24 Dec Guest Blog: Dawn Lam – “Reflections of a high school English / ELD teacher committed to refining her craft”

Dawn Lam is an English teacher based at Beckman High School in Tustin Unified School District, California. What drew me to Dawn’s work is the emphasis she places on setting her students up for success. Her use of thinking time, writing frames and key academic and subject specific vocabulary, coupled with high expectations of herself as a professional and her students as learners is inspirational. Her goal seems to be to do all that she can to allow her students to shine. She engineers learning activities that allow students to show themselves at their best. This is the evidence she needs to signpost the next episodes of their individual journeys, as it informs what she has to do to allow them to each take their essential next steps.

“I’m constantly looking to refine and reinvent my teaching craft; inspired by fellow educators and most importantly my students.”


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20 Dec ANZAC day Activities

25 April is ANZAC day, a significant day in Australian and New Zealand history. The date marks the anniversary of the landing of New Zealand and Australian soldiers – the Anzacs – on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. It was the first major military action for both counties during the First World War.

In honour of this important day we have compiled a list of free resources that our Australian and New Zealand teachers can use to create engaging Activities in Verso. We’ve put some examples of how you could use these below: ANZAC Day: Sacrifice (Secondary School), ANZAC Day: Interviews (Primary School), ANZAC Day: Campaign (Secondary School) and ANZAC Day: Last Post (Primary/Secondary)

Verso Campus subscribers can head straight to the global library here to copy these Activities into their account. Not a subscriber, get in touch to learn how you can upgrade your school.

Anzac Day Resources

Australia Remembers: WW1 1914 -1918

ABC Splash

Imperial War Museum (UK)

Victoria: Anzac Centenary


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14 Dec From 1:1 to paired and shared: Building time to think


Last month we launched Verso with seven amazing elementary schools in Horry School District, South Carolina. Through pre-workshop conversations with some of the teachers and school leaders, I was inspired to test a few ideas about using Verso in a group or paired scenario.

The idea is nothing new but I was keen to see how group exercises could be used as a prelude to individual work. As we head from state to state, working with schools and school districts, we see that the vast majority of provocations created by our community of teachers are geared towards students using a device of their own. I was surprised that shared and paired work, which we know to be highly effective in the classroom, seems notable by its absence. As a tool for formative assessment, Verso offers authentic visibility on every student’s thinking and as such, I believe teachers have been inclined to gravitate towards the use of one to one activities.

With each student’s original idea serving as the key to unlock multiple perspectives, Verso engages learners in deep, relational thinking, whilst immersing them in multiple layers of feedback and feed forward. Higher order thinking and visibility on learning that allows teachers to adapt what happens next is powerful, however, I have to consider whether we are always gaining insight into student’s at their best.


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09 Dec Making Math Social: How a non-mathematician became excited about Math

How Much Does A 100×100 In-N-Out Cheeseburger Cost?

An introduction to the mathematical and pedagogical genius of Robert Kaplinski, http://robertkaplinsky.com/

100x100 in and out burger

I was introduced to math’ and pedagogy genius Robert Kaplinski’s work by the equally brilliant Crystal Kirsch at Tustin USD, CA in October last year. What first struck me about Robert’s site was that his beliefs were so perfectly aligned with the Verso message.

The group is smarter than the smartest person in the group. When professionals collaborate, the work they do together is better than the work they would have done on their own. Sharing lessons and experiences with others helps us all become stronger.

Robert Kaplinski


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06 Dec Back To School

New year

Depending on which hemisphere you find yourself in, you will either be at the start of a new school year or the beginning of the second semester.

Either way, these first few days  should be seen as an amazing opportunity to set out on a quest, in partnership with our students, to make learning wonder-full.


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22 Dec Deep Learning: What is Deeper Learning?

Deeper Learning: What is deeper learning?
As we are now working closely with Victorian schools involved with Michael Fullan’s New Pedagogies for Deep Learning Project we have been exploring a range of definitions of what it means to engage students in deep learning. A stand out article has been the following description from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation . The key learning dispositions outlined in this fantastic article are in direct alignment with the feedback we continue to receive from schools across the globe from teachers who are using Verso to transition students from surface to deep. These teachers have positioned Verso as the tool for supporting students in mastering core academic content whilst at the same time, supporting students in learning how to think critically, collaborate, communicate and co-construct meaning, building the capacity to give and receive feedback and developing growth mindsets and student agency.
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07 Dec Students as Question Askers


 Watching TV last night I caught a glimpse of the  Google App commercial : “Questions”. Whilst Google should not be the be all and end all of questioning, the commercial delivers a powerful message about the importance of questions, and for me, the importance of the questions  students bring to the classroom.


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27 Dec Teacher Professional Development: Getting started with activated professional learning

As educators, we constantly strive to motivate, inspire, enthuse and expose our students to big ideas. We look for opportunities to give our students a voice, choice and a degree of ownership of the learning process. We personalise, group and create opportunities for self paced and self directed learning and we work with technology to connect, extend, mobilise, broaden and deepen the experience of every learner. Yet when faced with the challenge of moving our colleagues forward we often resort to ultra traditional forms of professional learning where one size is expected to fit all and where learning is linear, top down, out of context and imposed. Not only is this ineffective but it fails to model the potential learning experiences that we want for our students. (more…)

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