By COLlive reporter
“Before our Rebbi started using Gemara Academy, I never looked at Tosefos. It was too hard,” said Yaakov, a mesivta student. “After using the program, I could understand the text perfectly.”
Rabbi Chananya Hoffinger created Gemara Academy after four years teaching high school. The methods teachers used when he was in school weren’t working for his classroom.
“If your students are struggling, you’re struggling too,” said Rabbi Hoffinger, who taught in a Mesivta for 7 years. “I was counting the days until the end of the year.”
Instead of giving up his teaching career, Rabbi Hoffinger worked to design a system to clarify Gemara concepts and made the comprehensive program available to other schools. “I loved learning,” he says, “but the methods my teachers used weren’t working for my classroom.”
He began to tweak his lesson plans, adding in images and flow charts to help his students follow along. By the next year when the new program was fully implemented into the classroom, student attendance increased from 75%-95%.
Using PowerPoint, Gemara Academy synchronizes text-based and visual-based learning, using color codes in the text and charts, introductory outlines and pictures to reach many types of learners.
The latest version which will be developed and made available throughout this year is interactive, allowing students to explore concepts at their own pace. Audio features help with pronunciation and translation. The voice-over also explains each portion of the classes.
The presentations guide students to identify the bigger picture, so they don’t get lost in the details. Also, over time students can recognize the style and tools the Gemara uses. Once they understand the patterns, students can approach new material with confidence.
Rabbi Avrohom Zupnik, who teaches 8th grade in Lakewood, said the Gemara Academy charts he uses help all his students. “For some it’s additional clarity, and for others it helps them [understand] the basic Pshat, so every student has gained.”
Rabbi Dovid Nojowitz, National Director of Torah Umesorah, says Gemara Academy is a “valuable and effective tool” that helps Talmidim understand the structure of how Gemara works.
So far, 10 yeshivos have implemented Gemara Academy, which is also available for purchase by individual students as a home study aid. Teachers, tutors and students can access over 1,000 classes which are all available online.
There are also over 300 videos on the website that have been viewed over 10,000 times and that are all available to any user.
The classes are available on the following chapters: תפלת השחר, אלו מציאות, המפקיד, הכונס, השוכר את האומנין, החובל, המניח, כיצד העדים והשותפין.
They are currently offering a 1-month trial for qualified users. To find out how the program can unlock the power of Gemara for you and your class or for yourself, visit www.gemaraacademy.com.