Seesaw is advertised as ‘The Learning Journal’, and it certainly has that potential. However, just like any educational technology, the impact on learning depends greatly on how it is used. If I’m being honest, I did not use it to its fullest potential during the trial period. This post will summarise ways that I plan to ‘level up’ my students’ use of Seesaw this year.
To read my introduction to Seesaw and its basic functions, click here.
George Couros writes for his blog The Principal of Change and has also published The Innovator’s Mindset. Both are highly recommended reads! In a recent blog post, he explained how some digital portfolios are just a showcase of students’ work. That’s what mine were like last year. There’s no harm in a showcase, but I want to use digital portfolios (specifically Seesaw) to actually take the learning further, not just to showcase it.
Students’ posts are just a showcase of work. The key to ‘levelling up’ is the online dialogue that goes with each post.
Less is more
Last year, my students posted so many different things onto their Seesaw portfolios. This meant that they didn’t have time to engage in quality conversations about the posts. There were simply too many! They need to take a ‘less is more’ approach this time to ensure that each post is accompanied with meaningful reflections, feedback and next steps. The image below highlights the most underused function from my Seesaw trial.
Whether these are typed or recorded, each image/video/link must be posted with a thoughtful reflection. Students will need to develop their ability to reflect deeply, so this will be explicitly taught and modelled. For any impact, the reflections must be deeper than simply retelling what they did. I will create prompt questions to guide them through the process.
Paul Solarz, author of Learn like a PIRATE, refers to peer feedback as ‘quality boosters’. The students can give positive feedback to their peers and also offer ‘QBs’ to suggest ways that they could improve. Again, effective and polite ways of giving feedback to peers will be explicitly taught and modelled.
This will take up a lot of my time, but high quality teacher feedback has proven to be effective. I will give feedback on every post and engage in the conversations with the students and peers. By having the app on my phone, I can do this at any convenient time.
As a school, we have not yet discussed whether we will make use of the parent involvement ability of Seesaw. If we do, I will also encourage parents to be active users of Seesaw. Their contributions to each post will be highly valued.
Imagine if students engage in high quality, meaningful conversations about every post with their peers, teachers and parents. What impact will that have on learning and the strength of the learning community?
If you are using Seesaw for the first time, learn from my mistakes. By all means, allow the student to create their showcases, but remember to use every post as a starting point for reflection, feedback, next steps and dialogue. Don’t skip the part that actually enhances learning.
What are your experiences of using Seesaw? What mistakes have you made? Do you have any other advice for people who are using Seesaw? Please add your comments below.