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.
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.
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.)