Skip to content

Car Wash and Bake Sale to Raise Funds for 3D Printer

March 21, 2014

Car Wash and Bake Sale Info


We’ll be at Ragged Mountain from 10-4 on Saturday, March 22nd to raise funds for our 3D printer, and possibly other opportunities once we meet that goal. We’ll be doing a car wash and a bake sale. Any student and family help during that time is much appreciated. Students are not required to go, nor are they required to stay for the entire time. Any help is appreciated and I think it’s going to be a really positive experience for the kids.


Students are also welcome to bring baked goods to sell for the bake sale.


Ragged Mountain Running Shop is located on The Corner, across from the Rotunda and UVa. Their address and phone number is below:


Ragged Mountain Running Shop

3 Elliewood Avenue

Charlottesville, Virginia 22903

(434) 293-3367


Directions to Ragged Mountain from Burley:


  1. Head southwest on Rose Hill Dr toward Concord Ave – 0.2 mi

  2. Take the 3rd right onto Preston Ave -0.2 mi

  3. Turn left onto Grady Ave – 259 ft
  4. Turn left onto 10th St NW – 0.5 mi
  5. Turn right onto US-250 BUS W/W Main St
  6. Continue to follow US-250 BUS W -0.4 mi
  7. Turn right onto Elliewood Ave
  8. Destination will be on the right

Global Fiction Reading Invite – November 21, 2013

November 19, 2013


What: Burley Global Fiction Reading

When: Thursday, November 21, at the following times (all times Eastern Standard Time):

9:30-10:00 am est

12:15-12:45 pm est

2:15-2:45 pm est


On Thursday, November 21st,, students will read their stories to their classmates. We will also use to stream video of them reading their stories so that other classes, as well as family members, can tune in while our students are reading and be able to hear their stories. The link to our reading will also be shared with other educators in different parts of the United States and internationally. We believe this is a valuable opportunity for our students to share their wonderful stories not just with their classmates but with a global audience. Last year, our students received feedback and praise on their writing from classes and educators in Charlottesville, Michigan, Colorado, England, and Australia.

The link to our UStream will be posted to the Burley’s homepage in the lower lefthand corner in the Announcements section, but the direct link is

We would love to have you join us!

Please email Brian Kayser at if you have any questions.

Building an Authentic Audience for Students

November 4, 2013

Why Connect?

  • learning with and from each other

  • increases the quality of student work

  • opportunities for new ideas and working collaboratively

  • students receive and give feedback to others

  • free and (fairly) easy to do digitally

  • opportunities to learn about new cultures

  • hands-on digital citizenship learning

  • walls of the classroom are infinite

And finally…

“If I had known so many people would have been watching, I would have tried harder.”

- a student quote from our Summer School Expo in 2011

Ways Burley Students Connect to the World

The ccGlobal Holiday Projects

IMG_1153 IMG_1161 IMG_1192

2011 ccGlobal Project  (Walton’s page)
2012 ccGlobal Project

For these projects, classes signed up to participate through a Google Form. Each year there was a common theme. In 2011, the focus was on sending a holiday card with a QR code on it that would lead the recipient to a holiday greeting. Some classes created an Animoto video for this while others made videos. Since this was a multi-age project, there were no hard guidelines to follow other than to send your greeting to the other group members.

In 2012, the theme was “Your Favorite Holiday Memory.” Again, this was a multi-age project and had classes from all over the United States as well as Canada, Ireland, and Australia. One kindergarten class drew pictures and then recorded their voice on SoundCloud to describe their pictures. My students told their stories through a variety of mediums, from an audio file to poetry to pictures to a Wordle. Other classes chose their method to display their stories, but the common thread was that all students were talking about a favorite holiday memory and all classes were looked at by the other participating classes. Each teacher posted their students’ work to our ccGlobal Google Site and then a TodaysMeet link was added for each class, where students could give feedback without needing to sign in or use an email address. Besides the digital citizenship piece, we asked that students not use their last names and identify their school. Unfortunately the links to these comment boxes have expired.

For the 2013 ccGlobal project, we are focusing on a favorite holiday tradition. There is still the openness in terms of how students display their work, but like last year, all work, or links to work, will be housed on one Google Site.

Current Project Sign-Up

Technology used to help students connect:

Twitter ( – to build connections with other teachers, to have students tweet other class Twitter accounts

Ustream – to stream student events

Skype – to share work or to be an audience for other classes

Google + – to collaborate virtually with one or more classes (Dot Day hangout)

Edublogs – to share work and receive feedback

Google Sites – to curate work in one location

Snail mail – to share writing “the old-fashioned way”

TodaysMeet – to comment on each other’s work without needing to sign-in

Tumblr – to have students post their work in a quick, convenient way

Instagram – to showcase student work and for students to showcase each other’s work

(all of these technologies are free)


Our Blogs

BurleyWriters on Twitter

BurleyWriters on Instagram

2011 Summer School Project

2011 Summer School Project Feedback

download (16)

Global Readings

Global Reading Feedback

Global Reading Part 2


SuperSchool Project

Walton’s Ustream channel:

Burley’s Ustream channel:

Contact Information

Twitter – @bkayser11, @burleywriters

Instagram – @burleywriters

Walton Middle School’s Spring Global Fiction Reading

March 18, 2013

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to extend an invitation to join us on Tuesday, March 19th for another Global Fiction Reading. Students from all over the world can tune in to hear Walton Middle School’s 6th graders read their favorite work, whether it’s a blog entry, short story, poetry, or something else.
We will be reading at the following times (ALL TIMES EST):
You can access the readings through the following link: 
Please feel free to anyone you think would be interested. Thank you for your support.


February 19, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 5.21.00 PM

It’s safe to say that Twitter is here to stay. Regardless of whether you Tweet or not, for sure you’ve felt the #impact of Twitter, whether it’s @tv, @home, or @work. While most of my students don’t have Twitter accounts yet, they have used the one set up for the 6th grade, @waltonwriters. Students are also learning how to use FakeTweetBuilder, a free fake Twitter generator.

While the site is not perfect, as it only allows you to have six lines of dialogue in the image before cutting you off, meaning you have to copy and paste a longer “fake” conversation multiple times, it is an awesome site for simulating a Twitter conversation. I’ve used it during novel studies for kids to imagine what characters might have said had they been on Twitter or to replay an important part of the novel in a different way. Here’s what I love about this process:

  • easy check for comprehension of text
  • engaging for kids
  • kids learn the language of Twitter
  • allows for creative use of user ID names based on the character’s personality
  • allows for customization of avatars and other graphics, but also not required, depending on how much time there is for this activity
  • utilizes tech skills, from copy and pasting text to saving images to their computer and uploading to either email or their blog for turn-in
Students created a Twitter conversation between characters in The Outsiders

Students created a Twitter conversation between characters in The Outsiders

Part 2 of The Outsiders conversation

Part 2 of The Outsiders conversation

There are also many uses for this. Some of the ways I’m thinking of using FakeTweetBuilder include:

  • conversations between characters in the same book
  • conversations between characters in different books
  • conversations between historical figures

When students finish, their final image can be hung in their classroom, posted to the class website, or posted to their individual blog. And, unlike MyFakeWall (which is up for auction for $84 right now), FakeTweetBuilder doesn’t have the glitches that will frustrate students.

Using Instagram to Capture our Moments

February 19, 2013


When I became the web page coordinator of my school’s website four years ago, my main job was making sure the teacher web pages were correctly linked and that important announcements were posted to the website about twice a year. Getting the stipend check felt more like a handout than a check that I’d earned, but that would soon change.

With the help of administration, the Walton website quickly turned into a hybrid of a school site with the typical links to teachers’ pages and resources along with news of what was happening. As the updates became more frequent, more teachers began utilizing this outlet as a means for getting their news out there. Throw in some fancy graphics courtesy of one assistant principal, and within two years the web page coordinator was a full-time stipend.

The next year, it grew even more by embedding a Twitter account on the home page. Most people see the Twitter news of our school not through following us on Twitter but through seeing the embedded box on the homepage of the site. This is another place to give updates to what’s going on, and one of the best ways to let other students, parents, and the community know what is happening in our school is by showing them through pictures.

Enter Instagram. The photo-editing app was voted App of the Year in 2011 by Apple. Instagram earned its popularity through the various filters and effects you could add to your photos, taking ordinary photos and giving them an artsy or nostalgic feel. The app also developed an easy sharing method for photos, linking straight to a Twitter account. Thus, every time I publish an Instagram photo, I can link the publication of it to Walton’s Twitter account. If anyone clicks on the link in the school’s Twitter feed, they can instantly see the picture on their computer. The Instagram account can also be followed through Instagram. Simply put, there’s plenty of ways for our community to see what’s going on with our school by publishing a picture once through Instagram.

One of the best parts about using Instagram is being able to share our Instagram page with the students. This allows them to see what’s going on in other parts of the building and gets them excited about contributing to the page. The page is really set up for them, so the shots they can publish are much more meaningful. As more kids talk about the page, it also gets the teachers more excited about sending pictures when I do an email all-call for new pictures.

I hope to expand the Walton Instagram by gaining more student submissions on a regular basis. I’d also like to try out a feature “A Day in the Life” where a student takes pictures throughout the day of what’s really exciting and even the mundane and then have them publish the pictures to the school Instagram. There are many embedded skills students learn in taking and editing pictures for an authentic audience, and building a buzz around this should help students feel more ownership about the place they spend so much time in.

The Different Paths to Finding Voice

October 12, 2012

Students are great at showing their voice. Too often, it’s just not how teachers want it. If students can write a coherent rant on Facebook for why they can’t stand school but they “just can’t master the expository format,” then that student is suffering more from an engagement problem than a writing problem. If you ask a language arts teacher why it’s important to teach writing, a common response will probably be, “Because writing is everywhere.” All good writing has voice, and if writing lacks voice and you’re not reading an instruction manual for installing a garbage disposal, then there’s a problem. As teachers of writing, and that should include teachers of any content, we have to help our students find their voice, and the truest way to do this is to give students choice in the writing they engage in and the modes they display their writing, their voice will be heard and appreciated by many.

Last year, I started Global Fiction Readings for my students in language arts. After students edited their writing pieces, they practiced reading it with a partner. After much practice, we went to our school’s library and broadcast students reading their pieces to the world through UStream. At first, other teachers were skeptical that this was more of a distraction than something important. Students were also tentative to share, unsure of what exactly a Global Fiction Reading was. For our first reading, only a few students from my one class participated, and at the time, they did not know exactly who they were reading to, as all they could see was their classmates and an intimidating webcam staring at them. At the end of the reading, I was able to share what people shared about their readings. Students who participated were impressed that college professors in other states, other classes, and teachers on planning tuned in to hear what they had to say. Not only did students receive instant feedback from their peers through laughter and gasps, but they saw that their audience was much more expansive than the walls of their classroom. When I shared with them that their superintendent watched their readings, they nodded. After explaining that a superintendent was our principal’s boss, a collective “ooh” went through the crowd. One student said that he didn’t think his piece was very good, but realized it was funny once his classmates laughed. This was reinforced by a teacher from Australia commenting that she enjoyed the piece by our “little comedian.”

For students’ second creative writing piece, there was a dramatic improvement in effort and care to craft an original, engaging story from students who had participated in the reading. They wanted to be great, and not because they wanted a grade in the grade book, but because they knew they would be sharing their work with the world. More students from our class chose to participate in the second Global Fiction Reading, with other teachers joining in as well.

One student with an intellectual disability found her voice through telling stories about our school. Each day, she would take a picture of something happening in our school (the place or subject of the photo was her choice). She would then edit her photograph, save the edited version with captions, and then upload that picture to a Tumblr site. This site was then shared with others so they could see what she did. It was very motivating for this student to tell people that she had done her photo for the day as well as asking people if they’d seen her latest post. Not only did this student improve her writing skills as she worked on this year-long project, but she was able to practice independence, engage in high level thinking on a consistent basis, and receive authentic feedback from an authentic audience for her work. Because these elements were in place, the project was looked at more as something fun to work on than an assignment that had to be completed.

Students are also able to realize that their voice is more than how loud you speak. It’s what you put out into the world about yourself, and the mode with which you give the world your voice is entirely negotiable. Just as no two students in a class have the same voice, their paths to letting the world hear their voice will probably be very different. As a teacher, it’s important to help students find the mode students can be most engaged in. Some students may be natural comic makers while others are budding film directors. Not every mode will or should be the conventional five paragraph essay (don’t know when the five paragraph essay is a good thing, ever), and that’s okay. Students may choose a mode to bring forth their voice that the teacher is entirely unfamiliar with, and that too is okay. If a teacher is always comfortable in their class, then that’s exactly what it is – “their” class. A truly student-centered class will shift the power of learning and the power of voices to the students, which means the teacher will not always be the holder of all knowledge. If this makes the teacher feel uncomfortable or unprepared, then that teacher has made a great first step towards becoming a learner again. What I’ve learned from experience is that when students are in the driver’s seat, not only are they great at teaching me new things, but that we become a true community of learners that all enjoy class more.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 695 other followers