The Educator's PLN

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For those interested in the nexus between 21st century learning and the world of Jewish education..I would like to share the extraordinarily exciting news of a groundbreaking new conference in Jewish education that will take place at the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School this year.  In cooperation with the Schechter Day School Network and with a generous grant and support from The AVI CHAI Foundation, we will bring to you this spring ("Save the Date" coming soon!) an amazing conference dedicated to 21st century learning in Jewish day school education...


Introducing: edJEWcon

Great thanks to our 21st century learning team, particularly Silvia Tolisano and Andrea Hernandez, in putting together the proposal for what we are hoping will become a paradigm-shifting experiment in professional development with the power to bring more and more Jewish day schools, beginning with the Schechter Network, down the 21st century learning path we try to blaze here at our school.



We are envisioning a conference based on 21st century professional development where attendees can experience a Jewish day school in transition to becoming a dynamic 21st century learning environment.  We are sharing a vision of teaching and learning that transcends physical boundaries and connects across geographic borders and time zones. We acknowledge that Jewish day schools need to chart a new course, not only by adopting and adapting a secular educational movement, (The Partnership for 21st Century Learning,  but positioning Schechter Network schools, in particular,  at the forefront of an exciting  paradigm shift in education.

This first year pilot will create a template of a 21st century conference with the flexibility to grow beyond it and expand with the ultimate goal of becoming a premier destination for all forward-looking Jewish education stakeholders.


21st Century Professional Development

Professional development in the 21st century is rooted in the belief that educators need to experience the same skills, tools and teaching strategies that they are expected to develop and implement in their own classroom practice.  The Partnership for 21st Century Learning points out that we need to give teachers and administrators opportunities and the tools to “identify what activities they can replace/de-emphasize”.  21st century professional development takes advantage of a virtual learning network that is available anytime and anywhere.  New literacies of the 21st century, such as information, network, media and global literacies, demand that educators be fluent in communicating, collaborating and connecting through face-to-face, virtual and blended communities of global educators. Veteran educators who embrace this change are energized when they acquire these new skills and competencies; they engage their students with new media and technologies, incorporated into their deep and vast experience in the classroom. 


What will make this conference distinctive and unique

  1. A conference planned to meet the needs of Jewishly observant educators and the calendar of Jewish day schools
  2. Specifically tailored to individual cross-disciplinary school teams in Jewish day schools with hands-on applications
  3. The first conference to present a vision for 21st Century Jewish Day School Education and a roadmap to reach this desired desintation

 Proposed Tracks

  • Administrators – how to lead a cultural change in your school
  • Technology & Curriculum Coordinators – what innovation could look like and how to drive it
  • Admissions and Marketing Directors – how to convey a compelling message to current & prospective parents who want their children to have the best of 21st century education;
  • Lay Leaders – how to understand and generate excitement about a unique approach to teaching and learning throughout the community;
  • Classroom Teachers – how to increase your students’ motivation and engagement in learning...and yours!


The participatory nature of the conference will combine hands-on training, using 21st century tools, with an experiential component.  The conference will include expert presentations, hands-on training and direct experiences in new practices.   Using Alan November’s model of the Digital Learning Farm we will use authentic, meaningful roles and contributions to our learning community  as a means to empower all learners.

The conference website ( will be a collaborative environment for reflection and sharing as well as the hub for live social media feeds. Participants will be responsible for contributing to the site during the conference by sharing and reflecting on their learning.  21st century learning is participatory learning.  Through collaboration, participants create a long term hub for dissemination, reflections, resource sharing with and for other Jewish educators and administrators.



 Create a Professional Learning Network (PLN) for 21st Century Schechter Schools.

Each school will leave edJEWcon with its customizable road map for becoming a  21st century learning school.  Depending on the school (and the members of the team able to participate), the pathways and timing of each journey will differ, but the destination remains the same.  Heads of School will meet with Heads of School; Admissions Directors with Admissions Directors; Curriculum  Supervisors with Curriculum Supervisors; etc.

Provide school team members with hands-on experiences of 21st century learning so they can not only return with information, but firsthand experience to share with their schools.  We envision the conference operating fluidly between the tachlis (How do I most effectively blog or Tweet?) and the meta (How might my learning of best practices for blogging or using social media impact the classroom teachers in my school?).


I cannot wait to hear your comments and suggestions.  I cannot wait to see what new partners come on board.  I cannot wait to see which schools will look to join us on this grand new adventure in 21st century learning in the Jewish day school.  I cannot wait to see how our school - parents, students,  and faculty - will prepare to host this event.  I cannot wait to see  what our school will learn from you.



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