Heidi Hayes JacobsFor more than a decade, educators have been trying to create 21st-century schools. We have been asked to prepare our students for a world with fewer boundaries and a deeper understanding of the many cultures they will encounter. We have tried to get our students ready for jobs and careers that have not yet been created. Then there is the use of technology in the classroom—a daunting task, even for the most technologically savvy among us.

“Our challenge is to match the needs of our learners to a world that is changing with great rapidity,” maintains Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs. “To meet this challenge, we must become strategic learners ourselves by deliberately expanding our perspectives and updating our approaches.”

Jacobs is executive director of the Curriculum Mapping Institute and president of Curriculum Designers, Inc. She is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of curriculum and instruction, and her work has been the basis for reform in numerous school systems. Jacobs has served as an adjunct associate professor at the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University, from 1981 to the present.

And on Saturday, April 16, she will be the keynote speaker at the NJEA Teaching and Learning Symposium at the Wyndham Princeton Forrestal and Conference Center.The theme of this year’s symposium is “Building Classrooms for the 21st Century.” Both NJEA and Jacobs promise that this professional development opportunity will help educators become “active researchers and developers of innovations and new directions.”

Jacobs will address how our public schools can become 21st -century learning centers- with adjusted schedules, grouping patterns, and use of space. She will examine professional development approaches that help educators make the transition to digital tools, Web 2.0 applications, and globalized classrooms. Revising your curriculum? Jacobs will help you think about         what to cut, what to keep, and what to create.

Choose two breakouts

Participants will then have the opportunity to choose two workshops to attend. All workshop topics address the common thread of creating 21st-century classrooms and curriculum, with a focus on goal setting, making strategic revisions to your current curriculum, creating global classrooms, and using technology.

GOOGLE DOCS will provide an overview of the Google Docs applications and will address pros and cons of the service as compared to traditional offline office software. Real-life examples of teachers using Google Docs with students and colleagues will also be provided. This hands-on workshop will include plenty of one-on-one interaction with facilitator Damian Bariexca, an NJEA consultant.

THINKFINITY will be presented by Theresa Gibbon, a certified Thinkfinity trainer for the Verizon Foundation. She will lead a hands-on guided tour through the Thinkfinity website to see some of its 55,000 resources, including interactives, video clips, audio clips, rubrics, handouts, and maps. The Thinkfinity Consortium brings nine premier national and international educational organizations together to provide educators with free online resources. Teachers will learn how to use the Thinkfinity search engine as an educational resource for twittering, blogging, podcasting, lesson planning, and more.

Lisa Thumann from Rutgers University will present USING TECHNOLOGY TO CREATE A GLOBAL CLASSROOM. One of the most effective ways to get students to collaborate is to use tools that are easily accessible. If the tools are browser agnostic, have no demand for installations or updates, and are intuitive, the collaboration is more likely to be effective. Participants will look at Google Apps, Skype, and Twitter as tools to facilitate and foster global collaborations.

The NJ Center for Teaching and Learning (NJ CTL) will present the following three sessions on interactive math and science curriculums.

PROGRESSIVE MATH INITIATIVE (PMI) APPROACH TO ELEMENTARY MATH will show how professional learning communities (PLCs) of teachers developed Smart Notebook units for elementary mathematics. Discover new strategies that use technology to increase student achievement. Melissa Axelsson and Winnie Blankenship from the NJ CTL will present.

NJ CTL’s Heather Henderson and John Getz will present PROGRESSIVE MATH INITIATIVE (PMI) APPROACH TO THE ALGEBRA I END-OF-COURSE EXAM. Participants will discover how professional learning communities (PLCs) of teachers developed Smart Notebook units for high school mathematics. They will also discover new strategies using technology to increase student achievement.

THE PROGRESSIVE SCIENCE INITIATIVE: (PSI) AN EFFECTIVE NEW APPROACH TOWARD SCIENCE EDUCATION will be presented by Tim Panebianco and Peggy Stewart, also from NJ CTL. They will show how PSI uses new approaches toward curriculum, pedagogy, and educational technology to dramatically improve student achievement in science. The curriculum is based on a physics-chemistry-biology sequence; the pedagogy is social constructivist; and instruction is delivered using SMART Boards, Notebooks, and Responders.

Finally, Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs will present UPGRADING THE CURRICULUM: HOW TO REPLACE DATED CONTENT, SKILLS, AND ASSESSMENTS TO ENGAGE 21ST-CENTURY LEARNERS. Dr. Jacobs will share her newest model for upgrading the curriculum for grades K-12, including her step-by-step approach to make strategic revisions in your classroom. Examine specific replacements for content, skills, and assessments to be implemented gradually and realistically. Participants will leave with hands-on tools for revising assessment. Bring curriculum maps, if possible, and laptops (two people can share one laptop).

Register today!

The registration form for the symposium can be found here and on Page 1 of your February NJEA Review. The registration deadline is April 1. The cost is $50 per member, $100 for nonmembers, and $20 for Student NJEA members. That fee includes continental breakfast and lunch and all workshop materials. Registration starts at 8 a.m., programming begins at 9 a.m. and the symposium will conclude at 3:30 p.m. Attendees will receive professional development certificates. If you have any questions, call NJEA’s Professional Development and Instructional Issues Division at 609-599-4561.