Monthly Archives: January 2014

A Surprising Twist on an Educational Staple

Mill City 1Students love field trips. They love the change of pace as well as the chance to visit places they might not otherwise get to see in person.

Educators love providing students enriching experiences, and we’re also cautious to purposefully plan the excursions so there are no surprises.  However, there is one surprise that will have everyone on a field trip engaged and talking about the curriculum…

I recently went on a “date night” to the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (The museum is also a place our school has taken our 5th graders in the past.)  The date started out great…and things really got exciting when I began listening to another principal as we brainstormed all the ways Augmented Reality could be used on future field trips with students.  By-the-way, Augmented Reality is a technology used to add supplemental digital layers of content to virtually anything.

Gold Medal Flour Sign

The view from the observation deck at the top of an old grain elevator was breath-taking…I felt as if I could reach out and grab the Gold Medal Flour sign that towered above the boulevard.  As we took in the rich history of the museum, I began recording video greetings with information and questions for students. I even integrated some of my own childhood memories into the recorded messages as they pertained to the exhibits.  After I got home I linked the video messages to photographs I took at the museum using the Aurasma app.

Dough Boy

The next time our students go to the Mill City Museum for a field trip they can experience a surprise from their principal!  I’m even more excited to see the types of Augmented Reality content or scavenger hunts that our students could create on a field trip!  With the technology and support we’re providing them they could document their learning in new and innovative ways.

Green Final Final sign

How have you used educational technology to meaningfully enhance the student learning experience? I’d love to hear your comments!

The photographs I took above now serve as AR triggers. 

Use the Aurasma app and follow the Greenwood Elementary channel to view.

Double-click each photo to enlarge it; then let Aurasma do the rest!

Citius, Altius, Fortius

A photo from the World University Nationals in Israel.

A photo from the World University Nationals in Israel.

“Citius, Altius, Fortius”  (“Faster, Higher, Stronger”)  ~Olympic Motto

With the Winter Games right around the corner this is the perfect time for a championship-caliber “Teacher Feature!”  Ms. Natalie Johnson (also a Wayzata graduate) is one of our talented P.E. teachers.  She participated in the 2012 Olympic trials for weight-lifting and her story is an inspiration.

Going into the 2012 trials Natalie felt she’d be a long-shot…and she was.  When it came time for the Clean-and-Jerk event she came up just short of lifting 90 kilos (almost 200 pounds).  This wasn’t enough, but she knew she was close!  Natalie also shared that the 90 kilo mark is significant because the way the plates (weights) are loaded on the bar changes.  At 90 kilos it jumps up to a 25 kilo red plate and a 10 kilo green plate essentially making a person look much stronger and cooler than lifting one single weight per side.

After the competition, Natalie went back home and trained; a month later she went to the University Nationals where she earned a trip to Israel!  She was able to out-total her competitors and traveled to the World University Championships.

Natalie reflected upon a few milestones along her journey by sharing that she wasn’t the fastest or most coordinated student in school, but the amazing teachers in Wayzata Public Schools helped train and develop her skills and strengths.

Now she  helps students that may not be the most physically fit or confident find their inner-champion.  The video below is one of her favorite Olympic commercials…and now it’s one of mine too!

Here’s to bringing out the champion in each and every one of our students!


“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” ~Olympic creed.


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