Printed from Afterschool Curriculum Choice - Literacy
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Curriculum Details for
VersaTiles Reading/Language Arts


Program
Description
Practitioner Expert
Review
Content Expert
Review
VersaTiles Reading/Language Arts
Publication Date: 2008
Grade Level: 1–6
Content Focus: Literacy/Language Arts
Costs: Starter Set: $79.95; Starter Set with Leveled Books: $221.95-$298.95; Full Grade Lab: $325; Full Lab with Leveled Books: $895-$1,233
The costs shown were accurate at the time of the review. Please check the publisher's web site for current prices.
Developer Contact Information
ETA/Cuisenaire
500 Greenview Court
Vernon Hills, IL, 60061
800-445-5985
www.etacuisenaire.com/versatiles/versati
les_reading.jsp

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Program Description

Design Summary

VersaTiles is designed as a supplemental literacy program for both classroom and afterschool settings.  The program combines the challenge of a puzzle with the practice of a workbook, offering many activities that allow students to practice skills independently and at their own pace.  Students use an answer case to complete activities, in which numbered tiles are used to indicate answers to the activity’s multiple choice questions. Once all questions in the activity are answered, the answer case is flipped over to reveal a pattern on the backside of the tiles. The pattern is used to check for accurately answered questions.  This way, students receive immediate feedback and may rethink solutions to the incorrectly answered questions until they are successful. The ability to make mistakes and self-correct fosters motivation and engagement in students.  Skills focused on include: reading comprehension, vocabulary skills, reading confidence, phonics, spelling, study skills, and grammar.

Curriculum materials can be purchased in different forms, depending on targeted skills, grade level, and format.  Materials include student activity books, leveled books (with select labs), self-correcting answer cases, teacher resource guides, and posters.

Costs and Staff Training

VersaTiles is available in many different formats. The Reading/Language Arts lab costs $325 per grade level. The Reading/Language Arts Resource Library, including the full labs for grades 1-6, costs $1,695. Starter sets are available for a cost of $79.95 per grade level.  Extra answer cases cost $119.95 for a set of ten.

VersaTiles Rising Readers labs may be purchased with corresponding leveled books for a total cost of $1,135-$1,233 (depending on the lab level) or without the leveled books at the price of $234.95 per lab.  VersaTiles Comprehension & Vocabulary labs may be purchased with corresponding Scooters Books for a total cost of $895 or $1,160 (depending on the lab level) or without Scooters Books at the price of $220.95 or $298.95 (depending on the lab level).

VersaTiles Reading/Language Arts Teacher’s Resource Guide offers program training and support designed to assist new or established reading/language arts teachers and staff. The guide features classroom management tips, detailed descriptions of each activity, background information and suggestions for incorporating VersaTiles in the classroom, student/class record charts, blackline masters, Scope and Sequence, and four reproducible tests with answer keys.

Staff Qualifications

Formal teaching experience is not required to implement VersaTiles Reading/Language Arts. Content expert reviews agree with this. Practitioner expert stated that she has had high school students, serving as assistants in her summer school classroom, use VersaTiles effectively with younger students.

Standards Alignment

  • National: National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE); International Reading Association (IRA)
  • State: None specified

Research Base

VersaTiles Reading/Language Arts is based on research linking conceptual understanding, practice of skills and concepts, and problem solving. The IRA and NCTE Standards serve as the foundation for VersaTiles for Reading/Language Arts. Student activity books for grades 1–6 are organized into four strands: Phonics, Word Attack and Vocabulary; Spelling; Comprehension and Study Skills; and Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics. For the full article “VersaTiles: A Research-Based Program for Targeting Practice in Mathematics and Reading/Language Arts” visit http://www.etacuisenaire.com/pdf/grant/vtpositionpaper.pdf

Evaluation Details

None specified.

Overall Strengths/Overall Challenges

Strengths
  • Motivational and engaging for students.
  • Appeals to different learning styles.
  • An instructor can use this in an afterschool program with little training ahead of time.
  • Targets specific skill sets, and breaks down different parts of comprehension.
  • Tied to the skills needed to become an expert reader.
  • Easy to move and transport
Challenges
  • Could be challenging with students who have behavior issues.

Practitioner Expert Review

Practitioner Expert Background

This practitioner has been teaching for six years in both American and International schools.  She has also been working at a summer school program for the past two years, and has used VersaTiles during that program for the past year.  She uses it regularly with a class of twelve students who just finished the fourth grade.  Most of the students qualify for free and reduced lunch, and they are mostly of African American and Latino descent.

Logistics

Training
  • Did not attend a formal training.
Set-up/preparation
  • Preparation consists of choosing which activity for students to do.
  • Ideal to use individually and in small groups. It can be important to observe students and make sure they understand the activities.

Student Engagement

  • Students love using the VersaTiles, and are usually enthusiastic to use them.
  • Students who struggle with attention and behavior stay engaged with the activities.
  • Students enjoy doing something active.
  • Students appreciate the immediate gratification of creating the correct pattern when they complete an activity correctly.
  • Colors and shapes in activity books help maintain students’ interest.

Content

Adaptability to instructor needs
  • VersaTiles can be used in many different ways, such as practicing skills.
  • Assessments are useful for determining students’ skill levels.
  • More advanced students can move on to harder questions while instructor focuses on helping the students who do not understand the material.
General skills taught
  • Basic phonics.
  • Cooperation when working with a partner.
  • Following directions.
Addressing diverse student needs
  • Tactile, students are always doing something with their hands.
  • Reaches many different kinds of learners.
  • Students of all backgrounds have enjoyed and felt engaged with VersaTiles.

Strengths and Challenges

Strengths
  • Motivational and engaging for students.
  • Appeals to different learning styles.
  • Teaches skills and concepts in an engaging way.
Challenges
  • This practitioner did not find any major challenges with using VersaTiles.

Content Expert Review

Content Expert Reviewer

Katharine Adams
Katharine Adams is currently a doctoral student in Applied Child Development at Tufts University. She has taught at the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts for over a decade. She has worked on the development and design of literacy curricula including RAVE-O and the Benchmark Word Detectives Program. She has also developed and implemented an afterschool and summer program for at-risk readers. In addition, Katharine has taught in elementary schools and holds a Masters in teaching with an emphasis in special needs.

Content

  • Extensive coverage of reading and language arts skills, broken down by levels corresponding to grade in school for grades 1-6.
  • Covers four reading/language arts strands (Phonics, word attack, and vocabulary; Spelling; Comprehension and study skills; Grammar, usage, and mechanics) are color-coded throughout each grade level to match IRA/NCTE standards.
  • Skills within reading and comprehension are broken down.
  • Workbook pages are thoughtfully constructed.
  • Materials seem to be engaging and fun to play with, tiles make it feel like a game.

Skills

Academic Skills
  • Phonics, word attack, and vocabulary
  • Spelling
  • Comprehension and study skills
  • Grammar, usage, and mechanics
  • Targets isolated sub skills within these categories.
Study Skills
  • Students learn to work independently.
  • Study skills are a focus of the curriculum
Non-Academic Skills
  • Working at own pace, self-confidence
  • Spatial skills

Alignment to Standards

  • Correlated with NCTE/IRA (National Council of Teachers of English/International Reading Association) Standards.
  • Scope and sequence is elaborate, and the teacher’s guide is useful and specific.

Assessment

  • Assessment is interesting and impressive, there is a focus on “authentic assessment.”
  • Informal assessments include journaling, portfolios, and discussing how students solved answers.
  • Offers specific questions to follow while observing and interviewing students.
  • Pre- and post-test measures of basic benchmark activities.

Structure

  • Curriculum is structured. It addresses specific objectives, but there is flexibility in how they are reached.
  • Teacher’s role is to set students up and make sure they know what they are doing, observe  students working independently and work one-on-one with students who need extra attention.
  • Content is highly structured and defined.
  • Activities are largely teacher-directed, with students setting their own pace.

Addressing Diverse Student Needs

Adaptability
  • Students can work at their own pace and skill level.
  • Students may struggle to stay focused
  • Students can individualize upon existing activities.
Developmental level
  • This curriculum is particularly well-suited to the developmental level of the age group it targets.
  • Materials and tiles are engaging: For example, uses crossword puzzles, activities can be completed in a short period of time.
Learning Styles Addressed
  • Interpersonal learning: Students of different strengths could work together.
Multiculturalism
  • The creators try to represent diversity in the stories with different names.
  • Mascots for each book are cartoon characters and do not have any racial characteristics.
  • Stories themselves are non-fiction, and include a range of different cultures.

Strengths and Challenges

Strongest Features
  • An instructor can use this in an afterschool program with little training ahead of time.
  • Targets specific skill sets, and breaks down different parts of comprehension.
  • Tied to the skills needed to become an expert reader.
  • Easy to move and transport.
  • Serve as a great tool for supplementing regular curriculum.
Challenges and Drawbacks
  • Could be challenging with students who have behavior issues.

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