OYYL First Graders Excel at New Chumash Program

First graders at Oholei Yosef Yitzchok Lubavitch in Crown Heights marked the completion of a Chumash learning program with a special celebration.

First-grade boys at Oholei Yosef Yitzchok Lubavitch (OYYL) recently celebrated the completion of their first stage of the CVS (Chumash Vocabulary System) program with a Siyum. Parents were invited to partake in this milestone, in which the students have demonstrated a mastery of the first set of cards, as they work towards building their vocabulary and Chumash skills on their way to becoming empowered independent learners.

“There is a long-growing concern that our students and children are not adequately developing a deep conceptual understanding of the subjects they study in yeshiva,” says Mrs. Mila Schneiderman, OYYL Director. 

“The prevailing focus often revolves around attaining a general understanding, passing tests, and progressing to the next level, topic, or parsha. However, it is widely acknowledged that not all students possess the same language learning skills. Consequently, classes often consist of three distinct groups: independent learners with strong language skills, students who require moderate assistance and instruction, and students who find the text exceedingly challenging and become greatly frustrated. This situation leads to a limited ability for many students to truly grasp and comprehend the language and its underlying concepts. As a result, their overall learning experience suffers, hindering their effective application of knowledge, especially when confronted with more complex texts, such as Mishnah and Gemora, which require higher-order thinking to connect to the messages of these holy texts.”

Oholei Yosef Yitzchok Lubavitch (OYYL) of Crown Heights, has been working and implementing the CVS (Chumash Vocabulary System) program for almost a decade. The CVS program, developed by Rabbi Shaul Klein over the last four decades, is an innovative program that aims to enhance Loshon Hakodesh skills, particularly for students with non-Hebrew speaking backgrounds, towards developing native-levels of word retrieval, language comprehension, and automaticity.

The CVS program follows a three-stage approach, engaging students in a multi-sensory learning experience.

In the first stage, students acquire word knowledge through tactile engagement using cards that include 800 Shoroshim (root words) and Shimushim (prefixes and suffixes). Each card features a Shoiresh (root) and a picture cue for better comprehension, with translations provided on the back. By drawing their own associated pictures, students personalize and internalize the word meanings. This hands-on approach enhances their learning and retention, empowering them to determine their learning pace by adding new cards as they become comfortable.

The second stage of the program involves word hunting, where students actively search for and highlight known Shoroshim and Shimushim within texts using different color highlighters. This kinesthetic activity allows students to apply their acquired skills in a practical context, further solidifying their understanding. 

In the third stage, students transition to studying directly from their text’s with confidence, fluently translating and comprehending pesukim and the concepts being discussed.

All three of these stages operate cyclically, where students learn with teachers at their level to steadily and gradually build their word bank, while simultaneously developing their ability to truly apply their knowledge conceptually. By the completion of all CVS cards, students will have attained a mastery of 90% of the words that make up all of Tanach. Having mastered the Shoroshim, Shimushim, and sentence structure, students have the necessary tools to conceptually navigate and learn the text, whether it be Chumash, Mishnah, Gemara etc.

The implementation of the CVS program at OYYL has surpassed expectations, sparking enthusiasm and excitement among students. Beyond just language acquisition, the program has positively impacted various skills. Students develop hand-eye coordination through the tactile interaction with the cards, while the independence and self-control they exercise in determining their own learning pace fosters a sense of ownership over their knowledge. The program also instills self-confidence and joy for learning as students achieve success incrementally, at their own pace. Additionally, concentration and focus are sharpened as students listen to their peers while staying on track, and symbolic thought is developed and enhanced through the creation of associated pictures for each word.

Aligned with OYYL’s mission to provide an authentic Lubavitch education, the CVS program nurtures spiritual, academic, and social tools within a multi-sensory framework. Together, the school cultivates a learning environment where every student’s unique talents and persona are recognized and nurtured, allowing them to grow at their own pace and develop into healthy, happy, and committed chassidim.

Visit OYYL’s website at https://oyyl.org to learn more.

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