A few months ago I was sitting in a meeting and I received a notification on my phone from an app called Seesaw. I check my notification and see a short video of my first grade daughter explaining how she solved a math problem writing on a white board and narrating her thought process. It was amazing like I was sitting right in the room with her, as a parent and as the principal in the building this has been such a powerful tool.
The teacher who created these opportunities in her classroom is Heather Palmer. Heather has been a first grade teacher at Pinewood Elementary in Jenison, Michigan for the last three years. Prior to first grade Heather taught second grade, transitional kindergarten, and pre-school. Heather is not just good with technology, she is an amazing instructor. She is able to see how and where technology will enhance students learning.
She taught her first grade students how to independently go on to the Seesaw app and be able to create their own learning portfolio. Students learned how to use many other technology tools in the process of creating their Seesaw portfolio; QR codes, google documents, a whiteboard app, camera, and voice recorder just to name a few.
The ability for parents to see samples of what their child was working on each day and activities that were happening in their class strengthened connections and relationships with families and between students in the classroom. It was also a great tool for me as an administrator to be able to be more involved with the daily happenings of the classroom. As much as I want to get into every classroom every day, there are some days it is not possible and Seesaw helped me feel like I am able to be two places at one time.
Along with posting evidence of their learning students were able to comment on other students posts. This was a great way to teach students about social media and how to use it responsibly in a safe and secure environment. Students were also able to write and speak to an authentic audience. The pride the students had when they created a video of their reading, or wrote a paragraph and received feedback from their peers was great to see.
We are not a one to one school, getting a program like this up and running with lower elementary students can be overwhelming for many teachers. I appreciate how Heather didn’t let the fear, or the what ifs stop her and she jumped in creating an awesome experience for her students.