“Learning how to use tools is not an age barrier between digital natives and digital immigrants, but a mindset barrier between fixed and growth mindsets.” – James Yanuzzelli, USA
Technology Integration Specialist
Old Bridge Township Public Schools
New Jersey, USA
For MIE Expert Jim Yanuzzelli, the “why” of learning is every bit as important as the “what.” That’s why he incorporates at least one project- based learning (PBL) activity in every unit of study. This lets his students apply their knowledge on a collaborative project where they must identify the reason an event in history had an impact, instead of just stating facts.
“Students felt empowered when I did not confine them to a specific way to create and display their learning,” he explains. “They took ownership of their work and had the opportunity to use any tools necessary. Students could type out their finding in Word, develop a PowerPoint, story-tell in a Sway, or record a video.”
In investigating other approaches to differentiate learning in his classroom, Yanuzzelli realized that Learning Tools can fit the needs of all types of learners. He then taught his class how to use features like Immersive Reader and dictation.
“We learned that line focus and changing the color and size of the font can assist with dissecting primary source documents that are not broken down by reading level, but can be easier to read and refer to when the picture dictionary is enabled,” Yanuzzelli explains. “When I incorporated Learning tools, I saw the conversations and collaboration grow. Students were able to improve reading comprehension and participate with these changes.”
So what does this experienced educator see as the biggest challenge facing education today?
“Digital inequities and barriers exist in education,” he explains. “Learning how to use tools is not an age barrier between digital natives and digital immigrants but a mindset barrier between fixed and growth mindset. I work with teachers every day to help develop a growth mindset and embrace these amazing opportunities and tools that exist and improve teaching and learning.”
About James Yanuzzelli
- Educational background: Bachelor’s in history/education in 2005 from Kean University. Masters in Educational Technology and Online Learning in 2015 and a second Masters in Educational Leadership in 2017 from Thomas Edison State University.
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: Microsoft Teams
- Favorite book: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Website I check every day: education.microsoft.com
- Favorite childhood memory: Meeting my best friend in elementary school, who eventually became my wife (and is still my best friend).
- What is the best advice you have ever received? “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.”