Educators asked our engineers to create a highlighting tool that would allow learners to deconstruct a source, identify its components, and experiment with making meaning out of the pieces. This feature is now available for use with our source sheets!
Director of Education Sara Wolkenfeld created the first assignment using the new highlighting tool here on Sefaria to help her students prepare a text independently and think about the content.
Sara asked her eleventh grade Talmud students at the Ida Crown Jewish Academy to dissect a new section of Gemara by color-coding the passage using the highlighting tool. These students have been trained to look for “key words” in the Gemara, including phrases that ask a question, introduce an answer, or present a contradiction.
Sara pre-set color-coded tags (see image below) for the students to apply to each line of the text, such as “question/challenge” or “answer” (though some students also added their own!) and used Sefaria’s Assignments feature to give each study pair their own copy of the passage to dissect.
Students learned how to use the highlighter tool in just a few minutes and then jumped right in to highlight their text. After tagging the text, the students used the tool to segment the text and filter out everything except the tag “question/challenge.” The tool allowed them to manipulate the text in ways that are impossible with printed sheets. With a simple filter the students could see the questions and challenges set apart from the rest of the text. Finally, Sara asked, “What do you notice about the challenges? What do they have in common? Is there a theme?”
The filter enabled the students to see how the same “question/challenge” phrase is used repeatedly to introduce a case juxtaposed to the topic under discussion. Even before Sara’s students could fully comprehend the nuances of the passage, the overall structure was clear to them because they could easily breakdown the similarities and differences across the text, providing them with a gateway into the topic being debated.
How else can learners use this new tool? What aspects of our pedagogy can we improve with this tool? How might the Highlighter be used in a Tanakh class, a Mishnah class, or an elementary school classroom? How might you use this tool in your own work? Share your source sheets or ideas — as well as any feedback on how the highlighter works for you — in the comments section of the blog or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.