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Feb
28

Hebrew Academy Pioneering Bold New Direction in Personalized Learning

Hebrew Academy JBlendMiami Team

Hebrew Academy (RASG) is one of five Jewish day schools in Miami-Dade County adopting a cutting-edge approach to Jewish education – known as “personalized & blended learning” – combining traditional instruction with digital tools to provide highly personalized student experiences and introduce new models for lifelong learning. Called JBlendMiami, this hybrid of “brick and mortar” classroom studies with computer-mediated learning experiences enables each participating student to learn at his or her own pace, aligned to his or her personal learning style.

To support implementation of JBlendMiami, Hebrew Academy also received a $40,000 grant from the Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education (CAJE), a subsidiary agency of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

JBlendMiami is a partnership between The Avi Chai Foundation, CAJE and The Jewish Education Project of New York’s Digital JLearning Network. Along with grants from The Avi Chai Foundation, JBlendMiami is funded by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation and several generous local donors. The Jewish Education Project, an agency of forward-thinking educators and volunteer leaders, was created to spark new ideas and approaches to Jewish education and to provide tools, resources and technology to spread those new ideas in educating Jewish children.

“JBlendMiami has been a truly transformative experience,” said Jenny Ohana, Middle School Language Arts teacher at Hebrew Academy. “While the essence of my classes has not changed, the inclusion of blended learning has enabled me to personalize my students' learning in ways I was never able to before. It has completely shifted my teaching practice to put more ownership on the students for their learning, enabling them to better identify their strengths and weakness, collaborate with one another, and see me as a resource and partner rather than the only source. JBlendMiami has pushed me out of my comfort zone, so that I can really help my students maximize their potential.”

Sandy Bernstein, School Software Administrator/21st Century Learning Specialist, added, “That is the true essence of blended learning.  Teachers are supplementing traditional frontal teaching with a blended and online learning approach, becoming resources and partners, as they guide, support, and challenge their students every day.”

Rabbi Avi Bossewitch, Dean of Academic Affairs said, “Since the founding of our school by Rabbi Alexander S. Gross z”l, our educational vision has been to both meet the needs of each learner and to enable and equip each learner to reach his or her potential. By leveraging digital platforms and tools to blend student learning, our exceptional faculty continues to actualize that vision for the modern 21st century learners that fill our school.”

JBlendMiami began three years ago when CAJE approached The Avi Chai Foundation, a private foundation committed to the perpetuation of the Jewish people, Judaism and the centrality of the State of Israel to the Jewish people. After conferring with CAJE, representatives of The Avi Chai Foundation and The Jewish Education Project visited Jewish day schools in Miami and met with local education professionals. Miami stood out as an excellent pilot location for implementation of the Blended Learning Initiative because it has a very strong Jewish community with high-quality Jewish day schools and CAJE as a local educational agency with expertise in professional learning and educational improvement.

Since September 2015, administrators, teachers and educational technologists from the five schools have gathered for instruction on how to integrate blended learning into the Jewish day school classroom.  Workshops will continue through December 2017, enabling each school to address specific learning goals for its own curriculum and environment.

To learn more about JBlendMiami at Hebrew Academy, please contact Rabbi Avi Bossewitch, Dean of Academic Affairs at abossewitch@rasg.org or Sandy Bernstein, School Software Administrator/21st Century Learning Specialist at sbernstein@rasg.org.

 

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