Thursday, April 28, 2016

Another Successful Year of Operation Read

Operation Read is a district-wide trivia-bowl type competition for 4th-6th grade students.  All of the questions come from the current year's ten Golden Sower nominees (the Golden Sower is Nebraska's Children's Choice Book Award).  Students work together with their team of 3-5 to tell the titles of the books that correspond with the questions that are always phrased, "In which book..."  One of the questions from this year's competition was "In which book is there a life-sized statue of a character?"  This statue was only briefly mentioned in the book Escape from Lemoncello's Library.  

The students spend countless hours reading in preparation for this competition.  They have to read at least four of the ten books, but many read more than that and even read them more than once.  This truly is a remarkable event to be able to offer our students.  That they would get excited about reading is something we should all celebrate!  We had 215 students on 48 teams with each elementary school represented at our competition and hope to see the enthusiasm for this event continue to grow!

Congratulations to the team from Belleaire that took home the trophy this year! 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Using Seesaw to Create, Curate, Collaborate and Connect in the K-12 Classroom

As access to technology continues to grow in K-12 classrooms, teachers look for different ways to check for understanding, curate student work, collaborate and share. Teachers look for ways to “get into” the minds of the student to understand their learning process. They look for ways to bridge the gap between home and school in a 1:1 classroom. How will they curate work efficiently in a digital classroom? How about collaborating and building a sense of community in a technology driven classroom? Seesaw: The Learning Journal has provided answers to many of these questions. With its ease of use and limitless possibilities, Seesaw allows students to easily create and curate content while collaborating and connecting with classmates and parents.

In this blog post, I shared the basics of implementing and using portfolios with your students. One of our favorite apps/websites to use is Seesaw. We have seen the use of Seesaw grow in Bellevue Public Schools and it is now being used in many of our K-12 classrooms. So, what makes Seesaw so powerful? Here are 4 ways to use Seesaw in the K-12 classroom.

Creating (Multiple Apps, Images, Paper Samples, Reflection)
The possibilities that Seesaw allows for creation are limitless. Seesaw gives students the ability to create and upload their work from over 100 apps. What if you have a colorful graph that students created on paper? No problem, take a picture and upload it to Seesaw. Even better, if you want the students to explain their graph, have them upload the graph to Seesaw and record their voice explaining their findings. Bring in images such as maps and math problems for students to mark up and complete their work. Have students record themselves reading a story they have written while a picture that they drew is showing on the screen. Students need to learn how to balance a budget? Upload a picture of a worksheet or an image from the web and have them complete the budget, share with classmates and ask for help it needed. Another game changing use of Seesaw is having students use the whiteboard feature to reflect on their learning. After completing a math lesson, students can open the whiteboard and work a problem while explaining how to do it. Reflection is such an important component in the learning process and Seesaw makes it easy. The possibilities for creation are endless.

Curating (Work sample comparison, student led P/T conferences)
Curating student work is one of the well known benefits of using portfolios. Seesaw makes it easy for students to upload their work throughout the year using the examples above. Students are able to see their writing and other work improve throughout the year. How powerful it is to look at writing from August and compare it to writing done in May. The curation of content also allows for the use of Seesaw at parent/teacher conferences. Students can upload work to a folder title parent/teacher conferences or teacher’s can flag student work to share. During conferences let the student lead the conference and show parents their folder or flagged work.

Collaborating (Peer to Peer, Blogs)
Another powerful piece of Seesaw is the ability to use it as a student collaboration tool. Students can upload work to their portfolio and ask for peer editing help. Through the use of text/voice comments and likes, classmates can offer advice to their classmates. In one of our high school classes, the teacher uses Seesaw to share student created projects such as iMovies. Students listen individually to the movies and give two stars and a wish (two things they like about the project and one wish for making it better). Students then gather together in their groups and read through or listen to the comments and decide what they will change about their project. By doing this, the students know that their audience is bigger and the work turned in is of higher quality. They are also learning the skills of collaboration, social media etiquette, and the proper way to give and receive constructive criticism.

Connecting (Parents, Blogs)
Bridging that gap between work and home in a 1:1 classroom can sometimes be difficult but with an app like Seesaw it is much easier. Seesaw gives you the power to invite parents to view student portfolios. Parents can sign up to receive updates by text message or e-mail. By downloading the app on a phone, a parent can turn on notifications and be alerted when their student uploads something to their portfolio. Even better is the ability for parents to like and comment on their student’s work. Seeing students grin when they get a voice comment from a parent is priceless.

Seesaw has recently added the ability to create a class blog within the app. Students no longer have to navigate to another app or website to add work to their blog. The teacher can control the privacy of the blog and students can add anything they add to their Seesaw account to the blog. And better yet, classes can connect with other classes around the country or world. This allows the students to see and comment on other student's work.

The options that Seesaw provides for teachers and students allows for the easy creation and curation of student work while weaving in collaboration. The ease of inviting parents into the classroom through the use of Seesaw parent logins bridges the disconnect sometimes felt between the classroom and home. And with its ease of use, students from kindergarten through twelfth grade can benefit in a variety of ways from building a digital portfolio with Seesaw. 

Take a look at the video below which contains testimonials from Bellevue Public School teachers on how they use Seesaw in the classroom. How are you using Seesaw in the classroom?

Written by: Jeanette Carlson (@mrsjcarlson)