The first Immersive Learning Week for middle school students at Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital (MILTON) had sixth graders doing deep dives into digital game design, the law, and biblical art. Immersive Learning Week is a program between trimesters during which students, guided by instructors and working in small groups, engage in concentrated experiential learning about topics of study shaped by their interests. The week includes field trips, guest speakers, creative exploration and design, and more.
Students began the week by learning the principles of art and examining the sources in Genesis:11 about the Tower of Babel before looking at Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s “Tower of Babel” to see which texts and midrashim he incorporated into his work. They also studied sculpture with local artist Rena Fruchter, and created gesture drawings, paintings, and sculptures of biblical characters such as Noah, Yonah, Sarah, Aharon, and others.
During a visit to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., students analyzed Peter Paul Rubens's most famous biblical works of art, including “Daniel in the Lion’s Den,” looking at them through both an art interpretation lens and a Jewish text lens.
Journeys of Justice
Students in this group learned about a range of justice-related concepts, including Supreme Court history, state versus federal courts, civil versus criminal law, philosophies of punishment, and civil disobedience.
In addition to attending an oral argument at the Supreme Court in the case of Murphy v. Smith, these students also visited the Circuit Court of Montgomery County. They went on a behind-the-scenes tour of a courtroom and observed part of an armed robbery trial. They also had a guest speaker from Legal Services Corporation; visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture, accompanied by an attorney from Tzedek DC and a social justice fellow from Avodah Jewish Service Corps; and explored copyright infringement cases involving pop music artists Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, and Pharrell Williams with MILTON parent and guest speaker, Sig Libowitz.
Digital Game Design
In this group, students learned elements of coding by designing a variety of digital games and then designed and executed original digital game designs. Using the Scratch block computer language, the students explored and developed the coding that is used to create games like Pong, maze games like Pac-Man, and scroller games like Galactica. They then merged these elements to design their own original games — collaborating, experimenting, and innovating throughout.
Students also got to hear from computer programmer Donte Falcone about his work as a professional game designer, the many applications of gaming innovations in coding, and the applications of game design in fields such as intelligence, aeronautics, and education.
By Ronit Greenstein
Ronit Greenstein is director of communications at MILTON.