Monday, December 11, 2017

Exceptional Minnetonka Teachers Recognized for Use of Technology

We are fortunate to have exceptional teachers in Minnetonka Public Schools. Each day I am amazed at the innovative ways they use technology with their students to engage and excite them in learning. This is the fourth year that we have nominated one elementary and one secondary teacher to be recognized in at the annual TIES MN state technology conference in December. These teachers are among 75+ teachers from almost 50 districts honored at the annual conference. The TIES Exceptional Teacher award recognizes teachers who use technology to positively impact student learning and model best practices in their classroom. Below are descriptions about each award winner written by our instructional technology coaches. This year's Minnetonka award winners (as well as our past winners since I haven't posted about them in the past) are below. I've included direct links to their Twitter handles so you can learn more about them:

Jennifer Hahn, Groveland 5th Grade Teacher, is a student-centered, tech-savvy teacher. She is highly proficient at integrating technology into existing curriculum and skillfully creates learning experiences that encompass technology. Jennifer consistently seeks ways to engage her students in learning through Breakout EDU challenges, Genius Hour, and coding projects. She effectively uses iPads and Schoology to maximize student learning and to share her passion for Language Arts to ignite a love of reading in children. Jennifer is collaborative and creative, sharing her passions for reading and technology not only with her students, but with her peers as a master teacher leader. She is a go-to resource for tips, tricks, and instructional best practices.

Joe's Blog
Joe Cossette, Minnetonka High School Science Teacher, works tirelessly to implement technology on a daily basis to enhance his instruction and increase student engagement. He harnesses the power of technology to build community and empower learning for both students and staff. Joe has become a connected educator on social media, building his own repertoire as well as sharing ideas on his blog to support others. He recently led an internal professional development session on using Twitter to enhance teacher voice and collaboration among staff. His work has not only impacted his students but all science students at Minnetonka High School. Joe models a growth mindset, creativity, collaboration, and communication using technology to empower his students to try new tools and create meaningful products to demonstrate their learning. He even writes songs to help his students learn science!


Lisa Reed, Minnetonka Middle School STEM and Computer Science Teacher, is an educator who is very focused on creating a student centered classroom for all of her students. She is a motivated to not let anything get in the way of bringing technology to her students. She has a powerful ability to create engaging projects that are student-led to showcase the students’ ability to utilize technology to enhance their learning. One of Lisa’s strengths is how organized she is both in the classroom and in a virtual environment when communicating with students and parents. Her dedication to the teaching and learning goes beyond just her classroom. Lisa leads a cohort of teachers that focuses on how classroom design affects student learning. She also involves her 6th Grade STEM students in the Design for Learning process by having them create proposals for other teachers to help better design their classrooms to foster engagement and high levels of learning. She has written curriculum for middle school level computer science courses, which are being implemented this year. She was able to use our districts Framework to help create those courses and ensure alignment with the high school program. Lastly, Lisa is passionate about fostering a love of science and technology for girls by leading the Tonka Technovation club, which is a club for girls to get involved in STEM activities, such as coding. 

Kirsten Rue Johnson, Grade 3 Teacher at Minnewashta Elementary, is a leader with technology. Kirsten is innovative and looks for new ways to integrate technology with her students on a daily basis. Being a third grade teacher, she helps bridge the gap from students learning to use technology, to using technology to learn and create. This year, Kirsten has taken on an additional role to support teachers in their use of coding and computer science in the elementary classroom. Persistence, logic, and problem solving are not just skills that she is helping to foster in the classrooms, but skills that she models in her role as a computer science coach. Kirsten continues her support in after school activities as well. She is working with a team to provide computer science professional development to all teachers via a blended learning opportunity, and she is working to get families involved with computer science with an after school event.

Tim Sauer and Ali Wachutka with Mark Wollak from TIES
Dr. Tim Sauer, Minnetonka High School Math Teacher, “Doc Sauer” as the students call him, is dedicated to the success of every learner. He designs lessons with hands-on experiences to fully engage students and to provide real world applications for their mathematics learning. When Minnetonka implemented its 1:1 iPad initiative, Dr. Sauer re-imagined his entire curriculum, designing lessons and practice that make optimal use of the technology available to students. Insatiably curious, Tim constantly explores new ways to show his students that math is in everything, and he uses technology in his classroom to spark curiosity and wonder.

Ali Wachutka, Grade 2-3 Navigator Teacher at Scenic Heights Elementary, is an innovative teacher who focuses on what is best for her students. Ali is in tune with the needs of her multi-age exceptionally gifted students. She has made the most of the limited technology available in her classroom, including using QR codes with her book collection and programming applications with Finch robots.
Ali is a master teacher. Her students are engaged and challenged each and every day. She uses technology to personalize learning for her students. She engages students in big-picture projects where their interests and strengths drive the learning. Ali is incredibly competent in leveraging technology to plan, communicate and teach efficiently and effectively. She is also happy to share what she knows with her colleagues.

Cindy McGlasson, Minnetonka Middle School East Math Teacher. Her approach to educational technology always begins with students. She brings a laser focus to the critical question of how the technology will impact her students, and she uses her innate knowledge of students and her expertise in authentically integrating craft the right approach using the right technology. If you were to walk into her math class on any given day, you would find happy, engaged math students authentically using technology to differentiate, create and collaborate. From her daily homework checks that allow her to follow her students’ progress, to her collaborative whiteboard problem-solving lessons, to her lesson-review Kahoots!, Cindy is a master at making mathematics come to life with technology-infused lessons. When it comes to instructional technology, Cindy is a leader in her classroom, in her department, and in her school.
Rachel Studnicka, Groveland Elementary School Grade 4 Teacher, is continuously striving for the best in her students. One of the ways that Rachel works to ensure that her students are successful in her class is through her use of technology. Rachel uses technology as an integrated part of her classroom. She has provided her students with flipped opportunities through our LMS, she has given the students the chance to participate in BYOD, and she often collects data from the students through the use of digital formative assessments. Rachel jumps at the chance to try new things, when she understands the potential impact it can have on students. The best example of this is her involvement in our district’s coding initiative. Rachel is the co-lead for her building for TONKA <codes>. She brings an excitement for the knowledge that comes with bringing this new program to the students.

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