In time for the upcoming school year an exciting new website has been launched.
Gemaraacademy.com is a newly developed website that was made to cater to Bochurim who will be learning Mesechta Shabbos this upcoming year.
Gemara Academy was designed to be a personal Chavrusa that a student can use at his own pace. The classes can be paused, rewound, or played over again. It can be used to prepare for the next day’s class or for Chazarah of the previous day’s class.
The website will have classes on the Gemara and Tosfos on all the parts that Yeshiva Bochurim will be learning. It will be updated as the year goes on.
A student will no longer find himself wanting help with Gemara and not having access to that help.
Gemara Academy was developed within the context of teaching Gemara in a classroom. Rabbi Chananya Hoffinger has been teaching at Hamesivta of Ocean Parkway for 7 years and experienced firsthand the difficulties that come up when learning and teaching Gemara.
One of the most common difficulties is the vast expansiveness of the Gemara that makes it so hard to stay focused and see the structure of the Gemara. Another challenge is the feeling that we often have of not knowing what approach and method the Gemara will use in the current Sugya.
As a result Rabbi Hoffinger created a system of teaching using PowerPoint presentations that use flowcharts that show exactly which tools the Gemara uses in each Sugya and the larger map of the Gemara.
Because Gemara is a study of the Mishna it therefore uses the same tools over and over again. Since in the process of analyzing a teaching the same tools are always used. As a result after a very short time the student begins to become more familiar with these tools that the Gemara uses as he sees them used over and over again within the visual context of the flowchart.
One of the important goals of Gemara Academy is that the student appreciate the text, and not that the text be replaced with a visual based class. As a result each flowchart is exactly parallel and mirrors the Gemara that it’s teaching. In addition each PowerPoint presentation of the Gemara also has the Gemara text so that the student can become familiar and comfortable with the text.
Gemara Academy seeks to accomplish a number of things:
1) Show the map of the Gemara so that the student can see the bigger picture and not become lost in the details
2) To enhace familiarity with the style and tools that the Gemara uses
3) To show through the flowchart how the ideas in the Gemara are developed
4) To exactly mirror the text so the student comes to appreciate and become comfortable with the text
This will hopefully lead to students becoming more independent in their learning. As they master the style and tools the Gemara uses, they will feel more empowered and able to approach a new piece of Gemara and learn it on their own.
This system of learning was used this past year in Hamesivta and it had tremendous success. At the end-of-the-year banquet in Hamesivta, student after student got up and spoke about how much they grew in their learning this past year.