Are there students in your class who never seem to share their opinions or want to engage in group discussions? There could be a number of reasons why a student does not participate, and one of them is fear. Kids often find it difficult to share their opinions in class because they’re afraid of being wrong, uncertain of whether their opinions are worth sharing, or are worried about what their peers might say.
You can take the pressure off kids with Verso, a free app I recently discovered and knew immediately I wanted to share with you. With Verso, you can post “flips” or challenges which can be embedded with videos, text documents, and even articles from the internet, along with the instructions and questions you would like to ask. Every flip you create comes with a unique code which you will give to your students so that they can access it through the Verso app downloaded on their devices, or through the website.
Here’s the cool part: once you have shared a flip with your students, they can begin commenting on the topic anonymously. Well, anonymously to their peers, since you can still see who said what. This allows students to still be held accountable (and be credited by you) for their actions on the forum.
Just like typical social media platforms, the students’ responses to your flip can be commented on (called a collaboration), as well as liked and shared by the other students. Students can also flag responses to immediately inform you of unhelpful, rude, or abusive comments.
Verso was created to promote independent thinking and your students will not see any of their classmates’ comments until they post theirs first. I love this feature because it encourages kids to think for themselves instead of just echoing other people’s thoughts. And because every comments remains anonymous, your students will be able to focus on the opinion shared and not on the person who shared it, effectively eliminating any “popularity contests” going on in your class.
You will be able to view all the comments in Verso in real time. Not only that, every flip comes with a flip report which measures all participants’ engagement, helping you determine who among your students are contributing to the discussion most and who needs more support.
Verso also allows you to group your students’ responses, making it a fantastic tool for lesson planning. You can tell at a glance who’s on the mark and who’s not, and can plan follow-up instruction accordingly.
Additionally, there is also the Verso Campus which is a Verso system that can be applied throughout the school. Instead of keeping track of individual students’ engagement levels, Verso Campus monitors the engagement levels of each teachers’ classes and trending flips, among other important data. This could be a great tool for instructional coaches and for grade level teams to analyze together and talk about strategies they’ve found effective for increasing participation.
To learn more about how Verso works, you can watch the video below which demonstrates the app’s basic functionalities:
Have you tried Verso with your class? I’d love to hear about your experiences.
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