Monday, February 10, 2014

Making Waves on Day School Affordability

One school in Northern California takes a dramatic move on day school tuition.

See Head of School Allen Selis's blog for details.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Spanish Publication at WYHS

For the past couple of weeks I had been working with the Spanish teacher at WYHS on the Spanish publication that she puts out every year with articles written by students. This is a student run publication that we worked on together as advisors. I helped the students with the technical aspects of the magazine. The graphic designer put together the magazine using Microsoft Publisher and I worked together with her and some of the editors on the layout and on making this a successful publication.

Spanish Cultural Magazine 2011v2

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Digital Video Elective at the High School at Donna Klein Jewish Academy

I have been teaching a Digital Video Elective at DKJA this semester. The Digital Video elective is meant to introduce students to all aspects of digital video, from storyboarding scenes, screenwriting, and creating shot lists to editing a finished product. Throughout this project-based course, students demonstrate mastery of the key learning objectives by recording, capturing, and editing their own videos using the Final Cut Pro Suite software. Students are required to produce at three movies (including one Judaic Studies video) as well as two film critiques during the course of the semester. This is a hands-on course that provides a solid foundation for further study in this exciting field, and progresses from the pre-production, production, and post-production including editing basics transitions, text usage, and special effects.

Already this semester, the students have produced two videos for the class. Their first video was on a subject of their own choice. One student chose to make a video about How to Play Golf and the other student chose to create a music video. This project provided the foundation and learning grounds for what a digital video project is all about. Throughout the projects, the students work in stages, first brainstorming for ideas on projects, then moving on to writing scripts, drawing storyboards, filming and finally editing. Students have learned that these kinds of projects cannot be put together on a last minute basis. Planning and preparation is of essence when working on these kinds of projects.

The following links are to the most recent videos the students worked on based on content they had learned from their Judaic Studies courses.
David and Goliath:

We thank the Avi Chai Foundation for their continuous support of our projects and Jewish Education.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Technology Update from Boca Raton

It has been a while since I last gave an update about what is happening technology-wise from Boca Raton. Here is a brief update from each school.

Hillel Day School:
The 7th grade collaborative English and Computers project was a huge success. The students successfully completed their 'Glog' after working for three hard weeks collecting materials that would represent their memories, scanning pictures, and using their creativity to express their memories in an online world. We definitely learned a lot with this experience and hope that next time around will be a lot easier. Here is an example:

In addition to that project, the 5th graders and the 8th graders were busy collaborating on a video project about the 13 Colonies. The 5th grade has a 13 Colony fair where they convince the visitors to move to their colonies. This even occurs during the day and parents are not invited, but the teacher wanted the parents to witness the fair. We came up with the idea of having the 8th grade class interview and film the 5th graders with the Flip cameras and we put together a HDS news report about the 13 colonies. Both groups of students enjoyed the project and really represented their roles. Below is a short clip from the videos produced.

Weinbaum Yeshiva High School:
At WYHS I have continued to work one-on-one with teachers and delivered two workshops on Google Apps. WYHS is planning on transitioning their mail and other products to the cloud using Google Apps for Education. In order for this transition to be smooth we have been training the faculty and staff. We have also had a few conversations about how educational technology should look at their school, especially in the new building they are planning to start building this summer.

Donna Klein Jewish Academy:
At DKJA we have been moving along with Google Apps for Education. I have held numerous workshops with the administration, staff, and the faculty where we have been learning how to use the various Google Tools such as Docs, Calendar, Forms, and Sites. We have also begun teaching the students on how to use these services so that they can better collaborate and communicate with their peers and their teachers.
I have also started teaching a Digital Video Elective at the High School. The class begun yesterday so there is not much to report, but I am very excited at the prospect of teaching these students digital video skills, and in producing videos together with them. Since we received a grant from AviChai for this project, we will also be collaborating with both the Hebrew and the Judaic Studies Departments on a video project.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Everybody loves a good event

Reunions, cocktail parties, mixers, gala dinners. Everyone gets a good amount of invitations to fundraising events that take months to plan and melt away in a matter of hours. Organizers want a venue that fits the audience, but it seems everyone knows of at least one organization that got too fancy with their venue and threw away their profits.

As I work on alumni development for Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy/ Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School, Hebrew Academy of Morris County and Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union, most alumni expect some kind of get-together. And they should. It is the most concrete way to reconnect alumni with their day school experience.

But how far does it have to go? One of my schools wanted to have a gala event for its alumni, but the younger alumni wanted to have a small get-together at a restaurant. Having this grant from Avi Chai means we have the freedom to give several ideas a shot. This year we are going to try a small gathering in New York City for young adults, and perhaps next year we will have a gala dinner that will attract alumni from Italy to Israel and everywhere in between. (Click here to see our event page!)

Last week, Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union held its second Back to School Benefit to raise money for the Alumni Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships for families in need. More than 100 alumni, spouses and friends joined together in New York City for drinks, a raffle and reconnecting. See an account here. The event grossed more than $10,000 and brought the total money raised for the 2010 scholarship campaign close to $45,000.

An event doesn’t make that much money. There is overhead, costs for the venue, decorations, raffle prizes, etc. The money earned at the event probably accounts for 10 percent of the $45,000 raised for the fund.

Even with the prospect of poor economic returns, reunions and gatherings are crucial to any successful alumni program. The prospect of reunions has inspired the cleanup of the alumni database at two of my schools. Reunions recognize alumni for their accomplishments since graduation and allow them to kvell about their jobs, spouses and kids. They cultivate leaders who will hopefully stay with the alumni outreach effort after the event is over. They are both a motivator and a way of saying thank you to the volunteers who work hard to forward alumni development at the school. They say to alumni: “We want to see you. You are still a part of our community.” Alumni hear that.

Recently one of the women on the alumni committee at Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy/ Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School was telling me that her sister in law flew from Canada for her high school reunion. I’m familiar with that event, having quizzed some of my neighbors. The alumni get together in the cafeteria and have wraps from a local eatery. Attendance is huge and that school’s reunions are renowned.

As much as I appreciate Sager Solomon Schechter Day School, I’m not flying back to Chicago anytime soon for wraps in the lunchroom. So what gets these alumni to shell out plane fare? The experience. The memories. The feeling of belonging to something that is greater than themselves.

I’m shepherding a group of alumni who are working on their 10-year reunion. They aren’t interested in pizza in the lunchroom. They’re looking for sushi and cocktails. Oh, for about $25 per person. Will they settle on something less lavish to include more of their former classmates? We’ll see.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Technology News from Boca Raton

Some new and exciting things have been happening in the Boca Raton Technology Jewish Schools in terms of Technology!

Hillel Day School:
We have begun a collaborative project between the 7th grade English teacher and the computer teacher using a Web 2.0 tool called Glogster ( The students have a project about memories for which they will using Glogster to create an online poster instead of a scrapbook which they used to do in the past. This is a pilot year for the project and both teachers are very excited about what the outcomes of this project will be. Because the project will be in an online format, students will be able to add video and sound components to their project that they did not have a chance to do in the past.
In the first grade class, students have been using the software Kidspiration, a program we are using to visually explore words. The students were assigned a letter to work with and they were assigned to look for words that begun with that letter.
In addition to those two projects I have been working with the Hebrew
teachers at Hillel in finding ways to integrate technology into their Hebrew curriculum. The picture to the right is from a SmartBoard Training we held a few weeks ago. This week we will hold our second SmartBoard workshop.

Weinbaum Yeshiva High School:
At WYHS I have continued to work one-on-one with teachers and we have also formed a group of teachers interested in learning about Web 2.0 tools and how they can use them with their students. This group of teachers meets every two weeks for about an hour and we discuss their use of technology in the classroom. In addition, I have also been working with the Hebrew teachers finding ways to use technology to make student's more engaged with the Hebrew language. For the past three weeks we have been learning VoiceThread, a tool where students and teachers can collaborate and even more so, they collaborate through speech which is great for language development.

Donna Klein Jewish Academy:
At DKJA we have been moving along with Google Apps for Education. I have held numerous workshops with the administration, staff, and the faculty where we have been learning how to use the various Google Tools such as Docs, Calendar, Forms, and Sites. The school is also testing the use of Cloud Computing, which has been very beneficial in the Digital Portfolios project we have begun this year with the English Department. I have also continued to work one-on-one with teachers on specific questions or projects they are working on.
A few weeks ago, I was also involved in delivering a workshop to parents on Cyber-bullying and Social Networks. I delivered this very well received workshop with my colleague Michael Luetjen, the computer teacher at DKJA.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Welcome back to school!

All three schools are almost back in session. Just in time to go on vacation for almost all the month of September for the Jewish Holidays.

The summer was very quite here in Boca Raton. I was fortunate enough to attend a technology conference with two other colleagues from Donna Klein Jewish Academy during the month of June. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
The conference was great as we got to learn about what other schools around the country and the world are doing in terms of technology integration. We participated in Google Earth workshops, Video production Workshops, we learned about podcasting and visual communication. We all came back fired up to bring new ideas to the school.

During the month of August I have been working on setting goals for myself for the year and figuring out what are the projects that I will be working on at each school during the year.
Aside from what I am doing at each school, I have continued to update the collaborative wiki I have set for all three schools and I am hoping it will be a go to place for teachers this year to find resources and eventually post their own.

Donna Klein Jewish Academy
At DKJA we are looking to improve collaboration amongst faculty and students. Therefore, we will be introducing Google Apps to the staff and the students throughout the year. I will be training the Technology Facilitator Team on Google Docs during the month of September and then they will train small groups of teachers starting in October. The goal of the training is to expose the teachers to Google Docs, and to get them to begin collaborating on documents with their colleagues and to introduce this wonderful tool to their students.
A big part of what we want to accomplish this year is to pilot a digital portfolio project in the English department and we believe that the Google platform will enable this project to succeed. I will be posting on the progress of this during the year.
In addition to the digital portfolio project and Google Apps, I will be working with the teachers at the school helping them to learn new tools as well as in technology infused project-based learning.

Weinbaum Yeshiva High School
WYHS has not started classes yet, but teachers are back to work. Earlier this week I hosted two workshops for interested teachers. I introduced Blogging and Podcasting to the teachers in two short workshops were I showed them what they both are and we brainstormed how they can use these tools with their students.
We have also selected a group of teachers that I will be working with to help them infuse their curriculum with technology (where needed).

Hillel Day School
At Hillel we will continue to work on the technology standards and begin implementing them. The teachers that were working with me on the technology committee have started thinking what they want to work on with their students that the computer teacher can help them out with. For example, the English teacher is beginning the year teaching her students MLA formatting for a paper. The computer teacher will then teach them how to format a paper, how to insert headers and footers during her class.
With the first graders we will begin the year making a classroom alphabet book using the kidspiration software. Students will each be assigned a letter of the alphabet and then will come to the lab to create a concept map with images that correspond with the letter they are assigned. ex: A Apple, alligator etc....