Community Engagement: Using Seesaw to help families get involved in learning

Community engagement and building the learning community has been the focus of a lot of discussion, debate and development in the past couple of years – especially with the rise of EdTech. There are many reasons for this, but the changing face of engagement is strongly influenced by two things;

  1. Social media – we’re used to seeing glimpses into people’s lives instantly, visually and in ways which are easily accessible.
  2. Pace of change – many children in school now are having greatly different experiences to those of their parents. Regardless of whether you feel its changed enough, too much or not enough – those differences are profound.

Here at AIS Kuwait our community engagement takes on 5 main forms:

  1. Digital Portfolios using Seesaw
  2. Showcases/Exhibition
  3. Student Led Conferences
  4. Parent Workshops (Coffee Mornings)
  5. Social Media engagement

In combining these we hope to give our families greater access than ever before to their child’s experience. learning and development.

Today we’re going to focus on Digital Portfolios – specifically Seesaw

During a teacher Twitter Chat with PYPConnectEd I joked that one day we’ll have a discussion about learning in the PYP in which no one mentioned how amazing Seesaw is – and that we’d all be confused as a result. If you haven’t seen it before, head over to their website now and take a look, but in short Seesaw is a digital portfolio. Students and Teachers can share work, photos, videos, audio and more to both evidence and share learning.

What’s amazing about this, is that families are connected too – regardless of where they are. Even though we live Kuwait and our families live in the UK our son’s aunts. uncles and grandparents can be just as connected to his school life as we are. Parents can see what’s happening each day, see growth over time and interact to leave feedback and encouragement. The app is easy to use, and plays on the familiarity with Social Media to help parents engage.

When I talk to families about Seesaw one of things we encourage most is using Seesaw posts and conversation starters to overcome the dreaded “What did you do today?” “Nothing.” conversation. We encourage them to leave constructive feedback, encouragement and their pride via comments – something that previously could only happen once work was sent home (which is tough if its not on paper!).

Here are a few ways to help families engage using Seesaw;

  • Set some clear expectations for how frequently they can expect to see posts (communicating this clearly from the beginning will make things much smoother)
  • Make sure families can like and comment (check your settings) – this helps people to get involved rather than passively scrolling through
  • Run some parent workshops – I teamed up with our Seesaw Ambassador to show parents both the school side and a parent’s view and walk everyone through how to use the platform, what to expect and ways to engage
  • Ask families to share ways their children are sharing their learning at home. For example, if you’d been learning about plants they could take a picture in a local park; they might share a photo of a favourite book; etc.
  • Thing about what should be shared: this is different for ages/subjects/ and all sorts of other reasons – but talk to your colleagues and have a few ideas for your school/classroom about what you’d like to share
  • Display Seesaw posts around the school using QR codes – this helps promote engagement and excitement to see what is being shared
  • Consider demo videos – if you are using a specific strategy in maths or a particular reading skill record yourself demonstrating this and post it to Seesaw. This helps families to understand how their child is being taught, as well as what they’re learning. The same goes for modelling inquiry and building questions.

Maybe that day will come, when no teacher brings up just how amazing Seesaw is… but I don’t think it’s going to be for a long while.

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