Sefaria for Educators

rachelbuckman edited this page Mar 27, 2017 · 16 revisions

Whether you are a classroom teacher, informal educator, pulpit rabbi, campus educator, supplementary school teacher, or a lay person who teaches the occasional class, Sefaria can help. Both our database and our source sheet builder are great resources for educators, and you can help us to make them even better. Email sara@sefaria.org if you have suggestions, feature or text requests, or just want to share a cool new use for Sefaria in the classroom!

Make Source Sheets on Sefaria:

If you use source sheets for teaching, making them on Sefaria means that they are super-easy to share with students, colleagues and parents. Hosting the source sheets on the Sefaria site keeps your students connected at all times to a library of Jewish texts which continues to grow.

Watch the video for a quick introduction to source sheets.

Use the Database and Source Sheet Tutorials for assistance in creating source sheets.

Using the Database

Sefaria’s database puts a vast library in the hands of our users. What’s more, because the texts are digitized, connections between texts can be made. Click on a text in the database and a panel containing all of the connections to that text - from commentaries, Talmud, philosophy, liturgy, etc. - opens up and allows the user to easily explore the connecting texts.

Watch the video for a quick overview of the Sefaria database.

For an introduction to navigating the database, watch the video.

Keep Notes on Sefaria

What would it mean for a student in 8th grade to have his or her notes from 6th grade readily available? Would it change the way he or she encountered the text to see thoughts and ideas from the past? Students can keep notes on Sefaria, creating a kind of digital portfolio that is linked to the text. If Sefer Bereishit is the text studied one year, the notes from that year remain as a resource anytime the student looks up a verse from those sections as a part of his or her learning later on.

Project Based Learning (PBL) with Sefaria

Sefaria supports Project Based Learning (PBL) and student centered learning. Even students who don't have access to a vast library of books, or don't have the skills to access them, can easily follow connections between sources. Students of a variety of ages and skill levels can find all of the Biblical verses linked to a piece of Talmud, or find the legal codes that codify the material in that piece of Talmud. It is easy to find and compare multiple commentaries on a given verse or section of verses, or to research philosophical texts that connect to theme raised in another type of text. Students can even make their own source sheets, which empowers them to take their own learning and help to educate others. Sefaria’s database and source sheet builder give students the tools to conduct research and present their discoveries by citing original texts along with outside sources such as articles, media and images.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Educators

  1. Can I edit the texts? Yes! When you click into a text on your source sheet, Sefaria opens a text editor. It works pretty much like your word processor - you can bold, italicize, underline, change colors and fonts, highlight text, and move things around.
    Go to Database and Source Sheet Tutorials for tutorials on editing sources.
  2. I like my students to underline key words, highlight the questions in the sugya, highlight dialogue in the text. Can they do that on a source sheet? Great idea! Your students can edit the texts in the same way that you can. You can write directions by adding a comment.
  3. Can I embed videos, pictures, etc.? Yes! Media is an option in the insert menu. Click here for directions for inserting media.
  4. What are my options for formatting a source sheet? You have many options for formatting on a source sheet. You may choose options such "Divine Name", "Number Sources", "Box Sources", "Sheet Language" and "Sheet Layout". The sheet language option allows you to display the Hebrew and English side-by-side or stacked one on top of the other. The other options allow you to put a box around sources, number the sources, choose how you would like G-d's name written on your sheet and put בס״ד on the top of your source sheet.
    Go to Database and Source Sheet Tutorials for tutorials on formatting source sheets.
  5. Do all of my texts on a source sheet have to be in the same language? No. Each source can be displayed in Hebrew, English or Bilingual. If the text is available in bilingual, you will then have the option to display it side-by-side or stacked. Click here for directions for changing the language of an individual source.
  6. Can I assign a source sheet to my students? Yes. Teachers can easily assign source sheets to students. An assigned source sheet can be used by students for preparing for a lesson, for completing work at home or for assessing their learning. When a teacher assigns a source sheet to a class, a template is made for the teacher and a copy is created for each student. When the student completes the source sheet, the teacher receives notification on the template. Teachers can even respond to the student’s work on individual source sheets. Go to Database and Source Sheet Tutorials for tutorials on using the assignment feature.
  7. How can I share a source sheet with my students? Each source sheet has a unique URL which can be shared in a variety of ways. You can e-mail the URL to students or embed it in your LMS or class website or send the URL in any other way that you communicate with students.
  8. How can source sheets be used for classroom collaboration and family involvement? Students can add their comments to source sheets (with attribution below their comment or source) and colleagues can brainstorm together. In addition, you can create a running blog or discussion group on a topic or source and have students or parents add at home. Students can also do this work during group work or chevruta time, and they can share what they’re learning with their families and add the family’s comments to the class source sheet. Adult students in an informal setting can add comments or questions to a source sheet before or after a class, to jump-start the conversation or to continue the discussion afterwards.
    Collaborative source sheets are created through the use of privacy settings.
    Go to Database and Source Sheet Tutorials for tutorials on privacy settings.
  9. What is the best way to collaborate with my colleagues at school? Sefaria is a great tool for collaboration. You can share your source sheet with your colleagues in the same way that you can share with your students (see above). A group can also be created for your school. Contact us and we will set up a group for you. You can save your source sheets to the group and they become accessible only to other members of the group.
  10. Can I display separate texts side-by-side? Yes! Use the “Compare” feature to display texts side-by-side.
    Click here for directions for comparing texts.
  11. Can I export to Google Drive? Absolutely! The “Export to Google Drive” feature allows you to use Google Drive’s editing and formatting capabilities. It is also a good way to print a source sheet. FYI - Google Docs does not support Rashi script so texts that are in Rashi script on your source sheet will switch to another font when exported. Click here for directions for exporting to Google Drive.
  12. What can I do with public source sheets? Public source sheets are a great resource for teachers and students. If you find a source sheet that you like, you can use it as is. If it’s not exactly how you would like it, see below. Click here for a video introduction to source sheets.
    Go to Database and Source Sheet Tutorials for tutorials on using source sheets.
  13. I found a great source sheet on Sefaria, it’s just not exactly right for my audience. How do I make a really good source sheet perfect for me? In the file menu, choose “Copy Sheet”. A copy of the source sheet has now been made. It will say “Source sheet by you, based on a sheet by the name of the original author” You can then edit the source sheet to make it perfect for your needs. Click here for directions for copying a public source sheet.
  14. Does Sefaria have a dictionary? Sefaria has a dictionary for Tanakh. Click here for directions for using the dictionary.
  15. Can I or my students take notes on Sefaria? Taking notes on Sefaria’s database is a wonderful way to keep your students and yourself organized. Use the “Notes” feature in the database. Click here for directions for adding notes.
  16. Can Sefaria help me to be organized? Are your classroom and home cluttered with worksheets, lesson plans and notes? Do you start each new school year by saying, “This is the year when I’ll be organized!”? Sefaria can help. Creating source sheets online, establishing a logical filing system with the use of tags, attaching your notes and lesson plans to the text by utilizing the notes feature, and sharing with your colleagues by forming a group are all ways that Sefaria can assist educators.
    Go to Database and Source Sheet Tutorials for tutorials on tagging source sheets, utilizing the notes feature and forming a group.
  17. How can the Sefaria database help me to teach texts in the classroom? Project Sefaria onto the wall, whiteboard, or SmartBoard. You can move easily between sources, display your source sheets, or show student work that they have done individually or in groups. With SmartInk, you can write on top of the text on Sefaria, adding punctuation, translation, or other notes, and then capture it and save it to SmartNotebook.

Inserting media

To add an image, media or MP3 to a source sheet:

  1. Click on the media button.
  2. To add a video, copy the URL from youtube into the box and press “add to sheet”.
  3. To add an image, enter the URL of the image in the box or click “upload an image” to add an image from your computer.
  4. You can also add an MP3 file to your source sheet by entering the URL into the box.

Changing the language of an individual source

  1. Select the source on which you would like to change the language, by clicking on it. Notice the blue bar on the left side indicating that it has been selected.
  2. From the "Format" menu, select "Source Language" and choose English, Hebrew or Bilingual. If you choose bilingual, you will also have the option to select the source layout - stacked or side-by-side.

Comparing texts

To compare texts:

  1. Click on your first text to open the "Connections/Tools" panel.

  2. Click on "Tools".

  3. Select "Compare".

  4. A complete Table of Contents page will open next to your original text. Choose the text that you would like to place next to your text.

  5. The two texts will now be displayed side-by-side.

Another text can be added by following the same steps with the second selected text.


Exporting to Google Drive

Export to Google Drive by selecting "Export to Google Drive" in the "File" menu. Once your source sheet is exported, it becomes a Google Doc and can be formatted and printed as any other Google Doc.


Copying a public source sheet

  1. In the "File" menu, click "Copy Sheet".
  2. Once the sheet is copied, it says that it is created by, you based on a sheet by the original author. The sheet is now yours and you can edit it to fit your needs.

Using the dictionary

The database contains a dictionary for Tanakh. To use the dictionary, double click on a word and the dictionary entry will appear at the top of the connections panel.


Adding notes

Users can add notes to the database. Users can opt to make their notes public to the Sefaria community or to keep them private. To add notes:

  1. Click on the verse or text to open the connections/tools panel.
  2. Click on "Tools".
  3. Click on "Add Note".
  4. Write your note. (1)
  5. Choose "Public" or "Private". (2)
  6. Click "Add Note". (3)

    To read your notes, click "My Notes" from "Tools". (See image above)