Saturday, September 19, 2015

My Life as a Digital Learning Coach - Week 3 Reflections (Year 2) - VERSO APP & DAN MEYER

See all my posts on Coaching on my Coaching Page

This was an abnormal week for me.  Monday and Tuesday I was on my campus, but Wed-Fri I was out at two different trainings.  Because of that, I met with 9 of my 11 fellows over the course of 2 days rather than 4.5 days.  I'm really excited though, because with most of them we will be starting our first "coaching cycle" next week.  Most of them are utilizing Google Classroom and feeling more comfortable & excited about the potential with it.  I also feel like I've been able to communicate the "TPaCK" model of looking at technology implementation well, where it's not just sticking a tech tool in there, but really thinking about what they are teaching, what their goals are in teaching it, what they want to see students learning or doing, and THEN really plugging in the tool that will help accomplish those purposes.

The rest of this post will focus on what I learned in the trainings I attended:
Wed / Fri - Verso App
Thurs - Dan Meyer

On Wednesday and Friday, Phil Stubbs from Verso came out and trained all of our district's coaches for a pilot of the Verso Campus, which is a way to be able to see the data across sites, subject areas, or basically whatever type of "campus" you choose to set up.  I was familiar with Verso from using it with a fellow a couple times last year (and I had met Phil at FlipCon14 in Pennsylvania), but it was really great to see the pedagogy behind it and understand its purpose so much more.  Verso is definitely something I would have used in my flipped classroom, had I known about it before I left the classroom! (I say that about so many things...)

A few highlights of things that I really like about Verso:
  • Verso is an app that really gives students a voice in your class.
  • Students cannot view other respondent's answers until they post, which means the discussion posts are students' original thoughts.  In addition, it gives students time to really think and construct their own ideas before reading their classmates' thoughts.  Teachers can set this threshold to be up to 3 posts before seeing others'.
  • Student responses are ANONYMOUS to other students.  The teacher can toggle between teacher and student view (so you can display the results with no names, but also look at them on teacher end with names).  This lowers the "fear" and really allows students to just be honest, open, and do their best work.
  • Verso is not just a discussion board, but something that will take the level of learning from SURFACE to DEEP.  If you look at the picture below, you can see that it starts off being unistructural (one student's idea) to multi-structural (lots of ideas from multiple students but they aren't really connected together) to relational (start seeing how the pieces fit together, students commenting and making connections on each other's posts) to extended abstract (can extend and apply ideas to new ideas)
P.Stubbs, Verso

  • The teacher can group student responses based on the learning activity need or purpose.  This allows for that deeper discussion, connection-making, possible remediation or redirection, or whatever is needed in class.
  • It's not “E-Learning”, but “C-Learning”.  It's way too easy for teachers to say, “Oh, she’s the ‘e-learning’ person, that’s not for me”.  They can’t really argue with the “C-Learning” goals…(critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, character, citizenship)
  • This isn't just a feedback tool. It's a feed up (where am I going? - ahead of the lesson, a signpost of what they will be learning), feed back (how am I doing? - authentic evidence of learning because it's the students' original thought) and feed forward (where to next? - providing feedback that moves learners forward)
  • We want students to connect the dots in their learning, but "you can't connect the dots without first collecting dots". Verso helps students to collect the dots and begin connecting them, and then allows for even further and deeper connections as the teacher designs.
  • A learning community is NOT about pursuit of individual learning goals,it's also about contributing TO the learning & knowledge base of colleagues & school.  Verso is socializing the change- the collective might of sharing and working together. This is what Verso Campus allows.

If you haven't checked Verso out, I would highly recommend it.  It's free to use; the data that helps to "socialize the change" is what Verso Campus is all about and that is the premium part. 

Here are some more quotes from the day that I tweeted out:

On Thursday, I had the privilege of attending Dan Meyer's workshop that was hosted by a nearby district. 
Dan brought up three misconceptions that math teachers generally have about how to engage students in difficult mathematics.  The misconceptions were:
1. For math to be interesting, it must be real-world
2. Math should be related to a career (job-world) - "when will I ever use this?"
3. You must design lessons around things that interest your students; not just real-world but their real-world; the "relatable world"
Instead of these three misconceptions, he argued that we should strive for these three things:

1. Start a fight - choose things that allow for "constructive controversy" where students are sharing guesses or given opinion-based questions that math can help to answer or clarify.

2. Turn the math dial up slowly - this allows for ALL students to access the math.  Start at stage 0: watch a video.  All students can do this.  Then Stage 1: Ask a question.  Stage 2: What's your estimate?  Stage 3: What info do you need?  This gets students hooked and engaged and they haven't even done "real" math yet.

*One strategy for how to do this is to "Delete the textbook".  Take a problem (think those word problems or application problems with lots of text, a diagram with lots of numbers, and parts a-d of questions) from your textbook and delete the majority of the pieces around it, leaving students with an accessible image with little extra information where they can enter the problem more easily.  You then add in the "deleted" pieces slowly, asking more interesting questions as you go.  You want to start controversy and drive interest and start a conversation around the problem.

3. Create a headache - Dan's been blogging about this idea over the summer, and I've enjoyed his posts.  If __________ is the aspirin, then what is the headache?  I'll leave you to his blog to read his examples of this.

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