Lora Prebalick’s 19 first-graders at Lincoln Elementary School may have only scratched the surface when it comes to creating digital portfolios in the recent weeks they’ve been using Seesaw, but they love what they have done so far and are eager to use it even more.
The students use the software to upload photos, videos and other media to chronicle work they do in the third-floor classroom of the pre-kindergarten through second-grade school.
“It makes me feel like I’m on TV,’’ Zavi Nisbeth said.
“We can show our good work to others,’’ Phoenix Irvin said.
“My parents can see my work and give a comment about it,’’ Jayce Baker said.
“We can record our work and it makes me feel happy,’’ Tessa Miller said.
As they become more familiar with the Seesaw software, it will become second nature for Prebalick’s students to use the four classroom iPads to take photos or make videos to document their own work, drawings and notes. It’s then uploaded and stored it in a secure, online digital portfolio.
Seesaw is set up to have teachers control who can view student content and they can customize feedback options.
In Prebalick’s case, once she approves each student’s newly added content, those authorized to view it, typically parents and other family members, may do so. Once they view it, they can then like it and/or type or record a comment or a question for Prebalick to respond to.
Principal Stephanie Miller is a firm believer in Seesaw’s myriad merits. Not only does it help to provide a timely answer to a parent’s question about what their child is doing in school, it can provide key information about the ways they are learning and creating and progress they are making.
Both research and previous experience with Seesaw software usage has convinced Miller it’s not only a great tool for students and teachers, but it is motivating and also helps to bolster communications between school and parents — one of the key tenets in Newark Central School District’s new strategic plan.
“Seesaw is a platform that supports family involvement and empowers our students by giving them a real audience for their work,” Miller said. “This application provides an opportunity for students to showcase what they are learning and develop their digital citizenship skill.”
Prebalick is the first to use the Seesaw software at Lincoln.
There was a learning curve and glitches to navigate through for the first-grade teacher, her students and parents. She credits her teacher assistant, Jenn Fernandez, for helping students to learn the basics. When everyone is more comfortable using it, Prebalick said Seesaw will likely become an integral part of her instructional program, especially when children so readily embrace the use of technology in learning.
Having explained how to use Seesaw in a newsletter to parents, Prebalick is confident that they, too, will really enjoy using it.
“It has much more meaning for parents when they can see their child showing their work rather than just reading about it,” she said. “Plus, students are proud to show off their hard work in a picture or video.”