Category Archives: Eportfolios

Final Project, Course 5: Inquiry into ePortfolios using Seesaw

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be nearly done with Coetail.  Don’t get me wrong–it has been an amazing learning journey.  I’ve made many great connections and pushed myself professionally way beyond what I would normally do as a direct result of Coetail. But being new to my role as Ed Tech Coach, at a new campus, trying hard to prove myself, as well a being a mother of young children, I have found it very hard to achieve a work-life balance.  I am looking forward to reclaiming my weekends.  (And not being literally locked in my bedroom, hacking out a weekly blog post while my husband tries desperately to prevent my exuberant 3 year old  twins from banging on the door.)

That being said, I am extremely glad I went through this process.  Things that have happened as a result of Coetail:

-#GlobalEd Projects

-Regular Twitter User

Connections with inspiring educators across the globe

-Better slideshows (Thank you Course 3!)

-Greater awareness of my digital footprint–don’t wipe it out–make it positive!

-Improved writing/blogging skills

-Improved confidence when sharing my ideas in larger groups

These are some of my immediate reflections about Coetail in general, now onto my final course 5 project in particular.

 

It’s hard to come up with more that hasn’t already been said in a variety of posts I’ve written throughout my process (see links here,  here & here) and /or in the video, but nevertheless, I will try.

I had a look back on my course 4 project proposal:

My Project Goals:

  1. Teachers will improve in their ability to document a wide variety of student learning and will use this documentation more meaningfully in the classroom to enhance student learning.  Reluctant ‘posters’ (to Seesaw) will post more often. Frequent posters will post more reflectively.  Reflective posters will include more range in the technologies they use to document the learning.
  2. I would like for the younger students I work with to also use both the digital portfolio (and/or blog feature) more independently and reflectively.  
  3.  I hope to use the blog feature of Seesaw in some of the classes/grades and to promote its use as a collaborative learning and reflection tool for students.  

So, let’s  look at Goal  #1:

Teachers will improve in their ability to document a wide variety of student learning and will use this documentation more meaningfully in the classroom to enhance student learning.”

I will admit, it’s a bit loosey goosey.  How exactly am I measuring’ improvement’ and ‘meaningful’ and ‘student learning’.  Those are the million dollar questions.

In terms of actual numbers, I can  look at Seesaw analytics for ideas as to how often we post as a school.  (I can only see when individual teachers sign in–when I see ‘last signed in 11 weeks ago’ I feel a bit deflated.)

Here are the stats of Seesaw posts from when I started Course 5 to the end.

Looking at weekly items doesn’t really help much. A quick look at the dates tells me teachers post most often in the week or two before school breaks– (and not at all during breaks.)  They posted rather obviously right around Student Led Conferences on March 23.  

I had to go back and check our e portfolio staff meeting dates (Feb 1 and March 1) and could see there seemed to be a building enthusiasm of posting after our first meeting–where teachers fed back and filled in the compass points activity (Need to know, Exciting, Suggestions for moving forward, Worries.)  There was a definite drop in posting activity after the second meeting on March 1 , however, when we looked critically at posts using the following Guide:

Of course I have no idea if the meeting and reduced posting are related.  Back from break, perhaps teachers feel the long winter ahead of them and feel sluggish about posting.  Or perhaps they are in the middle of units, or have just begun units and don’t have much of anything to post.  Or perhaps they are thinking more critically about what they are posting…the eager posters have actually slowed down and are asking themselves, “Where is the learning?

Our parent engagement section is always affirming. Looking at the two charts side by side, most parents take a look at what their children are posting, and it seems they have their notifications turned on.  I can see there is a very  small percentage of parents not connected.  I am not sure what to do about that. We have discussed making the connection to Seesaw/blogs as part of the first Parent Evening–but even then, not all parents come.

Nevertheless, getting parents to engage more effectively (and not necessarily more often) will continue to be a goal for me and the school.  Teaching them more explicitly about effective commenting skills can help push student learning forward.  Of course, with younger students being the ‘readers’ of these comments, as a school we need to be clearer about who is the audience for the comments, or for that matter, for the posts themselves.  Many teachers view the platform it as a way to communicate to parents, rather than as something for students, by students.  When you are working with a wide range of student ages (3-12), this gets tricky.

 

Which brings me to Goal #2:  

“Younger students will use the digital portfolio more independently and reflectively.”  

Students looking through their ‘journals’/portfolios at Outdoor Learning

Some students in KG and up are certainly posting to Seesaw more independently–but not all classes.  I know from experience 4 years olds can handle it–it just needs to be embedded in the class routines, and not something they do only once a month.  They will never remember the steps.  Some classes have encouraged student reflection via the comments, but I do understand this is a big task for teachers to take on–listening to long winded student comments before approving them is daunting.  This is where assistants could be of greater assistance if they were empowered to do so.  (Currently their hands are ‘tied’ and must use Seesaw as ‘students’.)

Ultimately, the commenting feature needs to be utilised more effectively to get the most out of the platform and to enhance student learning, whether it is with the blog feature, or with regular posts.

Teachers making effective comments on student work.

Parents making encouraging comments about student work.

Students reflecting on their own work.

Peers making critical (not criticising) comments on classmate’s work.

And all of this means nothing if the student doesn’t get the opportunity to review these comments in a timely manner–when checking in on their portfolios/having the opportunity to reflect is not a daily/weekly routine.

“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.”  -John Dewey

Goal #3

“I hope to use the blog feature of Seesaw in some of the classes/grades and to promote its use as a collaborative learning and reflection tool for students.”  

I managed to convince one class to open the blog option.  Now, more may well have been interested, but my school’s admin were reluctant to confuse matters for teachers/parents/students new to the system by encouraging them to deal with yet another digital platform.  It also opened up a can of ‘equity’ worms…once one class goes this route, others feel pressured to do the same.  I strongly feel one class should not be held back by others unwilling to try something new.  So, I tried with one class and that was not without its challenges.  If I was not in the room facilitating, blog posts/comments did not happen.  The potential of the power of the global connection was not (yet) felt by the teacher (although the kids were quite excited by it!) and so was not made a priority in the busy classroom.  However, these students are getting much more independent when making comments in general, so this blogging effort is certainly worthwhile if only as a means to independent commenting.

 

Effective commenting on portfolio posts using thinking routines and effective questioning will be my on-going goals for the rest of the year and next. I will use the aforementioned Compass Points Activity to detail further feelings about my Course 5 project.

In terms of making the movie itself, I found syncing pictures I had curated along the way with the script I had in mind was a challenge.  I had lots of pictures of some things–SLC’s for example– and little photographic evidence of other things (working directly with students on their posts).  It was easy to get footage of the SLC as I was not directly involved on the day of.  It’s quite challenging to take pictures while setting up microphones, prompting 4 year olds for their reflections, and guiding them to the right buttons.

I enjoyed combining different tech tools (Screencasts, Quik Videos, Google Slideshows, Haiku Decks, Spark Pages, etc.) to produce the final piece.  I tried keeping CARP in mind, but the many, many fonts and layouts I’d used in projects and presentations throughout the year with staff and students made it look a bit of a mishmash when all put together.

I had fun going beyond the usual i-movie jingles by using attribution free music found in Youtube (video manager > create).  I also made sure to double check that I could indeed use the photos from Haiku Deck attribution free. (I can-they are CC.)

Enough wordiness.  Here is my final project:

A little bit of this and a little bit of that

Taking a slight break from my focus on ePortfolios & course 5 project (not really–I was just earlier going over my workshop for Learning 2 in Warsaw next week), I thought I’d throw together a few things I’ve been working on/thinking about over the last few months.

Wondering how to incorporate AR into the classroom:

My 3 year old twins as my test subjects:

Animal Alphabet and Augmented Reality

Clearly loving the special effects

I’m still not sure how effective this is at learning the alphabet.  It’s definitely cute and fun.  It entertained us for an hour or so. I’m still looking for ideas and inspiration in this area…

What do you do when you are asked to introduce Minecraft and you are completely clueless?  Find some experts!

Second Grade Minecraft Experts Introducing Game to First Graders

A teacher wanted to use Minecraft as part of a unit of inquiry into homes–how/where/why they are built the way the are.  Having never played before, I looked up some basic guidelines, watched a few youtube videos and played around.  No way was I going to catch up to the expert level that even some of the kids in the class were likely to be at.  Time to call in the experts: second graders!  They made a simple Google Slide presentation and shared their knowledge with the first graders.

Shared iPads, team work.

Here is a link to a pair’s final Minecraft Homes project .  The students were incredibly proud, it prompted students to share and reflect on their process to Seesaw and to open the blog option in order to share their project and learning globally.

I’ve been playing around with the ‘new’ Google Sites and quite love it.  Mind you, I didn’t really use the classic version– it wasn’t nearly so intuitive.  I struggled with formatting and saving things and mangled my way through it when writing the online Google Certification test earlier this year- (pretty much the only time I’d used it) but the newer version is all one could ask for: simple to use,  all Google apps are easily accessible/importable within the sidebar, and formatting is a relative breeze.

Here’s a sample of my efforts:

Tech in the Early Years Google Site

I have no immediate plans to share this–perhaps with like minded colleagues at next week’s conference? I’m lying in bed and motivated to continue to tinker with it, rather than sleep.  I do feel that the easier a platform is to use, the more likely people will use it.

Platform Blues

I am seeing (and hearing) this mantra firsthand form my colleagues.  Back to portfolios for a minute, lower elementary teachers (EY-Grade 2) use Seesaw, with its super easy interface, large simple buttons, easy uploads, no HTML, no fuss with public vs private…and love it. While Upper Elementary teachers are using Blogger and are having a significantly harder time with it (grade 3-5).

Blogger and (no offence) Word Press don’t motivate me/teachers, and the students in the same sense.  Yes, these are blogging platforms and encourage wordiness and reflection–Seesaw and Google Sites are more meant for images and multi media, I suppose.

After Course 3–I very much lean towards a simple,  visual style— you can get your message across much more quickly and effectively with an image/video and a short caption (rather than a long winded blog post that is not-so-motivating to read, let alone write.)

And on that note…

My ePortfolio Learning Journey: Part 2

Here is a ‘Down and Dirty’ Summary of my work towards my Eportfolio goals/Final Project since my last post:

  • Liaised with staff, Upper Primary Ed Tech Coach and PYP coordinator to revamp Portfolio Essential Agreements:

ISZL Portfolio Agreements

  • Co-planned and co-led 2nd ePortfolio Staff meeting , where we looked critically at portfolio posts in teams/cross grades and cross platforms (Blogger).
  • Filled out Ambassador PD form, and requested free Seesaw Swag.  My T-shirt has arrived!

    My Seesaw swag arrived!

Our Portfolio Post Framing Questions:

  • How has the teacher or student shown the context for the learning? (What? Where? When? Why? How?)
  • What would help you to understand more about the context for learning? (What questions do you have?)
  • Is the individual student learning evident?
  • In what ways has the teacher scaffolded the post?
  • Is there evidence of teacher voice? Is it necessary? Is there evidence of student voice? Is it necessary?

Staff Meeting Critical Reflections:

Adobe Spark Page

Staff Portfolio Meeting, Created in Adobe Spark Page. All Photo Credits: Holly Fraser. Click to view! 

  • Led several training sessions for Assistants (KG, EY1, Gr1) on Seesaw & finding the learning, using the PYP essential elements framework (looking for specific skills found under the 5 Transdisciplinary Skills Heading; Attitudes)
  • Created Wallpapers for class iPads with Seesaw ‘Wow’ Work Poster to act as visual guide/reference 

Grade 1 iPad Wallpaper

  • Continue on-going discussions and work with grade 1 pilot class on blog option (set up blog, ‘advertised’ in Google + community of Seesaw Ambassadors for a Seesaw connected blog; communicated with parents, liaised between class teachers involved…plant to intro to students…forgot to consult admin…snap. 🙁
  • Created/Collated Resources ‘Seesaw for SLCs and beyond’ in a Padlet (I can’t get enough!) and shared with Staff 

Made with Padlet
  • Met with visiting Ed Tech Leaders to show/ walk them through Seesaw/how our school is using it and discuss with them the possibilities/limitations as they are currently making a decision about a platform for next year.  Walking someone else through our process was a nice reminder of just how far we have come!
  • Proactive effort to work with students using Seesaw: Modelling use of voice recorded comments and drawing tool in classrooms; recruiting students during Outdoor Learning to review their journal and begin to make comments on their own and other’s posts.
  • Continue to contribute to and update my ‘Course 5 Padlet‘ 
Students looking through their ‘journals’/portfolios at Outdoor Learning. Photo Credit: Holly Fraser

Checking in with Course 5 project: eportfolios

Okay, Coetail, here we go, course 5.  

 

I have taken a break from actively blogging about my Course 5 progress, but the few Coetail graduates I’ve spoken to are warning me against such breaks. So the other night I sat down to reflect on what I have been doing to accomplish my loose plan of a project and to brainstorm next steps.

I have narrowed the focus of my project–previously a bit too broad
— to be purely about (
learning about and promoting) the effective use of e-portfolios by staff and students (with a focus on the platform EY-Gr2 teachers use: Seesaw).

 

 

 

Here are some ideas I came up with:

+Use Padlet to store items/resources/evidence

-Storify…link/screenshots… of twitter chats…

-Google +

-Webinar — opening up blog 

Project Course 5 Goal:
Become a Seesaw Ambassador. Check.

-Seesaw ambassadorship 

 

-Staff meeting ‘E-portfolio Feedback and Check in Session’ + any Follow up…

-Feedback next steps/plan???

I began to think of eventual workflow–the final course project must eventually be in the form of a movie, likely edited in iMovie.  Would storing things in a Padlet (an online tool) be best for eventual retrieval to use in iMovie?   Would Google Drive be better? Or even simply a folder on the desktop–where I store much of my Coetail media to be uploaded, anyway?  

 

‘Made with Mirth’ Aside:

I discovered Padlet last year and used it as a platform for sharing/storing photographs in a collaborative photography project.  But I haven’t really revisited until a short while ago, when I recently discovered the Padlet extension from the chrome store (it enables me to easily add websites I am currently visiting to an existing padlet, or to create a new one.)  Padlet is just so nice and visual, I love the wallpapers, and the randomised and charming ‘made with mirth’ subtitles.  I love that I can share them, invite others to contribute/view, etc. (which is a work in progress) but I love that the possibility is there.
A fellow Coetailer at my school, Joy Walker, showed me how she used it to house interactive Maths games for use on the Smartboard.  I thought this was a great application–until we discovered that so many of the games she had put there a year or so ago either had broken links or wouldn’t work on the computer connected to the Smartboard–it likely needed a software update/plug in (?) in order to run the games. I am still new to solving these kinds of technicalities, and discovered these limitations/frustrations with older websites when I tried creating 100’s day Padlets, and Coding Padlets for Kindergarten. )

 

In any case, I wanted to try out Padlet as place to keep track of and demonstrate my progress with my Course 5 project on ePortfolios, as well as future plans (and do my best to maintain my Coetail media desktop folder) so here it is:

(link) https://padlet.com/holly_fraser/coetailcourse5

Made with Padlet

I am still learning how to best use this Padlet platform most effectively, and it does have its limitations. For example,  I wanted to have arrows going between my different posts, kind of like in a Popplet, or at least be able to organize the posts into discrete categories, like ‘PLN’ or ‘personal PD’–which I kind of can, by using the freeform method of organising posts and grouping like items.  I do like the variety of sharing options (similar to Google Drive) and continue to wonder at its possibilities…

Since I am currently a little obsessed with Padlet right now, my next thoughts turned to, “Could I use Use Padlet to house great Seesaw examples and/or resources and share with my staff?” Would people balk at learning/using yet another (despite its charm) platform?

After testing out the sharing of a ‘best practice’ post from Seesaw to a Padlet, I notice the key element (teacher/student comments) aren’t included, only captions.  This is not ideal. Sigh. Back to the drawing board.  

My Next Steps:

1. I will continue to update my course 5 Padlet (as I am exploring processing information more visually these days…)

2. Prepare Plan for upcoming Staff Presentation–‘Updated Portfolio Agreements and a Response to Staff Feedback on e-Portfolio journey so far.

Sample feedback: “More direct teaching of skills (taking photos, videos, recordings) so students can make better quality posts with EdTech leading this” 

A possible response: Create visually appealing posters “How to take a clear photograph that best demonstrates your work/learning” to be posted around classroom room, visit each class, give some direct instruction, provide the students with additional practice using specific skills.

3. Possibly prepare a presentation/session on Seesaw as an ePortfolio platform at the upcoming Learning 2 conference in Warsaw.  I was rather late submitting my proposal, and the scope may be more limited than the organisers have in mind, but it’s a possibility.  (Although in my haste to submit my already late proposal, I did not take a screen shot, the gist of my proposal :

Introduce Seesaw as an eportfolio platform, highlight its benefits (& potential drawback) and engage in a discussion on effective portfolio posts–how to best share/show student learning.

4. Continue to model best practice (when making my own Seesaw Posts) and learn as I go.

Sample Best Practice (IMHO): Hundred’s Day Stop Motion Video post to Seesaw:

(23 second video needs to be uploaded somewhere else then embedded here)

Elizan and Alex carefully watched another group make a “Hundred’s Day” stop motion movie, understood the technique (take pictures, adding one item at a time in groups of ten–no hands!) and were eager to get started themselves. They seamlessly worked out an agreement to take turns choosing and counting out the items to place on the light table. They checked and re-checked their progress by re-watching the movie, counting aloud by tens. Alex: “We have 70. We need 30 more. 3 more tens.” They worked efficiently, and were focussed until the end.