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Sunday, January 26, 2020

How to Create Interactivity, Even Remotely

Q: My students are reluctant to speak in some classes. What's worse is that in other classes, two or three students monopolize the entire conversation. How can I increase interaction in class while making the best use of class time?

Asking students to complete reading assignments outside of class or to watch videos on their own time can immediately net you precious minutes in the classroom. But how can we increase the likelihood that this outside work gets done?

One possible solution is Verso. Verso allows you to create a collaborative yet closed social media space in which students anonymously respond to a video, site, or reading. Students then craft a response, comment upon the responses of others, and upvote the responses they found to be most helpful. The video below illustrates this process.



In the classroom, Verso can be used to

  • build understanding of historical context of a novel. In connection with a novel set in the 1960s, for example, students might view videos of the Vietnam anti-war movement, the Civil Rights movement, or the Space Race.
  • review a concept or skill covered in class. This video on dramatic irony, for example, could either precede or follow a lesson on the same topic, while Simile School pokes fun at a concept in a way students will enjoy (after watching, students could write creative similes for those comparisons mentioned in the video).
  • generate background information for a current events debate or writing. Above the Noise is a public television series that will appeal to middle and high schoolers. See this recent post on Universal Healthcare.
  • review the steps of a process. After a lesson on writing hooks, for example, a student might need a refresher.
  • integrate SEL and discuss sensitive topics such as bullying. These videos from Pass It One can serve as excellent conversation starters for any age level, whereas this video titled Talent Show is intended for more mature audiences.
  • provide alternate interpretations of classic literature. From staged versions of Shakespeare to the Simpsons' take on The Raven to animated texts of classic speeches such as The Gettysburg Address, YouTube is full of possibilities.
  • practice inferring skills. This commercial titled The Perfect Daughter requires the viewer to put together the limited information available in order to make sense of the narrative.
  • to create an online crowd sourcing site. In response to any one of dozens of issues, students could share and debate opinions. These ideas can later help students who struggle for ideas in their essay writing.
Choosing the correct video is half the battle; crafting a student response prompt that fires a conversation is even more crucial. The more open-ended, the better! Verso provides several videos of High Impact Teaching Strategies to get you started.

In addition to creating a common experience for students, Verso provides younger students with a closed environment of social media. Verso provides an excellent venue to teach students that they need to own their social interactions online. Once students learn that they are accountable for what they say, they tend to make comments that are more helpful and incisive. And when they choose to do the opposite? They'll receive instant feedback from classmates and teacher alike.

If you're looking for ways to embed questions, videos, and text within existing webpages, I highly recommend Insert Learning. Perfect for formative assessment!

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