Friday, October 18, 2013

My Talk with School Board Candidate Andrea Cuene

Recently I was asked by a candidate for our local school board to sit down and talk about the state of technology in our district. Here is the interview from

I believe that Wayzata’s dedication to excellence in technology is changing the way our students learn and the way our teachers teach. In my own work at Greenwood, I’ve seen firsthand how the MyWay initiative is truly engaging kids in learning and supporting communication in exciting, new ways. So I was really looking forward to my conversation about technology with Dave Zukor, a Technology Integration Specialist in Wayzata Schools.

Dave Zukor has worked in the Wayzata schools for over 13 years. He worked at Sunset Hill and Plymouth Creek teaching third grade, fifth grade, vision 21 and technology before becoming a Technology Integration Specialist six years ago. His primary role is to support and train teachers, but you may recognize him from the middle school iPad distributions or from the parent classes he taught throughout the district.

Dave clarified that the goal of the MyWay initiative is not just about getting devices into students’ hands, “it’s a new focus on personalized learning and digital literacy”. Dave talked about how iPads can individualize education when they allow students to learn, practice and research at their own pace, discover and follow their unique passions and receive interventions when needed. I’ve observed how technology can also support teachers as they differentiate their instruction, meeting students where they’re at and striving for progress.

But in order for technology to support personalized learning, Dave explained how important it is to start right away in kindergarten. Most of our kids come to school having experience with devices at home. The goal in kindergarten is to get kids to re-think what they can do with an iPad; “if at the end of kindergarten, kids know that the iPad can be used to read, listen, write and create, then we’ve been successful”. Using the iPad as a learning and research tool will be reinforced every year. “It’s a long term process. Expectations need to change so that we understand how technology can benefit a different kind of learning. The skills our students need for success are changing; digital literacy, media literacy, and effective communication with people all over the world”. He believes these skills give students the confidence to take risks, experiment, learn from failures and build resiliency.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Meandering Conversation

So recently I had a great conversation with a friend and colleague. We started our conversation around the Ted Talk, "Why Work Doesn't Happen At Work."

We were applying it to teachers and how teachers are never able to have the time to dig deep into new learning and ideas. They are so inundated with directives and initiatives, combined with meetings and interruptions, that they are consumed with tasks, rather than tackling big ideas. This means that when I meet with them to talk about mobile devices, digital literacy, personalized learning, etc... they take a "just tell me what I need to do" approach, rather than thinking about why this is so important and how best to make it happen.

The conversation led into a discussion about Flow. How can we help teachers immerse themselves in something so they can reach that state of flow. Again, there are too many distractions for teachers to ever dig deeply into their learning. For more on Flow, check out

Eventually our discussion led us to talk about Bloom's Taxonomy. If our classrooms are focused on "covering" the curriculum, we are never going to get past the lower levels of Bloom's Taxonomy. To get to metacognition and creating, we must provide time for our teachers and students to dig deeper and get into a Flow.

In my role as a technology integration specialist, I see first hand how difficult it is for our teachers to dig deeper, to access those higher order thinking skills. If we never allow this to happen, how can we expect our teachers to reach the point in which this all makes sense and they can apply these skills? How can we structure our day to provide them time to explore, conceptualize, apply, and synthesize all this new learning?

I really appreciated that my friend and I had the time to let our conversation meander. We were able to think deeply about this topic and make some interesting connections!