Last summer, DigitalJLearning Network had the pleasure of taking 15 Jewish day school educators to the ISTE Conference in Philadelphia, PA. The participants shared their learning from the conference and what they hoped to implement in the coming school year. Now we're catching up with these educators and finding out how their new educational technology initiatives are going. Tamara Grunberger (@GTgrunberger), Director of the Middle School at Netivot HaTorah Day School, shares her thoughts in the third installment in this new blog series.
In my role as the Middle School Director at a Jewish day school I run a variety of professional development sessions and opportunities for the middle school team. Some of the things I hoped to find at ISTE were ideas for integrating technology into professional development. Many of the sessions I attended on this topic supported the concept of modelling the use of technology for my team in order to familiarize them with the power and practicality of technology use.
We have been using Google Apps for Education at our school for two years now and it has been a tremendous tool in our division. The online calendar, the use of Google Drive, and email have helped to unify our department, creating a climate of collaboration and community. In our professional development sessions I have been experimenting with the use of other applications such as Google Slides and Google Forms. Practically, we are using Google Forms regularly for gathering information in advance of meetings, which has streamlined the process for data collection. Google Slides has been used to create collaborative documents which all of the team has access to in order for them to share their learning.
Our professional development has also centered around learning and sharing different technology tools which have enhanced our classrooms. We will often use time set aside to have teachers share with the team what they have found successful. After learning about Kahoot, Prezi, Pear Deck, Educanon and more during our learning time, I have often been pleased to see students in classrooms using these same tools not long after they have been shared.This year, each team member is undertaking their own personal professional development. In order to support each teacher in their growth, I have been working with them to leverage all of the resources available online. They have also been able to learn independently about what interests them. From YouTube videos to online webinars and courses, the access to fantastic resources and learning tools has made relevant and personal professional development easier and more enjoyable.
I have noticed that when I routinely use tools in the professional development sessions, it’s a great way for my team to become slowly introduced to the great technology that is available. When I walk into a classroom and see teachers and students then using the very same app, program or video it becomes clear that my investment in my own development and the sharing of that learning with my colleagues can have far reaching impact.