Monthly Archives: November 2014

Voxer + Augmented Reality = #Mind-Blown

I belong to a collaborative group of educators that connect on a daily basis using a mobile app called Voxer. The app allows us to converse about important educational issues, and to network as professionals. One of the powerful features of Voxer is that it allows users to share their voices (and not just 140 characters of text). We recently created T-Shirts for our group…but the fun did not stop there.

We published a collaborative video using TouchCast and linked the video to graphics on the T-Shirt using two augmented reality apps. The image below is a trigger that can be activated using the Daqri app. After you download Daqri, point your viewfinder at the state map and an interactive experience will launch! Download Daqri and see what the MN Educators are up to…we dare you!

Use the Daqri App on this trigger to view Augmented Reality experience.

Use the Daqri App on this trigger to view Augmented Reality experience.

We also used the Aurasma app to create an additional augmented reality experience. Download Aurasma and “follow” the Greenwood Elementary channel. This will allow you to interact with the T-Shirt’s main logo below. Be sure you are following our channel in order to view a video featuring more than ten teachers and principals across the Midwest.

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

Use the Aurasma app and be sure to “follow” the Greenwood Elementary channel to view.

By combining Voxer and augmented reality we were able to feature several of our group’s team-members in the video powered by TouchCast. Now that is some MAJOR app smashing!! If you happen to meet a member of the MN Educator’s Voxer group at a local conference be sure to say hi…and don’t forget to test out the augmented reality on the shirt’s logo.

**Special thanks to Brad Waid (aka @TechBradWaid on Twitter) for support creating the Daqri experience.

**Huge shout-out to Aaron Schmidt (aka @Schmiaah on Twitter) for designing the T-Shirt logo. 

My TEDx Talk Reflections

Two months ago I had the opportunity to share some professional experiences at a TEDx event at the Minnesota Historical Center. The venue was phenomenal and the event was extremely well-organized.

In the weeks following my TEDx Talk I’ve been asked about my impressions and the experience altogether. People have inquired about what the TED Talk speakers appear to be glancing at on the floor. Some speculated it was a teleprompter, but it was actually a timer next to a monitor with the exact same screen image the audience was viewing. (TEDx has stringent guidelines about timing, and out of respect for the audience and other speakers, we were not allowed to go over our time allotment.)

Others have asked about the process itself, and that question is more difficult to answer. I’m not exactly sure how I wound up at the History Center…on stage, but I do recall being asked about speaking. My guess is that I probably responded to that initial inquiry with a very perplexed look similar to the picture below!

TED 2 (2)

Most recently a colleague I greatly respect asked me what I had learned from the experience. I found his question profound and wanted to expound on the answer I gave him off-the-cuff.

I learned that there is an urgency with which we must approach our work. My time on stage totaled less than 17 minutes. Our students time with us each year is short as well. Students only get one kindergarten year. They only get once chance to be 1st graders. We need to deliver and we need to deliver for them now. Best of all…we CAN do it!

We are living in a digital age and our classrooms must cultivate new essential skills in students to empower them to connect and learn responsibly. To do anything less would be diminishing their potential.

How might a student recognize that she has a passion for robotics, coding, film creation, 3D printing, public speaking, podcasting, engineering, art, music, etc. if she’s never been exposed to authentic learning opportunities? Our students deserve the chance to interact with “current best practices” and cutting edge tools. It is invigorating to work in a school that is 100% committed to kids and THEIR future. It’s all about our kids and they are the reason we will never stop learning.

The second thing that continues to be impressed upon me is that I would need a lot longer than 17 minutes to unpack all the AMAZING work our teachers are doing. I highlighted the pedagogy and projects of several staff members in the brief time I was on stage. However, there were countless endeavors I did not have time to mention. These are the difference makers and engine that drives our school’s continuous improvement efforts. Our staff is the core of all we do for kids.

I work alongside some of the most caring and highly skilled professionals on the planet. They embody what it means to be student-centered. They are also willing to take risks and make changes to stay relevant. They put pedagogy first while also prioritizing meaningful technology integration.

Our kids really are counting on us to be the change. I am humbled and blessed to serve at Greenwood Elementary, and I’m really proud of the work we are doing together to prepare our students to be real world ready. If you have not had a chance to see my TEDx Talk titled, “Arms Wide Open” please click HERE.

TED 2 (1)

EduBlog Award Nominations


Click the image to make your nominations.

The 11th Annual EduBlog Awards nominations are now open. The EduBlog Awards promote the positive value of social media in education.

I believe that our students are counting on a relevant 21st century learning experience, and applaud the countless number of educators that are embracing a connected pedagogy. Below are a few of the people in my PLN that I glean inspiration from…and thanks to EVERYONE that is committed to learning, change, and a growth mindset. Together we’re better for kids!

My Nominations for the #Eddies14

Best EdTech Blog, Rafranz Davis

*A cornacopia of EdTech goodness coupled with pragmatic advice and important observations.

Best Teacher Blog, Pernille Ripp

*Profoundly beautiful and child-centric reflections. This blog pushes my thinking on a regular basis. 

LifeTime Achievement, Tony Sinanis

*I consider Tony a close friend and inspiring colleague. He always approaches his work by asking, “What is best for kids” and he has a proven track record of amplifying student voice & leveraging social media to shine the light on the amazing work occurring at his school. Check out the #Cantiague hashtag to see what his students are up to.

Most Influential Blog Post, “I Pitched” by Jon Harper

*All of Jon’s blogs are influential & this recent post was no exception.

Best Administrator Blog, Ben Gilpin

*The epitome of reflective practitioner and a trusted friend.

Best Free Web Tool, TouchCast

*We use TouchCast to create our weekly Principal Podcasts featuring Greenwood Students sharing their learning highlights. The podcasting tool/app is also used to create the “30 Second Take” podcast. TouchCast offers a user-friendly interface and it’s FREE!

Best Individual Blog, Terri Eicholz

*If you could only follow ONE blogger on the planet I guarantee Terri would not disappoint. #Edu-Awesome

Best New Blog, Beth Joselyn

*The creativity that Beth cultivates in students inspires; I’m elated she’s started to share the awesomeness!

Best Open Professional Development, Todd Nesloney

The Summer Learning Series brought together learners from every corner of the globe!

Best use of Media (i.e. Podcasting), Aaron Schmidt

*I could listen to his educational “Coffee Chats” via TouchCast all day long. Down-to-earth, insightful, and just plain fun.

Best Hashtag, #IAedchat

*Jimmy Casas, Aaron Becker, Matt Degner and the #IAedchat team host one of many wonderful educational chats via Twitter. If you have not participated in an educational Twitter chat I strongly encourage you to do so.

Best Mobile App, Voxer

*I’ve learned so much through connecting with friends and colleagues around the country. For example, the “MN Educators Voxer Group” is comprised of educators in the Midwest and Canada. We discuss issues and education and support each other in a daily dynamic conversation.

Best Individual Tweeter, Craig Yen

*By following @craigyen on Twitter you can receive real-time updates on EdChats and podcasts. His back-channeling skills are legendary, and his insights enhance how I leverage Twitter for my professional learning.

It Meant A lot

Vet Salute

This week our school honored America’s Veterans and it meant a lot. It meant a lot to hear 863 kids singing songs from the heart in unison. The depth of their sincerity echoed throughout the gym and reverberated in the hearts of all in attendance.

It meant a lot when several Veterans approached me after the program (many with quivering lips) to express their humble and heartfelt thanks. It meant a lot because the program was all about them and it was the least we could do. It meant a lot to gather with Greenwood parents and staff who are currently serving.

Vet family

It meant a lot to know that our head custodian was at Fort Snelling National Cemetery taking part in services honoring friends and Veterans that he served alongside. It meant a lot to see our students personally thanking him for his service the very next day when he was back at school.

We were able to share the program with several families remotely using a live-stream feed. It meant a lot that our school community could continue the conversations from their workplaces and dinner tables even though they could not be physically present. It meant a lot that one of our staff members was also able to catch a short video clip of our students singing together; an impactful experience I will never forget.

It meant a lot to see all of our boy scouts and girl scouts in uniform and ready to serve as called upon. It meant a lot to see the dedicated employees we have on staff that are currently serving in attendance and sharing a message of character and integrity with our student body.


It meant a lot to see our music teachers invest many hours into the planning of the program. It meant a lot to hear that in the weeks of preparation leading up to the program, many classrooms would quietly sing patriotic songs while working on art projects and other seat work (during math class, art, and more). Our kids and staff really are an inspiration.

The spirit of gratitude that permeated our school yesterday meant a lot. We will not forget the valor or sacrifice of our Veterans.

Sharing Your Story in 3D


Click the flyer to participate!

The past several weeks I have been collaborating with an inspiring group of educators from around the country. Our goal is to connect students to one another using art, storytelling, and 3D printers!

We’re inviting students, teachers, and schools everywhere to create a unique cube on their 3D printers. We’ll combine all the cubes we receive into a large, shared work-of-art that represents the heart, soul, creativity, and stories from every person that contributes.

Getting started is easy and we’re developing tools and tutorials so even the most novice 3D printers (like myself) can connect their students to this collaborative global project. Feel free to embellish your 3D printed cube so it represents you…or your classroom. You could even add a QR code linking to a short video about your school.

We’re hoping that the connections that are forged from this project lead to mind-blowing creativity and “possibility thinking” in our students. Be sure to click on the flyer above to learn more. Also, don’t forget to follow the hashtag #ThatsMyCube on Twitter to see how the shared art piece grows over time.

We’re really excited for our students to connect, learn, and share in an innovative manner. Don’t miss this opportunity to share your story with us in 3D!

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