US Ambassador Dan Shapiro at the Gogya with students from the AMIT Amichai Yeshiva highschool in Rehovot.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
School ain’t what it used to be and the Gogya center at the AMIT school network Kfar Batya campus in Ra’anana aims to update the classroom to fit the 21st century.
The center, which serves as a model of sorts, hopes to educate teachers in ways to keep students engaged through unique methods and technology, as well as modern design methods.
Accent walls abound in the building, which has a variety of room and seating styles. Some parts of the facility have high tables and chairs, such as in the experiential lab, while other parts have low, business-room style tables with comfortable plastic swivel chairs. Many of the walls are made of glass, which Dr. Hilit Finkelstein, head of the Gogya’s research and development department, said “allows students to look at what’s going on outside the class without having to get up and leave the room.”
Other rooms have solid room dividers for groups where that is more suitable. Though AMIT schools have their own architect who discusses design changes suitable for each school’s needs, Finkelstein told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday that simple changes can make a big difference in the classroom.
“Students don’t all learn the same way,” she said, adding that a switch up of a classroom’s layout can have a dramatic change.
In some classrooms, she said, “teachers removed a few of the regular chairs and tables and replaced them with a few beanbags or a few high tables... each day the students can choose how they want to learn.”
Finkelstein also spoke about the different ways technology can be incorporated into learning, even literally turning the conventional homework method on its face.
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“I can record a short video lecture, which the students would watch at home, and then use the class time for working on the more problematic areas,” she said.
Regarding smartphone in the classes, she said it is “a shame” for them to be collected in a box, and encourages teachers to use smartphone platforms, even through Google, which allow students to interactively respond to questions.
According to Finkelstein, the changing landscape in which students learn is affecting schools worldwide, and Dan Shapiro, the US ambassador to Israel, paid a visit to the Gogya center on Tuesday where he met with students from around the country who are part of the 110-school, 35,000-student AMIT network. During a question-and-answer session, a student asked what the one thing was he would take back to the American education system.
“The informal, warm relationship that exists between teachers and students,” Shapiro answered.
Dr. Amnon Eldar, Director General of the AMIT Network, told Shapiro during his visit that as part of the Gogya philosophy, AMIT has established collaborative communities of learning, "where peer learning and student participation and leadership are key components of the learning process."
"The goal is for schools to be comprised of learning communities," said Eldar, adding that the "process of ongoing, shared learning and growth" is one that should incorporate students, parents, teachers, and anyone else involved with a school.
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