Last week, a group of us from The Jewish Education Project took a trip to the City of Brotherly Love to attend the North American Jewish Day School Conference.
The main goal of this trip for us at the DigitalJLearning Network was to meet teachers and administrators from the day school world and let them know about the network, our events, and our digital community. Our main staging area at the conference was the DJLN space in the Playground - an environment where attendees could grab a nosh and a coffee and sit down for a few minutes to play.
Our space at the Playground was set up with digital tutorials through which participants could learn how to embed assessment questions into online videos and use the data from them to inform instruction. Teachers who participated took part in a rotation model in which they planned, storyboarded, embedded questions into online videos, and examined student data using a free tool called Educanon. If you’d like to try your hand at this activity yourselves, it is now available online for all here.
Our Director Gary Hartstein presented a session on Tuesday morning called Personalizing Learning with Technology: Cutting Edge, or Just Good Teaching? In his session, Gary provided some thoughts on whether traditional and blended classrooms are at odds with each other or whether all good teaching is ultimately about personalization. He gave concrete examples of teachers’ experiences in combining online and in-person instruction, and examined how data drives learning and makes assessment and immediate feedback more accessible for teachers and students.
We also had a chance to attend some sessions ourselves!
Tatyana Dvorkin, associate director of DJLN, took some time off from running the Playground to check out Adolescent Spirituality: Igniting the Spark Within. This session was run by Rabbi Micah Lapidus and worked to address the challenges of spiritual education. Together we looked at the various theories of human development that address spiritual development, and explored how we as educators should best address this topic. As a group we discussed how adolescents approach spirituality and religion and through small group work explored the idea of encouraging spirituality as an integral part of not only religious but also of secular life.
Bryna Leider, director of the Day School Collaboration Network went to a session called Systemic School Change: Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners. This session focused on Boston’s B’Yadenu project, in which six schools partnered together to address the needs of diverse learners. The schools developed leadership teams, formulated action plans, and worked to transform their schools. One of the schools in particular had found that while they met the needs of their average students well, they were not adequately helping their struggling students. Their new plan focused on these underserved populations and eventually moved into blended learning in order to use data to support the ongoing needs of their students.
The conference was a great opportunity for us all to reach out to our network schools, use our knowledge of blended learning to teach others, learn from experts in many fields and of course to meet other educators in the Jewish day school community. It was overall a very productive trip and if you didn’t get a chance to attend this year we certainly encourage you to make it next year!