Blog Archives

Good Things come in Small Packages

Red cube

It might not look like much, but it is ours. We printed the small red cube on our school’s 3D printer, but that’s really not the important part. What’s important is what’s inside. The cube contains part of our school’s story. You can access it by scanning the QR code inside the cube or by simply watching the video below.

The most amazing thing is that our school’s story will soon become part of a larger narrative. Schools around the planet have the opportunity to print their own 3D cubes and send them to a central location for display. The collaborative work of art will feature cubes of different shapes and sizes from kids all over the world. We hope you’ll consider joining us on this epic adventure. Click HERE for more information on the #ThatsMyCube project.

Our cube may be small, but our students’ voices are not…and their stories matter. Good things come in small packages!
That's my cube

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I’ll Never Forget

Our teachers have been doing some truly ground-breaking work. The level of innovation and passion in our school is palpable.  We have classrooms participating in Genius Hour, coding, connecting with other schools, 3D printing, green-screen video production, flipped instruction, team teaching, augmented reality, and re-imagining learning spaces. I thought that I had grown accustomed to the general level of “awesomeness” in our school…but I’ll never forget what happened last week.

This past week Mrs. Kirchner’s 4th graders had the chance to take one of our “Mobile MakerSpace” carts for a test spin. The cart was loaded with Circuit-Scribe kits that enabled students to draw their own working circuits.  As you can see from the short video clip below…student engagement was off the charts!

The most inspiring part of the lesson was the process that Mrs. Kirchner used to introduce the new technology to students. Students were assigned partners and given time to experiment, collaborate, and fail. That’s right…FAIL.

They talked about why their circuits were not working, compared notes, wrestled with frustration and tried again. It was beautiful. When the guided inquiry time was over every single group had successfully created their own working circuit from scratch. Students drew the conductive lines themselves and created unique battery configurations to power their projects.

I was fortunate to be a part of the experience and it was absolutely amazing. I’m talking jaw-dropping amazing.  It’s one thing to be issued a science kit full of wires and directions. It’s another to see a group of kids wrestle with failure and overcome it using skills like collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity.

I will never forget the power of failure in the learning process!

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. 

Connected Learning

Our mission is to plan Professional Development (PD) opportunities that are so responsive that every single teacher walks away from their breakout session-choice feeling empowered.  Each month’s focus will align with one of our three building goals:

1.) High Student Achievement in Literacy

2.) Meaningful Technology Integration

3.) Relationships and Culture

HUGE shout-outs to our PD Chair, PD team, and our site data team. Your time and leadership has us in a great position to focus our efforts while continuing to learn and grow.

Our first round of staff PD Breakout Sessions will be Monday, October 27th and the focus will be technology. The session options below were planned based on staff feedback collected using the “Empowered Learning” forum in Moodle last spring. Sign-up for each session can be done online and Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) are available.

Session 1 (Flipped)

Connecting with Classrooms across the Country 

Guiding Question: How might we teach students to connect and share responsibly? We’ll respond to the video and discuss the pedagogy & tools to connect kids to an authentic audience.  We will also participate in a GHO video-conference with a school in another state. Please view the five minute “flipped PD” video prior to our session.

Session 2

Twitter 101: Getting Started…Getting Connected 

Guiding Question: What is Twitter and how are educators leveraging it to connect and share? Learn the basics of Twitter like how to Tweet, basics of the bio, and the art of the hashtag. There will be a time for collaboration and assistance in setting up a Twitter account at the end of the session.

We’re looking forward to experiencing many teacher-led sessions facilitated by our very own #GWgreats over the course of the school year.  This year we are also piloting an approach to making our monthly PD breakouts OPTIONAL for staff. If you’d prefer to engage with a monthly theme in a different way than what we have planned, we want to empower you to do so. Own your learning! Attend an EdCamp, organize a cross-grade collaborative conversation, observe a colleague and try something new.

A special thank you to the connected educators from across the country that took time to share a short video clip about how/why they are connecting.  They’re listed below in order of appearance. I have learned so much from these educators, and encourage you to follow them all on Twitter:

Pernille Ripp  |  @pernilleripp

Natalie Hull  |  @misshulljse

Adam Welcome  |  @awelcome

Erin Klein  |  @kleinerin

Penngrove Elementary Staff  |  @mrsnewman014 @msjanuleski @mcandersen88 @ohsposato @mrsfadeji

Brian Costello  |  @btcostello05

Celeste Mayhood  |  @celesteclm

John Fritzky  |  @johnfritzky

Justin Schleider  |  @schleiderjustin

Becca Bailey  |  @artwithbailey

Eric Sheninger  |  e_sheninger

Heather Cooper  |  @hcooper815

Shelly Roche  |  @mrsrochejse

Kory Graham  |  @tritonkory

Jeff Bradbury  |  @teachercast

Kimberly Hurd  |  @khurdhorst

Ashley Drill | @mrsdrill3rd

Jamie Tewksbury  |  @mrstewksbury3rd

Tony Sinanis  |  @tonysinanis

Skills for Today

When I reflect upon the important work our staff is doing I’m inspired. The commitment we’ve made to creativity is palpable, and we’re seeking new and innovative ways to put students in the center of their learning. I’m seeing our team amplify student voice while providing kids an authentic audience for their work. Some of the “learning work” our team is involved with includes:

  • Genius Hour
  • Passion-Based Learning
  • 3D Printing
  • MakerSpaces
  • Redesigning Learning Spaces
  • Flipped Instruction
  • Social Media as Learning Media
  • Project-Based Learning (Cane’s Arcade, etc.)
  • Augmented Reality
  • Back-Channeling via “TodaysMeet”

Teachers are exploring new ways to help build students capacity to connect responsibly in a digital world.  Best of all…we’ve kept a keen focus on the importance of relationships; our students are responding in amazing ways! Our staff has embraced meaningful technology integration as one of our three school priorities. We know that the work we are doing will help students develop skills for today will ultimately help them excel tomorrow.

Becoming David

David v Goliath

When I was younger I heard stories about a young boy named David.  He defeated a strong adversary named Goliath.  Growing up I learned about other unlikely triumphs as well:

  • The New York Giants faced their Goliath in Super Bowl XLII.  They went toe-to-toe with the undefeated New England Patriots, and scored two touchdowns in the 4th quarter to pull off a dramatic upset.
  • Thomas Edison invented the light bulb after facing his Goliath hundreds and hundreds of times.  If you had asked Edison, he’d have said that he did not fail 1,000 times, but instead he learned 1,000 ways not to make a light bulb.  What a perspective!
  • Truman eventually triumphed over Dewey in the 1948 Presidential Election, but only after being counted out early by the Chicago Tribune.  They were so certain of his demise that they ran headlines that were incorrect.

Each of the examples above involves an epic upset from the past, but what would the educational headlines say today?  Would they mistakenly predict a victory for Goliath?

A vast number of conversations are currently being dedicated to assessment and accountability.  My concern is that assessment for the purpose of ranking students or comparing kids is not sound pedagogy.  How a student fills in his bubbles should not be the sole purpose of education or the single determinant of his success.  Is this best for kids, and who is responsible for this storyline?

In many ways we are responsible and may indirectly perpetuate some of the very things we care deeply about changing.  The good news is that we can all aspire to be like David in confronting the status quo; we are the New York Giants, Thomas Edison, and Harry S. Truman rolled into one.

Against all odds, I believe the status quo is in for a whooping!  The greatest comeback story in education is playing out right now in innovative classrooms across the country.  Inspiring educators are focused on high achievement for each and every child, and we’re writing a new educational narrative at the same time.

Through personalized learning, meaningful technology integration, and establishing authentic relationships our focus is on student passion, potential, collaboration, critical-thinking, creation, and sharing.

I bet Goliath never saw this coming!  It’s rally time and we must persevere.

We are David and our students are counting on us to see this through!

**Photo Credit: GreenhousesportsBlogspot.com

THANKFUL for my PLN: EduBlog Award Nominations

Click the picture above to make your 2013 EduBlog nomination.

Click the picture above to make your 2013 EduBlog nomination.

BEST GROUP BLOG

Two Guys and Some iPads Blog

Brad Waid and Drew Minock join forces to collaborate, connect and inspire educators across the country.  Their blog is filled with quality resources to support meaningful technology integration in the classroom.  The dynamic duo also host a weekly podcast called The Two Guys Show.  I had the pleasure of experiencing their engaging energy during the live broadcast of Episode #11.  These guys not only walk the talk, but they empower others to join them in making a 21st century difference for kids!

You can follow them on Twitter at:

@TechBradWaid

@TechMinock

BEST TEACHER BLOG

Nesloney’s Adventures: Thoughts from an Elementary Teacher

Todd Nesloney is a 5th grade teacher in Texas.  His blog offers genuine insight into his journey as a teacher and connected educator.  He wears his heart on his sleeve and possesses a passion for learning that oozes out of the words in his blog posts.  Todd was gracious enough to create a custom author’s greeting for our school that we linked to his inspiring book, Spruce and Lucy, using Augmented Reality and he’s also a contributor to the #WorldBookTalk project on Twitter.

You can follow him on Twitter at:

@TechNinjaTodd

BEST ADMINISTRATOR BLOG

Passion…Purpose…Pride

Jimmy Casas is a transformational school leader in every sense of the word.  He’s a high school principal in Iowa that approaches his work and writing in a very purposeful way.  I love Jimmy’s relational approach and have taken many of his blog posts to heart.  His blogs have inspired me to take action and continue to enhance my learning.  Knowing Jimmy and reading his blog has made me a better leader.

You can follow him on Twitter at:

@Casas_Jimmy

BEST INDIVIDUAL TWEETER

Rafranz Davis is one of the most collaborative professionals I’ve had the pleasure of learning from on Twitter.  Her Tweets are a “cornucopia of tech-goodness.”  I’ve named her my unofficial WordPress blog mentor and appreciate her perspective and sharing.  Without her support and encouragement I’m not sure that you’d be reading this blog post today.

You can follow her on Twitter at:

@RafranzDavis

BEST EDUCATIONAL USE OF AUDIO / VIDEO / VISUAL / PODCAST

Curt Rees is a principal in Wisconsin and technology “triple threat.”  Some of the most engaging educational technologies that I’m learning about have been shared from Curt.  Whether he’s rapping with Smule’s Auto Rap or creating student podcasts using the TouchCast app….it’s bound to be worthy of a “mic drop.”  When Curt is not dominating the recess kickball field he’s busy co-hosting the Techlandia Podcast.

You can follow him on Twitter at:

@CurtRees

BEST EDUCATIONAL USE OF SOCIAL NETWORK

Tony Sinanis is the lead learner at Cantiague Elementary in New York.  He’s also one of the most fun and student-centric principals I’ve ever hung out with (virtually).  His weekly school podcast segments truly amplify student voice!  I was so inspired by some of the communication tools he’s using to enhance the student learning experience that I connected with Tony and another connected administrator in New Jersey to create a cross-state student podcast project we affectionately refer to as 3 Leaders Making Videos.  Having Tony in my Personal Learning Network (PLN) has turned up the “fun factor” at school while connecting our students to other schools across the country!

You can follow him on Twitter at:

@TonySinanis

BEST MOBILE APP

Aurasma is an Augmented Reality app that allows students to create their own supplemental virtual content and attach it to any trigger image.  It is one of the most engaging new educational technologies I’ve seen in my career, and it offers limitless possibilities.  Our school is using Aurasma to celebrate student creativity by embedding art talk videos into a student gallery.  We also used Aurasma to create the World Book Talk project.  Click HERE to see some other ways we are leveraging Aurasma to engage students in their learning!  Needless to say…with Aurasma the future of education is full of limitless possibilities!

You can follow the company on Twitter at:

@Aurasma

Getting Connected

Click the pic to view episode #11 of the "2 Guys Show."

Click the pic to view episode #11 of the show.

Greenwood Elementary is filled with talented professionals committed to the success of each and every child.  Connecting with students and staff on a daily basis is one of the priceless privileges I have as principal.  

Lately, I’ve also had the opportunity to share some of the things our school is doing to engage students via Twitter.  It’s difficult to explain the magic our teachers bring to their classrooms in under 140 characters, so some of the collaboration has spilled over into video-conferencing and direct messaging.  (Twitter has been invaluable to my own professional development and getting connected was one of the best moves of my career as a leader/learner.)  

I recently had the opportunity to visit with two game-changing educators, Drew Minock and Brad Waid, from Bloomfield Hills Schools in Michigan.  We met on a popular podcast they host called the “2 Guys Show.”  They also have a website www.twoguysandsomeipads.com 

Click on the photo above to view a recording of the live show.  We had a blast discussing meaningful technology integration, Augmented Reality (AR) and making a difference for kids!  A memorable moment from the show for me was the “AR Ambush” that occurred.  You won’t believe how cool Brad Waid was under pressure and how he reacted to the Augmented Reality surprise!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the entire team at Greenwood Elementary for the passion they bring to our shared journey together, as well as the countless others that enrich my Professional Learning Network (PLN).

You can follow Brad and Drew on Twitter at:

@TechMinock

@TechBradWaid

When things get Messy

Creative and Messy Learning Pic

Any parent will tell you that the term “messy” is not such a good thing when it’s describing the condition of their children’s bedrooms.  However, as a principal I need to clarify one thing; when learning gets “messy” there is potential for creativity to be unleashed!

I recently observed how magical “messy” can be.  3rd grade students were learning about the phases of the moon, and small groups were participating in multiple conversations occurring simultaneously (gasp!).  They had clear learning targets and plenty of choices to immerse themselves in.  There were songs being composed, iMovies being created, and sculptures of the moon being carved out of Oreo cookies.  Click on the video below to see for yourself…it was marvelous!

Click the video above to see how our students collaborated!

Click the video above to see the action for yourself!

The introduction of the iPads in our school has been a game-changer.  They are tools for learning and offer limitless potential for research, collaboration, and creation.  The Wayzata Public Schools’ MyWay approach is truly transforming the student learning experience and providing increasing levels of personalization.

Don’t just take my word for it!  A parent recently sent me an e-mail sharing how her child was at a birthday party when somebody noticed the moon and said, “Look you guys, the moon is a waxing Gibbous!”  The parent went on to explain that the kids at the birthday party carried on an animated discussion for 5-10 minutes about whether the moon was waxing or waning.  I’m told there were some younger children at the party and the 3rd graders took time to teach them all about the moon’s phases too.  Students really are talking about their learning.  It seems as if technology is fostering some of the engaging conversations about their learning!

A research study focusing on the technology explosion in early childhood classrooms found that young students’ spoken words DOUBLED while working with computers, and were twice as high as other activities like art, games, play dough, etc. (Hertzog & Klein, 2005).  We are seeing high levels of engagement in our school as well!

Messy learning really sticks…and inspires!  When highly-skilled teachers integrate technology and the arts in meaningful ways the creative genius in EVERY child is celebrated.  Kids are communicating like never before and exploring new mediums to connect in safe and supported environments.

Augmented Reality in Education: The Video

Watch planets as they jump off the page!

Click the photo above to watch the video:    AR in Education.

Our school is innovating to enhance the student learning experience.  Click on the photo above to see how!

We’re utilizing Augmented Reality (AR) to connect at a deeper level with stakeholders while relying upon meaningful technology integration to promote 21st century skills.  AR in education is about possibilities and relationships.

In case you were wondering, AR is defined as a live direct or indirect view of a real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input like sound, video or graphics (Wikipedia.org, 2013).  We are seeing more and more value in this cutting-edge educational tool.

We’re connecting with parents and school systems across the country in unprecedented ways.  My vision is to engage each and every student in a personalized 21st century educational experience marked by high levels of learning, creativity, positive character development and unceasing opportunities to collaborate in a technology-rich environment.

AR is one way we’re connecting with students.  The technology itself is astoundingly immersive and we are seeing that first-hand.  Share your AR story and questions by leaving a comment.

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