From Process to Product

Written by: Mrs. Randi Orshan, Elementary School Principal

The learning that takes place during the process of completing a project is just as, if not more, important than the presentation of the final product. You may have heard the phrase, “it’s the process, not the product.” When students are actively engaged in the process of creating a product, they are often more excited and can demonstrate greater learning when they show and share their final product with an audience. 

I would like to highlight one particular grade that really grasped this concept when learning about Chanukah. In the second grade, Rabbi Tuchman and Reb Yair showed their students that the process is equally as stimulating and exciting as the final product. 

What is a menorah and what are its requirements? By watching Reb Yair, second grade JS assistant, use a special machine to cut wood in preparation for making their own menorahs, the students learned about the requirements of a kosher menorah: the candles should all be the same height, they should be in a straight line and not a circle or one in front of the other, and there should clearly be eight separate lights. 

Once the wood was cut and the students understood how to prepare a kosher menorah, they set out to paint and decorate their own to fulfill the mitzvah of making it as beautiful as possible. While decorating, the students also learned about publicizing their product once it was finished since “publicizing the miracle” is a mitzvah. 

Through each step of constructing their menorahs, students learned the proper way to add and light a candle each night. While gluing on the piece to hold the Shamash, students explored how and why it should be separate and what its purpose is. 

As students put their final touches on their products, they learned about why we light the menorah, when and how we light, the translation of the brachot, and they sang the songs that are sung after lighting, as well. By the end of the process, our students created a beautiful product, learned the halachot, and brought home the written steps and brachot to use with their menorahs. 

Throughout this experiential learning process, a key method of instruction used by teachers throughout OCA, the children experience and develop an understanding of process that enhances their learning and fills them with a sense of pride in their accomplishment that they will long remember.