November 27, 2018

SeeSaw: The Best App for the Proficiency-Centered WL Classroom


I've been meaning to write this post for a solid 4-5 years, but have you every been so excited to talk about something that you couldn't formulate the words? That's how I feel about SeeSaw, my hands-down favorite technology tool for the World Language classroom.  SeeSaw is Check out this video all about SeeSaw:



Breakdown of What I Love about SeeSaw:


1. It effectively and efficiently shows students proficiency/performance in the Target Language. 

Students can add photos, slideshows, videos, and drawings and combine presentational speaking/writing to caption over their samples.  It's also a simple way to do interpersonal speaking assessments because students can record themselves speaking with a partner. 

Just to give you an idea of what types of tasks students can create in just minutes, here are some student samples:





I've had lots of students say how much fun they have creating their SeeSaw assignments.  Then again, I've had a few bemoan them and beg for worksheets instead, but I always remind them that they are not going to learn to Speak Spanish with a worksheet. Worksheets are tools, but these SeeSaw assignments take language performance to an entirely different level.


2. It's differentiated 

I give students choices so they can create products that interest them. Frequently they revolve around the same ACTFL Can Do Statement, but students have choices in how they choose to demonstrate their mastery.  For example, if I give students the Can Do Statement, "I can talk about what I do and do not like to eat," some kids create videos with presentational speaking showing which foods they like and others posted pictures with captions. Both are great examples of language ability and I think it's important that students choose options they are comfortable with and that are motivating. 


3. It's fun

I like to give students a lot of creative liberty.  I often give them an ACTFL Can-Do statement and then leave it to them to figure out how to demonstrate their mastery.  Most of them time, their ideas are way better than what I would have come up with! 

Lots of kids utilize the same apps they would in real life, which I think is really cool.  I frequently see samples from Instagram, SnapChat, text messages, etc., which makes the texts that much more authentic and completely hits ACTFL standard 5, "Learners use the language both within and beyond the classroom to interact and collaborate in their community and the globalized world." Sure, my students are connecting with their own classmates, but considering they are 8th graders, I'm insanely proud of their creativity. 




4. It's flexible and is available on all devices and platforms

SeeSaw is available on literally any device or platform.  It has apps for Apple iOs, Android, Kindle, Chromebooks or is usable on any device with Chrome or Safari. You can use it 1-to-1, have students share devices, use it on a cart, or students can access it on devices at home.

5. It's shows language development and self-creates a portfolio

At the end of each year, I have students take a class period to look through their SeeSaw postings from the entire year and reflect upon their proficiency growth. They are always blown away by how simplistic their language was in the fall and how much they can do by June. Lots of students make comments about how proud they are and and how silly they sounded in the beginning.  As a teacher, these moments make me glow. It's so cool to see my students as proud of themselves as I am.  

Another item worth mentioning is that you can create folders for students to submit work.  I like to create one folder per unit so we can all see what students were capable of doing in the first unit and how much they've grown by the last unit.  These folder portfolios can be downloaded at the end of the year or transferred over if you are part of a SeeSaw for Schools district.

6. SeeSaw is easy for teachers to use

SeeSaw is super easy to use.  I simply open SeeSaw, select the class I want to see and scroll through newly submitted work from the entire class.  Alternatively, I can also select a student's name from the roster and look at only their work. 

I can comment, enter feedback, and approve items within a matter of moments and with no clicking or searching around.  Instead of waiting for items to load, I can click play to watch videos and listen to speaking recordings and they load immediately. 

In terms of creating classes, there's several ways you can do it. There's a class code, you can send invites, or students can log in with their Google accounts; you get to select the way that's easiest for you. The first time we use Seesaw, I always have my students use their Google accounts to login. type the class code, and they create their first posts that same day.

7. SeeSaw is easy to use and intuitive 

I find that after I preview how to use SeeSaw for my students, they just get it. This generation inherently understands how to make the various types of posts with almost no teaching of the app itself.  

That being said, I like to use this lesson to get my students acclimated to SeeSaw's framework and I find that 1) my students are able to do all the different types of submissions and 2) I learn about my students and what makes them unique because they are posting "all about me" information. 

I've done SeeSaw trainings for teachers who are self-proclaimed "tech un-savvy" and they acclimate really well.  I should also mention that SeeSaw is an app primarily used by elementary schools; my kindergartener uses it pretty much on her own in the classroom, so middle and high schoolers will think Seesaw is easy peasy.

8. SeeSaw is free

SeeSaw is free! I used SeeSaw completely free with no complaints for years.  That being said, there is a SeeSaw Plus option, which allows for standards-based grading and a few other features, but you don't need to upgrade.  Use this link to create a SeeSaw account and they'll give you a free month of SeeSaw Plus to try out.

9. SeeSaw has an optional parent component

SeeSaw has a free, optional parent component that allows parents to easily access their students' work. Parents can download the SeeSaw Families app or use a browser logon and will instantly be connected with only their child's work. Each time their child makes a new submission, parents are notified, which I love because my students are more accountable and because SeeSaw helps me communicate with families and stakeholders.  If you're interested in more details, check out this video about the family communication aspect of SeeSaw.

10. SeeSaw is the most powerful WL tool around

No other WL tool can attempt to encompass all of the capacity that SeeSaw has.  Other tools can do pieces of what SeeSaw can do, but none of them can do all of the same things in one tool.  

For example, Flipgrid is indeed a fun way to do collaborative presentational or interpersonal speaking, but that's where it ends. Google Classroom is a great way for students to share documents and presentational writing, but it can't handle all of the speaking, images, and caption that SeeSaw can do.  

I'm a definite EdTech enthusiast, but I like to carefully select which tools I choose to use with my students.  Because I don't want to overwhelm my young students with too many different apps, I use only a handful of the most essential tools, but if I only had to choose one, I'd choose SeeSaw every time.  To read about my other favorites, click here.

Conclusion

I really hope you feel inspired to get out there and try SeeSaw with your students.  One more thing I forgot to share about SeeSaw is that it helped me to become more "Can Do" focused in terms of focusing on what my students could actually do with the language instead of what they know about grammar or vocabulary.  My students learned to focus on communication and the communicative structures they needed to complete a task and I found that they are much more comfortable trying to speak instead of constantly being afraid of making mistakes.

If you have questions, comments, ideas, etc. please comment below or email me at spanish.with.sra.shaw@gmail.com.  Also, I've been recently doing 1, 3, and 6 hour professional development sessions for teacher groups and I'd love to work with you and your colleagues! If you're interested, please reach out; I love working with teachers to implement technology and SeeSaw is the best way to start.



6 comments:

  1. ¡Excellent! I will try this next week! Thanks!

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  3. Gracias SeƱora Shaw. Tus apuntes me han ayudado mucho. Sra. Swank

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  5. Hi, have you used Seasaw with Secondary students? I like it but there's a Primary feel to it. Also I don't know how a Srcondary teacher teaching lots of classes would cope with having to approve all the posts. What do you think?

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