Monday, October 29, 2018

Seesaw New Features - October 2018

Seesaw recently added some new features. While not a major update, there are a couple of exciting things.

Sample Student is a feature that adds a student to your classroom allowing users to test out features in a class. Teachers can:
  • Try out all of the Seesaw Creative Tools just like students would
  • Test out activities and see how they work before sharing with the whole class
  • Add posts to the Sample Student journal and more
When a new class is created, Sample Student will now automatically be created but Sample Student can also be added to any existing class. Simply click on the Wrench icon in the top right of the class, Class Settings will open up; then scroll down until you see Enable Sample Student and click to turn it on (while there check to make sure Enable Item Editing is also enabled). Sample Student is similar to the ".Teacher: student many teachers created in the past - but a much better option.

Note: If your Seesaw iPad app has not yet been updated to the latest version, you can do this through the web version of Seesaw: Sample Student will show up on both teacher and students iPads once enabled.

For Seesaw classes using the email/Google log-in option, Seesaw has simplified the log-in process. Watch this short video for more information.


Sunday, October 28, 2018

Online Simulations and Google Classroom

University of Colorado Boulder
Online simulations are a great way to support understanding of certain concepts through a form of experiential learning and developing conceptual understanding in math and science. Studies have shown that students often develop conceptual understanding and master concepts in less time through simulations.

There are many simulation websites and resources available but one of my favorites is PHET Simulations form the University of Colorado:

These simulations are designed for math and science in a variety of grade levels including elementary and middle school. The simulations can be accessed on both laptops and iPads (be sure to select HTML5 simulations - look for the 5 in lower right corner or select HTML5 from the menu).

Designing PHET Activities for the K-12 Classroom

K-5 teachers can share the link to a PHET Simulation to students using a QR Code or URL shortener, such as or A couple of easy to use QR Code generators are or

If you are using Google Classroom, PHET Simulations even has a Google Classroom button that allows you to add a simulation to an assignment.

Note: data on the use of a PHET Simulation is not collected. Students would need to comment, write a review of the simulation, or take a screenshot of their work.

PHET Simulations don't require an account or log-in to play, But I highly encourage teachers to create a free account that provides access to additional resources and support.


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Seesaw Icons Thinking Through Seesaw

Ms. Pana is an international educator and technology and design coach at Taipei American School. She loves teaching and integrating technology. Seesaw is one of her favorite resources and she appreciates how students can use Seesaw to share their learning with the world.

She created these fun posters as a way for students to identify key Seesaw icons but also to "reflect on their own process of creation and learning." Just like our students, many of hers get "check" happy in Seesaw and their enthusiasm often leads to tapping the check mark before they are really ready. The posters are designed to help them stop and think before submitting. Here's an example of one of the posters:

You can download a free set of these posters for your classroom on Ms. Pana's website - just scroll down to the bottom of the post. They are available in several languages too.

Icons as a Visual Scaffold


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The New Google Classroom

Google Classroom is getting an update with a new look and features!

While Google Classroom is only 4 years old, we have seen lots of changes and improvements over those 4 years! But this year, Google has made some big of the biggest changes ever to Google Classroom - all based upon user feedback. 

You will now see three main tabs: Stream, Classwork, and People.

Teacher View

The Stream tab is where educators create and post announcements. It also shows due dates for upcoming work and when new assignments are posted. It's a great place to host discussions and help students develop their online communication skills.

Classwork is the real meat of Google Classroom. This is where educators will create and post student assignments and questions. One of the big changes is adding Topics to organize and identify assignments - you will definitely want to use Topics to organize Classwork. All assignments created and labeled with a Topic will be organized together. You could easily create topics for specific curriculum units, concepts, by quarter, and so on. Users can also access the class Google Drive folder and Google Calendar in Classwork.

The people tab will show all of the "people" associated with the class: teachers, students, and parents if you have enabled Guardian Emails. People is where you can invite other teachers and also show the class code to share with students. (this class doesn't have any students yet!)

A couple more changes:
About: The About tab is now a button on the right hand side of the classroom window. Right now, it only gives you the ability to view the Class Code to share with students. There are also some new themes to choose from.
Settings: Google Classroom now has a Settings button in the top right. In Settings you can edit the class name, manage how students post and comment, show deleted items, and turn on Guardian Emails.

You can also access the class code in Settings. Reminder: Creighton School District students join classes via the Class Code!

When students submit their work, there are also additional grading options. Teachers can easily switch between student assignments while grading and add feedback comments into a bank to use later.

Student View




Google has just completed testing of the new Google Classroom and will begin releasing it sometime in the next couple of weeks. However, you may see some of the changes appear sooner, such as the Stream and People tabs.

For more information about the new Google Classroom, check out the Google blog: 


Friday, September 8, 2017

Seesaw Does It Again!

Yesterday Seesaw announced that you can now download parent invite letters in 10 different languages! It's the "official" parent invite letter with a QR code included. You can only access this letter option on a laptop or desktop computer.

Example parent invite letter in Russian:

Looking forward to Seesaw adding additional translations in the near future!


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

T. A. G. Strategy

We want our students to reflect on their own work but also to be able to give effective feedback to each other. This is true for writing, conversations, or digital work. It's tough for us as adults and even more difficult for our students - no matter the grade level.

As we have started using Seesaw ( and its student Comment feature, I've seen lots of "I like ..." and "That's cool" comments. Not very meaningful.

I recently came across this simple strategy called T.A.G: Tell, Ask, Give. An easy to remember acronym and a good way to get students started in making effective comments.  I've seen several variations but like these descriptors for the acronym:

Tell - something you learned or was meaningful ("like" if they are specific about what they like)

Ask - a question

Give - a compliment or recommendation (depending upon the purpose for the comment)

Download a pdf here.

Here are some additional resources for the T.A.G. strategy:

Librarian Arika: Tell Ask Give Strategy

TAG Samples pdf

TAG Sentence Starters

Any ideas or suggestions on how to use or improve this strategy for students?


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Exciting Seesaw Updates!

Seesaw has quickly become one of our favorite apps. It's a great way for students to create learning portfolios, make their thinking visible, and share with parents. This summer they rolled out a big update to their interface (Seesaw 5.0) and added several great features. Here are the biggies (for me at least!)

Announcements and Messages
Send announcements to families or students! Even privately message families!

Personalize Classes
Add icons and color themes

Simplified Tools
No more searching and digging for what you need!

Family App
You can now connect up to 10 family members - so grandma and grandpa can  connect too!

In addition, Seesaw has created a variety of great teacher resources for using Seesaw in the classroom and communicating with parents:

Ideas for Your Classroom:
Access resources specifically for your grade level or grade band. These include a getting started guide, student challenges, task cards, and more.

Pre K - 2

Grades 3-5

Grades 6-8

There are also short Seesaw courses you can take based upon your grade level band. They take about a hour to complete, are completely free, and you can get a certificate of completion. You do need a Seesaw account to log-in.

You can find more resources, ideas, and assistance in the Seesaw Help Center.