Following conversations with our partner schools, we are excited to announce an exciting adaptation to our student check-in form.
We are trialing an adaptation to the question which previously asked students to “rate the level of challenge on a scale of 1-5”.
With a continued focus on the level of challenge, we are now providing students with a more focused framework to help them reflect on their progress and the next steps on their learning journey.
From recall of prior knowledge to deeper understanding, application and transfer, this simple taxonomy maps the cognitive progression students undergo while learning, providing a valuable source of feedback for teachers who want to focus on the level of challenge in their instruction and differentiation.
Our new framework allows you to support students to select the statement that best describes their current position on their learning journey.offering. The teacher dashboard then offers valuable insight into each student's progress, and ability to then group students based on their individual selections allows you to provide more tailored learning experiences, and targeted support, ensuring every student receives the guidance they need to flourish.
At the heart of our approach is your feedback and expertise. We invite you to try out the new framework and share your thoughts. Your valuable insights will be pivotal in shaping the future of this transformative learning journey, empowering you to make even greater strides in student growth and achievement.
Your passion and dedication are what make a difference, and we're here to support you every step of the way!
Check in with your students today and let us know what you think. We would love to hear your feedback.
“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” — Albert Einstein
Knowing and understanding are two sides of the same coin. They are both important, and they work together as essential elements on a student’s learning journey.
Knowing is about facts, while understanding is about concepts. Knowing is the ability to recall information. It asks for memorization or basic recall of data which have been previously presented, while understanding is the ability to make sense of information. It is about being able to apply what you have learnt to solve problems, make decisions or connect with the world. Knowing is about collecting building blocks (Quantitative). Understanding is the arranging and rearranging of the blocks to build something new (Qualitative). Knowing is surface-level, while understanding is deep. Knowing is about being able to repeat, while understanding is about being able to explain.
When analyzing student responses to the Verso check-in, whether by machine learning, a Verso learning specialist or collaboratively with peers in PLCs in our partner schools, a frequent observation is that students appear to value the sharing of facts acquired in a lesson rather than demonstrating understanding of the learning objective.
There may be a number of reasons for this, including:
In these classes it is also rare to see students reporting a level of challenge (on a scale of 1-5) that is higher than 2. Again this could be due to a number of factors, and as such has not been as useful as we would have hoped for the teacher in reflecting on their learning design, or for the student in understanding where to go next.
For this reason, we are trialing a new reflection question.
Instead of asking students to consider how challenging they found their learning, we have developed a simple taxonomy that allows students to think about where they are on their journey as a learner.
Students are now asked to select a statement on a sliding scale from 1-5 that best fits where they are on their learning journey. Every stage after stage 1 offers a success point. (Fig 1)
The taxonomy supports the transition from surface (Levels 2 and 3) to deep (Levels 3 and 4) and creates a shared language for learning.
Levels 2 and 3 require students to collect the building blocks that are required to be connected in levels 4 and 5. It is only at levels 4 and 5 that students can start to transition from knowing to being able to explain , apply and transfer.
It is intended that the taxonomy will allow students to think about their learning in a new way, whilst also presenting a common framework for evaluating and designing learning experiences. It will inform the development of success criteria and rubrics designed to lead students in successfully progressing through each stage of the learner journey and making the transition from “knowing about..” to being able to “demonstrate understanding of…”.
The following tips are designed for teachers and students to get the most from the Check-in experience.
Before checking in with students for the first time, it is important to remember that reflection is a skill that takes time and practice to develop. We can not make assumptions that students’ capacity to critically engage with their learning improves with age. Nor can we assume that when presented with a series of prompts on a check-in form, students will know how to apply their thinking to the task in a manner that supports them in sharing what they have learned, what they need to improve, or selecting strategies that they believe would move their learning forward.
As teachers, we can help our students learn to reflect by providing them with frequent and purposeful opportunities to do so. Reflection should not be something that students only do once in a while. It should be seen as a valuable and regular part of the learning process.
The following video was filmed in a series of classrooms where students were using Verso Check-in for the first time. The students were given an introduction to the process and how each question required them to think and respond. The teacher introduction was designed to help students who were new to the process to avoid some common pitfalls. Specifically, students were asked to be precise and thoughtful. They were given possible sentence starters such as “I learned that…”, and reminded of the difference between sharing what they did as opposed to sharing what they had learned in the lesson. Finally, you will see that students were asked to use evidence to support their self-assessment and to be specific when seeking support from the teacher.
Nora Abushakra is a highly regarded middle school educator and Social Studies teacher in South Carolina. She has been a leading exponent of the use of the Verso Check-in tool for the past 18 months and has been hugely influential in aligning the use of the tool with her district’s cycle of professional inquiry and her individual school’s continuously evolving pedagogical framework. As a highly reflective practitioner with a keen interest in student voice and agency, Nora has recently started to experiment with the use of single point rubrics as a tool to support the student reflection process, and as a means to give students more ownership of their learning. In doing so she aims to support students in finding and applying their voice to the learning process with greater precision, ensuring that the feedback students provide is specific, accurate and actionable. In this article, Nora shares her exploratory work and her ongoing professional quest to translate educational research into effective classroom practice.
As educators, we all know that it is our duty to facilitate learning for all of our students. We do our best to plan activities that ensure that we are doing just that but, in the end, are we asking students to just “do” tasks or are we asking them to “learn”? Professor, John Hattie, wrote that a student’s “role is not simply to do tasks as decided by teachers, but to actively manage and understand their learning gains” (2012). Hattie goes on to say that this is a challenging task for educators. It requires the educator to introspect their own practice and empower students to do the same work on their own. However, if students are unclear about the purpose of their learning, the activities that are planned to help them get there are all for naught. That is why I appreciate Phil’s analogy of learning as a journey. It truly is and I will soon point out how it applies to Professor Hattie’s discussion above.
For a moment, imagine you have been told you must travel to a new city and that you must reach it by the next day. You have never traveled there and you do not know how far it is nor the directions you should take. What obstacles will you face along the way? Do you need a car or is public transportation available? The stakes are high, though, so you have no other option but to attempt to make it there. Feels hopeless, right? If you were just handed the keys to help you reach your destination, would you instantly become more likely to arrive on time? Likewise, we cannot expect our students to be successful on their learning journey if we do not tell them where they are going and equip them with the tools and resources to help them get there.
Returning to Professor Hattie’s quote, he reminded us that the goal is for students to be able to manage and understand their learning gains. Rubrics and reflection are the means to that end. Rubrics help students to navigate their own path, while reflection aids them in understanding where they are at any given point and what they need to move forward. Together, they provide a roadmap to success.
Recently, I was teaching a unit on urbanization. The learning objective, or final destination, for the unit was to understand the impact of urbanization on a global level. Planning backward, my content area team and I decided on the following success criteria, or rest stops, along the way. We wanted students to be able to:
I created the rubric below for the students to track, or manage, their progress toward owning their learning. I gave each student this rubric at the beginning of class and went over it in detail.
The left hand column presents students with a series of success criteria in order of increasing complexity. The right side of the rubric gives students a space to reflect. Take note that it asks students to write what they need to be able to advance to the next level. You may be thinking that you have been asking students to assess their own level of learning all along. However, I invite you to think about the difference between the data you have collected as a result of your practice and the data you could potentially receive from these rubrics.
Why is this better? Most students, when asked to assess their learning, are going to only think about whether or not they have completed the task at hand, rather than where they are on their learning journey . Their reflections are too frequently focused on completion and compliance. With this approach I provided students with a roadmap that would allow them to take control of their own learning. As this is not a task list, students are focused on whether they have mastered the learning, making their reflection feedback more valuable.
With this approach I am beginning to shift balance in my classroom. Students are now able to describe their current level of knowledge, skills and understanding. They can use the rubric throughout the lesson to monitor their progress and self and peer-assess against clearly defined and understood learning goals.
Having the data in one place and students being able to clearly and accurately articulate their learning has been a game-changer for me.
The student feedback data allows me to see if the strategies I am employing are working. I can use student feedback to adapt next learning steps or make micro adjustments to my practice and plan interventions to meet the needs of every student more effectively.
I leave you with a snapshot of additional reflection data taken using Verso check-ins. The first is prior to my use of rubrics to inform reflection and learning, and the second was taken at the end of this unit. As you can see, the impact has been phenomenal. Not only has the process managed to connect students more closely with their learning, it has also given students the means to employ a shared language to seek feedback and discuss their learning with their peers and myself .
Check-in data also has revealed that students are now far more able to evidence their self-assessment using details of what they had learnt, and students who were confused could precisely pinpoint the stage of the learning journey where they needed support.