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....

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

NNJKIDS Month is a success!

Northern New Jersey Kehillot Investing In Day Schools (NNJKIDS) kicked off its second year with a community-wide awareness and fundraising month encompassing synagogues, day schools and a large network of local businesses. This new initiative, known as NNJKIDS Month, was implemented in May 2010. We are very proud to announce that it was a huge success.

NNJKIDS is a unified effort that includes day schools of all denominations in the Northern New Jersey area. During the month of May, NNJKIDS embarked on a community-wide program involving all constituents within the Northern New Jersey area in an effort to reinforce the idea that the success of NNJKIDS is crucial to all members of the community. Towards that end, NNJKIDS secured $100,000 in matching funds for all donations and increases made in May. We are pleased to report that, due to new sign-ups along with increases to existing pledges, the $100,000 was fully matched.

NNJKIDS Month increased awareness and raised funds via the following approach:

• Local Business:
Local vendors were asked to contribute $100 to be listed as a “participating sponsor” or $500 to be listed as a “featured sponsor” These businesses agreed to promote NNJKIDS Month by placing posters and Tzedakah boxes in their stores in addition to informational panel cards. Some business owners agreed to help raise funds by selling “donation tickets,” of various denominations.

• Schools:
Participation included school-wide Shavuot Learn-a-thon programs in which students signed up sponsors to donate money NNJKIDS based upon the number of hours that they learned on Shavuot. The schools promoted this program to the parent body along with a letter describing NNJKIDS and its importance. In addition, schools agreed that all classroom Tzedakah collections during the month of May would be donated to NNJKIDS.

• Synagogues:
Rabbonim spoke from the pulpit about NNJKIDS to promote both the program and NNJKIDS Month. Posters and fliers were placed in synagogue lobbies and NNJKIDS Month was promoted via synagogue newsletters. Many synagogues hosted “sign-up days” when NNJKIDS volunteers set up tables in synagogue lobbies and promoted the program to congregants.

• Public Relations:
In addition to the above, NNJKIDS Month was promoted via its enhanced website, articles and Op-Ed pieces in the local community newspaper – The Jewish Standard, posts to the TeaneckShuls Yahoo group and distribution of NNJKIDS car magnets.

Overall, NNJKIDS Month produced spectacular results including increasing its donor base to over 1,200 members and generating an additional $250,000 to the fund which increased the annualized output to $700,000. These numbers include over $20,000 raised via the schools’ Shavuot Learn-a-thon programs and Tzedakah collections. We are particularly gratified by the increased awareness generated by this program and the community-wide participation which is truly the hallmark of NNJKIDS.