Beth Raebel and Colleen Coleman, both teachers in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191, have been named TIES 2016 Exceptional Teachers and will be honored during the TIES Education Technology Conference in December.
They are among teachers selected for modeling best practices in using technology to engage students in learning. School districts participating in the TIES Exceptional Teachers award program are members of TIES, an education technology consortium of 48 Minnesota school districts.
“Beth and Colleen have embedded technology in their classrooms to differentiate instruction, expand learning and prepare students to be future ready,” said Superintendent Joe Gothard, who nominated the teachers for the award. “We thank them for their leadership in the instructional use of technology and congratulate them on this recognition.”
Technology has always been a second love of Raebel’s. If she hadn’t gone into teaching, she would have found a career in a technology field. When she had the opportunity to shadow a technology integrationist recently, she fell in love with position and is now working toward her master’s degree in educational technology.
She began a new job in the district this year as a digital learning specialist at Hidden Valley Elementary in Savage. She’s working to build digital literacy among students and teachers so that integrating technology is not seen as just the devices that are being used. Instead, she says it’s a mindset shift, where teaching lessons in new ways provides opportunities for students to think critically, collaborate, be creative and share their learning.
Coleman has dived deeply into technology at Burnsville High School. She was part of two pilot projects last year — one involved all students using Chromebooks in social studies classrooms and the other was using the school’s first-ever online learning management system. Both pilot projects have now expanded school-wide, so Coleman is a go-to tech leader. She studied and tested to become a Google Certified Educator and she’ll be part of an upcoming regional showcase event sponsored by Google and Best Buy at her school.
Coleman teaches in an innovative flexible classroom with six big monitors on the wall, all furniture on wheels and no formal front of the room. The classroom facilitates group work and changes the way she teaches. In addition, Coleman sees more independence, inquiry and participation from her students. Her classroom is paperless which has freed up more time for instruction because there are fewer “housekeeping” tasks like handing out and collecting papers.