First-grader Thomas Tsangaropoulos stands before a laptop during his Spanish class at Lake Parsippany School, smiles broadly into its tiny webcam and waves.
"Hola," he says to the image of a young girl appearing on the computer and on a large screen in the front of the Parsippany classroom. "Me llamo Thomas."
Across town, first-grader Mariah Colon peers into a laptop at Troy Hills School and waves.
"Hola. Buenos días," she says.
Remember when technology in schools meant computer labs and internet connections? New Jersey teachers and students are slowly but increasingly using the tools of Web 2.0 — the so-called second generation of the web that includes creative, collaborative, shared content.
Students are writing on wiki pages, blogging about their classroom activities, recording audio files for band practice, videoconferencing with people around the globe and chatting online about literature.
For a generation that has embraced a joystick and a mouse since they were toddlers, these technologies can help them learn how to be creative, how to communicate and how to work together, said Lisa Thumann, a senior specialist in technology education at Rutgers University’s Center for Mathematics, Science and Computer Education.
Continue reading at www.nj.com.
he Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, Israel, a non-profit educational organization offering Jewish education, curriculum, and rabbinic training to Jews throughout Israel, Europe and the former Soviet Union through four programs, announces a six-lecture series, “LA Goes the Distance,” conducted via live video conference from Israel and featuring the distinguished faculty of the Schechter Institute. Prominent Los Angeles rabbis are hosting the series at the American Jewish Committee’s L.A. headquarters, and will moderate a real-time dialogue between the Schechter professor in Israel and the participants in LA. Each lecture explores a particular issue affecting contemporary Jewish life, utilizing both ancient and modern texts.
“Video conferencing enables Schechter scholars to teach anywhere,” explains Lou Miller, Co-Chairman of the Los Angeles Friends of Schechter. “We developed ‘LA Goes the Distance’ to bring together great minds from across the globe to engage in discourse, creating a dynamic, relevant learning experience.”
Bruce Whizin, Co-Chairman, enthusiastically adds, “With interactive long distance learning, the L.A. Jewish community can enjoy one Sunday morning each month studying with one of Schechter’s renowned scholars. Coming together as Jews to exchange ideas strengthens our connections – to each other in our large L.A. community and to Israel.”
Rabbi Joel Rembaum, Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles continues, “I’m pleased to host the opening lecture January 10th. Rabbi David Golinkin, president of the Schechter Institutes and unquestionably one of this generation’s foremost Jewish thinkers, examines Judaism and ecology, a deeply meaningful subject for us to explore. Our tradition has very powerful and relevant messages addressing how humans have a God-given responsibility to sustain the physical well being and beauty of our planet, even as we use her bounty to live.”
Continue reading at www.earthtimes.org.
Aharon Varady always dreamed of putting together his own prayer book. Realizing that many people - including himself - often see prayer as a dull and robotic exercise in the fulfillment of a religious duty, he thought for years about ways to enable people to create their own prayer book, or siddur, in order to make the most of their experience. A fellow at this year's PresenTense Institute, Varady earlier this month finally embarked on a daring project, creating a tool for "individuals and groups to build the siddur they've always wanted," as his Web site explains. Varady's Open Siddur project aspires to funnel all different regional traditions, translations, commentaries and instructional notes that Jews from the four corners of the world have produced through the ages into one Web application. The site will provide the core liturgy and enable users to freely add content, comparable to cooking Web sites where food aficionados exchange and comment on each other's recipes.
Similarly, at OpenSiddur.net users can download different prayers, add creative translations, commentaries and other "siddur recipes," as the 34-year-old Philadelphia resident put it. Looking for an oriental version of the morning services or a rare medieval religious poem? Chances are that sooner or later someone will upload it to the site, Varady assures.
Continue reading at www.haaretz.com.
Middle and high school students spent a little more than four weeks this summer at McKinley Technical High School in Washington, D.C., developing the programming and modeling for a prototype of an educational computer game called Immune Attack 3.0.
Last year the students used the free educational game to learn, by aiming to make science fun and engaging for students. This year, they’re putting their programming and modeling skills to the test to help the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) update the game.
“Lots of schools are using games to teach their students,” said Rick Kelsey, director of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education at McKinley. “But this year we’re taking it a step further. The new version of the game will be played by students all over the country.”
Continue reading at www.eschoolnews.com.
Ballet, hip-hop and computers wouldn't normally find themselves in the same sentence, let alone an educational program.
But those are just some of the elements that will be in the mix at an arts and technology charter school scheduled to open later this month at a Clearwater church.
Serving children in kindergarten through third grade, the Life Force Arts & Technology Academy will infuse ballet, hip-hop, modern dance, singing, theater and computers into a traditional educational curriculum.
"The twist here is we're going to be using performing arts and technology as a way of communicating with kids,'' said Maurice Mickens, chairman of the school. "The goal is for kids to work one grade above their level within a year.''
Continue reading at www.tampabay.com.
Being able to read and write multiple forms of media and integrate them into a meaningful whole is the new hallmark of literacy.
It is no coincidence that the words letter and literacy look alike. When the concept of a literate person arose centuries ago, it referred to those few who were considered educated, precisely because they "knew the letters."1 To this day, the prevailing definition of a literate person is still someone who has the ability to read, write, and understand words.
Yet the word literacy rarely appears by itself anymore. Public narrative embraces a number of specialty literacies, including math literacy, research literacy, and even citizenship literacy, to name a few. Understanding the evolving nature of literacy is important because it enables us to understand the emerging nature of illiteracy as well. After all, regardless of the literacy under consideration, the illiterate get left out.
At the epicenter of the evolving nature of literacy is digital literacy, the term du jour used to describe the skills, expectations, and perspectives involved in living in a technological society. How has digital literacy evolved in the 25 years since digital tools began appearing in classrooms? And how can we make it more responsive to our present needs?
Continue reading about the publication, including the eight new media guidelines for teachers, here at www.ascd.org.
Live from Antarctica! It's an eighth-grade science class on global warming for a group of Harlem students whose teacher is doing research on the frozen continent.
Students at Promise Academy participated in a videoconference Tuesday with science teacher Shakira Petit, who was bundled in a hooded parka, boots and gloves for her talk on icebergs and rising sea levels.
"Would it be easy for a kid to live in Antarctica?" one student asked.
No, Petit said. "There are no children here. It's all scientists."
Petit is spending two months in Antarctica in a program sponsored by the New York-based nonprofit Global Nomads Group, which arranged the video hookup for the Harlem charter school that aims to prepare youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds for top colleges. Other schools on the hookup were in Newark, Del.; Davie, Fla.; Virginia Beach, Va.; and Douglass, Kan.
Stamping her feet for warmth in the minus 7-degree weather, Petit pointed out various features of Antarctica's McMurdo Station like supply buildings, trucks with big snow tires and a cross in memory of explorer Robert F. Scott.
Among the questions students asked: "What causes shapes and colors in an iceberg?" "How do you judge the age of the ice?" and "How thick is the ice you're standing on?"
Petit co-taught the class with Kirsty Tinto, a graduate student from New Zealand. The women are part of a group of researchers seeking to further scientific knowledge of global warming by studying sediments deposited in Antarctica some 34 million years ago when there were dramatic global climate changes.
Continue reading at www.foxnews.com.
One student is putting on lipstick in class while another has headphones on. A third student talks to his friend sitting next to him.
The teacher’s challenge: Try to engage these teenagers.
When the teacher suggests that the students do a worksheet, a girl puts her head on the desk.
So begins a computer program designed to prepare teachers for the modern youngster and help stem the flight of educators from the nation’s classrooms.
Fewer than half of first-time teachers remain in the field for more than three years, said Tandra Tyler-Wood, associate professor of educational psychology at the University of North Texas. And the rate is even lower for special-education teachers.
So UNT researchers are studying the simSchool program with a three-year, $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. Future teachers play what amounts to a game where they must respond to simulated classroom situations and students with a range of characteristics. The results look promising.
Continue reading here.
Eyes roll when Rabbi Hayim Herring tells his fellow clergy that they should spend an hour a day on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
Listeners at his seminars exchange smirks when he says blogging should be considered mandatory. They look aghast when he recommends posting short video clips from their sermons on YouTube.
It's a lot better than the reaction he used to get.
"They used to look at me as if I'd just said a four-letter word," said Herring, the former senior rabbi at Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park and now the executive director of STAR (Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal). But in its seven years, the organization has seen more converts to what many call one of the dirtiest words in religion: marketing.
Across the country, religious congregations have turned more to marketing to keep the members they have and attract others to their emptying pews. The trend is accelerating as the Internet and its explosion of social networking sites add entirely new ways to connect on spiritual issues.
But the growing emphasis on new salesmanship tools alarms others who say the onslaught undermines the idea that spirituality should be a respite from the constant clamor of commercialism.
Continue reading at www.startribune.com.