Monthly Archives: March 2014

Power-up Digital Learning

Amplify Icon

One of my passions is finding ways to amplify student voice.  Our staff has embraced the goal to meaningfully integrate technology into the student learning experience.  This has translated into deep and dynamic learning for our school.

Students are collaborating with each other and reflecting on their learning using online forums, shared documents in Google Drive, and more.  They’re extending their learning through hands-on projects requiring critical thinking and creativity.  The combination of digital learning and face-to-face collaboration has been nothing short of inspiring.

We continue to have conversations about how to enhance students’ communication and achievement in this new learning paradigm.  Our goal is to move our kids from basic responses to more in-depth analysis.  We understand this is a process involving many variables.  The tool below is intended to scaffold this process.  The tool could help power-up students who are responding to a text, replying in a forum, or providing a partner feedback about his/her writing.

Providing students additional “choice and voice” in their learning will empower them to reach levels that were previously unimaginable.  It’s amazing what our kids can do when we give them the opportunity and support them when they fall!

Digital Response Power-ups

Digital Response Power-ups

About this Document:

  • The tool is based on Bloom’s Taxonomy.  The icons get progressively more involved as a student works his way towards the bottom of the document.
  • The tool is based on basic tenets of gamification.  Students’ natural inclination for achievement, self-expression, and closure have been packaged into several digital badges.
  • It is suggested that teachers allow students choice in what badges they will select to respond to a classmate/text.
  • The recommended number of badges per assignment is 2-4 for initial responses to a text, and 1-3 for online forum feedback to classmates.
  • Students should be asked to conclude each posting with the code letters indicating what badges they selected to their teacher.  (E.g. “?H+”)

What did I miss? How might we improve this tool to facilitate high levels of learning for each and every student? I look forward to your comments and sharing.


Image Credits:

How might WE learn?

Digital Leadership Badge

Educators spend a significant amount of time reflecting on pedagogy to support an engaging student learning experience, and rightfully so.  How much time do school leaders spend planning and preparing to support 21st century professional learning?  How might we enhance the HOWs, WHATs, and WHYs for learning in this digitally connected age?

In the next month I’ll be sharing an interactive Digital Leadership Challenge designed to support HOW we learn.  The Digital Leadership Challenge article will be titled “Driven to Collaborate.”  It will feature creative mini-challenges submitted by ten connected educators across the country.  The article and accompanying mini-challenges is being published by the Minnesota Elementary Principal Association (#MESPAmn) and shared electronically via multiple sources including this blog.

We’ll be using a tiered system to ensure that regardless of where you are at on your Digital Leadership journey there will be accessible entry-points to learn and grow.  We’ve also created a cool point-system with electronic badges that will be awarded based on the challenges you complete.  I’m really excited by the inspiring variety of learning opportunities that will be outlined in the article.  Please encourage your colleagues to dial in to this unique, 21st century PD opportunity.

Watch for the article the 1st week in May.  Special thanks to the amazing educators that collaborated on the Digital Leadership Challenge.

Mini-Challenge Submissions:


Curt Rees, Elementary Principal, WI

@CurtRees on Twitter


Patrick Glynn, Elementary Principal, MN

@GallyGopher on Twitter


Jessica Johnson, Elementary Principal, WI

@PrincipalJ on Twitter


Tony Sinanis, Elementary Lead Learner, NY

Joe Sanfelippo, District Superintendent, WI

@TonySinanis & @Joesanfelippofc on Twitter 


Dwight Carter, HS Principal, OH

@Dwight_Carter on Twitter


Dave Zukor, Integration Specialist, MN

@DZukor on Twitter


Rafranz Davis, Instructional Technology Specialist, TX

@RafranzDavis on Twitter


Daisy Dyer Duerr, PreK – 12 Principal, AR

@DaisyDyerDuerr on Twitter


Terri Eichholz, Teacher of K – 5 Gifted Students, TX

@TerriEichholz on Twitter


Eric Sheninger, High School Principal, NJ


Technology meets Tubing!

Warming up in the Chalet

Warming up in the Chalet

Our 3rd graders recently took a field trip over their specialist (PE, technology, art, etc.) and lunch time to Elm Creek Park Reserve.  Their mission was to have fun, be active, and to enjoy each other’s company while practicing good character.  We even sent a “Go-Pro” (mobile stunt video camera) with on the trip, so be sure to check out the action footage below!

We understand that many parents are not able to volunteer in school during the day, so we thought this was the perfect opportunity to provide you a glimpse of the trip using the mobile Go-Pro technology.  You can see that our students had a blast tubing, working together, and just being kids.  They were so active that many fell asleep on the bus ride back to school!  I was able to greet students at the doors when they returned to Greenwood, and the unanimous feedback was that the trip was AWESOME!

I later learned that one of our students told her teacher, “This was the best trip ever…I bet you haven’t had this much fun since you were our age!”  Ahhh…to be young again!!  Another student shared with his teacher, “I was scared to go down the hill and I thought I could never do it, but I tried and loved it…I’m not scared anymore!”  It’s neat to hear stories of students pushing themselves to learn and grow in and out of the classroom!

At another point on the trip we had 20+ students going down the hill together…everyone had a blast.  A big part of the student learning experience is to understand how to interact and relate with each other in a positive and responsible manner.  The relationships our teachers are building with students serve as the underpinnings to their overall academic success.

I’m so glad our staff and students can work hard AND play hard together!


**The YouTube videos above are “unlisted” in YouTube, so you will not be able to search for them.  

Parents that would like a copy can e-mail me for the link or use paths above.

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