Along with the bricks and mortar of our state-of-the-art building to be completed in December 2015, we are incorporating the 21st Century skills and curriculum to match.
Through our partnership with Northwestern University, professional development, new technology and new STEM courses (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), our faculty is ensuring that our students are prepared to succeed in the future. Rabbi Matanky says, “Our goals are to foster 21st Century teaching and learning, including computational thinking, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration.”
Many of the ways we are incorporating STEM education into the classroom is by empowering our teachers with training, support and teaching materials that are easily implemented in various topics of their current curricula. We are one of only approximately 100 schools in the Chicagoland area to work closely with Northwestern’s Office of STEM Education Partnerships and have access to the breadth of knowledge and online tools they provide. In order to expand access to digital tools and collaboration, we will be providing all 9th and 10th grade students with a personal tablet device next year.
In addition to that, we are offering three new STEM courses to our students. This spring we launched a STEM Research & Design course with Dr. Rochelle Green, our director of 21st Century Teaching and Learning, and next year we will also offer courses on electronics & telecommunications and computational thinking. Computational thinking (CT) is a way of solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior that draws on concepts fundamental to computer science. It is considered one of the essential skills for today’s students in the same way that reading, writing and arithmetic has always been an essential educational skill. These courses are all an outcome of our partnership with Northwestern University, the university widely considered the “thought leaders” on computational thinking.
Dr. Green says that faculty and administration at ICJA are able to build upon decades of educational experience to thoughtfully implement new strategies to prepare our students for an ever-changing society. “What we have here is something very unique – there is a tremendous commitment to be both traditional and 21st Century, so that we have so much added value.”
She goes on to say, “People feel safe here to grown and learn. They are looking forward to learning something new because that’s the kind of teachers we have.”