Course 5 Update- What I’ve Been Working On…

A quick check in post…

seesawI wanted to write to check in and to let you all know what I’ve been up to. I do so much reading about what you are up to through your blog posts I thought it’s about time I fill you in on what I’ve been working on. Probably the main project I’ve been working on since the beginning of the semester is launching a SeeSaw pilot in the elementary school. I’m happy to say that so far it is been well received.

A little bit of the backstory. At my school blogs have historically been in use as a place for students to reflect and post work. In the lower elementary Blogger has been utilized and then in middle and upper elementary WordPress the platform of choice. Students have used various apps as intermediaries to aid in posting. At first this was seen as a way to make things easier. But as time has passed certain apps are no longer supported and new ones have been sought out as replacements. Often the new app has some but not all features of the original app an therefore another app must be added to the mix… which often involves creating another account somewhere else. Over time what was once a process used for simplicity has turned into an extremely complicated process. Over the course of the semester I witnessed and heard deep levels of frustration with the process from both students, teachers, and parents.

But before we jumped in to try something new I sought to clarify what we were using blogs for in the first place. I did a lot of talking (and even more listening) with elementary leadership, teachers, and students. I pulled page views reports for random students blogs. I also talked with parents about how much they visited their child’s blogs whenever I had a parent presentation. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t presenting what I thought people needed, but rather providing people with a solution aimed at addressing a need they had expressed. After many conversations we worked together to clarify our intentions and to determine what a successful pilot would look like. To be honest people were so frustrated with the current situation I think it would have been easy to get people on board. But as we moved ahead I didn’t want to fall into the trap of losing focus on why we were using SeeSaw just because the process was easier than using blogs. Since this is a pilot it will be up to the teachers to determine if this is the direction they wish to go.

seesaw post

A snapshot of a SeeSaw post. The student added 2:19 of audio commentary to this post.

At the beginning of the pilot I had to gather support from four areas: Leadership, IT, Teachers, Students. Ineeded the support of leadership in going forward with the pilot as well as helping to clarify why we were using a learning journal/e-portfolio in the first place. I also needed financial support as I wanted to go with the premium version of SeeSaw as it provided many aspects/features that I thought would increase the likelihood for success. I needed support of IT as they would be the ones syncing SeeSaw with our Veracross students information system using a tool called Clever. This would allow all our SeeSaw classes to be populated automatically based on enrollment information in Veracross. If the pilot is successful it will also allow all of our student information to follow students from year to year. (We can also gather stats on usage etc.)

seesaw kids

A student using SeeSaw to capture himself reading a book.

The next area I needed buy in from was the teachers. I asked year level coordinators to see if anyone on their team was keen to give SeeSaw a go. We got at least one volunteer from each year level! With these three areas of support inline we launched the initial pilot. I met with each teacher to do a brief initial training and then scheduled a time to come in and launch SeeSaw with their students. I initially spent about an hour with the students exploring what SeeSaw was and how we could use it. They were all over it! They loved being able to see and comment on each others work. I followed up this initial lesson with a lesson on posting and commenting (and liking) using posts the students had made.

After all the initial pilot classes where up and running word started to spread and teachers started asking if they too could join the pilot. Exciting! The only problem is that I need to ask for more money as you pay per student. Luckily my school is very supportive (both leadership & IT) and we were given the green light to add more classes. I didn’t want to rush into things so I put off the second wave until the first wave teachers and I could meet a couple times to share what we were learning and address any potential sticky spots.

After about a month we launched another 1-2 classes per year level. In addition we opened the parent access feature with the first round of pilot classes. I left it up to the teachers to determine when they felt comfortable enough with SeeSaw to open to parents. We also wanted time to test the parent features so that we could support parents with whatever questions they may have.

Support… this is one thing that weighed in heavily in choosing SeeSaw. SeeSaw hasĀ created a rich resource content base. They have quite a few how-to videos and well as an extensive video library.

SeeSaw resource center.

SeeSaw resource center.

SeeSaw has an extensive selection of PD in Your PJ’s webinars that are recorded so you can watch when and where you have time. There is also a SeeSaw Teachers FB Group where teachers share ideas and ask questions. In addition SeeSaw has a Twitter Chat and a pretty active group of teachers tweeting about SeeSaw. This gives teachers plenty of places to find support, have questions answers, and find innovative and authentic ways to utilize SeeSaw with their students.

I know some of you are doing learning journals/e-portfolios for your final project and I would love to hear how it’s going for you!

In fact I’m sure everyone would love and update… so please chime in with a quick update in the comments.

12 thoughts on “Course 5 Update- What I’ve Been Working On…

  1. Hi Benjamin,
    I love that you posted about Seesaw, because I have been thinking about how I can make better use of Seesaw as the ES Librarian. Our school recently upgraded our subscription so that specialists and homeroom teachers can share a classroom account. As a specialist teacher, it is so great to have a common app that I know all of my library students are familiar with and that I can plan to use in my instruction. So far, I’ve mainly had students use Seesaw to post book reviews, but I know we can use it for far more. I really appreciate the resources you’ve shared here. I will explore them all and try to make the most of all that Seesaw has to offer!
    Laurie (AIS-R Course 5 Cohort).

    Reply
    1. Hi Laurie! Thanks for your comment. Very excited to hear you are using SeeSaw in the library. Our librarian Philip (@flipoz) is keen to start using SeeSaw in the library as well. He’s already using a library (@theMLC) Twitter quite well with the students and teachers. When you have a moment shoot him a tweet as I’m sure he’d love to chat.

      Reply
      1. Thanks, Benjamin!
        We’re doing a Virtual Learning day with our G 3-5 students today, and thanks to your post, I was reminded that Seesaw is the perfect way to have my students share and connect from home. Today I had them do some simple responses to a book we’re reading, and it’s been fun to check Seesaw throughout the day and see things they’ve created using Shadowpuppet, Chatterpix, PicCollage, etc. One of my favorite Seesaw features is the ability to grab embed code to quickly share student work on my Learning Commons blog.
        Thanks for getting me connected with your librarian, Philip! I look forward to sharing ideas! And thanks again for a very helpful post!
        Laurie

        Reply
  2. Hi Ben,

    Glad to hear that your exploits have been so successful!

    In Grade 1 here, we have been trying out Easyblog in one or two our classes and teachers and students love it!

    In later grades, students use Blogger (which is great due to the integration of all our Google apps and photos but can be complicated for the younger students).

    I’m going to check out seesaw however after this.

    -Jon

    Reply
    1. Hi Jon! We have several classes who have used both EasyBlog and SeeSaw so I’m sure they can give you a side by side comparison. I’m open for a Hangout if you ever want to chat about the similarities and differences between the two.

      Reply
  3. Hi Ben,

    Thanks for sharing your experiences while piloting Seesaw.

    I have been playing with Seesaw a lot this year. It has been a great way to share work with the parents. I have about half the class that is always sharing, so I still need to get the other half to share a bit more.

    We recently discovered the comments area and the students have been very excited to see if their parents have commented. I hope they will spend more time looking at their peers work as well.

    I am learning how seesaw works the more I use it (it’s a lot easier than I thought) so I can’t wait to see what else we will do with it.

    Reply
    1. Excellent to hear Amber. The students seem to love the comment feature the most! They love being able to see and comment on their friend’s work. It seems almost more than the comments they get from their parents! We’re currently exploring how our librarian might be able to utilise SeeSaw with students/classes as well. It’s a work in progress for sure… Can’t wait to hear more about how you are using it going forward!

      Reply
      1. Hi Amber and Benjamin. I just wanted to add that I really love the comment feature in Seesaw. As a librarian, I have limited class time with my students, so having them submit work in Seesaw allows me to connect with them and provide individual feedback in a way that I never could before. Seesaw really is amazing!

        Reply
  4. Hi,

    We have been using Seesaw for over a year now as an e-portflio system which means that I put up pictures of my students’ activities and samples of their work so the parents have a window into what is happening in class.

    I find that the parents have an insatiable desire to know everything that their children are doing. So we are really moving from an e-portfolio platform to an window into the classroom platform. I’m really not sure how I feel about that!

    The parents comments have brought up a good point about what is the real purpose of Seesaw at our school. The teachers see it as an e-portfolio platform. It seems that we now we need to discuss what that means to us; as well as talk about what that means to the parents. And, then decide what is the real purpose of Seesaw. Right now I feel that the parents feel that tons of information wouldn’t be enough, but then aren’t we losing sight on what our real purpose is and that is teaching their child and helping them learn, not just taking photos or videos all day. Any thoughts?

    Meanwhile, I am in the midst of our “Coetail” unit. I began by asking my children to video themselves while they told about the animal they “researched”. The answer was “NO!”. I will continue to push them into taking the risk and doing something totally new!

    Linda

    Reply
    1. Hi Linda,
      I often find that my students are hesitant to video themselves too, so I give them the option of posting a photo and using the audio feature for the narration instead. This has helped everyone to be able to complete the assignment in a way that they are comfortable with. Just sharing in case it might help!
      Laurie (AIS-R Coetail Course 5)

      Reply
    2. Thanks for your insights Linda! We are in the midst of finding out where SeeSaw fits into our philosophy. We are trying to move away from documenting an event or product as we did with blogs. We are trying to allow students to focus more on the learning they are engaging with and to reflect on and receive feedback on this learning. The students are liking the social aspect so far. But… after the shiny newness of it wears off I’m interested to see how it goes. That said… based on the feedback I’ve gotten so far I’m actually very positive!

      Reply
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