Wrap Around Ending: Seesaw

As we head towards the finish line of EC&I 831, I feel like I need to make some sort of summarizing post around my digital project; using Seesaw. This is not as easy as it sounds, because while this project certainly has a clearly identified starting point, there is distinct ending. This doesn’t wind up nicely with concluding remarks, and list of APA cited resources. That said, in reflecting upon this experience, I would argue that the fact that this project is not concluding  is actually a measure of its success. Let me tell you why…

Enter Seesaw

Part of my reason for enrolling in this course was a desire to experience implementing social media with my professional practice. As I discussed in opening this project in October, I wanted to find a way to meaningfully connect with parents of those students I support as a Learning Resource Teacher.  I wanted to add an element of engagement and fun to that communication. I also wanted that communication to be on their terms, so to speak, and I thought social media could be my way to do that! I chose to implement Seesaw, student managed digital learning portfolios, with my small group reading support students.


I immediately reaped benefits from incorporating Seesaw into my reading groups. I had anticipated that the project would be well received by kids, and I was right.  Every single one of the kids became hyper-engaged with the idea of building an online portfolio of accomplishments to share with parents, teachers and peers. The interface of the app is intuitive for kids, and my students easily learned how to navigate the app. In no time, they had learned how to take pictures, add squiggles and assign the artifacts to their folder.

It wasn’t only the students that were engaged. I was! I don’t want to over-analyze the fact that, for me, using seesaw was as fun as it was for the kids in my reading groups.

Collecting Treasures

As we continued to use Seesaw as part of our reading groups, I began to see the power of the portfolio students were building up. It was creating a neat timeline of the students work in reading. They enjoyed scrolling through their work and looking back at the pictures and videos they have uploaded over the course of the Fall.

I have to be honest, as I continued to use Seesaw, I started to lose track of this in terms of it being a major assignment worth a significant portion of my grade. It did not at all feel like a traditional assignment. Although it certainly took work, it did not feel like work. This is how I want learning to feel like for my students at school! Natural… meaningful… requiring effort, but not cumbersome…

First Contact!

A point of frustration with the project, initially, was the challenge of engaging parents with Seesaw. I had initially expected it to be easy, and this was not the case. At least not at first! When that first parent contact did come, however, it felt great! Over the next couple of weeks, some more parents did connect and even started posting remarks on their child’s learning artifacts. As hard as I tried to connect with parents and support them getting onto Seesaw, I know that it was their child who gave them the push to get on. I know they went home talking about their reading group and putting pictures online, and I know that they were pressing their parents to check it out. Their enthusiasm is what won them over!

Listening Stations!

It was around this point, rolling into mid-November, that my proficiency and confidence with Seesaw had grown to the point where I was starting to seek new and creative ways to implement the application. I began to search online and comb through the posts of my EC&I 831 peers also using Seesaw. I was interested in how Channing was using Seesaw to assign activities at home. I was not aware of this new feature until she pointed it out in her blog.

I also ran into an idea in the Seesaw sharing community, that literally punched me in the face as I read it. I read about how we can set up listening stations using Seesaw. I loved it! I had my students record themselves, by video, reading a book they had mastered. We then donated those videos to a grade 1 class to use as part of their listen to reading programming. Amazing! Obviously, the grade one students adored being able to listen to some older role models red books to them. Furthermore, what an incredible way to combat the narrative and self perception my students have of themselves as being struggling readers. Yes, they are receiving my support, but their reading is easily strong enough for them to be leaders and role models for younger learners.

Wrap Around Ending?

So this is where I stand. Not much of an ending, is it? It’s not, and that’s just fine! The purpose of this digital project, for me, was to experience something different and, hopefully, transform my practice. I believe I have certainly accomplished this. Throughout the course of my project, I repeatedly made reference to having crossed some sort of point of no return. Seesaw is not something I will just drop and forget now that the assignment is, technically, over.

I believe this is actually an appropriate barometer for the success of my project. By not having an ending point, and knowing that I will continue to evolve in my use of Seesaw, I have effectively transformed an element of my practice. And this is never ending. The moment we stop transforming our practice is the moment we become out of touch with current educational trends, and our students deserve better.

Social media does have a place in what I do as a Learning Resource Teacher. For me, this is a paradigm shift. It is a paradigm shift that would not have happened without enrolling in this course, and for that I am thankful!

TSP Update: Listening Stations Come Alive!

Recap:  Last week, while researching some new ways to creatively implement my increasing proficiency with Seesaw, I ran into an idea that I absolutely loved: Listening Stations Come Alive! The premise of this idea, which is ingenious, is to have somebody record themselves reading a book. It can be anybody: an older student, special guest, teacher, etc… Seesaw has a function to print a QR code that links directly to that video.  Other students can then use their seesaw application to scan that printed QR code and listen to the book be read to them.

Hypothesis: For my struggling readers, who are with me in Leveled Literacy Intervention groups, I had hypothesized that this would be an extremely engaging experience that could flip the narrative on them being struggling readers.

How Has It Gone? On this one, was I ever right. The idea that these kiddos could be leaders and be a listening station for our new readers in grade one was a revelation to them, and they ate it up. The project is a time consuming one, especially as we want to get the reading exactly right (to be a good role model for our young friends in grade one). But, as one boy in the group said “This is serious.” Some recesses have been dedicated to creating listening stations, and this was proposed by that same boy -a boy who has melted down over missing recesses for behaviour choices outside. He loves to play outside, needs his breaks, but “This is serious.”

Here is a sample video from one of our new L.L.I reading leaders. We need one more go still, with a couple of gaffes still in there:

This is her QR code that, when scanned, links right to this video:

Next? Next up will be to connect with our grade ones, who are using Seesaw, and present them with this gift!

For Seesaw, I have only gratitude.I know I have said this many times before (here, here, and here) but I feel the need to reiterate how this project does not really feel at all like any other major demonstrations of learning from my past. I am not working with the overriding goal of a decent evaluation being forefront in my mind. Don’t get me wrong, I do care about my grades … but this experience has been a trans-formative one for my practice, and is helping to me internalize the power of social media to do good.

Thanks for reading!


TSP: Listening Stations Come Alive!

With over a month of Seesaw being in place, I feel like I have gained a working understanding of its interface. This weekend, looking back over the compilation of memories and artifacts on my two reading groups portfolios, it really is impressive how much we have accumulated there.  As I have said before, I know that I have crossed a point of no return with Seesaw. It’s use has become such a part of our daily routine in reading that this is something I can’t just stop using.

My previous post on Seesaw had me wondering where to go from here. In reading Channing’s blog, I realize that there are features that I am not even aware of. That got me to thinking that, with the amount of teachers using Seesaw, there are bound to be some creative uses out there for me to learn from.

Mission: Find one new idea for me to try and implement

The most obvious starting point will be Seesaw’s homepage itself. They have a promising section of starting guides for teachers to kick off implementing Seesaw. In looking at the startup guide for specialist teachers, there i a helpful set of student task cards that can be printed. These task cards introduce the core skills that students will need to add artifacts to their portfolio. These cards, for example, are visuals on how to make a voice recording, and specifically, how to document yourself reading.

Being in a small group setting, it was easy for me to quickly and naturally have conversations about the kind of work that merits being showcased on Seesaw. But I felt that bubbling enthusiasm, especially when we first got going. I can easily imagine that barely constrained enthusiasm, times fifteen, in the Saskatchewan classroom of 30+ .

This visual is a helpful cue on the kind of self-talk students should be engaging in when deciding to put something onto Seesaw as an artifact:

The startup guide also links me to a sharing community, of sorts, where ideas and resources to supplement Seesaw are compiled. The resources are categorized into grade levels.

There is an embarrassment of riches for ideas to choose from. There is also an assortment of videos posted as Teacher PD ranging across a variety of topics (using Seesaw for special needs engagement, older grade Seesaw use, etc) After spending some time reading, and viewing, there was one that spoke to me in my capacity as a reading support teacher.

The Idea: Listening Stations Come Alive!

In short, this teaches me how to set up listening stations where students can watch and listen to others read a book. It can be older peers, friends, special guests, etc…  How awesome is this?  What a perfect fit idea for my struggling readers. I know they will be extremely engaged at the idea of being in a leadership position, where they can actually help younger kids with their reading. I  can’t wait to do this. There are three classes of grade one/twos that are using Seesaw already, and this will be really easy to implement with them.

Thanks for reading!, and looking forward to letting you know how this goes!

TSP: First Contact!

 (Taken from here)

Another week has come and gone in a flash. Implementation of Seesaw with my L.L.I. support reading groups is becoming less intentional and more automatic as time goes. It’s not me thinking to document what we’re doing, but the readers are taking this over.  I already felt it headed this way and Seesaw is now just a part of what we do. A fun, engaging, and meaningful element of our daily reading group!

But there is news! Our seesaw project has connected to some outside support!

Classroom Teachers

I invited a couple of their classroom teachers to their student’s Seesaw. This was highly engaging for both the students (obviously they loved this), and the two teachers liked this as well. One of them is going to implement Seesaw herself and this was a way for her to see it from the parent’s perspective. This has also had the unintended benefit of helping the classroom teachers stay in touch with what their student is working on in L.L.I., and reinforce the efforts in their own classrooms. For example, one teacher saw this chart our group had built working on some specific endings:

After seeing this, she incorporated these same sounds into a mini-lesson for the student’s word work in Daily 5. While I have never had much difficulty in collaborating with teachers, this has added an element of fun, and convenience, to that collaboration.


Check it out:

Yup, it happened! It kind of came out of the blue on weekend, a parent I sent an email to has connected to their child’s Seesaw! On Monday, the proud girl came to reading group with a bit of a strut, and proceeded to inform us that she “nagged” her Mom into joining Seesaw.

While that may be the case (and good on her!), her mother quickly showed enthusiasm for seeing her daughter’s work. She especially liked the video of her daughter reading. I am so happy that she has gotten into this. She is a parent that makes efforts to read with her daughter on a nightly basis, and her reading has already started to show some gains from a few weeks ago.

Going forward, what I’m going to have to do is consider where I go from here. I will certainly continue to pursue parental involvement. I have taken in a new student to replace another who moved, and her parent is one I see on an almost daily basis. I anticipate she’ll be eager to sign on.  But apart from this, where do I go from here? I anticipate:

  1. Continuing to explore different ways to post artifacts of learning
  2. Searching for other teachers experiences in using Seesaw and piggyback on creative artifacts they have posted
  3. Reporting on my experience in helping the previously mentioned classroom teacher get going with her own Seesaw
  4. Any more ideas from my friends in EC&I 831?

(photo credit)

In perusing Channing’s blog, who I know to also be using Seesaw, a recent post of hers has given me an idea to steal. Thanks Channing!  Seesaw has implemented a feature for teachers to assign activities. This is fantastic. Once a parent is rolling with Seesaw, why not use the same app to communicate things to do at home! To start with, I am going to try and assign the home reading through the activities tab on Seesaw. Way more engaging than a slip of paper to write.

Finally, for your pleasure, some more recent artifacts:

Showing off tracking with his very cool highlighter strip. (Trying to wean off of using a pointing finger. While it once had an important function, that pointing finger is slowing us down!)

Showing off her work on er endings.

Showing off his recognizing when he learned something new from his reading.

Showing off his writing about bats, with capitals and periods.

Showing off her ongoing play with initial sounds.

Thanks for reading, and like Channing says … “Seesaw, my friends, check it out! What are you waiting for?!”

The Seesaw Project: Some Artifacts

This is going to be a relatively quick update on my experience with Seesaw. I wanted to share a few artifacts from my experience. First of all, a quick recap on what I’m doing for my project:

  1. I am using Seesaw, a social media approach to building a student portfolio
  2. I am using this with two reading groups ( I am not a classroom teacher, but LRT)
  3. I wanted to increase enthusiasm with both my students, and also try and connect with parents and create a shared learning experience

My last post, earlier this week,  outlined my initial difficulties with connecting to parents. I do feel like I am hitting a turning point there and will have more to talk about this week as a couple of parents have connected. But for today, I just wanted to hare a few of the pictures taken by the kids in my reading group. Forgive the cropping and scribbling out faces. Once some parents have been connected and see what the portfolio is about, I will ask about sharing pictures with a closed community of peers. I may need to create a participant form? (Alec?)

For now though, these are the kinds of pictures they, and I, are taking!

Showing off their tabbing of important information they read on plants that trap bugs.

Playing folder games (to emphasize fluency with initial and ending sounds!)

Showing off her turning in a home reading slip and cashing it in for a prize out of the treasure chest.

I think it’s worth pointing out, again, that this doesn’t feel like a project. Not in the traditional post secondary sense anyhow:

  • refreshing not to have to obsess about APA! (for a while anyway)
  • learning by doing: I am definitely developing a skill that I will not walk away form, or allow to fade away after being assessed
  • engaged: I am not having to establish a schedule to keep myself on track. This is fun and meaningful, for myself and my students

Thanks for reading, and good luck with your learning projects!



The Seesaw Project: 66% Engagement

(Taken from here)

I’ve had a good couple of weeks to implement seesaw with my small reading groups. My purpose, at the outset, was to implement Seesaw as a tool to generate enthusiasm and engagement for the big time learning that occurs in L.L.I. (Leveled Literacy Intervention). I am trying to use a social media tool to help me engage and raise enthusiasm with my students, their family, as well as myself!

So, how am I doing on those 3 engagement fronts?

(Taken from here)

Low hanging fruit. The students I have in L.L.I. groups range from grade three and four. For the most part, students I pull into small group, outside the classroom support see it as a monumental honour and want to make sure their friends know they’re coming. A big wave to their friends, an unnecessarily loud announcement to their classroom teacher that they’re going for reading, and a skip down the hall.

That said, when I introduced the concept of using Seesaw, the shining eyes shone a little bit brighter. Over the past sessions, they’ve absolutely loved the idea of being able to document what they’re doing. They ask me to take pictures and videos of them reading, and take photo evidence of the word sorts they puzzle over. While coming to read has always been fun, it’s added an extra feeling of play and pride to what we’re doing.

No surprise me that the interface has basically been intuitive for the students. It’s not that there is anything complicated about it, but it confirms to me that this kind of sharing, through social media, is approaching instinct for these kids. An additional benefit, perhaps, is that this provides them with a positive and productive example of social media use.


(Taken from here)

I’ve repeatedly made reference to my distaste for social media. It’s a predisposition that I’m quite aware of, and more or less accept. While I don’t think I can change my gut reaction to social media, I can work on truly appreciating the potential and power it has to do good.

One element of sparking that appreciation is deliberate introduction of positive experiences. And this implementation of Seesaw is certainly turning into just that. The enthusiasm my students have for this is contagious, and I’m infected! It is fun to quickly capture all kinds of artifacts of student learning. The fact that this is shared, and not teacher driven, is making  it all the more engaging for me. This is quickly turning into something, like the Smart Board, that I will not be able to live without.


(Taken from here)

I’ve got to be honest, I’ve fallen flat here. Parent engagement is where I am really hoping to make a splash. Not to mitigate the importance of my students’ engagement,or mine, but this is where I have had to work hardest over the years. I was hoping that by reaching out through a medium that might be more relevant, I could create a shared celebration of learning amongst my students, their parents, as well as myself.

Now, my sample size is small. Six students. Actually, and sadly, we are down to five now.  In talking to a grade four teacher about this, she was quick to remind me that this is a shared challenge at our school, and she is right. We are part of a community where many families are facing intense day to day challenges that I cannot truly appreciate.

But, there is some hope! In calling a parent on Friday, one of my student’s mother was quite friendly and stated simply that she didn’t get what I was sending home (parent invitation for Seesaw). She liked the idea of being able to see what her daughter was doing in reading, and this didn’t surprise me. She is a reliable support for learning at home and is very consistent in reading take home books with her daughter. I think she will get into this.

There will also be some opportunities for face to face meetings. One parent makes occasional visits  to pick their child up at the end of the day, I’ll just have to keep an eye out during my end of the day supervision.  We also have three-way conferences coming in November.

2/3 – 66%

I am quite happy with how this project is going. Honestly, it doesn’t really feel like a project. Although I was initially tempted to go with some sort of personal learning project (aurora photography), this is proving to be just as engaging for me, as I talked about a moment before. Improving my practice is meaningful, and puts a smile on my face (as well as my students’ faces).

So, a couple weeks in, two out of three isn’t so bad!  The student engagement, as expected, is there. My own engagement is even higher than I expected. Going forward, it is clear where I will be doubling down. Trying to create that engagement for parents is a key to my project and I want to see what I can do!

Thanks for reading!



The Seesaw Project LAFOIPed?!?

(photocredit: Planet Nutshell)

I am not the first one in our class community to post on LAFOIP. (Local Authority Freedom OInformation and Protection of Privacy Act: full act here) Chris posted a good summary of the Act and how it may impacts us. This was also brought up at our staff meeting on Friday, and my mind started racing in circles.

Vindicated! In all seriousness, it is comforting to know that my concerns over student safety and security through Internet use are shared by others, and is actually already reflected in legislation. I had no idea. LAFOIP is not new, but as mentioned by Chris, the implications for us and our current practice with student use of technology are just now starting to take shape.

Google! The potential for various Google tools to facilitate powerful student learning, as well as powerful teacher collaboration, is limitless. What could possible be wrong with that, right? Well, the thinking is that since the student information being input is personally identifiable, and being stored on third party servers (Google’s), that this can lead to breaches of privacy. And you know what, I get it! Consider this (143 million social security numbers compromised), and this (100 million Google accounts compromised)

Another consideration brought up at our staff meeting was that every single piece of software or application we use has an individual contract agreement that lays out how they may use information collected through use of their product. Student data, or meta data, could be used for interests driven by profit. Ok, so this is why our school board is centralizing control over what software and applications we can use.

How about widely used apps like classdojo and … *gasp* SEESAW. Have I unwittingly put my students’ information at risk for nefarious activity by registering with Seesaw?!? (dramatization) As luck would have it, no. Seesaw, being as heavily used as it is, was approached over the summer by our school board and asked to amend their agreement with regards to how student information is collected and used by Regina Public Schools specifically.

The Seesaw Project lives on!

Project Seesaw

A desire to overcome some of my hesitation with using social media is both a personal and professional endeavor, and this desire is at the crux of my decision to enroll in EC&I 831. I know that students will be getting involved with social media platforms, if they aren’t already. As such, I strongly feel that I must become more comfortable using social media so that I can be a source of guidance and teaching. As stated in my recent post on online learning, and several of my peers blogs, online social media can be both a source for good and evil. For my own learning, I would like to learn a specific platform and integrate it  in some part of my duties as a Learning Resource Teacher.

Problem Identified

As an LRT, part of my day is delivering small group, intensive literacy support. The students will come in groups of three or four most days of the week. An ongoing challenge for me has been to implement home reading on a consistent basis. I know that the more students read, the more they will grow in literacy. This is close to being a universal truth that can apply to just about any learning circumstance.

Over the past few years, I have had mixed results. Some families eagerly take on the home reading with gusto and energy. The payoff can be tremendous with a feeling of shared elation and celebration between families and school as their child improves (sometimes drastically in a short period of time). At other time, I have found it difficult to establish contact and feedback with families of students who I have in reading groups.

Problem: How can I better engage families that are not immediately responsive  to my initial outreach?

Enter Seesaw

I first ran into Seesaw at an edcamp two years ago. It was presented well by a peer from another school who wanted to share her successes in sharing online portfolios for her kindergarten class. I loved seeing the artifacts, and could see how families were engaging with her and their child’s learning. Seesaw seemed like a modern, relevant way to send home student work. I did not immediately see utility for myself as a Learning Resource Teacher, but tucked it into my back pocket.

A few weeks ago, freshly transferred to a new school, I have started to support a classroom that is using Seesaw. (conveniently right around the time where I started this course!) This seems like the perfect tool for me to begin an adventure with social media.

I can clearly picture myself, and students in my reading groups, using this to show off their improving reading skills to their parents. Hopefully, this can lead to a more energized engagement and perhaps an increase in home reading!


It’s a start. I’ve spent some time watching explanatory videos and reading descriptions of the application on the company website. I’ve also created my account and added students. From here, I plan to first meet with the teacher I have seen using it and look at the various features together, and discuss how she has found it most useful for her own classroom practice.

That’s all for now! A nice beginning!