once upon a time…
There was a teacher who was distrusted all things social media, especially within the realm of elementary schooling. Too risky! Unsafe! Brings out the worst in kids! Useless! … The past 14 months has been a gradual turning to a point where this teacher, me, can acknowledge social media being here to stay. Furthermore, I see the potential value social media can provide in education.
Seesaw has been a part of that gradual turning.
My Seesaw story began over a year ago. It was sparked by my enrolment in another educational technology class. Without exaggeration, I can say that it has been a first for me in many ways. It has also been a recurring feature in my blogging, being the focus of a major research project, as well as coming up here and here as part of a review of educational applications and their accompanying privacy policies.
I started by using Seesaw as a tool to supplement my small group reading interventions. (L.L.I.) The original impetus was to inject an element of fun and pride into our efforts with literacy, as well as to establish an easy, meaningful line of communication with parents.
Getting started with Seesaw was pretty easy. The initial setup, as far as creating an account is simple, as you would expect.
The real work comes with setting up with your class and teaching them how to use it. There is so much that you can do with Seesaw that it can be difficult to know where to begin. Students also need to have a set of skills and habits in place to use the tool well within the context of a classroom of twenty or more. (perhaps 30 or more…)
Seesaw does provide some easy to follow setup guides, delivered in the format of small mini-lessons. They suggest a sequence designed to lead you and your classroom towards successfully implementing Seesaw as a part of your classroom routine. You can’t really ask for more as a newbie. They clearly have teachers and students in mind.
Engagement? Oh, yes! With very little effort, parents were becoming a part of the reading group. They were seeing what their child was doing from the comfort of their phone. No meetings, no calls required! They were leaving comments and encouraging positive feedback for their budding readers.
The enthusiastic engagement that the connecting parents were showing was matched, if not surpassed, by my readers. It definitely did add that element of fun that I was looking for. But it wasn’t the kind of novel fun that can be worn out, sometimes very quickly. Yes, the initial hyper-excitement of using Seesaw certainly mellowed. But a steady enthusiasm remained for using a tool that was very meaningful for them. Kids never get tired of showing their parents what they can do!
Seesaw has all kinds of implications for assessment. From my own experience getting to know the platform, I would argue that it intuitively serves a function as a formative assessment tool. Using Seesaw for assessment was not really a part of my thought process as I was getting going with it. I was thinking about parent engagement, student engagement, etc …
Without any kind of deliberate effort, I began to use Seesaw to inform my instruction with those small group reading interventions. I began to playback videos we recorded and analyze them for trends (weaknesses to address, strengths) in students decoding.
These videos, initially posted to from the comfort of home and with the ability to replay as often as I want, gives me an incredible amount of information that absolutely supports me in planning next steps. I no longer need to furiously scribble notes to keep myself from forgetting what I see (inevitably leading me to miss quirks and successes as I write).
Not only have Seesaw videos informed my own assessment as a Learning Resource Teacher, but they have helped to inform their classroom teacher’s assessment. The comments and live feedback that their teachers (and parents!) hear me giving their young learner throughout the video helps them know what to work on!
Seesaw clearly sees itself as an assessment tool, and has released some helpful videos and guides on ways it can be used.
Thanks for reading, and let me sign off with a few artifacts students from a grade 3 posted to show off their increasing comfort with breaking apart and manipulating numbers!