In June, the DigitalJLearning Network had the pleasure of taking 15 Jewish Day School educators to the 2015 ISTE Conference in Philadelphia, PA. We asked the participants to share what they learned and how the conference inspired them to take action in their schools. Ilana Joseph, Assistant Principal & Math Department Chair for Rosenblatt High School at Donna Klein Jewish Academy, shares her thoughts in this installment in the blog series.
My ISTE experience, especially my conversations with the other scholarship recipients, has made me excited to continue building on my own blended learning practices. The seminars I attended at the conference focused on student-driven learning, individualized content and pacing control. Flipped practices supported by Google classroom and Google Apps for Education were also common topics, and both of these themes will definitely have an increased place in my classroom.
Before I attended ISTE, there was a lot of buzz about blended learning and its potential for transforming students. I read many articles to build a true understanding of the real meaning of blended learning. I focused on how to support students in the transition from traditional to blended learning and began to evaluate my role as a teacher in the blended learning classroom. At ISTE, I had a chance to connect with a blended learning “expert teacher” and this inspired me to take the final step and begin to address my classroom challenges through blended learning.
ISTE is also, at its core, a conference that focuses on technology, and throughout the event I looked for technologies that might complement my blended instruction. I spent considerable time at the expo booths and listened to many presentations, given by classroom teachers. On my return, I decided that I wanted to find a tech tool that would help me to personalize student learning. I researched the available technologies and found a web-based program called MathXL that is aligned with the Pearson textbook I am using.
MathXL aligns with my curriculum, and assigns homework, quizzes and tests using algorithmically generated exercises. It provides instant feedback to the students, demonstrates guided solutions, and gives access to supplemental videos and tutorials. My ISTE experience gave me confidence to infuse my teaching this year with multiple instructional approaches. I use traditional teaching methods alongside MathXL. This allows me, the teacher, to maximize my instruction and also allows my students to receive personalized and immediate feedback when working on assignments online, in school, or at home.
See below for a video tour of MathXL for School: