December 10, 2023

Seesaw Skills, Assessment and Parent Feedback

Author: Wesley Fryer
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Last week I had an opportunity to attend the LLI Southwest Conference at The Oakridge School in Arlington, Texas, and present with two of our second grade teachers about our “Seesaw Skills iPad Pilot Project,” which I’m leading this year with teachers in our Lower Division at Casady School in Oklahoma City. In this post, I’ll share a few reflections from those experiences, as well as links to the recorded audio of our presentation and our presentation slides. You can use the shortened link to view the slides, and the audio recording (posted to YouTube with the free iPhone app Voice Record Pro) is embedded on slide two. The audio recording of our session is NOT synchronized to our slides (since I haven’t had time for the post-production effort that would require) but can provide you with the content of our session that isn’t reflected in our slides. I just recorded this on my iPhone during the session, so I’m sure the audio levels vary and aren’t perfect… but hopefully it’s good enough for those who are interested and were not able to attend the session in person!

The official title of our 1 hour conference breakout session was “From Traditional Comments and Skills to Digital Learning Journals.” The description on the conference app was:

How can elementary teachers best utilize student digital learning journals to build portfolios of work authentically reflecting the development of curricular skills? Can these digital artifacts transform the traditional narrative feedback provided to parents by classroom teachers? This active learning session will introduce participants to the ways teachers in the Lower Division at Casady School are using the “Skills View” in Seesaw Learning Journals. In addition to learning about the goals and professional development / coaching supporting our 2018-2019 iPad Seesaw Skills Pilot Project, participants will view, discuss and evaluate a variety of Casady student artifacts included in their Seesaw learning journals. Participants will also have an opportunity to participate in a Seesaw activity tied to the Skills View, to gain a deeper understanding of how these tools can be used to document student demonstrations of learning as well as skills assessment.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about our session was using a “sandbox” Seesaw class, and helping teachers attending the session add a photo of a random object with a creative, narrated description. The Seesaw support article, “How do I create a professional development class in Seesaw for Schools” provided a downloadable template I used to create this temporary class for up to 30 participants. We opted to use the QR code sign-in option, which made things go MUCH faster in the workshop than if we asked teachers to sign in with their Google accounts. As attendees came into the session room, we asked them to write their first names beside numbers we had on a whiteboard, and I added these names in Seesaw for Schools before our presentation started.

I also really liked the Seesaw activity prompt we gave teachers, since it invited everyone to be creative, whimsical, and perhaps silly. (I was in my example post!) The goal was to help teachers (many who were not familiar with the use of Seesaw as a learning journal at all) to experience how media sharing can work, and how skill ratings can be added to student submitted artifacts as they are reviewed / approved by a teacher. We left about 20 minutes in our 60 minute session for this activity, to show how skill ratings could be added, and listen to a few of the creative submissions by session participants.

Like the multi-day iPad Media Camp (@iPadMediaCamp) and Make Media Camp (@MakeMediaCamp) workshops that my wife and I lead in the summer, I love providing teachers with opportunities to “be students” (even if briefly) in technology integration workshops. Getting “hands-on” with technology tools, creating media, and sharing it with others is much more potentially impactful (and even transformative) for teachers than simply watching a demonstration session at a conference.

This was the first opportunity I’ve had to co-present at an education conference with other teachers from our school, since I started at Casady as the Director of Technology almost four years ago. (I should clarify that to say, teachers from our school other than my wife!) This was a great experience, not only putting together the session ideas and materials, but also just traveling down to the Dallas area together and attending the conference! Never underestimate the potential value and impact of “breaking bread” together with colleagues and having opportunities to extend learning about instructional strategies together! I am looking forward to not only sharing what we learned with other teachers back at school, but also continuing my collaboration with Lisa Jordan and Melissa Coate (@melissacoate), with whom I presented at LLI Southwest. Woo hoo for professional development together!

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