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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Idea School students researching their character traits and apps in the beit midrash. (Credit: Tavi Koslowe)

(Courtesy of Idea School Class of 2022) As part of a project-based learning assignment during the Aseret Yemei Teshuva, ninth-grade students at The Idea School were required to self-reflect upon one of four primary character traits: respect, gratitude, generosity or patience. Once they had developed a working definition of their chosen trait as well as a list of everyday opportunities where they experience that trait, they were ready to begin a week-long project of monitoring their awareness and progress within that trait. Students were required to utilize an app from the App Store to keep daily records of their progress and then submit an app review at the conclusion of their week describing how well that particular app functioned as a means for character (middot) development. Below are some of the reviews that the students wrote.

365 Gratitude: Diary, Journal (available for free on IOS and Android)

This app is designed to help you track what you are grateful for each day. In addition to allowing for written entries, it allows you to upload pictures for each grateful moment, along with many other helpful features. I personally found this app to be very useful for tracking gratitude and I would definitely consider using it again. (Zac A.)

Grateful: A Gratitude Journal (available for free on IOS)

With its simple interface and periodic prompts, Grateful is designed to develop reflection and exhibiting appreciation into both a pleasant and effortless process. If one is daunted by a blank page or not quite certain where or how to begin addressing a musing or comment, Grateful will welcome them with a subjective question such as: “What made you smile today?” “What are you looking forward to?” or “What made today a good day?” It gives you space to answer the prompt, write notes, add a photo and even enter a tag to make it easy to find. You can even change the color theme to one that makes you feel happy and have it send you cute reminders at a certain time to log additional entries.

The app is completely private—there are no sign-ups, no logins, and no Facebook integration. All of one’s data resides only on their device.

Though the program does include PREMIUM features, the FREE features consist of 15 journal entries; unlimited reminders; no required login of any sort; sessions that are introduced with a prompt, which compel the writing itself to be less troublesome; and the means to edit past entries. In addition, one is authorized to reply to a prompt, save any further thoughts for later reading and customize their timeline—displaying entries by time, prompt, tag or arbitrarily.

I, personally, utilized this app to monitor my own gratitude by, on a day-to-day basis, entering several entries into the app’s feed, each in response to a prefabricated question and in correspondence with a representational image that I had selected and imported from Google. I did indeed purchase the PREMIUM features, which I very much recommend. The program caused expressing the esteem I maintain for life, together with its benefits and courtesies, both simple and enjoyable. And, furthermore, it reminded me, during those “down” and dire moments we all must encounter, of the various blessings present in my own life that are now documented and recorded. Therefore, I would, without a doubt, admit to having approved of and taken an interest in this app. (Sarah G., Emma H., Jonah L.)

Notes (available for free on IOS and Android)

This app is meant for keeping any kind of information written down. I used the app to monitor my chosen character trait, gratitude. This app allowed me to very easily write down my three daily entries that I was grateful for, and what or who I thanked. I liked using this app because it was already installed on my phone. I found the Notes app very helpful because you can type whatever you want with no limit about how many words you can write or how many entries you can submit. Using an app to monitor my gratitude was also helpful because I usually have my phone with me. At the conclusion of the week, I felt that I have a lot of people to thank and that there are a lot of things I have to be thankful for. I would encourage anyone to use Notes for monitoring any character trait. (Leora G., Leah M., Felicia S.)

Daily Water Tracker (available for free on IOS or Android)

This app is designed to be used by people to track how much water they drink per day by letting them add or subtract different amounts of water. I tried an experiment and used this app to track gratitude. Every day, for a week, I added a certain amount of “water” to the “cup,” corresponding to how thankful I was that day. I think this was a cool and fun way to track gratitude, but it didn’t allow me to record specifically what I was thankful for; I could only see a daily percentage. While enjoyable, I don’t think I would recommend this app to specifically track gratitude. (Elie R.)

The Idea School is a Jewish, co-ed, project-based-learning high school, located at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades. Project-based learning (PBL) uses traditional academic subjects, but centers them around inspiring and meaningful questions for students to answer. PBL also integrates the arts into learning, and aims to dissolve the walls between school and the world. For more information about the school, please visit our website at www.theideaschool.org