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Technology & Jewish Education (Jewish Week)

Technology & Jewish Education (Jewish Week)

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How has technology become integrated in the Jewish classroom?
How has technology become integrated in the Jewish classroom?

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Published by: Rabbi Jason A. Miller on Aug 30, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The New York Jewish Week Education Supplement 2010Technology’s Integration into the Jewish ClassroomBy Rabbi Jason A. Miller
Many 30- and 40-year-olds will remember when the single cart with a computer and monitor waswheeled into the classroom and the students formed a single line waiting for a chance to use thedevice for a few minutes. Perhaps it was typing out a few lines of code in BASIC to move thecursor several inches along the screen, or perhaps it was creating an elementary art design.Today, the Technology Age has entered the classroom full speed and it is integrated in everysubject and curriculum. Jewish day schools have recently added chief technology professionalsto their management teams. Congregational schools have technology experts on the faculty.Synagogues have cleared away dusty books in the library from a bygone era to make room for student computer labs and SmartBoards.At the Jewish Academy of Orlando, Apple iPods are not an unusual site. While the students arenot allowed to listen to Miley Cyrus or Matisyahu in school, they can be found hooked up totheir iPods to learn Torah trope (cantillation). One of the school’s Hebrew teachers has created aset of podcasts for the students to learn individually as she works with small groups. The schoolhas also used blogs to connect with other Jewish schools on topics of interest. Digital photography mixed with the latest production tool was used to create a slideshow of the childrenin Kindergarten using their bodies to form the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Linda Dombchik,the school’s director of technology, explains how middle school students used technology tocreate a virtual Holocaust Museum using Keynote, Apple’s presentation creator, to teach their  peers.While many Jewish day and supplemental schools provide access to computer labs with dozensof computers, some schools have transitioned to ensuring that each student has access to a laptopcomputer throughout the day. Many schools struggle to keep up with the latest technology asstudents become accustomed to faster computers at home and the technology quickly movestoward obsolescence with each passing school year. Jewish Federations and foundations likeAVI CHAI work with day schools and synagogues to provide the newest computers and devices,including SmartBoards and iPads.The AVI CHAI Foundation has engaged with classroom teachers through experiments in aneducational technology grant program, in which 400 applications were reviewed and 30allocations were made. Eli Kannai, who directs educational technology at AVI CHAI, notes thatthe field is now starting to use SmartBoards, more than just fancy projectors, in many classroomsdemonstrating the shift to “interactive teaching.”
In the past decade, the Jewish classroom has become integrated with technology. What was oncea stand-alone experience, technology is now a utility for all subjects in schools, from math andscience to Hebrew and Torah study. Students at Hillel Day School in Metropolitan Detroit usean interactive tool called Wordle to visually represent the concept of technology. These youngstudents might type a descriptive paragraph about the week’s Torah portion, a poem by Israeli

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