10 Ways to Make SeeSaw Part of Your Daily Routine
Since transitioning from Burlington High School to Fox Hill Elementary School, I have spent the past year and a half getting acclimated to a new school culture, developing relationships with students and my new colleagues, and learning the elementary curriculum. My primary goals were to use technology to leverage student voice by developing creative, project-based learning opportunities and to make instruction and assessment more efficient and effective for teachers. I also wanted to bring technology into the curriculum in ways that would challenge students to think at higher levels. Fortunately, I’ve been able to collaborate with the Fox Hill Librarian and Media Specialist Patrick Murphy to achieve these professional goals.
Patrick and I share the same vision and philosophy for technology in education which has allowed us to bring technology integration at Fox Hill to a new level. Specifically, we have successfully introduced and integrated the digital portfolio application SeeSaw into grades one through five. The use of a digital portfolio is a district initiative in Burlington Public Schools and Patrick and I are thrilled by the number of Fox Hill teachers who have embraced this initiative. All Fox Hill teachers in grades one through five are using SeeSaw to showcase their students’ academic growth and development, strengthen the home/school connection, and educate students about digital citizenship in authentic ways. After last year’s successful SeeSaw pilot, Fox Hill teachers continue to find ways to capture student learning on a daily basis and provide students with the opportunity to reflect on their learning experiences.
Balance Out Your Students’ Day with SeeSaw
Returning for the second half of the school year is the perfect time to review established classroom routines. It’s also the ideal time to introduce a new classroom expectation. The 10 ideas for making SeeSaw a part of your daily classroom routine listed below promote oral language, writing, and creative thinking skills and will strengthen the home/school connection. Items in a student’s portfolio can spark a conversation at home about the learning taking place in the classroom. Student achievement can increase, and areas needing improvement can be identified more quickly when there is strong support from both the classroom teacher and the parents. So as you embark on 2018, consider making student reflection a priority in your classroom and give students the freedom and flexibility to choose from some of the ideas listed below.
1. Weekend Update- Every Monday morning, give students the chance to share highlights from their weekend. They can write, record a video, or draw a picture summarizing their weekend activities. This gives you as the teacher more insight into a child’s interests and can help you differentiate future assignments based on student interest.
2. Math Fact Mania- If there’s one thing I’ve learned about elementary students, it’s that they LOVE to show their knowledge of math facts! The “Math Fact Mania” SeeSaw choice gives students the chance to write and record math facts using the drawing tool, or they can orally recite their math facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc.), via the video option in SeeSaw. Students can use the video tool to record themselves using math manipulatives, (counters, tiles, univex cubes) to explain a concept.
3. Blogging Fridays- This is something I have started with third grade teacher Karen Saia and is a benefit of having the premium version of SeeSaw. If you want your students to get excited about writing, blogging may be the answer. After a lesson on what blogging is all about, you can set up your classroom blog in SeeSaw and connect your class with other classes throughout the world. Ms. Saia’s ELA students are connected with classes in Alabama, Texas, Pennsylvania, and two schools in China!
4. “I Can” Statements- This idea is borrowed from third grade teacher Heather Lisano. The “I Can” statement allows students to share what their goal is, either academically or socially, for the day. This could be something as simple as, “I can show others kindness today,” “I can follow all directions today,” or “I can put forth my best effort when reading today.” These “I Can” affirmations take literally seconds, but the positive self-talk can put students in a frame of mind where they are ready to learn and they are holding themselves accountable for their actions and behavior. This is also an excellent conversation starter for when they get home.
5. Read, Write, Share- Elementary students read and write every single day. Why not have students record a video of them reading to share with their parents, take a picture of their writing assignment, or record a video of them practicing their handwriting. These important, daily classroom activities can be easily captured through SeeSaw and shared with parents. Over time, parents can visibly hear and see the improvement in their child’s reading fluency, vocabulary development, and handwriting.
6. App Smash with SeeSaw- Students can share something they have created in another app via SeeSaw. For example, a book trailer or book review they made with iMovie, a science experiment they recorded with Explain Everything, a digital story they created with Adobe Voice or Chatter Pix, a social studies project they made in Book Creator, or an essay they wrote in a Google Doc. There are very few apps that don’t integrate seamlessly with SeeSaw and larger projects are a must-share with parents.
7. Wacky Wednesday- Every Wednesday, give students the opportunity to share something “wacky” they’ve learned so far during the past week. It could be a highlight from a story or poem they read, it could be an exciting new fact they learned in science or social studies, or it could be a new skill or technique they learned in their P.E., music, or art class. Students could record a video, draw a picture, or write a summary of the “Wacky Wednesday” fact or skill they want to share with their classmates, teacher, and parents.
8. Awesome Artists- Promote creativity and encourage the integration of art in your classroom by letting students use the drawing tool to recreate a scene from a story they’ve read or a movie they’ve seen. As an alternative, students could use crayons, markers, colored pencils, etc. take a picture of their artwork and upload it to SeeSaw.
9. Newsy News- Similar to sharing at morning meeting, this option in SeeSaw would allow students to share news and updates with their classmates, teacher, and parents that is personal, yet still appropriate for a classroom setting. For example, a student may have lost a tooth, learned how to bake, won a competition, received an award, went on a family vacation, had a birthday party, or got a new pet. Students love to share this kind of information with each other and it is an ideal way to build a strong classroom community.
10. Oral Presentations- While this may not happen every day, any time your students are delivering an oral presentation, be sure to capture this on video to share with parents. Give students ownership over this task and assign a few students to start and stop each video for their peers. Remind students their presentations are being recorded, as this will ensure they speak loud enough and that their classmates are quite and respectful members of the audience. The more students can practice developing their presentation skills, the better prepared they will be for the upper grades where classroom presentations are common methods of assessments.
I hope you will try some of the ideas mentioned above and give your students the chance to reflect on their learning in meaningful ways, if not daily, then as often as possible. Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!