Last Thursday Michele Lenhard and I attended the final event of a year long program attended by 24 Ridgewood teachers and administrators, titled “Virtual Learning Communities: Preparing Students for Success.” The event was held at Kean University and on that day, teams from the various participating schools showed off the virtual learning projects they had been creating all year. It was really exciting and fascinating! We saw some great uses of technology-in-learning from all around the state, but the most memorable (in my objective opinion haha) were from Ridgewood. There was a program where a middle school social studies teacher recorded his voice reading the textbook and providing podcasts that students could access to review or read along to enhance their understanding of the text. It started as a project to help a single blind student but soon became a useful tool for all students. An RHS math teacher showed how she uses a “ning” to post assignments and provide a message board where students are required to post questions for assistance or give help to other students. Also at RHS, the Advanced Digital Photography class worked on a joint project with students at Westwood Regional High School, focusing on images of food. They created images and put together a show of the photos which will be taking place later this week and which is also a fundraiser for Table to Table, the local anti-hunger charity. (Click here for more info.) Another middle school teacher showed how he uses Google Maps with his students to create custom maps of important local sites, which are then overlaid with Google Earth.
These are just a few of the projects we saw. George Washington Middle School's Mary Lou Handy gave a presentation on Teenangels, the peer-to-peer internet safety group organized by Wiredsafety.org. And Alan November, a leading expert on student learning and technology, spoke about building schools' capacity for transformation via technology.
It was really great to see the work that the Ridgewood teachers have been doing…so often the Board of Education approves funds for professional development, and we hear a report sometimes of the results, but we don’t usually get such an up-close-and-personal look at the benefits in action. Now my hope and assumption is that these 24 Ridgewood teachers will share their experiences with other teachers in their buildings, with realty exciting results for our students.
Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org