By Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman
The technologies of tomorrow are already making their way into Jewish classrooms. For educators, the challenge is how not to simply go online, but to find the right apps and other programs for their classroom, according to Judy Hageman, a teacher at the Trinity School in Fredrick, Md.
“There are almost too many things out there,” Hageman says. “Kids can get so distracted. Educational technology should be used to enhance the curriculum.”
Teachers often don’t know where to get started, says Smadar Goldstein of JETS Israel (Jerusalem EdTech Solutions.
“If you have 60 teachers in a school and you give everyone an iPad, how many of them will figure out what to do with it to maximize learning?” asks Goldstein. The answer: Maybe 20 percent.
To help teachers, eJewish Philanthropy offers nine technology solutions to supercharge the Jewish (or any) classroom. These apps and other digital solutions were hand-picked by educators throughout the U.S. and Israel.
Audio Visual Apps
Today, most PCs and all iPads have basic built-in audio and video recording tools, but some creative apps can take video making to the next level, according to Goldstein. Video and audio reports make classrooms more inclusive, she says, since it allows students who might struggle to express themselves eloquently in writing to use their voice or art.
An easy and cost-effective tool that allows you to turn photos and video clips into videos. The key, according to Goldstein, is “to make sure that students record something meaningful and educational.”
Goldstein says recording devices are the No. 1 tool for learning a second language, like Hebrew. She says students who record themselves speaking Hebrew every night can dramatically increase fluency.
Scratch allows students to code and create stories, games and animations and share them with each other and around the world. Hageman says she likes it because it helps students figure out how animation works from the backend. She recommends pairing artistic and analytical kids together, each being able to shine in his own way.
Kids love to learn from each other, says Goldstein, and the G Suite allows students to work seamlessly together. It’s free and easy to learn, says Hageman, plus there are not a lot of bells and whistles to distract students during the school day.
Lino is an online, colorful bulletin board that allows students to share “sticky” notes and photos.
Kicking It Up a Notch
Cargo-Bot is a puzzle game featuring 36 clever puzzles, haunting music and stunning retina graphics. It’s a game, but according to Aaron Selis, founding CEO of Tech EdVentures, it’s a great way to help kids learn how to solve problems in “pseudo computer code.” Selis says coding can change and impact children’s lives by giving them the skills they need at an early age to thrive in a digital economy.
A new media literacy tool, Checkology teaches students how to differentiate between fake and factual news when navigating social media. Hageman is piloting the solution. “It is important for students to think beyond themselves and their social channels and to use the web for growth and information,” she says.
Developed by McGraw-Hill Education, Revealed offers the ultimate dissection experience. “You can work your way through the human body – giving you an experience you could never have otherwise,” says Selis.
There are many other technologies to choose from, says Rebecca Penina Simon, Director of Educational Technology at SINAI Schools. What’s important is to remember education is the goal and technology is simply the means to get there.
“The great thing about using ed-tech is that it will make a great teacher awesome, Simon says.