These are the main curricular domains of study covered by the New York State Learning Standards:
Design Thinking is a mindset that we want our learners and Learning Designers to develop and practice at VERSO. Inspired by the work of IDEO, the world’s leading design and innovation company and their human-centered approach to design-thinking, we have developed our own simple framework. As a school that’s driven by design, this framework will guide us in our actions and behaviors.
Studies have shown that Design Thinking increases student engagement and achievement. This process empowers students to take ownership over their learning and they are able to make meaningful connections to what they learn in the classroom and how it relates to their lives. Design Thinking encourages creative solution-based thinking, a highly valuable and sought after skill that the students can confidently apply to any personal or professional path they choose.
At VERSO we embrace project-based learning (PBL) as a central teaching method and our learners spend 70% of their time actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects that engage them in a rigorous solution-finding process.
At the end of the project, learners are required to demonstrate, showcase, explain or exhibit their knowledge and skills to an authentic audience. Through this process, learners develop deep content knowledge as well as critical thinking, and a variety of collaborative, creative, and communicative skills.
Project-based learning is transformative for learners. It empowers them to explore and discover questions that matter to them. It builds academic knowledge, develops a wide range of skills and cultivates a positive attitude towards learning.
We understand the value of traditional academic disciplines like English Language Arts and Literacy, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Languages, The Arts, Physical Education and Health. We also recognise the limitations of teaching academic subjects in isolation. That’s why we’ve designed learning at VERSO to be interdisciplinary, project-based and learner-centered.
At VERSO we use an interdisciplinary approach to learning.
The VERSO Learning Lotus is a visual representation of how we see the connectedness between disciplines (curriculum) and the essential skills and dispositions (creativity, collaboration, communication and self-direction).
Interdisciplinary learning activities have a number of advantages for teachers and learners:
Also known as Competency-Based Education (CBE)
At VERSO, we use Competency-Based Learning (CBL) to equip learners with the understanding and skills they will need to succeed in university and beyond.
By embedding traditional content and credit requirements into a competency-based learning (CBL) model, the VERSO experience allows learners to meet today’s educational requirements while engaging in a progressive and personalized curriculum that helps them adapt to tomorrow’s expectations in an increasingly competitive and global economy. We believe that authentic learning is best demonstrated through evidence of mastery of learning outcomes, instead of hours spent inside a classroom.
In a CBE model, students are positioned at the center of the learning experience, giving them agency and ownership of their learning, providing equity within the learning space as learning plans are personalized and assessment is iterative, and empowering students to transfer their learning across multiple contexts instead of remaining siloed in only one area.
VERSO welcomes all learners and seeks to understand, affirm, and promote their language and cultural backgrounds. All learners have a unique language profile shaped by relationships and interactions within their own family, culture, and the wider world. The continued development of home and family languages is important for cognitive growth and nourishing cultural identity.
Language is one of many ways we promote our three purpose pillars. Whether it’s personal and cultural identity, engagement with the world, or having the confidence to lead your own journey, we recognize that languages are a really important aspect of learning at VERSO.
English is the medium of instruction at VERSO and is our primary language for communication. For languages other than English, we have a team of specialist Learning Designers supporting both Thai and Chinese (Mandarin). The Thai program is primarily a first-language program focusing on further developing learners’ literacy skills and offering second language Thai for non-Thai students. The Chinese program is a language acquisition program for second or additional language learners. Learners can request to study a third language if they are meeting expectations in English. It is expected that all learners meet a minimum of WIDA Level 5 before taking on further languages.