This summer, the DigitalJLearning Network had the pleasure of taking 15 Jewish Day School educators to the 2015 ISTE Conference in Philadelphia, PA. We asked the participants to share what they learned and how the conference inspired them to take action in their schools. Lisa Dadush (@iteachistory), History Teacher at Magen David Yeshiva High School, shares her thoughts in the second installment in this new blog series.
My goal in attending the ISTE conference was not only to develop myself professionally, but very specifically, to find ways to continue to engage my students in different ways through technology in an already high tech classroom. As a Blended Learning (BOLD) teacher, I felt that I had finally gotten the hang of how to manage my BOLD classroom, and now I wanted to challenge myself further for the upcoming year. How do I bring technology into my classroom beyond my students learning the content through a computer? How can I use technology to collect data on my students that would benefit them as learners?
Well, ISTE answered these questions for me and gave me so many ideas that I have to now pick and choose what I use with my students. In the Expo Hall I met with a vendor, Edulastic, that could meet all of my assessment and data collection needs. I never knew I could get so excited about a computer program! The program would help raise the bar for my students and aid me in supporting them when and where they specifically need it, whether it be content or a skill. With instant responses, collecting, and organizing data, all of which we are focusing on this year, I was picturing how much more effective I could be as a teacher.
In the sessions, I learned of multiple apps, such as Socrative and Kahoot!, and websites that I could use to help me gauge the progress of my students at the end of each lesson through the technology that they already have with them - their phones. These apps and sites that I plan to start using with my classes will show students that they can utilize their phones for more than communicating, but for learning as well. I also attended sessions that discussed how to engage students more through current events and online discussions and the structures that should be in place for both the students and the teacher to benefit the most from these ideas. These platforms are tools that can benefit my traditional classes in the upcoming year. Showing my students how and more importantly why their individual voices count in this world is a piece that sometimes gets lost in a classroom with a rigid time frame for the curriculum. Lastly, in one of my sessions, the presenter discussed EdPuzzle, where she had posted her class expectations and syllabus for the year and had her students read through the information for homework. However, the spin on it was that the site allows the teacher to pause the information to ask comprehension questions. Not only did this allow her to make sure the students understood the class requirements, but she asked them to complete the assignment with their parents (selfie required!), which helped with parent involvement.
Attending ISTE really opened my eyes to how much there is available when it comes to the limitless opportunities for our students to learn through technology. I cannot wait to use EdPuzzle for my first assignment of the year, Socrative and Kahoot! for exit tickets, and hopefully Edulastic if we can purchase the program.