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EdJewTopia is a monthly eNewsletter devoted to the field of complementary Jewish education.
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November 2012: Kadima!
Taking Technology in Jewish Education Forward


Dear Educators,

At the beginning of this month, PELIE and AVI CHAI brought Kadima, our regional technology in Jewish education conference to South Florida, following Kadima conferences in Houston in May of this year, and in Cleveland in July of 2011 (your region could be next!). Kadima's pupose is to reawaken Jewish educators to the continually evolving challenge and opportunity of technology. At each of these conferences, professionals and lay leaders from complementary and day schools spent a whole day exploring educational technology and being inspired to continue their learning and to teach it forward to others in their schools and communities.

This month EdJewTopia brings you a taste of Kadima right to your screen: South Florida Kadima presenter Seth Dimbert shares his number one lesson for integrating technology into a school; South Florida Kadima program coordinator and presenter Lisa Nuland asks for you to join us in building resources for using technology in Jewish education; and Dallas Center for Jewish Education Executive Director Meyer Denn writes about his recent follow-up event to our previous Kadima conference.

How are you using technology in your classroom? Share your experiences and ideas with us and with other educators on our Facebook page. (Don't forget to "like" us!)

Rabbi Tim Daniel Bernard, editor

 comment on November EdJewTopia: Kadima! Taking Technology in Jewish Education Forward  Like November EdJewTopia: Kadima! Taking Technology in Jewish Education Forward on Facebook 




It's About Students, Not Technology!
By Seth Dimbert


When I work with schools on technology integration, there are standard questions I expect. In almost every educational institution, primary or secondary, secular or Judaic, formal or supplementary, public or private, administrators are asking: "How can I convince my more traditional teachers, those uncomfortable with technology, to use it in their classes?"
 
I struggle with this because the variables that distinguish each school and classroom from one another are so diverse that each requires its own approach; one size simply doesn't fit all.
 
However, the question they are asking is not the one I was answering. These principals and directors aren't asking me for a website, app or hardware recommendation. They are asking for an approach, an idea, an inspiration. And I think I have discovered it: the secret to successful technology integration has nothing to do with technology.
 
If you want to move your faculty along the integration continuum, stop talking about what the teacher should do and start talking about what the student needs. If your teachers are worth their salt, they understand that they must do whatever the learner needs from them. Put the proposition in these terms and even the most troglodytic teacher will adapt.
 
Today's students are digital learners. They don't see the analog presentation of information as old-fashioned; they find it incomprehensible. Asking a contemporary eighth grader to draft an essay by hand is akin to asking a surgeon to operate without MRI imagery: You're making the job harder by denying basic tools. After all, outside of the classroom, when will this student have to write something by hand?
 
As Nicholas Carr explains in The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, the tools we use change the way we think. Modern students think differently than they did ten years ago, so our teaching methodologies, which should be student-centered, must change to accommodate.
 
Some will be unwilling or unable to change, but your most professional, effective, and capable teachers, regardless of their comfort level with technology, do understand that their job is to meet their students' needs. 
 
It's not about technology; it's about doing whatever it takes to make learning happen.

Seth Dimbert is the Educational Technology Specialist at the Samuel Scheck Hillel Community Day School in North Miami Beach, where he leads technology integration for the school's PK-12 program. He also speaks at regional and national EdTech conferences and is a founder of the JEDcamp movment.
Taking Kadima Forward in Dallas
By Meyer Denn


When I was contacted by PELIE in March to help promote the regional Kadima Conference in Houston in May 2012, I had no idea how it would ultimately impact our entire “Community of Educators” in Dallas. At that time, we were able to convince a good number of our local complementary schools and day schools to send representatives. However, it was only by attending the Kadima Conference myself, that my eyes were opened and I realized the fact that with the integration of so much technology in our children’s daily lives, that the “genie is out of the bottle”. 
 
There is no way that we as responsible educators can turn back the clock on technological advancement. Indeed, we must all strive to meet our students where they are. While many of us may have resisted until now, one thing is certain: what has gotten us to where we are today will not get us to “next”.
 
Every year on the first Sunday in November, our CJE hosts Yom Limud, a day of learning and sharing for the Jewish educators in the day, complementary, and early childhood schools. For years, our teachers have been asking for a workshop to explore ways to bring technology to the classrooms. It became clear to us after attending the Kadima Conference in Houston that the answer to their prayers had come to us in the guise of Brian Mull, Kadima keynote presenter. Brian presented our keynote address to over 300 teachers of all stripes in a way that allowed every one of them to take home practical action steps to harness the power of technology in preparation and in the classroom. This was followed by two workshops that were attended by more than 50 teachers, each looking to expand their horizons in technological proficiency and engagement.
 
The response that we have received from the participating educators and school directors has been overwhelmingly positive. As a result of PELIE and AVI CHAI’s efforts, the CJE will be looking for ways to incorporate technology training into our Institute for Continuing Teacher Education and Yom Limud going forward. Thank you to our partners at AVI CHAI and PELIE for raising our awareness of the need to sharpen our focus on this aspect of Jewish education.

Meyer Denn MA Ed, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Jewish Education of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas for five years, where he has overseen the creation of many new and innovative programs in the field of Jewish education. He is also an avid genealogist who uses the internet extensively to conduct his research.

Tools: 
Living the Legacy Lesson plans from the Jewish Women's Archive on Jews and the Civil Rights and Labor Rights movements (new Hanukkah heroes?).
Hanukkah in a Box Boxes of convenient resources for Hanukkah available to order from Jewish Holidays in a Box.
Selected mobile apps for Jewish education Collected by Kadima South Florida presenter Hanna Shekhter.


Call To Jewish Educators to Showcase Your Strategies
By Lisa Nuland

 
A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Kadima regional conference in South Florida to present to Jewish educators about integrating technology into their classrooms.  The conference was so full of energy and ideas that I have been reflecting on it daily ever since.
 
At this point in time, the question has changed from “why” integrate technology to “how” to integrate technology. That, in and of itself, is a huge step forward.
 
It was pointed out that technology is integrated into the curriculum in many of our students’ general education settings. This is how our students are learning. They are used to it.  As Brian Mull of November Learning, our keynote presenter, explained, many of our students are actually not more technologically savvy than us. The difference is that they are not afraid that they might break the Internet(!), so they jump right in. We, as adults, are a bit more wary. However, we have to keep up with our students. The key is, we can’t use technology to teach for us. We have to utilize technology as a tool for teaching.
 
There are many online resources for integrating technology into education. What is missing are examples or resources for integrating technology into Jewish education. This is where we, as educators, have to get creative and integrate the ideas that we find online into our own lesson plans for reaching our own objectives. I have created a channel on YouTube for PELIE, to showcase examples of integrating technology into Jewish Education classrooms. (If you know of any similar resources already existing, let us know - ed.) Please join us to populate our channel! Send videos via email to PELIE’s new YouTube channel at s61y5c7lnw9a@m.youtube.com, and visit our YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/pelieorg to see what’s new!
 
Lisa Nuland is the owner/operator of Nuland Enterprises, LLC, which focuses on graphic communications, websites and educational technology. She is also a Jewish educator at Congregation Rodeph Sholom in Bridgeport, CT.
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If you would like to bring the Kadima conference to your community, email tbernard@pelie.org.
 
EdJewTopia is an e-newsletter devoted to the field of complementary Jewish education (CJE). There are hundreds of thousands of children engaged in community programs, synagogue schools, homeshuling, experiential retreats, and other modes of Jewish engagement. EdJewTopia is designed to highlight professionals' great work, support educators and parents with new tools, and inform the community at large about CJE. We want to hear from you! Email us at  Info@EdJewTopia.orgF|*