Thursday, June 14, 2018

Seesaw - Summer 2018

This post was created to help guide our Seesaw session.

Seesaw is a student-driven online portfolio which can also be used for parent communication. All elementary buildings will be using Seesaw for Schools during the 2018-2019 school year.

Current Seesaw Users
Having you been using Seesaw in your classroom already and feel you want to advance your skills? Please scroll down to the Next Steps section. Each topic will be in purple to make it easier to find.

In the Next Steps you will find:

  • Activities
  • Seesaw Skills
  • Seesaw Families
  • Item Editing
  • PD in PJs
  • Seesaw Help

Getting Started
New Seesaw User
Immersion Experience
You will be experiencing Seesaw through the eyes of a student. Seesaw is many things and we have found the fastest way to help you understand is to have you use it as a student.

Your task:
  1. Download the Seesaw app on your mobile device (iOS or Android) or visit Seesaw on your laptop.
  2. Enter Seesaw as a Student.
  3. Enter the class code. This code will be displayed on the board during our session
  4. Read the article.
  5. Open the Seesaw app and complete the following steps.
Click the big green plus symbol in the upper right.

Click Photo to take a picture of any page of the article.

Tap the record button.
Record your voice summarizing the article in thirty seconds or less.

Tap the green check in the upper right when you are ready to upload it.

Select your name.
Click the green check. 
On the next screen choose the Reading folder.

Big Idea
  • A student can use Seesaw to capture authentic classroom artifacts.
  • Adding their own voice will allow you to understand what they are thinking in a new way.
Setting Up Seesaw
Getting Started Guides
Seesaw created specific guides for each grade level. It would be a good idea to read the one for the grade you teach. The Teacher Checklist is worth taking some time to work the steps. Following their outline will make sure you have everything ready for the first day. One of the most important steps is the one that talks about teaching your students about Seesaw. Many will have some experience but it is important to show them your expectations.

Next Steps

These are premade tasks for your students to accomplish.
Activities Experience
Layer 1
Open the Seesaw class we are using today.
Click Activities on the far right.
Complete and upload.

Layer 2
Logout and log back in as a teacher.
Explore the Activites already created for your grade.
You can edit the activities to make them better fit your curriculum and class. 

Find an activity that is somewhat close.
Click Customize in the lower left.

Layer 3
Create your own activity from scratch.
Make sure you are logged in as a teacher.
Open the Activities section of Seesaw. 
Click Create New in the upper right corner.

It is recommended to sketch your ideas out before you start writing in the Student Instruction section. Whatever is written here will be read and interpreted by the students without any further input from you. Adding your voice to walk them through is generally a good instructional practice to follow.
Click the big green Preview button when you are ready to go.

Click Share if you are ready for it to be immedatly pushed to your students.
Not ready? Click Save for Later.

Activities Support
We watched this webinar to learn more about what Activities are and could mean for teachers.

Adding those little icons in the activity description is easy. Check out this doc Seesaw created to show you how to create these helpful icons.

Seesaw Skills
Skills are a way to add some formative assessment layers into what your students are uploading to their journal. This might be a way to better track when collecting data for an SLO.

A short overview on what skills are and how to add them.

To access the skills you need to be logged in as a teacher.
1. Click Skills on the far right.
2. Click + Add Skills! to begin.

Click + New Skill near the bottom of the screen.

Everything with a little star (*) must be filled out.
It is wicked important to add a description. What makes a lot of sense in September might be a little lost on you when you pull it up in November. Adding a short description will save you a lot of time in the long run.

If this item is something I want to assess using my newly created skill, I click the graduation hat to get started.

I only have one skill in my account right now.
I click to apply it.

You will have the opportunity to add stars.
It is important to know what three stars mean before you start clicking.

You can now see a little number on the graduation hat indicating how many skills were assessed. The number does not mean how many stars were assigned.

Seesaw Families
Check out this short study on the impact Seesaw has on students and community. While it was just based off a building administrators point of view, check out figure 2. What could this mean for you and your classroom?

A short article on how some elementary schools are using Seesaw. The first paragraph hooked me and had me dreaming of the possibilities. I never thought about using it as a teacher for a struggling student, this is a super idea. Recording something on the board and pushing that to parents, genius!

How might you get your parents to start engaging with their child in Seesaw?

Seesaw Families - This help center page might be helpful for you. I would encourage you to share it with your parents, some of this will help them learn how to engage their child in Seesaw.

Item Editing
What if you had some type of paper that you wanted the kids to fill out and turn in, how do you do that with Seesaw? (I know... some of you reading this will start saying this is a poor use of the tool. I am not suggesting this is something you do all the time but there might be a place for this somewhere.)


In your Seesaw class, click the wrench icon in the upper right.
Scroll down, turn on Enable item editing.

Start by logging in to Seesaw with your teacher account.
Click the big green plus in the upper right.
Click Post to Student Journal.

Add a drawing, something from your camera roll or add a photo.

I took a picture of my Post-It note and then clicked the green check in the upper right.

Just click the green check.

I did click the writing folder to keep it slightly organized.
Click the green check to move on.


The student logs in.
They see the item you want them to annotate.
They click on the three dots on the bottom of the image.
Have them click on Copy and Edit.
On the next screen, they will need to click their name.

Aidan clicks on the draw tool.
He filled in the Post-It.
Once he was satisfied, he hit the green check in the upper right.

The item shows up in the Journal stream ready for the teacher to take a look at.

PD in Your PJs
Check out how quickly you can narrow down what you are looking for on their PD in Your PJs page. Find your grade range and click, each has a series of videos to watch. We have used this to help spark new ideas on how to use Seesaw across the grades.

Seesaw Help
I think this is the best-organized help page I have ever seen. Click the topics or use the search bar located near the top of the page.
Want to lead some PD on Seesaw? They have a fun scavenger hunt to try out.


Gmail - Summer 2018 (new Gmail updates!)

This post was used to support one of our summer session.

Gmail is one of those necessary apps that sometimes consumes hours of our work week. In this post, you will find a summary of top tips to help you maximize your Gmail experience.

Stay tuned for more Gmail tips in the near future.

There are two required things every district Gmail user must have up to date, signature and profile picture. These are super easy to do if you follow the directions on this post.

Tip 1: Tabs
Configuring your inbox will help you keep your primary tab clean and focused. The idea is to have Gmail automatically sort your inbox under certain categories.
The tabs are premade by Google, you can't rename them.

Configure your inbox.
1. Click the gear icon in the upper right corner.
2. Click Configure inbox. Enable the tabs you want to appear. I recommend choosing them all.

If you hover over each category it shows you examples of your actual emails that will be recategorized if you click the blue Save button.

This example is from the Promotions tab. If something is miscategorized, just drag it to where you think it belongs. You classify things however you see fit. This simple tip has saved me countless minutes per day. Once I reclassify this email, every time EdSurge emails me it will appear in my Primary tab. 

My classifications:
     Primary - Emails I need to read and respond to.
     Social - Everything from any social site that I get alerts from.
     Promotions - Mostly things from vendors. I tend to ignore a lot of what shows up here.
     Updates - This is filled with professional organizations, like ISTE, and tons of Seesaw alerts.
     Forums - Any email from a building.

Tip 2: Conversation View
Have you ever emailed back and forth with someone? Maybe your team has an email strand that goes on and on? Gmail can automatically group those messages together to help give you context as to what everyone is talking about.

Everyone has responded to the original message allowing them to be grouped in a conversation view.

Start by open the settings in Gmail.

1. Toggle conversation view on.
2. Scroll to the bottom and click save.

An example of conversation view turned off. 
All the messages are treated as individual messages.
This drives me crazy! All these related emails treated as individual messages.

Tip 3: Canned Response
Do you have to send the same email over and over again all week? You can create a template, called a canned response, to make sending these types of emails a snap.

Open a new email.
1. Compose the template. You want to keep it generic and open so you can fill in as you need.
2. Delete your signature.
3. Click the little ice cream cone (3 dots) in the lower right of the compose window.
4. Click Canned responses.
5. Click New canned response.

Name it and click OK.
Then close the email you just started to compose.

Open a new message.
1. Click the dots.
2. Click canned responses and look near the top.
You should see the title of your canned message in the insert section.
3. Click to apply the response.

My canned response has all the fields I need to start filling in.
The big idea is that I send this email every week and it takes time. This template will help cut down on the time I need to compose this informative message.

Tip 4: Vacation Responder
You are going to be away from your classroom for whatever reason, why not set up an automatic email that will respond to everyone who emails you! Take a look at our post to learn how to enable this feature.
Note: This post shows the older version of Gmail. The steps are exactly the same for the new version.

Tip 5: Time
We read post after post to learn how people who receive hundreds of emails a day deal with the flood of messages. One idea came up over and over again, limit your time in your inbox.

What we read was people designated just two or three times a day they check the inbox.
     7:00 - 7:20 check inbox on mobile
     12:00 - 12:20 check inbox on laptop
     5:00 - 5:20 check inbox on laptop

This is how much time someone who gets hundreds of emails a day spends in the inbox. The following two tips will help you process those twenty-minute chunks.

Tip 6: Order
Spending only twenty minutes at a time in the inbox might seem impossible to some. The idea we found was that you can't jump from email to email, you need to start at the very bottom of your inbox and work up.

Once you hit the twenty-minute mark, log out!

This order will help prevent you from jumping from message to random message. If you have a process and stick with it, everything runs faster.

Tip 7: Process
We found those email ninjas have a tight process for dealing with what is in the inbox. They make a decision on every email they receive. If you stick to the steps below you can actually do tip 5 no problem.
     1. Reply - Reply if you have time and it won't take more than a minute.
     2. Delete -  If they never ever might need the email again.
     3. Archive - If the email needs to be saved or it will take a while to respond. 

So you have an email you need to respond to but it will take too long to do so now, just archive it until later. To make sure you come back and actually answer it you need to use Google Tasks.

1. Copy the subject line of the email.
2. Click the tasks icon. Looks like a white and orange check mark.
3. Click the plus and paste the subject line.

When you have more time, open Tasks. Use the subject line you just saved to search your inbox for that message.
Click this symbol above the email message to archive the email.

Tip 8: Keyboard Shortcuts
We have read that using a mouse slows the user down especially when there are simple keys you can hit to get Gmail to do what you want.

Open Gmail's settings. See one of the tips above if you are unsure of how to do this.
Scroll down.
Click to turn the shortcuts on.
Scroll to the very bottom to save the changes.

Here are three shortcuts that will support what you learned in tip 7.
Open any email.
     E - archive
     R - reply to that message
     F - forward the message to someone
     # - delete the message

Learn more by visiting the Gmail shortcut help section.

Tip 9: Delete the Inbox
You have read about all these awesome ideas but feel they are not possible due to the number of emails in your inbox. No fear, just delete them all! 
I personally selected all emails and moved them into a label. Out of sight but still searchable. I did this before I really started using the archive feature.

1. Click the checkbox to select all your emails.
2. Click this (liitle box with a doward facing arrow) to achive the messages.
3. Click the trash can to delete the selected messages.

Tip 10: Label
What we have read is that the email ninjas tend to not use labels as they can be inefficient and take time.

Think of a label as a post-it note you stick on the stack of papers. Whatever category is on the note applies to everything below it.

One word of warning, keep your labels limited and specifically generic. One example could be 18-19 parent communication or 2018-2019 PLC. Each is specific to a year and limited to one overarching topic. The hazards come in when you start adding a million labels to the system.

Click More labels on the far left side of your Gmail inbox.

Click Create new label.

You can create a new label or create a sub-label.

Open a new email message.
1. Click the little arrow looking icon at the top.
2. Pick a label to apply to the email.

Click on the label on the far left side. You can see all emails assigned to that label.

Tip 11: Stars and Symbols
These are wicked fast visual cues to help you hone certain messages that demand your attention.

Open Gmail settings.
Scroll down to find the stars section.
Drop and drag the symbols you want to use to the In use: section.
Scroll to the bottom to save the changes.

Click on the star icon to the left of your email messages.
Keep clicking to cycle through the different symbols.
Use these as visual cues.

Tip 12: Search
Check out these tips to quickly find an email that gets lost in your inbox.
You can start typing in the Seach mail box at the top of Gmail or click the little arrow for more options. 

Two of my favorite are searching for a date and filterings those with attachments. 
Inbox - a totally different way to interact with your email in an app or web. I really like how it bundles like emails into one group.

Still have questions? Check out the Gmail help center.

Seesaw - Summer 2018

This post was created to help guide our Seesaw session. Seesaw is a student-driven online portfolio which can also be used for parent c...