Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Digging Digital Portfolios: Seesaw and Weebly

Portfolios are not a new concept, even digital portfolios are not a new concept, but the tools to create and build a portfolio have come a long way. There are numerous ways to use portfolios in the classroom and a number of different tools to create them. After presenting at a few conferences last week on digital portfolios and some of the tools available to create them, I came to the conclusion that there are two that I believe offer some great options: Seesaw and Weebly. Each one has unique qualities and each can be used with in different ways.

Before jumping in and having students begin setting up their portfolio, it is important to determine your “Why”. Why do you want your students to create portfolios? Who is the audience? How do you want it to shape their learning? Next, determine what type of portfolio you would like to have students create.  Here are four types of portfolios that you might consider.

Process/Developmental Portfolios
This type of portfolio documents learning along the way. It lends itself to peer review/editing, revisions and the process of learning. It is great to use for giving feedback and “watching” your students learn.

Best Works/Showcase Portfolios
Different than the portfolio above, this type is a collection of the student’s highest level of achievement. With this type of portfolio you don’t see the learning take place, you see the end product after it has been reviewed and revised. (Example of Portfolio Assignments)

Assessment Portfolio
Yet another option, assessment portfolios, document what the student learned based on specific outcomes/objectives. These are very specific in what the teacher may be looking for and assessing.

Unit/Project Portfolio
The fourth option allows the teacher to have students create a portfolio for one or two units or projects created in class. For example, a senior research paper in English class or the habitat unit in elementary science.

Once you have your why and your type of portfolio determined, it’s time to get started. Below are two wonderful options to try out with your students.


Seesaw is both app-based and web-based. It allows students to upload audio, video, photos, images, writing and artifacts from a variety of apps. Students as young as kindergarten can easily navigate the app. Seesaw is unique in that students do not have to have logins, they log in by scanning a QR code. No QR code on your iPad? No worries, you don’t need one, Seesaw has a built in scanner. If desired, students can like classmate uploads and comment on them to give feedback and feedforward. Teachers are also using Seesaw to provide feedback to individual students through comment or voice/video recording.

Another plus of Seesaw is the ability to share the portfolios with parents. Parents can sign up for free and get notifications through e-mail or a mobile device when students add work. You can easily add a co-teacher and create folders in the app also. Don’t worry if you aren’t a 1:1 classroom, there are many ideas for using Seesaw in classes with one device or a garden of devices. Seesaw is being used in K-12 grade classrooms.


Weebly is a website builder that has been around for a while. It is one of the easiest builders to use with it’s drag and drop interface. Secondary students like that it gives you the freedom to customize your website but the process isn’t overwhelming. Sites can be created very quickly and be up and running in no time. Weebly allows students to upload and share text, audio, video, images, buttons and more. One of the great features of Weebly it that it has a blog component. So, students can add a blog page to their website to use for reflection of their learning and they don’t need to create a completely different site. With an educator account you can have up to 40 free student accounts that allows for a little more control.

As I stated before, portfolio creation is not new. Sometimes taking a look at a few of the different tools available, refocusing on your why and determining the type of portfolio you want your students to create will give you a different perspective. Go ahead, give it a try!

Written by Jeanette Carlson

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Tech Up and Transform Your Workflow

The new school year is well underway and it is time to ask ourselves a couple of questions.  What can I do to be more efficient and effective in my daily workflow? What tools can I use to target instruction? How can I connect with other educators?  

The first step is learning more about available resources.  As you read this post, think about your current workflow. Which of these tools would be most beneficial to your workflow?  

The second step is taking action. Start with the tool that will be the biggest difference maker. Set aside a plan period each week initially to learn the tool and then use the tool regularly.  

Finally, keep a journal and reflect on the impact the tool has made on your workflow. How did students respond?  What were the benefits? What are your future plans to continue using the tool?

Here are six tools to tech up your classroom.

1.  Remind
Text students reminders with ease using Remind.  This is the perfect way to send information to students for both academics or athletics. This is a free site that creates a simple, yet powerful way to connect your students to the classroom and opens a new channel of communication.

2.  Voxer:
Want a quick way to connect and collaborate with colleagues? Voxer is a walkie talkie type app for iPhones and Androids that streamlines communication and is quick and easy to use.  In addition, you can send text, images, and videos too!  The group feature allows for multiple people to be on one Voxer message which makes it a fantastic app for teachers.  Imagine having your PLC in a Voxer group. When you have a great idea, just hold down the middle button and send an audio message.  If another teacher is in the app, they will hear you in real-time, just like a walkie talkie. If not, your message is stored as an audio file that can be played at a later time.  This is a great app to use with family and friends too. For more information, check out this post on Voxer: A Vehicle for Collaboration and Communication

3.  Google Forms
Tap into the power of Google Apps for Ed (#gafe) and Google Forms.  Google forms are a quick and easy way to collect data to provide targeted instruction for students.  Google Forms are quick and easy to create and even easier to share with students.  Feedback is immediate and can be used to impact instruction as the lesson evolves.

Another way to use Google Forms is to get a feel for the classroom vibe.  For example, you can create a reusable Google Form and ask students a few simple questions.

Check out this blogpost from Garrett Sims (@gtwitsims) who uses Google forms every day to see how his students are feeling. Create a QR code for even faster student access to the form.  The results may surprise you and give you great insight to your students.

4. Google Hangouts and Skype
Tired of driving across town to collaboration meetings?  Want to share an idea with a colleague? Connecting with other teachers in your building or educators from around the world with either of these free video conferencing tools can become part of the daily workflow.  Both are easy to setup and use.  

Why not connect with other classrooms or bring in a guest speaker.  To start connecting your classroom, go to Google Plus and join the Connected Classrooms Community and/or get involved with Skype for Education at .

5. Padlet
A visually pleasing way to brainstorm, share photos, files, and videos is using Padlet at .  This tool is free, simple to set up, and can be shared in a variety of ways. One simple way to share a Padlet is embedding it on a website. Students can access it quickly on any device.  Not only is it free, but Padlet is accessible on any device: computers, tablets, and phones.

Here are some ideas for using Padlet in the classroom: journal prompts, book discussion, brainstorming, curating students artwork, collaborate and share with other classrooms, and more!

6.  Target Instruction with YouTube Workflow

Have a concept your students struggle with?  Use your data to target instruction and create educational screencasts to support student learning.  Students can listen to these in whole groups, small groups, or individually.  Find and/or create videos that target instruction and personalize the learning for your unique students needs.  Here are the steps to using the YouTube workflow.

  1. In order to tap the power of YouTube for organizing and sharing videos with a playlist, you must first have a channel.   Click here for a tutorial video on setting up a channel.
  2. Adding videos to a playlist is just a click or two away.   Click here for a tutorial video on creating and adding videos to playlists.
  3. Search for videos on youtube.  Here is a list of 100 Incredibly Useful YouTube Channels for educators you may want to explore.
  4. Share your playlists via a link or embed them on a blog or website. Click here for a tutorial video on setting up and managing playlists.

Give some of these tools a try this school year and tech up your classroom workflow. Keep your journal of the growth you experience this year.   When you take a look in the spring, it will be amazing to see how your daily workflow transformed over the course of just one school year by integrating these tools into your routine.  

Add a comment and share examples of how you are using these tools in your classroom. Feel free to share other tools you use in your everyday workflow.  

Written by Ann Feldmann

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Workflow Shortcuts for Apple and Google: Part III

Here is the third installment in a blog series by the #tt4t team designed to help you become more efficient as you work using your Mac and/or Google Apps for Ed. Many of the shortcuts being shared are ones that we are consistently using that help us increase productivity. If you haven’t done so already, check out our first and second set of shortcuts blogs for Apple and Google.

MacBook Shortcuts
Command A - Select All
Command C - Copy Selection
Command X - Cut Selection
Command V - Paste Selection
Command F - Find
Command Z - Undo
Command Shift Z - Redo
Option Command ESC - Force Quit

Google Docs Shortcuts
Command Shift L - Left Alignment
Command Shift E - Center Alignment
Command Shift R - Right Alignment
Command Shift Y - Get Definition of Selected Word and/or Research
Command Shift C - Word Count

Google Docs Tip
Want multiple people working on one Doc without creating confusion?  Use the Tables Feature to organize multiple collaborators on a Doc.  This allows each person working on a Doc to have their own space and area to work without impacting other contributors.  

Right Side Chat
In order to place the Gmail Chat on the right-side of the your inbox you will need to complete the following steps: Go to the Gear , go to Settings, click on Labs, and scroll down to find Right-side chat, and click Enable.

Have a favorite shortcut you want to share?  Leave us a comment.

Written by Jeffrey Bernadt (@jeffreybernadt), Jeanette Carlson (@mrsjcarlson), and Ann Feldmann (@annfeldmann1)