"Farher Card"

Each talmid is tested by appointment (voluntary) by the Menahel or the Rosh Hayeshiva and his results are recorded in a small card (Metzuyan , Tov Meod or Tov) After being tested on 7 blatt, the talmid is rewarded with an appropriate prize i.e.. slice of pizza. If the talmid is tested on the entire perek he has his picture next to the bulletin board. This picture is pasted on a certificate and then laminated on a plaque. Click to see the plaque

 

BEE

Go up and down the rows in class asking them the words on your word list. If they don't know the word the sit in there seat however if they know the word they stand up against the wall , until the winner is left. An excellent method of drilling words.

Motivational techniques cont.

Personalized awards

Give small cards with individualized messages of praise and encouragement. A very strong motivational tool for both learning and behavior! (Instant feedback