What it Takes to Effectively Get Seesaw Up and Running in a G3 class

This week we were asked to write a post to reflect on technology use that we have done in the classroom. I have decided to share with you how I have helped a teacher introduce the behaviors and expectations around getting Seesaw ePortfolios up and running in his classroom. This is a teacher, Mr. King, who last year did use Seesaw, but by his own admission not very well and only did the minimum. This year his goal was to do it better and earlier (mainly because it was ready to go earlier).

He asked me to come in and do the first “post a picture” lesson with his students. This lesson’s focus was on setting up practices around what Seesaw is, how it will be used throughout the year, how we manage having five shared classroom iPads and 1:1 Chromebooks, and what Seesaw’s purpose is.

To fully understand the situation I will give you a bit of history on this class. There are four students from a class that used iPads, Chromebooks, and Seesaw heavily the year before. The rest of the students had some Chromebook exposure during grade two. The classroom itself has a set of 5 iPads and one Chromebook per student. Mr. King was 1:1 with Chromebooks the previous year.

The first lesson started with me explaining to the students that what we were hoping to achieve was understanding how to share iPads to take pictures and then move to Chromebooks to add comments. Mr. King wanted them to post a picture of their values poster. This was an A3 sized poster for most students. So my focus for the first part of the lesson was getting them to first take good pictures of their posters.

My second focus was getting them logged into Seesaw on the iPads. Because we only had five iPads in the room we decided to do this in phases. So after I explained all of the instructions to the students, I kept five on the carpet and the rest went to their Chromebooks to work on math practice. With the five that I kept, I sent them to take their picture then return to sit with me. We worked together to get everyone logged into Seesaw since they are using their email accounts, which they haven’t memorized yet. Once we all got logged in we all created a photo post in Seesaw. I then had them practice logging out (an essential for shared iPads) and I sent them to their seats to finish their posts on their Chromebooks.

I continued to select five students until we managed to get the whole class finished. This first lesson took nearly an hour to complete but the system of working with a few at a time was very helpful for both the students and me. It also gave Mr. King time to watch what I was managing repeatedly, so he was learning as well. The speed and the groupings worked really well for the students and allowed me to learn how fast or slow or independent different students were.

https://app.seesaw.me/pages/shared_item?item_id=item.16e621f0-daa4-4135-a2d9-8043dacd6d23&share_token=p3fBbRQtTuCDGm7I9PKy1Q&mode=share

This is an example of one post. Here are the student’s own comments on this post:

“I have learned what values mean and what influence means and what values mean by doing this activity. By doing this activity ,values means what is important stuff to you”

By the next lesson, Mr. King had already had them complete another photo post as reinforcement. So they were ready for a different type of post. For this post, we video recorded each student reading their biography. I knew going into this lesson that it was going to be tricky to finish in one 1-hour session and I made sure to tell the students this so that they knew that we may not complete the task. Letting them know this up front did a lot to manage their expectations I think. Also letting them know that Mr. King and I were still testing out the best way to do things helped them relax about making mistakes. They knew that we were all still trying to work it all out and therefore things might change!

So we paired students up and had them record their videos on the iPads. This is where it got tricky because I didn’t think it was a good plan to have every student log into Drive on their iPad, save their videos, then log out then pass the iPad to their partner and repeat. So we decided to have one of the pair log in to save both videos and share it with their partner.

At this point of the lesson with the first pair, I realized a problem that was going to happen! Because of wifi issues, we have to share videos through Seesaw via a link. So the videos in Drive have to have the right sharing permissions. I could quickly see this becoming a logistics nightmare. Thankfully, by this point, my tech teaching partner, Ryan, had been hired and was in on the lesson. Mr. King and Ryan managed the students who were doing the recording, doing the saving, and also the students who were waiting to record.

I was asking the students who had uploaded their videos to come to me with their Chromebooks and was quickly making a folder in their drive that had the right permissions so that anything in the folder could be shared and viewed. I realized that I was only reaching about half of the students with this but it was the best that I could do during this lesson.

Once we got all of the permissions sorted, the student were then taught to grab the link and post it into Seesaw. This is the point where I started recruiting students to teach each other as well. With the teachers all busy problem solving I asked the students to teach each other how to grab the link and post it. This was a great confidence boost for some students as well as a reinforcement of what they had just done themselves.

By the skin of our teeth, we managed to get all but about three videos posted. But during the following week, those student experts helped their classmates finish posting the remaining videos.

The next stage was to have the students create audio reflections on a post. Again there were three teachers in the classroom and again we used a similar method of capturing pictures as we had in the first lesson. Once the students posted the picture they moved to their Chromebooks and recorded an audio reflection for their post. Absolutely the most helpful part of this lesson was that the teacher had already prepared the students for what they were going to say by having them write out their reflection prior to our coming into the class. So there was no time wasted with students trying to remember or draft what to say while also learning how to record.

https://app.seesaw.me/pages/shared_item?item_id=item.d405230d-b609-448e-8fb5-43c0427e81eb&share_token=4GLf88SlSYyRGbMZApb4xQ&mode=share

Here is an example of that lesson.

This lesson still took about an hour, but that was mostly due to everyone not recording at the same time and the sharing of the iPads. One system we have worked out with the iPads is to use the same iPad for the same students as their google logins are partially saved that way. So each iPad now has a sticky note on it with the student’s names.

By this point, we were basically finished and the class was good to go, but Mr. King knew that he was going to be out for two upcoming days and asked that we come in and do additional lessons with the students. His idea was for them to record themselves completing a Math exit slip and posting that recording. But Ryan and I emailed him and asked if we could instead try out the new Activities feature. He said “Of Course” and so we got everything ready.

We started the lesson by telling the students that they were helping us learn by testing this feature since it would be our first time. Again this helps to set up the expectations for the lesson and I feel it really makes the students less stressed about mistakes. I think this is also helpful in building the relationships with the students that Carolyn Fruin references in her post What to Do When Your Flipped Classroom Flops.

When we explained what we were going to do the students at first were a bit “Aw, but we want to do the videos” as they had already done a similar post with Mr. King. We asked them to help us try it and they finally agreed. So we gave directions and then let them loose.

Here is what they created!

https://app.seesaw.me/pages/shared_item?item_id=item.475ce4ab-2665-48b8-9528-6ffc4eb3bc11&share_token=wslBsASdTyqtkGOcrCsZDA&mode=share

What I like is that you can hear Emma go through her entire thinking process. Even though she gets distracted a few times and says a few things wrong. You can still see that she does understand and trusts that she knows that she is right. It also gives you a clear understanding of some support that Emma may need. She may need to talk through her math thinking with a peer or an adult to make sure that she is explaining her thinking clearly.

https://app.seesaw.me/pages/shared_item?item_id=item.1b06b09d-387f-4d4d-ba5d-0f7d3ba8c55d&share_token=pDssAIk7QfqcDc-CKx2ggQ&mode=share

Itamar did a better job of explaining his thinking more clearly. Maybe it would be good for him and Emma to be partners so that Emma can hear an example of a good, clear explanation.

Our feedback from the students when we reflected at the end, was that they wanted more white space to write in. The problem took up too much space so they found the writing space too limited. This made me realize that the system we used for this specific problem would not always work for every type of math problem. They did admit that they liked the activity in the end and that they wanted Mr. King to do more!

Overall I have been very impressed with the work that the student’s, Mr. King, Ryan and I did during these sessions because I think it has set his students up to not only succeed at Seesaw but with anything else. I even mentioned to them that the patience and resilience that they showed when we ran into issues would help them because you always have to learn “workarounds” because you will always run into roadblocks! They seemed to take that as a compliment!

I have also received feedback from their PE teachers that when they use Seesaw in PE, Mr. King’s class is the most prepared to complete any task that the PE teachers have thrown at them.

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