HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal

Integrating SmartBoard Technology

by Janice Odesnik Issue: Technology and Jewish Education
TOPICS : Technology

The Claire and Emanuel G. Rosenblatt Technology K-12 program at Donna Klein Jewish Academy has not only touched the lives of faculty and students alike, but has completely changed the way in which students are learning.

The starting point for the successful implementation of the technology program began with a 3-5 year plan that incorporated an intensive structured plan for faculty training. Phase One began with the implementation of 100+ brand new networked computers, a 24-berth laptop cart in the Middle school, as well as SMARTboards installed in six classrooms across the Lower, Middle and High schools. A core group of teachers were invited to attend a formal training session on the use of the SMARTboard. These teachers eagerly began using the technology, and within a very short time-period, “SMART-fever” had hit DKJA! Faculty and students school-wide were requesting that their classrooms be fitted with this technology.

For Phase Two, thanks to the generosity of our “technology guardian angel”, Linda R. Kaminow, SMARTboards have been installed in every classroom and a second laptop cart has been added to the middle school. As the second phase began, the core-team of faculty (aka “DKJA-Smarties”) attended a Train-the-Trainer workshop, and were then assigned to small groups of faculty for peer-mentoring in using the equipment. This method of training has been highly successful, as teachers enjoy the intimacy and camaraderie of working with their peers in small-sized teams divided either by subject areas or grade-levels. The use of these interactive whiteboards, laptops, digital cameras, scanners, etc, together with the Internet as an unlimited resource of knowledge and facts, has opened the door to boundless possibilities of how this technology program can stretch the minds of the students.

We take pride in the integration of technology into both the general and Judaic studies curricula school-wide. Below are a few examples of how this takes place:

  • In Kindergarten, first and second grades, the use of many interactive websites allows the students to feel empowered by being able to come up to the front of the classroom, add their input to the lesson by touching or “writing” on the board with their fingers or electronic markers, and participating in the excitement as this shared knowledge sparks discussion.
  • In third grade Judaic studies and Hebrew classes, a program called Tal Am is used. It is specifically designed for Chumash stories and Biblical text. Technology plays an integral part in the Chumash lessons - many of the pictures and labels from the workbook are scanned and displayed on the SMARTboard. The labels of the pictures are covered in colored stars, squares or circles, and the vocabulary is learned, as the class cooperatively discusses and interactively moves the shapes off the words. This type of SMARTboard feature makes the lesson fun and the children feel engaged and very much part of the learning process. The SMARTboard is also used interactively by letting the students complete sentences or fill in the missing words. Additionally, Hebrew songs are easily learned by using the SMARTboard spotlight to magnify words and even highlighting the chorus.
  • In fourth grade Judaic studies, the students create a Chumash newspaper, based on biblical narratives. The articles include standard articles, an advice column, comic strips, weather pages, interviews, etc. The articles are written in cooperative groups, and then compiled into a newspaper using desktop-publishing software. At the completion of the project, parents of the students are invited to watch their children use the SMARTboard to demonstrate their end-products. Another project incorporates the blessings said on food. Using the computer the children create faces using images of the food specific to the blessing that is being demonstrated. Students incorporate animation in their PowerPoint presentations, and then share their final productions with their peers. The students also learn how to type in Hebrew and record their voices on the computer saying each blessing.
  • In fifth grade, video clips demonstrating many scientific experiments and facts are displayed on the SMARTboard. The functionality of the interactive board allows the teacher to stop the video at any time, explain specifics relating to the point in question, annotate observations on the board, continue the video, and then save all the remarks and observations in an electronic file, that can later be shared with other students and faculty, or alternatively be used as the basis for the next lesson.
  • In eighth grade, the process of writing is explored. One way to teach writing is to use students’ work as a model and to collaboratively edit it. With the use of the SMARTboard and laptops in the classroom, grammar lessons are easier to teach, writing becomes an engaging process and the students become cooperative learners.
  • In Middle School Judaic studies, scanned copies of Jewish text are projected onto the SMARTboard. The ease of how the original texts, juxtaposed to the interpretations on the screen, allow the children to analyze, review, evaluate, and synthesize the concepts, is of extreme value, as it enhances the students’ development and understanding of our heritage.
  • In High School Judaic studies a series of movies, “Sensei on Holidays” is being developed. DKJA’s own “sensei” (one of the faculty members) teaches about Jewish holidays and practices. In Jewish food preparation, kashrut and Jewish cooking are brought together in a “hands-on” environment. Students learn relevant laws, and then cook food items which revolve around those laws. To engage everyone, video cameras are used to capture all of these moments. The students then edit the footage to create Jewish cooking videos, which in turn are shared by all via the SMARTboard.

DKJA has been recognized by Smart Technologies, Inc. as a technology leader, being nominated as the first Smart Showcase School in Florida, as ultimately, technology has become a signature program, one that will continue to benefit both faculty and students, giving them the tools and skills they need to succeed in their future academic careers and in life.

Janice Odesnik is the Director of Technology at Donna Klein Jewish Academy in Boca Raton, FL. Janice can be reached at: odesnikj@dkja.org.

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Technology and Jewish Education

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