A large part of our work is focused on using research-based protocols to equip school leaders, coaches and teachers with the confidence and skills required to use student reflection data to inform high quality teaching and learning.
We have found that by organizing this work around the Data Wise Collaborative Improvement Process (developed by Harvard Graduate School of Education), schools become increasingly confident in making decisions about continuous professional inquiry focused
on the use of data and evidence of student learning.
The process is underpinned by 3 essential elements:
Prepare, Inquire, Act
An example of the impact this approach can have is seen in one of our partner middle schools in South Carolina. The school used Verso check-in data that showed 44% of students could clearly articulate the learning objective in lessons, whilst 32% could only do this in broad terms (E.g. “We are learning about the water cycle”) and 18% of students resorted to sharing agendas or activities they had been required to complete rather than what they were supposed to be learning. (Fig 1)
This data reflected similar findings obtained through lesson observations and student interviews. Teachers began working in their PLCs to consider aspects of their practice that may have been contributing to this student-centered problem, before considering possible solutions capable of connecting students more closely with their learning.
Each PLC decided to test one of 5 Verso strategies designed to engage students more deeply with all aspects of the learning objective. The school’s learning specialist modeled some of these strategies in classrooms and each PLC developed an action plan which clearly identified their chosen strategy, how they would build it into the lesson and the data they would use to evaluate impact.
The PLC teams agreed to try the strategies a few times in a variety of classes, coming together to share insights and make any amendments before running the final version with their classes for a clearly defined two week period, using their personal Verso check-in data to track impact.
Adopt, adapt or abandon?
At the end of the two weeks, the percentage of students who could clearly explain what they were learning had increased by 50% across the school. (Fig 2). In some learning areas this was much higher. The Verso data also showed that students reported a far more positive sense of self during class and a slightly higher level of challenge.
This measurable growth in impact has provided teachers with the confidence to implement other strategies from the Verso toolkit, building up a bank of different tools they can use to connect students more closely to the learning objective, cultivate curiosity, connect to prior learning or initiate student questioning.
The Verso Check-in data around the clarity of learning objective has continued to rise and currently sits at 70% with just 7% of students now task-focused.
Buoyed by their success, PLCs have now turned their attention to student self-assessment data from the Verso check-in (Fig 3). Teachers have identified a new student-centered problem as a focus for their next collaborative inquiry.
Fig 3. Just 25% of students who self-assessed as “Got it” could support their assessment with evidence of what they had learnt. Only 10% of students who were “Confused” or “Almost there” could use appropriate language to seek specific support from their teacher.
Although students now have a clearer understanding of what they are supposed to be learning, they appear to be struggling to provide evidence to support their self-assessment or explain where they are in order to seek specific support from their teacher.
Once again, PLCs are researching strategies and possible adjustments to practice that may be used to inform their next action plan. In this particular middle school, teachers are working with Verso to explore the use of single point rubrics, planning intentional opportunities for reflection and developing a narrative to connect planned activities to the learning objective.
This middle school case-study serves as a reminder that when teacher teams use feedback from students to collaboratively identify a common learning challenge that is specific and within their control, significant change can occur in a short space of time.
What’s more, the collaborative nature of the process and collective ownership of both the problem and potential solution, results in the impact of the work being sustained.
Click here to find out more about the Data Wise Process
As the end of the year approaches and we start to feel tired and weary, it is all too easy to become overwhelmed as schoolwork is suddenly matched with the stresses, strains, planning and preparation for the Christmas holiday season.
It’s the time of year when networks start to show re-runs of “Love Actually”, “Die Hard”, “Miracle on 34th Street” and of course the holiday season perennial, “The Sound of Music”; and it’s with this feel-good movie in mind that I am now embracing the Christmas spirit to share a “few of my favorite things.”
These links have all been shared with me by some of the amazing teachers in our Verso community, many of whom I have had the privilege of working with in 2015. You will find that some are clever and some are quirky but all of the resources are perfect for developing amazing provocations in Verso, especially at the end of the year! Consider these stocking fillers as a few “brown paper packages tied up with string.” to help you through the next couple of weeks and beyond.
1. Dan Meyer Blog: Understanding exponential growth- how many dominoes does it take to knock over a skyscraper?
2. What Would You Do? Total Strangers Help Buy Christmas Tree for Family in Need
I have been a fan of the TV show What Would You Do? for many years. Their WWYD YouTube Channel is a superb source of intriguing provocations which lend themselves to the consideration of contemporary moral dilemmas. This heart warming example presents an opportunity for students to consider the real meaning of Christmas alongside the concept of gift giving and what it means to “pay it forward”.
3. Estimation 180: Building number sense one day at a time
How much area does my son’s hand cover?
Each day of the school year, Andrew presents his students with an estimation challenge designed to support students in improving their number sense and problem solving skills. Students are required to make an estimation and share their reasoning by first considering what might be too high and too low.
Andrew shares his challenges on his website and he has created his Estimation 180 twitter community where over 1100 teachers are currently sharing challenges of their own.
4. Curiosity.com: Never stop learning
I have downloaded the curiosity.com app on my phone and each morning it pushes 5 new amazing topics, guaranteed to cultivate curiosity and rich discussion. I can’t recommend this site enough. It is searchable by subject and links to YouTube, Vimeo and image banks suitable for use in Verso to generate rich discussion and thinking.
To get you started, I have selected an recent festive article on Krampus.
Krampus is the centuries-old Christmas devil creature that comes out every December 5th, known as Krampusnacht. On this night, the German legend has it that Krampus visits the children who have been naughty over the last year. He would then take these wicked children back to his lair!
Did you know?
Curiosity.com links ideas together by creating new pathways. These are fantastic as they allow students and teachers to take their inquiry in a range of different directions. The Krampus path has links to really useful clips on the root of Christmas traditions old and new.
Mythbusters fire a soccer ball 50mph out of a cannon on a truck driving at exactly 50mph in the opposite direction pic.twitter.com/LFvciOWRsl
— Science GIFs (@Learn_Things) December 7, 2015
Mythbusters fire a soccer ball 50mph out of a cannon on a truck driving at exactly 50mph in the opposite direction, see the full video below
This Twitter community has an amazing 993000 followers. The amazing clips, gifs and images shared are powerful scientific conversation starters.
Furthermore, they sit comfortably with the sparking curiosity approach of renowned science teacher Ramsey Musallam who I have mentioned in previous posts.
I believe that when curiosity is sparked deep cycles of learning can occur
Ramsey Musallam: 3 rules to spark learning
Finally, I hope you enjoyed browsing through these resources. I will be adding more in the new year but in the meantime, I hope you and your students have a happy and peaceful holiday season and a peaceful and productive new year filled with awe, wonder and curiosity!
Black History Month presents an opportunity to celebrate the humanity, the rich heritage and significant contribution of African Americans in the United States and around the globe.
Throughout February, Verso Learning will be sharing a range of web-based resources and student-ready activities aimed at activating deep conversations about who we are and our developing perceptions of the world.
We will be releasing 4 activities from our Verso library:
2 x Middle and High School
1 x Professional Development activity for teachers
1 x Elementary School
All activities reference Verso Teaching Strategies. These strategy cards are only available to premium customers, however, teachers using our free trial accounts can edit the activities and remove any inaccessible links.
For a brief video overview of the Verso Teaching Strategies, please click here!
If you’d like some helpful tips on how to use VersoApp, please visit our knowledgebase
Our Chief Academic Officer, Phil Stubbs has created the following activity as a professional learning opportunity for teacher sharing and collaboration.
This activity has been developed for an article authored by Keisha L. Bentley-Edwards, PhD.
Dr Bentley-Edwards is an Assistant Professor of General Internal Medicine and the Associate Director of Research for the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University.
For more information on how to access Student Mode to use your Verso Teacher Account for professional learning, you can refer to the helpdesk article:
(Note: one teacher will need to create the class and run the activity, then provide the class code for other teachers to join as the students. Shared Classes are only available to Verso Premium subscription holders. If you would like more information on upgrading to the benefits of Verso Premium, please refer to our account comparison page.)
As promised, please find below a selection of activities we’ve cultivated for you to import directly into your Verso Classroom.
Verso Library Activity: Grades 3 – 6
Black History Month – Make a Difference
Verso Library Activity: Grades 7 – 12
Verso Activity – Black History Month: “Let America be America Again” Langston Hughes
Verso Activity – Black History Month: Camille Rankine
If you need some help with copying/cloning activities, here’s a link to a helpful article:
Can I use the same activity more than once?