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What Do You Burn For?

One of my favorite songs is “Soul on Fire” by Third Day.  The words speak to my heart and embolden a passion that is deep within me every time I listen.  I think about many things when I hear the song including my family and our students.

The thing I probably love most about “Soul on Fire” is that it requires a response.  It’s impossible not to feel anything after listening.  It’s impossible not to burn.  So what do you burn for?  What drives you?  Who and what define your classroom, school, and work?

I “burn” to call out greatness in our students, and to empower their “voice” and ownership in education.  I want children everywhere, regardless of their address, to experience authentic and relevant learning that fosters essential life skills.  I burn for a new learning paradigm where our kids are supported with cutting-edge opportunities made possible by educators who are committed to cultivating character and digital citizenship through meaningful technology integration.  I long to see a connected pedagogy that inspires new levels of learning for all students; each and every single one of them.

Our students deserve the very best of what this great country has to offer and it is our deepest responsibility to deliver for them.  It’s educational malpractice to limit student opportunity based upon what we refuse to learn.  I burn to learn what’s required of me to help our students be anything they might aspire to be.

“If we don’t stand for something we’ll fall for everything.” ~Peter Marshall (1902)

So what do YOU stand for?  What burns so deep inside that you can hardly wait to wake up each day to drive to work and deliver?


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:

The Principal of Change

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In Kids' Shoes

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Reading By Example

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Adjusting Course

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On The Leaders Edge

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Digital Eyes

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Shelley Burgess

Reflections of an educational learner and leader

The Principal's Principles

A Middle School Principal, striving to make the world a better place, one day at a time.


True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?

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