Use Seesaw to Create Digital Portfolios

When one of my office mates called me over during a prep period to show me how her third grade daughter had just posted a video of herself reading a poem she had written, I had to investigate what this classroom technology tool that allowed for parent involvement in the classroom and the creation of digital portfolios.

Ideally, a great teacher will seek to inform parents of what happens inside the classroom.  At the secondary level especially, this is Using Seesaw to Create Digital Portfoliosusually limited to a weekly email update about what to expect for the upcoming week. I have tried to do parent-student book clubs with limited success and for the past few years have consistently published my weekly updates and nothing more. Sure, parents appreciate them. But what if they could see what their students were creating and learning (let’s face it…high school students don’t tend to go home and share about their writing and reading)?  And what if students had a “real world” audience for their learning?

I piloted this new application called Seesaw for the last project of the school year with my standard-level sophomore class. You know, just to see if it was worth using and reaching out to parents during this next school year.

And…I loved it.  I knew that I would, but my students loved it, too.

Why I love Seesaw in the Classroom

  1. Seesaw is teacher-regulated (all posts and comments have to be approved by the teacher, and the teacher can choose to publish to the class blog or just keep it in the class feed for class members to see.  
  2. Students have the ability to post a photo, video, drawing, file, note, or link which allows for diverse uses and displays of their learning. 
  3. Seesaw integrates with Google Classroom.  
  4. Students will create digital portfolios of their work over time, a powerful tool to encourage student reflection and growth.
  5. It is easy to share artifacts with parents to highlight student growth.
  6. It’s really easy to use. I was up and running in ten minutes and my kids were on in even less time than that.

Students can see what their friends and classmates are up to on Seesaw. I had student post videos of themselves analyzing, reading, and talking about a personal connection to their all-time-favorite slam poem. Students said that they were a little intimidated that everyone would see their work at first…but that was really student-talk for “wow, I’m going to have to make sure to really do my best work” and “I’m being held accountable by someone other than my teacher.”  After they had posted, the room was silent as students listened, left comments and “liked” videos.  Students were engaged and gave feedback that it was “fun” and “different.”

This is going to serve as my classroom “blog” next year.  Like I said in the last post, I will use Google Classroom as a place for me to post announcements, assignments, questions, etc. for students and for me to assess and provide feedback for their learning.  This is piece two – a place where students can publish their work for other students, parents, and the world.  There is even the option to link up with other classes around the world on Seesaw which is something I want to explore.  I think that parents will enjoy being able to leave comments for their students just like my students and office mate enjoyed this feedback opportunity.

Potential Disadvantages to Using Seesaw

The only question I have in my mind is whether or not students will censor what they write if they know parents/students will be viewing their work.  Will they not be as personal?  Will students get “stuck” and have more writer’s block and anxiety because of this?  I have thought through these concerns, and realize that, yes, students might choose different topics because they are writing for the real world.  But isn’t this real life learning (choosing to meet an audience’s needs)?  Along these lines, I think that students may just surprise me and write about even more challenging topics and ideas just because they aren’t just another classroom assignment anymore.  And, as for the students getting stuck and anxious, I hope to combat this by building an awesome and supportive learning community in the classroom and allowing time for feedback and revision prior to the “publishing” of student work. This is real life, after all. In a job someday, they won’t be able to say that they got “stuck” on a project just because they had to share work with a boss or colleague.

I would love to hear your thoughts.  What educational technology tools are you using in the classroom to create 21st century learners?

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