Friday, April 29, 2016

To Seesaw or Not to Seesaw?

This year, we are 1:1 in 5th grade with iPads. One of the apps my students have come to know is Seesaw. We were using Kidblog until it was no longer a free service. This bummed me out for a solid two days. However, I'm moved on and living life just fine without it. 

Read more about all that Seesaw offers here

One of the features I really like on the website are the Activity Ideas in the Teacher Resource bank. These gave me an idea of how to get started using Seesaw.  

Here are some Pros and Cons of using Seesaw:
(Please note these are all my opinions based on my experience as a classroom teacher)

The positives:
  • All posts require approval. These gave me an opportunity to review all posts before they were viewed by my students. 
  • Parents can login and view posts, comment on posts, and see what their kids are blogging about. I had several parents leave comments, like posts, and view content each day.
  • Seesaw sends a "This Week in Review". You can see the traffic on your site, parent visits, student logins, etc. 
  • Students can upload pictures, record video, draw something, add links from the internet, etc. The feature we used the most was "Note". 
  • Students can upload a picture and annotate on top of the picture. This is great for labeling diagrams or working through math problems.
A few Cons:
  • In the "Note" section (where we blogged) there are no formatting tools.  They couldn't change the size, make proper headings, officially indent, etc. 
  • If they don't finish an activity and they log off.. Poof! It's gone. (This has been our experience..)
My Wishes for Seesaw (is anybody reading this?):
  • Give students an opportunity to upload a photo and type text with it. Similar to Kidblog or another blogging platform.
  • Add formatting features in the Note section so we can take our publishing up a notch. 
  • Save drafts! Please let us save. Sometimes we have to take breaks with projects on our iPads and don't always finish in one setting. 
  • Let us save! Sometimes we want to keep the work we publish on Seesaw. It would be GREAT to be able to save those things to our camera roll for future portfolios. 
To wrap it up, I'm a big fan of everything that Seesaw offers. I think you should jump on board and give it a whirl.

P.S. Some of "My Wishes" may actually be a reality on the app... and I may have not figured them out yet. :)


Whew - It's been a while sweet blog. I'm in a bit of a bloggy funk and can't quite find the direction I want to go with my sharing.  I'm a bit of an over-sharer in my personal life, so it's a bit surprising that I can't figure out my why for sharing here. At home, my husband is reading the book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity. While he's been reading, we've chatted about different things in the book and one of the topics is mind-mapping. 

I use mind-mapping all of the time in my classroom, but it never occurred to me to apply this logic to my own life outside of school (What? Life outside of school!? Just kidding...) 

The other night, I began to mind-map my summer plans and my blog ideas. Before long, I had a laundry list of things I wanted to share in all aspects of my life. 

So - I'm back! 

Our morning procedure is a bit rushed due to specials beginning at 8:15 and kids arriving at 7:50ish. We have a small window of time to unpack, write down daily assignments, and get prepared for the day. As the year is winding down, I noticed the kids are quite savvy with their morning procedure and had quite a bit of free time in the morning. While, of course, I encouraged morning reading.... that was not always the popular activity in the morning. I get it... they wanted to chat, catch up with friends in the 15 hours or so that they hadn't been together.

Enter... #AprilBlogaDay!

Using the online journal, Seesaw my students wrote one blog entry per day in the month of April. I asked for student suggestions on topics (or hashtags) and I created an anchor chart to display. It was one brilliant student idea to make Fridays a "catch up" day. 

As a class, we created a few ground rules. These ground rules really set the pace for our blogging experience. Since Fridays were "Catch up & Comment" days, we even had great discussions on leaving positive, specific feedback to our peers. It was amazing to see how students were helping one another edit and proofread their post. Plus... they are really good at finding the perfect emoji for every.single.occasion. 

While I gave my students the opportunity to submit ideas for the blog, I, of course, had to add in a few of my own. After a morning of blogging about #chicken (I heard about all kinds of chicken.. baked, fried, grandma's, KFC, using it for fish food....) I asked the students to blog about reading. A student piped up, "this was your idea wasn't it, Mrs. Robertson?" :)

Something I really enjoyed about my student's blog posts was what they chose to share. I learned so much more about my students through their blog posts. Some blogged about school, family, siblings, weekend activities. While they were blogging, I was able to "talk" to each one of my students because I could comment and ask them questions after they published. 

Today, I created a Padlet for kids to submit ideas for our "#EndofSchoolBlogaDay". I'm excited to see what they come up with!

Check out my blog post on the pros and cons of using Seesaw in the classroom. 

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