Monday, May 26, 2014

JETS PD Programs Take Off

"As online learning becomes an increasingly important part of our educational system, it creates both the need for educators who are skilled in online instruction and the demand for greater knowledge of the most effective practices"                U.S. Department of Education
2013-2014 has been a banner year for JETS professional development initiatives!! JETS expanded its Online "No Teacher Left Behind" PD Course and its Online and Face to Face "Connected Classroom" PD sessions and also launched the eCom Online Professional Learning Community and an Asynchronous "No Teacher Left Behind" PD course.

In addition to the special No Teacher Left Behind course for teachers who work in the Lauder network of Jewish educational institutions in Eastern Europe, two additional NTLB courses brought together educators from North America and Europe during the 2013-2014 year. The course presented a wide range of e-tools and strategies that are at teachers' fingertips to maximize student participation and learning.
"The course was very well organized and very practical and I really enjoy it. Probably this one of the best courses I have ever taken". M.A. participant in fall 2013 NTLB course

JETS director Smadar Goldstein traveled to the United States twice during the year to present Connected Classroom lessons to Jewish day school and afternoon religious school educators. These sessions included presentations at the New Jersey Day School Conference and the Jewish Education Project Conference, as well as sessions for staffs of several day schools and afternoon religious schools. Smadar also presented online Connected Classroom PD sessions for the staff members at several additional schools throughout the year. In addition, Smadar provided a year long Connected Classroom program for teachers in Yeshivat Noam in Bergen County, NJ that involved a combination of online webinars and face to face meetings. 

"The teachers really enjoyed the professional development workshop – they found Smadar to be wonderfully engaging and were impressed by her wealth of practical, hands-on ideas for implementing new technologies in the classroom!"  B.H. head of religious school

Beginning last fall, the JETS eCom community met weekly throughout the year – virtually -- on the Haiku Learning Management System platform. Every week, new tools and methods for online learning were presented, while participating teachers were invited to share their own ideas and thoughts. Teachers brainstormed and collaborated on new ideas and methodologies for enhancing elearning in their classrooms. eCom became a rich forum for experienced elearning teachers to keep abreast of the latest developments in online learning.
"This was an amazing year for learning new material and information. We covered so much – social media, google docs and presentations, games and so much more. Everything was presented clearly and with tremendous enthusiasm – I could hardly wait to get back to my class and try the different tools that I was learning about!"  L.R., eCom participant 2013-2014

Another new initiative for novice teacher who are interested in bringing elearning in to their classrooms is the Asynchronous No Teacher Left Behind course, developed by JETS in conjunction with the Solomon Schechter Day School Network. The course is available at no charge for teachers of Solomon Schechter schools on the SSDS Eduplanet platform. The asynchronous course is broken down into user friendly self-explanatory units. Pedagogical information about different concepts of elearning is followed by concrete information about available etools and their use, and activities that give participants an opportunity to hone their skills. The asynchronous learning is guided as well by facilitated feedback from the JETS staff. The Asynchronous No Teacher Left Behind course is ideal for teachers who prefer to learn at their own pace or who cannot schedule in the online webinars of the NTLB course. Beginning in July, the Asynchronous No Teacher Left Behind course will be available to teachers who are not part of the Solomon Schechter network at a reasonable cost.

"I realised that you don't have to be in the classroom to teach students. There is a wide variety of tools which make on-line classes effective and interesting." Participant NTLB fall '13, Lauder School, Berlin 

The success of any professional development program can be gauged by the degree that it leads to implementation. If so, 2013-2014 was also a good year vis-à-vis assessment of the JETS PD initiatives. In addition to the testimony of teachers regarding their use of online tools learned in JETS sessions, the JETS PD programs spawned two major online learning programs this past year. The Lauder e-Learning School began functioning in several countries in Central and Eastern Europe, providing online Jewish education for young Jewish students who live hours from a Jewish hub and have no access nearby to Jewish education. In addition, a very successful online learning program entitled "Remembrance and Rebuilding" was taught to grade 7 students at Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley. The course, which was initiated by NTLB participant Rabbi Shelley Kniaz, will be expanded next year to incorporate an added class for 8th graders. In addition, the "Remembrance and Rebuilding" course will be offered as well in two other Hebrew schools that are run by other NTLB participants.

"I find very useful the tools enabling us to combine face - to - face conversation with the chat and the "private chat", then all the possibilities if the "on-line blackboard" and if I would compare with face - to - face teaching, I find also very useful the possibility to use the on-line sources like for example youtube during the teaching - this is the possibility to make the lesson more interesting." Participant NTLB fall '13, Lauder School, Warsaw

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