PD for a Great New Year
Staff worked harder than ever this summer to ensure a great new year at ICJA. In addition to all the summer staff training, professional development (PD) seminars and planning our teachers normally do–staff also had to prepare for new technology changes in our curriculum.
Digital Technology Changes:
Our staff spent the summer preparing to use our new Learning Management System (LMS), Haiku. At a minimum, teachers will be posting all class assignments and syllabi to Haiku so that students can track their weekly schedules online. At most, the possibilities are nearly endless. Students can collaborate with students in other classes who are learning the same material. They can submit assignments over email and text and then receive it back with comments and corrections that their teachers made online as well. Students can download notes and even lectures from those teachers who record classes.
The new digital technology presents new challenges, all of which we are addressing. Staff were trained throughout the summer to use Haiku and iPads. And Rabbi Binyamin Segal and Mrs. Olivia Friedman, instructional technology coordinators, worked tirelessly with administration and our IT department to ensure the launch goes smoothly.
Rabbi Segal attended the Ed Tech Seminar, focusing on using iPads in the classroom. The goal is to maximize use of the iPad so that it’s not just a modern way to do worksheets. Rabbi Segal says, “For me, the focus was how to use iPad to have the instant ability to create content and edit content, to take raw footage anywhere and edit it to tell a story.
Rabbi Segal and Mrs. Freedman attended the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in Philadelphia and were blown away by the possibilities. Project-based learning was big component there, a method of learning that is always on the tip of the tongue for Dr. Rochelle Green, our director of 21Century learning and teaching.
From Dr. Kahan and Ms. Kirshner:
Dr. Jeremy Kahan and Ms. Beth Kirshner attended the Legacy Heritage Teacher Institute, based at Hebrew University and sponsored by Legacy Heritage Foundation, which focuses on developing teacher leadership for school change, learning state-of-the-art pedagogy in Judaic studies and designing an innovative project. Participants represented a competitively selected cross-section of 40 veteran day-school teachers from North America and Australia. As part of their work, Ms. Kirshner and Dr. Kahan planned a series of video lessons to help students develop skills that will empower them to analyze Torah text independently. They will be working with a mentor to implement this project over the course of this school year.
From Ms. Sheri Goldstein, English:
I attended a week-long Poetry Seminar hosted by Robert Pinsky, the former Poet Laurette of the United States, with the emphasis on bringing joy to the teaching of poetry. Too often we focus on the analysis of poetry without dwelling on the beauty of the art, which, like singing and dancing is one of the oldest art forms known to mankind.
In order to connect better to poetry, students should be encouraged to read poetry out loud for the experience of verbalizing rhyme and rhythm without worrying about what it means. Eventually, we can begin to ponder the poetic structure and find meaning in the words, but the joy has to come first. In order to enhance this, each of us in the workshop created our own poetry anthologies (the word comes from flower gathering) by finding poems that have resonated with us over the years and hand copying them into a journal–a repository of different voices. We also were encouraged to have our students participate in Poetry Out Loud, a national competition devoted to the memorization and performance of poems. I hope to spearhead this later in the year. Also as part of the curriculum, we learned techniques for making poetry more accessible that I hope to use in my classroom during the year.
From Mrs. Arons, English:
Mrs. Arons attended the Great Jewish Books Teacher Workshop this summer. Along with 19 other educators selected for the program at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts, Mrs. Arons exchanged ideas and developed learning materials incorporating Jewish literature into different curricula for all types of learning styles.
Since the English department at ICJA will be focusing on American literature this year, Mrs. Arons collaborated on ways to introduce writers like Phillip Roth, Cynthia Ozick, and Grace Paley into units exploring Jewish identity in the face of modernity and Americanization, the Jewish immigrant experience, and the Jewish influence on movies and theater. Her classes this year will be using a variety of media to explore these topics.