Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lafayette, website, Elementary, CCJDS, May 29, 2008

Contra Costa Jewish Day School Presentation at the AVI CHAI Educational Technology Conference on March 24, 2008 in New York City

The Contra Costa Jewish Day School is a young school, about seven years old. In terms of the technology of the students, in sixth grade the parents of all of the middle school students (currently around 20 students) buy a Mac laptop but the school maintains them. Over the years, there have been many uncoordinated efforts to use different applications or the Internet according to what the teachers have been familiar with and their level of technical savvy. Our grant request from the AVI CHAI Foundation was all about coordinating these efforts.

Who are we? The Contra Costa Jewish Day School is located in Lafayette, California which is in the Berkley/Oakland/San Francisco area. We rent our facilities from Temple Isaiah, one of the largest Reform Temples in the area. The school has been raising money ever since it was founded as the initiative of a PEJE (Partners for Excellence in Jewish Education) project. We have raised $7 million and broke ground this Spring for a new campus that will open for students in 2009.

Who am I? My title is the Rabbi-in-Residence and I am a Judaic studies teacher, the parent education teacher, the coordinator of all the student-led Tefillah (prayer) services and the school’s new server administrator, thanks to AVI CHAI.

We did have a number of technological initiatives before we got the AVI CHAI grant. For example, all the students in Middle School have Mac laptops; we use e-mail extensively between faculty and students; we have a wiki-based website which is a public website the teachers use to post homework; we already have a wireless network set up in the school with wirelessly accessible networked printers; teachers use PowerPoint presentations; we have digital projectors; and we use the PBS Heritage “Civilization and the Jews,” the DVD-ROM presentation. We have also always had the school’s official Website, www.CCJDS.org.
These are the official goals of what we were trying to do: establish a school server-based network; get cameras and microphones to increase multimedia presentations for students; successfully set up a group calendar for the faculty to use instead of taking faculty meeting time; set up a school-wide e-mail system because unfortunately we were using private e-mail for communication; and create an online report card database.

Here’s how we went about achieving our goals: First we upgraded our wireless network. We had some very slow, older Apple Extreme Wireless Access Points that were constantly crashing because they weren’t meant for more than 10 connections at a time. We got the latest iteration of that and that has greatly stabilized our wifi environment. Since I wrote the grant I became the designated server designer, creator and administrator.

The core of this project was creating a school network. I created and designed an entire network from the ground up for the students and faculty, learned how to use all these different Apple Server tools and learned to use the Apple Remote Desktop, a screen-sharing and control application. Middle School students now have a network home folder they use for storing their notes and putting visual media online. I also created and set up the online group calendar and the e-mail system with our school’s Website with GoDaddy.com. We also purchased a number of digital cameras and microphones. We’re already creating podcasts and video now.

The biggest thing, which we have not completed, is creating our own database for the report cards, which has been quite challenging. We worked with a private contractor to write the database and have finally finished that and have a working Beta version of it online but we completed it too late in the school year to actually start using it. That will have to wait for next year.

In the future we’re interested in looking at the SMART Board for the new school. Since we’ll have a new facility we have a lot of exciting opportunities. We want to fine tune what we have here. We’re trying to take advantage of all the systems, hardware and applications that have so recently integrated into our school environment. Thank you, AVI CHAI Foundation!

(As a footnote: I had created and showed a PowerPoint presentation for the conference. Unfortunately, due to a major technical malfunction, this data was lost and unrecoverable—such is the delicate nature of the technology we work with and advocate! I’m sorry I could not share the graphics that I prepared.)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Conference: The Frisch School presentation

I teach English and art history at Frisch, and my goal has been to create PowerPoint presentations that integrate art and history with Tanakh, thus giving eleventh and twelfth graders a greater awareness of the historical context of Torah, Ne'viim and Ketuvim as well as instilling a greater appreciation of the works in the students. Frisch launched the program last year with the whole school, but we felt that the upperclassmen are really the ones to benefit the most from a program like this, as they have the most well developed worldview, so we narrowed the program down to them. [I have modified my presentations for elementary school children, and on an individual basis teachers at Frisch have used my presentations for classes on all grade levels.]

This program seeks to solve the pedagogical problem of students in a yeshiva feeling fragmented and unaware of how to bring all their learning together. I try to do that by showing them the works in Tanakh are from a certain historical context and that understanding that context makes us better appreciate not only the world, but also our religion and what is unique about it.

At the conference, I gave a sample of what I did; the sample was for the school's Open House presentation and began with discussion of vase painting from a famous Archaic Greek vase, the Francois vase. The work is important art historically as it shows influence from the ancient Near East in its band-like registers. The work is also impressive as it has over 200 figures, some of whom are Peleus and his famous son Achilles. Achilles is of course renowned as a warrior and for his vulnerable heel. Another famous Greek hero with foot problems is Oedipus, whose name means "swollen foot." After showing another work from the Classical period of Oedipus on his way to Thebes and to his downfall as his mother's husband, I then sum up the secular portion of the program by emphasizing that Achilles and Oedipus do not recover from their weaknesses and are irrevocably "tripped up" by them. This is in contrast to Ya'akov and his story, which I cite from Be'reishit. Ya'akov wrestles with the "ish" and then receives a leg injury, but after the fight, he becomes "Yisrael," the root of which can be translated as "upright." Thus students see that our tradition shows our hero struggling with his sneakiness, his being the one who "supplanted" Eisav (Eisav says "ya'akveni") in a deceitful way, but ultimately overcoming his craftiness and walking upright with God.

Q1: Do you actually use these presentations in your teaching, and what else do you use as support?

TW: I use these presentations and present with a laptop and projector or, ideally, a SmartBoard. The one drawback is that I go into the Torah and Nach classrooms and get one class period. Sometimes the lecture takes two if there are a lot of questions, and obviously a lot of questions are good; we want to generate discussion. However, there isn't a lot of time for students to interact. Because of the medium and time limitations, there's sometimes not a lot of interaction. Also, the kids aren't making these presentations. I make them and bring them in. This is only the second year we're running the program. Maybe as we go along, some of the kids could make their own presentations.

Eli Kannai: I get these on email and I enjoy them. If others wanted to see them, are they online somewhere?

TW: Anyone can email me and I can send them the presentations. The Frisch website is secure and can only be accessed by people within the Frisch community, so my colleagues and the students and parent body can access the presentations [and I have sent the presentations to fellow teachers as well as students], but I cannot invite anyone I want to my webpage. [I've now posted all my slideshows on slideshare. They can be found at: http://www.slideshare.net/artikw]

Postscript: I've just finished my last presentation for the year, on the book of Ruth. As I wrote after the conference, I was very inspired by the conference to make the lectures more interactive and to develop ideas that would include students more in the making of multimedia presentations. So -- 1) Over the course of the year, I've gotten more adept at making PowerPoint presentations and having students interact more with the slides. For the Ruth presentation, I had the students read the slides themselves and began discussion of ideas once they did so. But of course, this does not solve the problem of bringing in these presentations myself, pre-packaged. Therefore -- 2) I wrote on a previous post that I assigned my art history students the task of preparing artworks inspired from the natural world and tied them into pesukim from Shir haShirim for a presentation on art from the natural world. My art history students then presented the slide show. I'd like to do more of that next year. 3) I'm now the Chairman of the English Department and I want to use the English Department as a jumping off point for more cross-curricular integration. Next year, the school is integrating the ninth grade curriculum under the theme of Identity and Development of the Self. We may use a tefillah project as a wrap-up for the year, so thank you for that inspiration. The Educational Technology Director at Frisch suggested making a wiki for the tefillah project, and I jumped at the chance, only because I was familiar with the term from the AVICHAI conference.

In sum, thank you, AVICHAI, for letting me participate in this inspiring project. I've learned so much from everyone and have become energized by all your ideas.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Conference proceedings: North Shore Hebrew Academy of Great Neck, Jewish history PowerPoint presentations

I teach at North Shore Hebrew Academy in Great Neck. My project is creating PowerPoint presentations on various topics in Jewish history. My ultimate goal was to have 40 or 50 projects on each topic. I love Jewish history and Judaic subjects; but our students have so many distractions—cell phones, Ipods, laptops—that Jewish history is not always so critically important or fascinating to them I found that the students needed more than the typical lecture with handouts and writing on the board. They are so technologically savvy that even printed images is not enough. I wanted to use technology, PowerPoint presentations —and add video clips and links to the Web to make Jewish history really come alive. After my presentation I’ll pass around a list with the slide shows I’ve created to date.

Again, words can only do so much. I recently did a PowerPoint project on the Great Revolt. I’ll pass through the regular slides quickly to get the video portion of it. Here is a clip on the war between the Jews and the Romans:



It goes through the whole revolt with the fighting, catapults and everything else. Here are more with images, dates, etc. The next slide goes to the question, “Did any Jews survive the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple? And if they did how were they able to?” Here I took a clip about a recent discovery by archaeologists of an underground tunnel in Jerusalem that was used by those escaping the siege:



The next clip is from the movie Masada where the Roman and Jewish leaders meet. Here’s the clip.



I also have video clips of Dead Sea Scroll scholars and other scholars of Jewish history subjects. These sort of things, especially the video clips bring the history alive for the students and sparks their interest. Seeing Peter O’Toole as a Roman general can interest them. He’s a much better actor than I am. I think it helps students with the retention and interest all around. My next project is to combine the slide shows with the SMART Board so I won’t just have a slide up here; I’ll be able to switch back and forth between the white board, the videos and blank slides that I can write on as well.

Q1: Those clips you showed were part of movies?
SONNENBLICK: Yes. Part of the problem is how to technologically grab these clips, but another problem is copyrights. Most of the stuff I got off YouTube and other ways. I have private clips of people talking on these subjects as well.
Q2: Of the video clips you grab, are they locally in the computer so they are connected locally?
SONNENBLICK: I can put the clips locally on my computer or I can go to the Web. There are advantages to both ways. I might be somewhere where I can’t get to the Web; on the other hand, if I have them on my computer and want to distribute them , I have to package the presentations with the video clips as well.
Q3: Sometimes the video has to be packaged separately.
SONNENBLICK: Right. If you don’t go to the Web, you have to package the video separately. You can go either way, depending on the situation.
Q4: So a student can input the YouTube link.
SONNENBLICK: I can put the YouTube link in or I can give you the video clip. A lot of this is just exploring and finding all the material that is out there.
Q5: Is there any student input in this?
SONNENBLICK: I have student input I can show you.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Conference proceedings: "I've been there stories from the battlefield" - trailer

Frankel Jewish Academy of Detroit Presentation

Everything started from a basic pedagogical philosophy we have in the Hebrew department and in the school in general. We believe students should be part of the learning process. As vital partners in the educational journey, students need to be engaged in the issues discussed, and find and express their individual voices.

One of our exciting initiatives was to create “I’ve Been There: Stories from the Battlefield.” Inspired by Stephen Spielberg’s "Shoah", the students are creating a testimonial archive of Israel’s fighters who fought in the Israeli wars from 1948 to 2006. The students interview, in Hebrew, Israeli fighters who are members of their community. They record, film and edit the testimonies, adding footage and authentic music from the relevant era.

The project involves 20 students within the Israeli Politics and Social Issues course at the Frankel Jewish Academy. This is a course in Hebrew. The benefits of a project like this are enormous. First of all, it was never done before, even in Israel—nobody has collected testimonies from Israeli fighters. We would like to create this archive and share it with other Jewish day schools in the States and in Europe. The Israeli Ministry of Education is interested in this project as well. As active participants in this project the kids stretch their linguistic skills and gain firsthand knowledge of the history of Israel. I want to emphasize that the entire production is in Hebrew. Even as they are yelling directions at each other during the filming, everything is in Hebrew.

One of our school’s goals is to be a vibrant and contributing member of the Jewish educational arena. This will serve as a teaching project in other Jewish schools around the country. We believe that recording authentic testimonies from the battlefield will be a memorable contribution to the whole Jewish community around the country and will benefit generations to come.

I will open this to questions. If there are any technical questions or issues, Matt Wright can address those.

Q1: I have two quick questions: What software editing tools did you use, and what did you use to get the subtitles in?

MR. MATT WRIGHT, Frankel Jewish Academy of Detroit: On the first question, the answer is we’re using Final Cut Pro, version 5. We’re running it on a Power Mac G5. The subtitles were done in DVD Studio Pro. We have the whole Final Cut studio package and we’re using DVD Studio Pro and Final Cut editing software for this project.

Q2: Did the students do the editing, or did they just shoot the footage? Who put the final package together?

SACERDOTI: The students did everything. Before we started the project the students had about a month and a half of quick training in several areas. The cameramen, producers and editors worked with Mr. Wright on the technology that will be used during production. The interviewers worked with our social worker and me to prepare them for the interviews.

Q3: How old are they?

SACERDOTI: These are juniors and seniors.

Q4: Will this be an ongoing project that will continue?

SACERDOTI: Yes. I want to emphasize that what you’ve seen today is just a trailer. We’ve finished the first set of interviews of about eight veterans. In about a week we’ll start the second set of interviews—we’ll have about 10 more veterans to interview. We plan to continue this project for the next couple of years.

Q5: How did you identify the people you interviewed?

SACERDOTI: We got some information from the community through parents, families and grandparents. We put an ad in the Jewish News and people have contacted us. This year we are doing it in the Detroit area, but later we plan to travel to Chicago and New York.

We would like to express our thanks and appreciation to the Avichai Foundation for their support. Without it we would not have been able to do this project.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Using SRS with PowerPoint and Smart Board makes technology work for you

Recently, I had the opportunity to experiment with the Student Response System (SRS), or the Clickers, as it is commonly called. This emerging technology of classroom management and Response system is relatively new. However, teachers and students can already take advantage of its very promising benefits.






















Three of the advantages of the Student Response System (SRS):
1) It is quite common for Limudei Kodesh teachers, in Montreal’s Jewish Day Schools, to have heterogenic groups of students, with different levels of Hebrew and Judaic knowledge, in the same classroom. Hence, I sometimes wished I could have an in-hand assessment tool to immediately acquire a precise and reliable indication of whether or not a discussed point was well understood by all present students, so that confusion can be clarified quickly. Fortunately, the Student Response System (SRS) was designed to do just that in real time. The SRS facilitates class discussion by polling students' opinions and discussing the reasons for their opinions.

2) It is known that each classroom has its particular learning dynamic and social structure. Every classroom is also recognized by the number of its shy learners, indifferent students and those physically present while their minds are absorbed in external matters. The Classroom Response System (SRS) actually forces the withdrawing students to be active. It diminishes their indifference, pulls them back into the learning wagon and provides a safe way for shy students to participate.

3) When asked about integrating technology into their teaching, teachers too often point out three difficulties. They need time to learn the new technology. Once acquired, they have to invest hours to prepare their lesson. Finally, they don’t always consider the results worthwhile, in comparison to their traditional way of teaching. Although a variety of Classroom Response Systems could be found on the market, SRS developers from the Turning Point Company seem to have addressed these three concerns.

Instead of a stand-alone program, the Turning Point Student Response System uses Microsoft Office PowerPoint as its platform, integrating itself into it as an add-on. Since most teachers already know PowerPoint, the need to learn a new program is eliminated.

The Turning Point SRS comes with ready-to-use slide templates, based on modular items architecture. This utility saves teachers a lot of time when preparing a presentation, and helps them choose only elements they want to incorporate into their lesson.The SRS is specially designed to allow teachers to ask questions, gather students’ responses in matters of seconds and visually present the findings, to all or in private.

This function of the SRS in itself has a clear advantage over the traditional way of teaching by its ability to test, on the spot, the skills learned during the lesson. In addition, the SRS is built to check and collect class quizzes, mark each student’s answers and help teachers manage their class. Undoubtedly, the SRS makes teaching more effective and significantly decreases grading time, as revealed by my experiment with Turning Point’s SRS technology.

How does a Class Response System work?


















Three components are needed to make this technology work: the Clicker, the Receiver (the two hardware pieces) and the program Turning Point (the software).

A) The Clicker device is actually a smart card, a little bigger than a credit card. Each student receives one clicker to send in his / her input. Since each Clicker has a unique identification code, every student is identified on the class list by association with the unique code of his / her clicker.




















B) The receiver is a USB device, as small as a memory stick. This smart card collects the data from the clickers and communicates with the computer to transmit and screen the results.

C) The Turning Point supporting software runs the presentation, computes the data and communicates with other programs (such as Excel, Word) for the purposes of generating a variety of reports that can be printed.


Specially-designed PowerPoint presentations:


















To take full advantage of the SRS technology, a teacher must first create or open an existing PowerPoint presentation. He then needs to incorporate into it slides from the add-on Turning Point program. While running the slides of this specially-designed PowerPoint presentation, the teacher poses a question. Students choose the correct answer from the paused slide and push the appropriate button on their clickers to submit their data (radio frequency based control transmission is now standard practice in SRS, as it has replaced the limited range infra-red mode). Summaries of the collected student responses can be shown in real time to both teacher and students.

Hebrew support for the Student Response System:
Turning Point, the program used in this experiment, is fully integrated with PowerPoint. Judaic Studies teachers using the Hebrew language have full support, even though slight imperfections may appear. However, standalone Student Response Systems, such as the SmartBoard integrated Senteo device, will provide Hebrew support proportionally to the capability of the main platform.

The cost:
(Different models of clickers exist in the market. Some have extended capabilities, such as an LCD monitor and additional buttons to flip back and forth during tests. The prices below are approximations for the basic Turning Point RF model).
Each clicker costs approximately $50 + tax. The receiver costs approximately $200 + tax. The software is free.
Thus, for a typical classroom of 25 students, the clickers will cost approximately $1450 + tax.
Any computer, running on Windows XP and using Microsoft Office 2003 or 2007, can serve as the presenting computer.
Any LCD projector, hooked to the presenting computer, can run the presentation.


In conclusion:
















The SRS has numerous advantages, such as taking attendance, increasing students' attention, collecting student answers to quizzes and exams, and transforming large group instruction into an active and interactive learning experience. While experimenting with this new technology, students and administrators at Herzliah High School in Montreal recognized its benefits.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Keying Into The Future

It has been a privilege to work with students as they have explored the dimensions of Tefillah through making their own electronic siddurim. I would like to encourage other middle school teachers and high school teachers to embark on this kind of project. As part of the study of the origins and structures in Jewish prayer, this project comes as the culminating project following a 2-3 month unit on tefillah using texts from the Mishnah, the Mishneh Torah, and the siddur.

Curricular and logistical modifications:

On the basis of this year’s success, I plan to run this curricular program again, albeit with some modifications. First I would beef up the "tefillah" requirement of the student-made siddur so that the siddurim have enough material to count as a legitimate siddur. At present, these creative student projects they don't include the full "matbea" (the standardized prayers from barkhu through the end of the amidah), so we can project the student siddurim on a screen before the student body, but they aren’t complete enough for a full prayer experience.

A class size of 15 kept me busy; supervising 20 might be possible, but I don't recommend classes of more than 20 because the teacher might not have the ability to supervise that many students at once with their individual projects unless they work in pairs. If the students work in pairs, I recommend that the siddur be saved on a teacher's i-Pod, flash drive, or in another medium in case one or the other student is absent. Quite often, when one partner was absent, the other could not move forward because he or she did not have the data.

I recommend against using a weekday morning minyan period; with interruptions, technical glitches and other issues, the 30 minute tefillah period that I had on Wednesdays was insufficient to produce anything more than a couple of slides per student over the course of about 6-8 weeks.

Keys to success: hardware

Schools wishing to implement this kind of curricular project need to be sure that students have access to reliable computers. If students don't have their own laptop, they should have a safe memory storage device to call their own so that they can save their work at the end of each class period. The teacher also needs to be comfortable with the software. Apple's Keynote is much more successful than Microsoft's Power Point because of the ability to manipulate Hebrew, and because so many Power Point presentations have formats and default settings that are appropriate for a trade show, while Keynote presentations tend to look more attractive and photographs look more natural.

If the students struggle with manipulating images and text on their computers, then I recommend that teachers see this as a learning opportunity that is half about prayer and half about using a computer. Prepare about 12 class sessions. A few students still needed extra time. It takes about 40 minutes to produce 1-2 thoughtful Keynote/Power Point slides.

Keys to success: curriculum:

In the 6-week lead-in to this project, the students studied several passages of Mishnah from Tractate Berachot. They studied passages about the priority of saying the Shema on time; about blessings for occasional moments and about having a strong sense of intention. They also studied several passages from the first chapter of Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah, Laws Concerning Prayer. This academic context became part of the on-line siddurim as the students developed and expressed their own theology of intention, timing and liturgy.

The curricular content should reflect the school’s interests and priorities. While there may be some discomfort about seeing our sacred prayers projected onto a screen as if it were a movie or even a prayer meeting in another religion’s house of worship, the students understand this medium, and they are thrilled to see the ancient tefillot of our siddur in such a contemporary format.

I found that the siddurim provided a positive emotional outlet for the students. By February, day school students tend to become tired of the routine of Tefillot, and the students who develop and share these siddurim truly enliven tefillot and inspire their classmates to see the tefillot in a different way (the water theme siddur, the humorous siddur, the woodsy theme siddur, the more cosmic/astronomical siddur, the more spiritual siddur...). The project is attractive to students in the younger classes and they anticipate it with some excitement. Ironically, I found that however much the students learned about the 19 blessings of the amidah in lower school and however much they have exposure to tefillot, some don't fully learn the structure of the siddur (barkhu, two blessings, shema, one blessing, amidah, aleinu) until they actually create this sidur of their own. For that reason, the project also served as a culminating day school experience.

I would be very pleased to discuss this individually with other readers of this blog. Please send me an e-mail to my school e-mail address: jlevingston@pjds.org.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mazel Tov!

It's a girl! Basya Bluma Langer, born May 5 (Rosh Chodesh Iyar).

The school year is still going on, but I'm done ... until next week, that is, when I'll return to see my class present their reports. They have the option to use the Smartboard for their oral presentations. We'll see what they've been up to without me!

Lafayette, website, Elementary, CCJDS, May 15, 2008

In the last six weeks of the school year, time speeds up. There is a palpable sense of a sliding down a huge water slide towards summer going faster and faster! And our educational technology experiment has been a tremendous success! We have achieved nearly 99% of our very ambitious goals--we set up a school server for use by the faculty, designed and created the entire network of user accounts and shared folders and resources, we now have a school-based email system, a shared group calendar for the faculty to plan, new digital cameras and microphones for podcasting and creating digital presentations, and upgraded our school-wide wifi network. And although we were way behind schedule, we have established the foundation for bringing our report card input system online for faculty to be able to access via a password protected FileMaker Server system and created a custom-designed database for this. And in the process, I went from being the Rabbi-in-Residence of the school to being the "go-to" tech guy! It has been fun, but it has taken a lot of my time!

In terms of a timeline--we have completed the experiment! We have set up the foundations of a new level of technology in the school. Once you have a server and network accounts and people start using them, you can never go back again! People find them too valuable and accessible! We have also spent all of the money from the AVI CHAI grant already--and more so, but at least it was covered in our school's overall budget allocation for technology.

From here on out, our plans our to see if we get the Legacy Heritage Foundation grant to purchase a SMART Board and then begin the process learning how to use it myself, and then of trying to win over fellow teachers to actually use it and then teach the students how to start to create their own modules for class presentation.

The usefulness of the network server is now especially clear as the students have been creating the Yearbook, uploading and swapping and editing photos, creating layouts of pages that everyone can access anywhere anytime they have the availability at home or school. Before, it used to be just one computer laptop that got passed from one student to another and from one teacher to another to keep all the files on one HD to control version consistency (since we have no computer lab). But the server network has vastly opened the opportunity for kids to participate all at the same time!

After the introduction (hopefully!) of a SMART Board, the new challenge will be to both transfer and set up the network in a our new school building by move in of Fall 2009!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Vancouver Hebrew Academy-Studio 613

It has certainly been a whirlwind around here since we got back from our Pesach break. This is the time of year when teachers adjust their timetables and ensure that they are going to be completing all of the content, as well as learning outcomes, that their curriculum calls for.
Similarly, our Studio 613 project finds itself juggling a number of pieces trying to tie up the loose ends on one film while finding time to film a few more scenes and complete the editing of a third.
By the time school is out, we would like to have a DVD available for distribution. This will contain several small films, and hopefully, a slideshow about the project and what it has meant to us this year. We certainly intend to continue on with this project to the degree that we are able. More importantly, this year of experimentation has allowed us to see which areas of our program and curriculum would benefit from more incorporation of multi-media resources.

All-in-all, students and staff continue to enjoy!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Lafayette, website, Elementary, CCJDS, May, 2008

We've come a long way, baby! We have finally completed our online FileMaker Server database of our school's report card. Our outside technical consultant/database creator completed her work and we have successfully uploaded the database. We are slowly starting to check it out, but it looks good. And isn't it just too typical--we are all ready to go, and it is too late to use it for our report cards, even for this academic year! So during the summer we will polish it and have it ready for the first trimester of the next academic year of 2008-09.

Following the Ed. Tech. Conference in NY last month, I finally had the chance to give a full report about the conference to my fellow faculty and head of school. They enjoyed and appreciated the input but are still somewhat skeptical about investing in SMART Boards, which is why I hope that our application to the Legacy Heritage Foundation for a SMART Board will be approved and we will be able to fully experiment with it and realize it's full potential. I'm sold, but it is hard selling my fellow faculty and administration when they have never seen a SMART Board and don't know what it is capable of.

As an Apple computer school, I have spent the past few weeks studying the new Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) operating system in preparation for taking the certification to be an Apple Certified Support Professional (ACSU) and I have long been studying for the Server certification which is quite a bit more challenging. In either case, the knowledge has helped tremendously in my role as Server Admin and Help Desk support teacher at the school.

As a final note, I KNOW we have been successful with this grant program because the 2nd grade teacher recently shared with me that his 2nd graders -- with my assistance--have successfully set up network home directories and home folders for their home work and routinely talk about "getting on the server" to print and edit their work! Wow! Thank you, AVI CHAI!