2015 School Year


Published December 29, 2015 at 1:29 pm

Erin Hale-Sanford and Donna Greenfield from Intermediate District 917 were recognized as TIES Exceptional Teachers at the TIES 2015 Education Technology Conference at the Minneapolis Hyatt Regency on Dec. 15.

The award recognizes teachers who model the best practices in their classroom and engage students in learning with technology.

Nomination submissions explained why the two are exceptional teachers:

Hale-Sanford is a social studies teacher within the District 917 Dakota County Area Learning School alternative learning program. She has infused a wide variety of technology within her classes. She uses iPads to create webquests (both self-created and pre-made) on historical events or economic issues, assessments for personality types and multiple intelligences, and research for projects.

Other tech devices used include www.voki.com, which allows students to create characters/avatars and add voices to them. She uses them when reading a book; enabling students to create a visual and auditory account of what they think characters look and sound like.

Another site is www.remind.com, which facilitates reminding students of important class events. Hale-Sanford used her Econ/Chef class as a beta for this. It worked so well; a number of other staff members have started to use it.

Hale-Sanford has her Economics/Personal Finance students complete real-life tasks (e.g., finding an apartment, getting prepared to live on their own, and comparison shopping) to prepare them for life outside of school.

Hale-Sanford is a positive member of the teaching staff within the DCALS program.

Greenfield, educational audiologist, integrates her knowledge of the many types of rapidly changing, sophisticated amplification systems used by learners who are deaf/hard of hearing with the ever-changing technology used in the general education setting.

She serves learners birth to age 21 in multiple school districts with a variety of hearing loss and learning needs by assisting teams of staff and parents to obtain amplification technology that will provide the maximum auditory access possible for learning to meet the unique hearing loss needs of each learner. In addition to using technology to program hearing aids and assistive listening devices (ALDs) that will enable the learner to have optimal auditory access in the classroom, she consults with teachers on how to connect the ALDs to computers, iPads, and learning centers in classrooms. Greenfield enables students to be in the same classes using multiple forms of amplification easily and efficiently.

She is working on cutting-edge, cost-effective technology to make real-time captioning available in the classroom by combining the current technologies of Google Chrome speech-to-text recognition software with ALDs. Greenfield believes that by using technology to allow teachers and parents to experience what a student is hearing (through the hearing loss simulator or the cochlear implant simulator), it increases their understanding of the learner’s needs and why some adaptations and modifications in the classroom will enable greater learner auditory access and success.

She creates hearing loss simulation files for students to use in classroom inservices they have created for their teachers and peers. She is invaluable in supporting teachers of deaf and hard of hearing and other staff on how to troubleshoot amplification equipment critical for learners’ access to learning.

TIES is an educational technology solutions collaborative owned by 48 member districts. Its mission is to leverage collective wisdom to make technology work across school communities.

SUN Thisweek Article


Published December 30, 2015 at 11:11 am

Two Richfield teachers were honored for utilizing technology in their classrooms at the TIES 2015 Education Technology Conference Dec. 15.

Ben Krupnick, a social studies teacher in the Richfield School District’s Alternative Learning Program, and fifth-grade teacher Will Stewart were honored as TIES Exceptional Teachers during the gathering, which took place at the Minneapolis Hyatt Regency.

In a nomination submission, Krupnick was credited for providing unique learning experiences by integrating

technology into his instruction and helping students engage and excel. Stewart was credited for accelerating students’ learning thanks to innovative practices.

TIES, a collaborative including 48 member districts, provides software systems, hardware, professional development and consulting to more than 400 schools in the state, serving about 40 percent of Minnesota’s students, according to the award announcement.


Representatives from Faribault and Northfield Public Schools are looking to further implement technology in the classroom following a four-day conference.

The conference, known as TIES, or Technology and Information Educational Services, is held annually in Minneapolis, and focuses on transforming educational pedagogy through technology.

Although the TIES conference is technology-focused, that isn’t the only thing educators can learn while in attendance.


“It isn’t just about tech hardware,” Kim Briske, the director of technology services for Northfield Public Schools, said. “You learn skills to help integrate tools and technology into education philosophy.”...

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St. Paul, MN — December 14, 2015 — TIES announced today that Jen Hegna, director of information and instructional technology for Byron Public Schools, has been named the TIES 2015 Minnesota Technology Leader award recipient.


According to her nomination, Jen is known throughout Byron Public Schools for asking courageous questions that challenge the district administrative team to think about possibilities, rather than dwell on tradition. Through probing and well-thought questions, Jen leads her team to make decisions that are in the best interests of student learning.


Project-based Learning

Jen has provided the Byron Public Schools community with great learning opportunities in a number of different ways including educational videos, forums, student genius sessions, and formal presentations. This year, she has helped launch a project-based learning classroom that is using purposeful technology to help students learn the skills necessary to solve real-world problems. She is heavily invested in social learning networks that bring interesting content to this initiative.


1:1 iPad Initiative

Jen was instrumental in planning and implementing a 1:1 iPad initiative, which deployed more than 850 iPads to students in grades 9-12. To support this initiative, she developed a number of high-quality professional development opportunities to support the growth needed to move the district toward transformational education in the classroom. As a result, the school district has experienced an almost 60% increase in student engagement as measured by student feedback and engagement surveys.


Flipped Learning

Jen also created and implemented a flipped learning platform that has been monumental in maximizing the effectiveness of district curriculum. Specifically, the middle and high school math departments have seen classroom test scores climb, which in turn has enabled students to take higher level courses and attain college credit while in high school.


College-level Training

Jen’s impact on learning communities extends well beyond Byron Public Schools. She offers college-level courses in collaboration with Winona State University as means to provide fellow district staff members with the e-certification training necessary to properly create and teach online and hybrid courses. More than 40 educators in the district were successfully trained the program, and participants are now trained to teach the more than 18 online and hybrid courses taught in the district.

Jen also plans and facilitates a summer Professional Growth Academy that draws teachers and administrators from across Minnesota. The unique offerings at this academy push the envelope of 21st century learning and challenge participating educators to move beyond textbooks and lectures.


Jen was recognized today at the TIES 2015 Education Technology Conference on December 14. In addition to receiving the award, Jen has been nominated by TIES for the national Withrow CTO Award of the Consortium for School Networking.


St. Paul, MN — December 8, 2015 — TIES announced today that the Litchfield Public Schools Technology Team has been named the Minnesota Technology Leadership Team Award recipient at the 2015 TIES Education Technology Conference.


The Technology Leadership Team Award recognizes a school district team that has had a significant impact on technology’s role in transforming learning. A team consists of key leaders such as the superintendent, technology and curriculum directors, teachers, parents, students, school board members, community members, representatives of cultural entities such as museums and libraries, and state education networks.


“TIES is thrilled to acknowledge and celebrate the innovation taking place within Minnesota’s schools,” says TIES Executive Director Mark Wolak. “Research informs us that effective teamwork is a significant part of improving schools and this team is a terrific role model for all educators as we learn how to improve learning for all students. Thanks to the commitment and dedication of educators like the members of the Litchfield Public Schools Technology Team, more and more students are learning in state-of-the-art educational environments.”


The Litchfield Technology Leadership Team has created a technology-rich environment where the students are active learners, which in turn empowers them to assume ownership of their own learning. In spring 2014, Litchfield Public Schools — with the financial support of a voter-approved bond referendum — embarked on a quest to change classroom instruction, challenge students, and prepare them for their futures in a high-tech, global society by providing one-to-one digital learning devices for every student in kindergarten through 12th grade. Students in grades 6-12 now have MacBook laptops for one-to-one learning, elementary students have iPads, and the preschool classrooms have Smart Tables.


In addition to emphasizing professional development for teachers in order to change and improve instruction in the classrooms, the leadership team also created two staff-embedded positions of technology integrationists whose primary duties are to instruct teachers in how to effectively use digital technologies in their classrooms.


The Litchfield Technology Leadership Team has implemented a number of additional programs to supplement the daily classroom instruction using digital technologies, adopted a K-12 curriculum for digital citizenship using the standards of Common Sense media, and supported a science/technology/engineering/mathematics (STEM) laboratory in the middle school to combat an insufficient workforce in a community with a substantial manufacturing presence.


Litchfield’s great technical and learning achievements would not have been possible without the leadership of the team’s four individuals. These team members, who were recognized at the TIES 2015 Education Technology Conference on December 14, are: Jason Michels, principal of Litchfield High School; Jennifer Ridgeway, district technology coordinator; Darin Swenson, district technology integrationist; and Gregg Zender, principal at Lake Ripley and Wagner Elementary Schools. In addition to receiving the award, the team has been nominated by TIES for the national TEAM Award of the Consortium for School Networking.