Seesaw: Initial steps and moving beyond journaling

Seesaw: Initial Steps

Last year, I implemented Seesaw in all my classes.  I traditionally used it for a writing journal and an occasional voice link.  As I play around more in Seesaw this year, I found myself using it more and more.  I also have students who really like to take pictures with it for their journal entries.  Even if the assignment doesn’t require it, I do enjoy the little snapshots of our class.

Yesterday, I presented to my department.  I created a tutorial on how to sign up.  This is a basic explanation with screenshots that describes how to sign up.  In my email, I also detailed how I used it in class.  Here is how I have used it:

1.  Do all of their writing in it!  They can write presentational pieces or interpersonal writing in the comments.  This can be done as an in-class assignment or as homework.
2.  Take a picture and label it with the target language.
3.  Take a video in the target language.
4.  As the teacher, leave a voice comment for a student and have students speak back!
5.  Have students take a screenshot of their work and reflect on it.  (I have even had students take screenshots of their Seesaw work to comment on it- see the pictures below.)
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6.  They can also snap a picture of their notes from class and talk about them.
7.  After talking about the music video, I had students recreate the story in four scenes.  They put the pictures into PicCollage, so they did not have to upload them individually in Seesaw.  Then, they wrote a caption for their pictures in Spanish.  Here are a few results:
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8.  Finally, recently I have seen these awesome #booksnaps on Twitter.  In Book Snaps, you take a snap of your favorite page, add a caption and also maybe some cool stickers or drawings.  This year, I have been struggling with how to keep FVR low key to benefit students and how to hold them somewhat accountable, so they aren’t just staring at the page.  Today, I asked them to just find their favorite part.  These are some of my favorite #booksnaps!  My students did this on Snapchat and uploaded it to Seesaw, but you could have students do this right in Seesaw, too!
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Quick Tip: Print Friendly

Quick Tip: Print Friendly

Sometimes I feel like even though I am “techy” and can figure things out, there are so many things that I do not know!  Last year, when I would print out an article from a webpage, it would take up 5 pages and would be filled with white space and pictures.  Then a colleague used Print Friendly!  It will turn a webpage into a PDF.  To start, you put the url into the page.  Then your mouse will highlight each section, and you can click on it to delete it.  Finally, you can convert it to a PDF.   This is perfect for authentic resources because it minimizes all of the mess!  I used it on my exam with this ficha from Shakira.  I deleted her Twitter and Facebook account information because it wasn’t necessary.  It looked so much clearer than the original which will make it easier for my students to read.  It was also done very quickly.

New Technology Updates

New Technology Updates

I always get really excited when some of my favorite technology makes updates!  I wanted to share these with you if you use the following websites.

Almost all of my students love Kahoot!  In fact, I ran into one of my students at Target with his friends from a different school, and he requested that we play more Kahoot!  Here are a few updates that they have made this fall:

  1. You can award additional points when students are on streaks.  This is great because it keeps students who don’t always win engaged, so they don’t break their “streak!”  To turn this on, you turn on the option after you click “Play” on the game screen.Kahoot Answer Streak.png
  2. In addition, you can turn on Podium, so the top three players are displayed at the end of the game.  This is on the same screen, but it is located at the bottom of the page:Screen Shot 2016-10-31 at 12.31.48 PM.pngOnce you turn these features on, they stay on throughout your other games.
  3. Finally, a new Kahoot game is coming called Jumble!  Instead of selecting the correct option, you put the pieces in the correct order.  You can try it out on the website.  I loved it!  One of the aspects that I really liked was that if I got the answer incorrect, it prompted me to try again.  I could keep going until I got the answer correct.  This would be perfect after telling a story to have students put the events in the correct order.

As I have blogged before, I really like using Voicethread for speaking practice.  One of my reasons is because students can call on their phones to record their answers.  They have a lot of new features as well:

  1. Students can add their own slides without being a collaborator.  At the bottom of the page, there is a button with two squares.Voicethread Add Slide.pngThen this slide pops up and they click on the plus:Voicethread 2.pngThey can record an audio, upload files and record a video.
  2. I have used Voicethread as an assessment.  Now you can search for commenters by clicking on the magnifying glass at the bottom:              Voicethread III.png
  3. Finally, you can add videos to comment on via YouTube!

Check out these new updates, and let me know how you use the following programs!

Ideas for a low key class


This time of the year, it seems like we have a lot of special schedules.  The other day, half of my students had just taken the PSAT all morning.  We also had a Homecoming Pep Rally recently as well as our version of the Olympic games.  I wanted to have something that was productive and meaningful for students, but something that they could complete simply.  Here are a few of my ideas when students need a bit of a break:

  • Drawing: I had students draw a picture that was described in a Spanish paragraph.  It demonstrates comprehension without requiring a written response.  You could also have students make a comic strip live or online.
  • Kahoot, Quizizz or Quizlet Live: These are some of my favorite games as well as my students’ favorite games.  They are also easy to set up.
  • Señor Wooly nuggets:  These nuggets ranked on some of my blended students’ favorite activities.
  • Playdoh: I haven’t used it as much as I would like from the beginning of the year, but this was a favorite activity of my Spanish 3 students during my student teaching.  They felt like they were learning something yet it was relaxed.  You could also have them create a scene from the story with Play doh.
  • Café y conversación:  I would love to plan this for the first two hour snow delay!
  • Also if students won’t talk in person, they could have a discussion on Today’sMeet!
  • Tongue twisters!  My students are always up for a quick tongue twister at the beginning or end of class.
  • Crayon War: Even my older kids who are too cool for games love this one.

Share some of your favorite low key lesson ideas in the comments, and I will add them to the list!

Actively Learn for Interpretive Reading

Actively Learn for Interpretive Reading

I saw Laura mention Actively Learn on Twitter as a sort of EdPuzzle for reading, and I was intrigued.  It is a freemium technology.  You can import a website or PDF to this site to add questions, links, polls or notes.  As I am finishing up the movie unit, I imported an article on Storks the movie.  As I was perusing the article, I would highlight what I wanted the students to answer a question.  You can insert a note, white out a section, add a question or insert a link.  I choose add a question to show you what you could add:


I added my questions, notes and polls, make a class and push it out to my students.  Once my students are in my class, they can see my assignments.  As students respond, I can respond to their answers.  This is what the results look like on my screen:

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I made the responses anonymous for the sake of my blog, but I can turn on the feature to see which student said what.  Also, there are some awesome features when students respond.  They can see what others’ say AFTER they hit submit on their question.  They can also change their answer once they see others’ answers.  Students can also see the notes that others take.  In addition to seeing others’ work, it is very easy to grade the responses within this program.  I can also give feedback individually to each student.

The drawbacks for the free version are that I can only add three articles a month.  From the material that I can find in Spanish, there is not a lot of usable material for my Spanish 2 class because I am not teaching Don Quixote to my kids!  Also, it would be amazing to differentiate by assigning different articles to different students.  That is a feature with the premium version.

Overall, I am very excited about this program!  This is perfect for a blended or online class. It would also be an excellent idea for a sub day.   I asked my trial class for feedback, and they really liked it overall.  One student felt that this was easier than answering questions via a Google Doc.  Also they liked the text boxes and liked that they could see others’ responses.  Even if they change their answer, I can still see their original answer. I look forward to continuing to work with this program this year!


Updated syllabus for Spanish II

Spanish II syllabus

Since I wanted time to work on my syllabus, I decided to complete it over the weekend, so I wouldn’t stress next week.  I decided to create my own template with Picktochart, and it really was easy!  In the past, I had used the template and while it was better than a Word document, it still wasn’t too fancy.  It helped that I had Wendy’s ideas to reference.  I really like how Wendy listed activities that students would do.  That would actually make me excited to be in a class… instead of just reading about course goals.  I got rid of my course goals!  (Don’t worry, they are still on my website!)  Here are a few tricks that I discovered while developing my syllabus:

  • Under tools, you can create a chart for your grading policy.  Under settings, you can turn off the “legend.”  This way, you can make the chart easier to read.  Then, I placed the title category over the bar.  This was much easier to read.
  • I decided that two fonts look better than sticking with one.  Also, I tried not to go add too many fonts, or I think it is hard to read.
  • Under graphics, I stick with icons instead of images.  To me, they look more streamlined for an infographic.  With icons, you can change the opacity or the color.
  • If you move any box, Picktochart has great guidelines that appear.  This really helps me because I can barely line up my bulletin boards!

Do you have any Picktochart advice?  I am so excited to show this to my students!

Online review game for fast finishers

Review Game Zone for Fast Finishers

Typically, I like to have activities ready for students who finish early.  I have had Zondle available, but it recently folded unfortunately.  Last year, I stuck with Quizlet and Quia, but students didn’t play Quia as much.  They also became bored with Quizlet ALL the time.

Recently, I found Review Game Zone.  I like it because you can set up a class to see student progress.  I also like the multiple different games that the site provides (about 15 total).  Teachers can create multiple choice questions, or draw from a bank of multiple choice questions.  Students can choose the game to play.  They answer a question correctly to be able to play.  I feel that it imitates many games that students enjoy playing.  (I enjoyed the tower stacking game myself!)  In the past, I would have students play these games at home as well for fun.  Plus, it is free!

Many Spanish games already exist.  While many of these games focus on grammar or vocabulary, I would encourage teachers to create a game that focused on a novel or a reading.  Teachers could also create a game describing a vocabulary word instead of sticking to translation to practice more circumlocution.  In the end, these games are perfect for students who are done, but many times, students end up “playing” more than answering questions.

Using Seesaw App in a Foreign Language Class

Using Seesaw App in a FL class

Today, I wanted to explain how I used Seesaw last year, and how I plan to improve it this year.  If you are new to using Seesaw, it is a place for students to store their work.  Students can add a picture, video, link, note, drawing or file.  It also divides your students into classes, so they can see other’s work (if you choose).  Last year, I used it any time that students had to write something.  Most of my students just added a “note.”  Students were able to do so very quickly.  My main goal was to have a place for my blended class to journal.  Having Seesaw was MUCH better than having each student have their own blog.  I had to approve each piece before it posted, so I was able to read briefly through each piece.  It was also really easy to leave comments on their work (as you can see below).

Seesaw App

Students could also leave comments on each other’s work.  I encouraged students to do so from time to time as well.  I had to approve the comments too, which is another great feature.  (Interpersonal writing anyone?!)

I appreciated that Seesaw collected all of their work in one place.  It made it easy for me to check who had done the assignment.  It also helped students reflect on their work.  Below, I have added some quotes from students on their self reflection about how their writing has improved by journaling:

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In addition to writing, I had students record on Vocaroo then add the link to their journal.  This way, they could include more speaking practices into their portfolio.  I had them complete this with partners, and it was easy to add another person to their journal.  (I also had students write poems in tandem for their journals, and they could tag their partner.)

Finally, Seesaw helped me write comments last year.  I easily could access their work, and I could give them specific thoughts about how they were doing.  We write comments very early in the year, and it gave me concrete advice to tell my students.

I was really pleased with how Seesaw worked this past year.  I want to continue to evolve how I use it.  This year, I am going to add a few more goals for my students.

  • I want to record my voice on their journals instead of just typing.  I also want them to respond using the voice recording.  While they will still start by writing, I want them to speak their comments.
  • I would also like to encourage kids to leave voice comments on other posts.
  • I noticed that Seesaw added video in beta.  I want to play around with this option for students to add to their work.
  • I want to try some speed writing that was suggested during last week’s Langbook.  I will give students a set amount of time to just write about any topic that they choose.  I will continue to do so throughout the year, and I want students to compare their work from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.  This will also provide them with concrete examples of how they are improving.

Have you used Seesaw?  I would love for others to share how they use Seesaw in class!

Playing with Adobe Spark

Adobe SparkThe beauty of summer for a teacher is that you can finally try out all of that technology that you do not have time to try during the school year.  Because let’s be honest, that is the last thing you feel like doing at times during the school year!  When I read about Adobe Spark, I felt that it could be very useful for the foreign language classroom, and I decided to play around with it today.

I created a “post” above.  It was very easy to make.  One thing that I liked about this platform was if you want to change a picture, you can search for creative commons images.  I really love when that is built into programs because I really want to stick to creative commons use, but sometimes it can be difficult.  And- as much as we tell students, they will use Google Images… every.time. (Let’s be honest, if I can move them away from Google Translate to Word Reference that is a HUGE win for me!)  I love using this feature for blog posts, but how could students use it?

  • You could use it as choice homework for them to post thoughts in the target language and spice it up with Adobe Spark on their favorite social media.
  • It could be a quick end of class activity for them to create a post with a quote from the book that you are reading or a telenovela that you are watching.
  • You could also collect the posts then have a station activity where the students add details about the quotes.  Students could either discuss or write what was happening in the book at that time.

I also created a “page.”  This allowed me to include pictures, text, videos, links and glideshows.  When I was playing around with mine, I made an eportfolio.  Again, it was very easy to figure out as many times a small plus popped up with what I could add to each section. Here is how I am thinking about using it in my class:

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  • I use Seesaw for general journaling, but my students journal there frequently.  I would like for them to create their own portfolio using Adobe Spark at the end of the year.  This would encourage them to cull all of their entries for the best.  They could also link to other websites.
  • This would also be a great way to share authentic resources.  Many times, I will share a few, and this will be visually appealing for students.  I could also add the can do statements as a reminder for students.
  • It could also be used as a project platform for students.  This would allow them to share the websites they used easily as well as any other details.

Finally, you can create a video!  I found a picture, and then hit record and bam!  I was done!  (Well, you probably want to add a few more details!)  You can use images or videos.  It was really intuitive, and I believe that many students would be able to do this easily.  It gives you step-by-step directions.  I really do not use iMovie, and many times teachers believe that students can easily figure it out, but I have plenty of students that don’t like iMovie or don’t use it that much.  This would be a great substitute for students.  Also, students do not need to get too tied down to the technology side.  We want students to practice their language skills not spend hours on the technology side.

  • Many times I use Voicethread by posting a picture and having students describe it. However, I could have students find the pictures individually and describe them.  (Again, they can search easily for the pictures, so it shouldn’t take them too long to do so.)
  • Digital storytelling couldn’t be easier!  And they are speaking instead of writing!  Students could also use this to retell a story.
  • This would be perfect for a presentational part of an IPA.
  • I will offer this as a platform when my students create the video of their emoji unit.

I encourage you to try out Adobe Spark!  How would you use their ideas?  Here is another post that outlines other ways to use Adobe Spark in the classroom.