It's the Process, Not the Product

| By Rabbi Steven Genachowski

In June, 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. Rabbi Steven Genachowski, Judaic Studies Rebbe for 9th and 10th grade at Davis Renov Stahler Yeshiva High School for Boys, shares his thoughts in the eleventh installment in this new blog series.


June 2015 was my first time attending and experiencing an ISTE conference. I went in really not knowing what to expect and what to look for, but I came out with a wealth of knowledge that is almost overwhelming. It was an amazing learning opportunity from which I am sure my fellow colleagues and students will gain a tremendous amount!

One of the things I wanted to learn more about and bring back to my school, and more specifically my own classes, was Project-Based-Learning (PBL) and assessment. The biggest challenge in implementing PBL is obviously knowing how and when to use it. What I learned was that the key is not to build your lesson around the project, but rather to first work on the teaching methodology and only then see how the technology best fits in. The quote that I heard that puts this best is “Technology is the path where the learning happens; it is not the focus.”

In a PBL project with high quality tech integration, the project itself should show that the student has a deep understanding of the content he or she is working on. PBL doesn’t focus on the product but rather the process. Always remember, tasks before apps. Apps just allow the students to present their deep knowledge of what they’re researching. Teachers who have a hard time getting started with technology and PBL can have students who are experts in the app teach their peers. This can help increase students’ involvement.

Some tips to help foster collaboration in a 1:1 environment:

  • Share computer/screen
  • Google Apps for Education – Documents can be shared with other students, and everyone can add their comments and/or questions. Then they can discuss why something may have been added.

How tech can be used to enhance assessment in PBL projects:

  • Assess the process, not necessarily the goal
  • Good assessment should put students on a winning streak
  • Failure is part of learning – Assessment should go beyond the failure; therefore, teachers need to give the right feedback and good feedback.

Some apps that caught my attention and that can help to promote creativity include: