Charlotte's Web ThingLink

Friday, January 27, 2017

Authentic Audience and Increased Family Engagement with Digital Portfolios

As early as 1993, educators have recognized the importance of offering students the opportunity to share their learning beyond their classroom walls.  Families love the opportunity to see what students are doing in school, and studies show that engaged families promotes student achievement.

While there are many tools teachers and students can use to share student work digitally, this week’s guest bloggers, Sarah Williams, 4th grade teacher at Alta Vista, and  Rachel Schaffer, TK teacher at Athenour,  tell us how they use digital portfolios to share student work and increase family involvement.

Sarah Williams, 4th grade teacher, Alta Vista

Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 10.04.07 AM.pngEver wonder what happens to all of those wonderfully written papers we pass back to our students? Do families ever get a chance to see their student's work? Digital portfolios offer students a place to display their wonderful creations. They also allow families to explore work that previously may have landed in the recycle bin before even leaving the classroom.  This year my class created their own websites using  the new Google Sites.
Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 12.06.21 PM.png
Making the websites was quick and easy.  The updated Google Sites format is kid friendly and very easy to follow.  Check out this tutorial for help. My students created sections for each subject. Now, each time my students create a piece of writing, or a digital project, they add it to their website. In the end, they will have an everlasting chronological journey of their year with me.  Here is one of my student’s, work in progress, portfolio. I definitely plan to use digital portfolios every year and find them valuable and meaningful to me, my students, and their family.


Rachel Schaffer, TK Teacher, Athenour

Last year I discovered the most amazing technology tool: Seesaw! It was love at first sight!

Seesaw is a free app for students to capture photos, videos, text, links and audio in a digital feed. Students can use it on iPads (find it  in the App Store) or on Chromebooks (web version).

Seesaw is a:
  • digital portfolio
  • student learning journal
  • school-home communication tool
Best of all, my 4-5 year old students can use and operate this icon rich app independently. Seesaw is by far the most versatile technology tool I have come across. If you introduce your students to one technology tool this year, I hope that it is Seesaw.

A few ideas to get you started...
Students use Seesaw to:

Teachers use Seesaw to:

Record Performance-Based Assessments
This has totally changed the way I think about assessments. Students can record themselves, and I have a record of 24 performance-based assessments, done in 1 day!

I can also share videos of students explaining their work to families during conferences. Warning: This can be a powerful experience. One parent even cried as she listened to her child talking.

Send families video newsletters or quick reminders (right to their cell phone) Seesaw also allows you to see how many have viewed your post...very helpful to know who you need to follow up with later.

Connect with classrooms around the world!
← via connected Seesaw blogs.

It is not often that I spend free time perusing an app’s help center for ideas, but Seesaw’s help center is the exception.
The help center includes the following:
  • Tips for Getting Started
  • Tutorial Videos & Webinars (Seesaw offers free webinars led by teachers.)
  • Activity Ideas for K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
  • Teacher Stories

To get started, check out a presentation that Marika Parnell and I gave at the October 31st, 2016, PD, especially for examples of how you can use Seesaw in your classroom.

Please feel free to contact either of us with any questions. We would love to share more with you about how we have used Seesaw to streamline and increase communication in my classroom.