Seesaw Improves How Students Interact with Teacher-Created Assignments

Back in March, Seesaw announced a set of updates that I’m pretty excited about.

For those of you not familiar with Seesaw, I often compare it to a combination of an LMS, a digital portfolio tool, and a parent/guardian communication tool.

Screengrab from Youtube Video showing the Seesaw app interface and the new updates for locking and unlocking items

It’s most often used by elementary teachers – case in point, 29.2% of the people who responded to my podcast survey use Seesaw, and of them almost 37% of them were PreK-6th grade teachers, and 0% were 7th-12th grade. (The other 63-ish% were in other roles like tech coaches etc.) It’s crazy though because it’s great for all ages.

Let’s talk about the updates!

  • In the past, if you sent an activity to your students, they were able to delete pages from the template. Now, students cannot delete the teacher-created pages, but they can create pages that they add.
  • In a similar vane, students often accidentally deleted locked elements in activities.  Now students are not PROMPTED to unlock things. It’s possible, but they have to do it with intention and aren’t likely to do it on accident.​
  • Students also tended to accidentally reorder activity pages—typically when scrolling. As the release says, they have ”adjusted the sensitivity of the reorder action in the Pages menu and disabled page reordering on drag gestures to prevent this issue.” That means that it’s not likely to reorder pages by accident when scrolling.​
  • In the past, there were also problems with students accidentally creating new pages while drawing. They have now fixed that issue as well.
  • And, finally, while many activities require students writing or drawing, some involve manipulatives that need to be moved around the screen. Previously, when opening one of these pages, the pen tool was selected and students ended up drawing on things instead of moving them. Now, the app intelligently starts with the move tool if there are movable shapes and the pen tool if there are no movable shapes.

[Image Source: https://youtu.be/ax5EzL1iCDE?t=280, featuring the app interface from https://web.seesaw.me/]

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Google is letting us go pageless in Google Docs…

If we only print a fraction of the Google Docs we create, why are our docs formatted for 8.5” by 11” paper, when our computer screens are not 8.5” by 11”!?

Well, Google finally realized this and offered up a pageless documents setting

Just go to File > Page Setup and select Pagelesss to start! You’ll notice that your page looks pretty much the same except for the boundary around the page disappearing. 

Sure, page breaks will disappear as will headers, footers, and footnotes, but the width of your text will still fit a typical piece of paper.

You’ll now want to click on View > Text Width and select a different text. Then, when you change the normal zoom option that you see in the toolbar, it’ll make your text larger without zooming in to the page itself.  The real benefit is being able to make tables and images as wide as you’d like.  I think this feature has some room to grow, but I’m really glad to see it added!

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Google Classroom “Practice Sets”

Google is beta testing a formative assessment tool…

Illustration of students using Google Classroom's Practice Sets

Back in March Google announced a new Google Classroom feature called Practice Sets. Before I get too deep into this one, I want to point out: it’ll only be in the Teaching and Learning Upgrade or the Google Workspace for Education Plus (i.e. part of the paid plans).  It’s still in beta at this point, but I think it’s something that, if you have access to it, you’ll probably use. It’s a tool that combines formative assessment and automated feedback right inside Google Classroom

The teacher starts by adding (or typing up) a question, or set of questions. Practice Sets jumps right into gear by scanning the question using AI, tagging the content and skill, and preparing automated chatbot style hints and resources. I’m skeptical of this part – I mean, haven’t we all had that chatbot pop up on a site that we really needed help from and suggest irrelevant resources to us when we just wanted to talk to a human? We’ll see what we think of this!

Anyhow, it looks like it’ll have multiple choice, short answer, and extended response and will provide a math keyboard as well. Plus, students can respond with text or a drawing tool and, check this out math teachers, if the kids show their work, you’ll be able to see that too.

Most importantly, this tool auto-grades for you right inside Google Classroom, and your students will see if they were correct right away. Those built in hints and resources will pop up automatically if they’re wrong—or kids can click a button to see them if they need them.

On the back end, teachers get good data, a view of what students did, and automated insights. Again, it’s still in beta and it’s part of the paid plans, but it looks like it’s going to have lots of potential when it comes out! 

[Image Source: https://blog.google/outreach-initiatives/education/introducing-practice-sets/]

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New changes to the Gimkit Pro Plan

Gimkit is letting us play games with more students for free . . . 

In a recent post on the Gimkit blog, Josh Feinsilber, creator of Gimkit, announced changes to the Gimkit Pro plan.

I’m really excited about this, because the previous iteration of their Pro plan limited free users to only 5 players per game. It let you play any game, but only with 5 students. 

Gimkit DashboardNow they’ve announced in the “new free plan you’ll get unlimited access to our currently featured modes.” Those featured modes will change throughout the year, but other “modes are available to you, but with a 5 player limit.”

 

Gimkit Pro users then have unlimited access to every mode. There are a lot of fan favorites out there – like Trust No One, Floor is Lava, and Draw That – that you’ll be guaranteed access to

According to the blog post, Gimkit Pro users will also be able to upload images, record audio, & create assignments.

(Gimkit Pro costs $9.99 a month or $59.99 a year)

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A new Social-Emotional Learning Tool: Microsoft Reflect

Microsoft is giving us an amazing new learning tool . . . 

with their recent launch of Reflect in Microsoft Teams for Education.

Reflect prompts students to check in about how they’re feeling, and even uses emojis and little monsters to connect facial expressions and body language to emotional vocab. This might help students with limited reading respond, but may also help students who are working on understanding social cues like facial expressions and body language. 

Reflect is a FREE tool!

The tool also lets students see their responses over time to look for patterns. Of course, another key step is teachers following up on concerning responses.

In March, they added the ability to build these self-assessments into OneNote. Reflect has increased functionality in One Note. As the blog post says, it lets students self-assess their “Progress and satisfaction in learning, motivation to learn, confidence, and effort.

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Scheduling for Multiple Classes in Google Classroom

Google has rolled out a long-awaited Google Classroom feature . . . 

On St. Patrick’s Day (better known as my birthday), Google for Education announced on the Google Workspace Updates page that, after a long wait, the ability to schedule stream posts, assignments, and materials for multiple classes in Google Classroom was available

It’s even better than I could have imagined because it also lets you select different due dates and different topics for your assignments!

I also really like the “Copy settings to all” option which lets you set it up for the first class, then copy those settings to all of the classes, then make changes. 

Let’s go over an example:

Say I want the assignment to launch simultaneously for all classes, but have different due times based on when I have that class period. Or maybe I just want to put them all in the same topic within the classes first, copy that, then modify the post times. I also like that I can select “post now” for some classes, but schedule for others.

Tutorial example in Google Classroom of scheduling posts for multiple classes.

I’m really happy with how this came out! Assignment and post scheduling is available in Google Workspace for Education Fundamentals, Education Standard, the Teaching and Learning Upgrade, and Education Plus customers (it can also be seen in my gmail account.)

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#EduDuctTape Live Mini 012: Mike Feldman – Gamified Tech Coaching

In the 12th mini-episode, I talk to technology integration specialist and middle school teacher Mike Feldman about strategies–including gamification–that he used as a tech coach to motivate teachers to try new technologies in the classroom. Mike also talks about his passion for using a wood lathe to craft pens and how it benefits students when they see their teachers as makers.

Image shows Jake & podcast guest Mike Feldman together at the time of recording. Also includes the text "Mike Feldman Mini Episode: Tech Coaching with Gamification for Teachers."

Show Notes available here.

Link to this Episode on YouTube!
Listen on YouTube!

 

 

 

 

 

#EduDuctTape Episode 42: Sarah Thomas, PhD!

Image shows a picture of Dr. Sarah Thomas and the text "Dr. Sarah Thomas on the Educational Duct Tape Podcast, #EduDuctTape, EduDuctTape.com, Episode 042, 6-3-20

In the 20th regular episode of Season 2, I am joined by Dr. Sarah Thomas, ISTE co-author and founder of EduMatch, to talk about growing your professional learning network (PLN), crowd-sourcing solutions to problems, and using tools like Voxer, Periscope, Twitter, Skype, and Flipgrid.

See the Show Notes Here

Link to this Episode on YouTube!
Listen on YouTube!

 

 

 

Check out this awesome quote from Sarah’s appearance on the show!

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#EduDuctTape Live Mini 011: David Allan – Chromebook Accessibility Features

In the 11th mini-episode, I’m sharing a discussion that I had with Special Education Consultant David Allan at the KySTE Conference in March. David shares some of the accessibility features available on Chromebooks. Also, I share a special announcement before the interview.

Image shows the Episode Title and a picture of Jake with episode guest David Allan

Show Notes available here.

Link to this Episode on YouTube!
Listen on YouTube!

 

 

 

 

 

#EduDuctTape Episode 41: Catlin Tucker!

Image Shows the episode title & a picture of the guest, Catlin Tucker

In the 19th regular episode of Season 2, I am sharing an episode with Catlin Tucker, author of Balance With Blended Learning, where we talk about how teachers can streamline feedback during class time so that they have less to do outside of class time. Catlin shares strategies from John Hattie and Mark Barnes as well as a handful of great tech tips to make feedback more efficient!

See the Show Notes Here

Link to this Episode on YouTube!
Listen on YouTube!

 

 

 

Check out some of Catlin’s mic-drop quotes from the episode below…

Continue reading #EduDuctTape Episode 41: Catlin Tucker!