Friday, February 26, 2016

Documentation via Seesaw in FDK

"At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child's success is the positive involvement of parents" - Jane D. Hull

Documentation continues to be the area that we reflect on, refine, and refocus ourselves on. Keep up with documenting children's discoveries, learning, ordinary moments, and joy can be a challenge in the classroom!

We have always used Noteability to document conversations, learning, project work and small group instruction. In addition to Noteability, we often use Pic Collage and Pages to create pieces of documentation for children's portfolios.

For the past few years we have also used Twitter and more recently Facebook as social media tools to share photographs, videos, and documentation with families. Once a month, we invite families into our learning environment after school to explore the classroom, read documentation, and look through their children's portfolios.

Although we had some success using Twitter, a colleague encouraged us to check out Seesaw. We had been meaning to test and try the new app for a while and we are so glad that we gave it a chance!

What we have learned through our trial and error is that there are so many options for capturing children's learning. After starting with Seesaw, we have reflected and now collect information using a few different tools:

  • Noteability: to record and organize longer conversations in project work, to record Knowledge Building Circles, to assessment make notes during small group instruction (only educators have access to Noteability)
  • Pic Collage/Pages: to create pieces of documentation for or with children for their portfolios
  • Seesaw: to communicate learning with families through pictures, notes, and videos (both educators and children use)
  • Twitter: to continue to connect with families and the greater community (e.g., other educators, other K classrooms, authors etc).

Seesaw has been an incredible addition to our "bank" of documentation tools. We have had the majority of our families sign up for Seesaw and their feedback has been incredible! Families have shared that they prefer it to other forms of social media as well!

What is Seesaw?
  • a digital app to collect, share, and organize student's thinking and learning
  • each child has their own "portfolio" digitally
  • pictures, videos, drawings, notes, and links can be added
  • journals are organized by students and subject areas can be added 
  • students can scan QR code to access their journal
  • Twitter: @Seesaw

Building a Connection with Families:
  • provides families with real time notifications on their mobile devices when something is added to their child's portfolio
  • parents are able to see the learning that is happening daily in the classroom and comment or connect
  • parents are able to comment on entries to provide feedback or encouragement

Benefits and Features of Seesaw:
  • multiple educators are able to access and add to the portfolios (teacher and DECE team, planning time teacher, administration)
  • very quick and easy to set up (and use!)
  • very user friendly (lots of great guides online and #seesawchat on Twitter)
  • secure way to share with families (only parents of that child have access to their portfolio)
  • keeps all of the incredible photographs that you take to capture learning (in 1 place!)
  • educators can "tag" more than 1 child in a photograph or piece of documentation (e.g., same picture or story will go into multiple portfolios)
  • provides a well rounded collection of information when it comes time to writing report cards, parents are already aware of the learning that took place too!

Getting Started:

1) Build Your Class: add students (by clicking on manage class, then manage students), change icon (if you click on individual students you can change their portfolio from icon to a photograph of them)

2) Add student learning
  • in Kindergarten: we add photographs and videos of learning with anecdotal notes for families. This has provided not only a window into the classroom, but education around the power of play based learning and project work.
  • students can capture their thinking and learning to share with their family
  • simply click on the green "+" sign to add to children's portfolios

3) Create folders to organize learning:
  • In Kindergarten - we have created our own folders to organize information. We often click more than one subject/area (e.g., literacy and math)
  • educators can customize the folders to include different strands of subjects or anything that will support their organization

4) Invite Families and other Educators to Join and Connect
  • You can invite parents via email or you can print a page that will have all of the instructions for parents to download the app and get connected (Seesaw is so incredible that they write the note for you, just have to print it out!)
  • Invite other educators to join in contributing or simply following (how great is it that planning time, special education or resource teachers can follow what happens when they are not there!)

This app has so much potential and we are sure that we are just beginning to experience the benefits of it! Some of our colleagues are experimenting with it in the classroom in primary and junior grades. Some use it just for themselves to collect evidence of student learning and success, others have opened it up to share with students or families. 

Hopefully this post will inspire more educators to give it a try! We were very happy with the tools that we had to document, in fact we were comfortable and unsure if we needed something NEW. Seesaw has been a great addition to our collection of tools and we are glad to be using it!

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