Seesaw: The ultimate ePortfolio for every classroom!

Seesaw: the ultimate eportfolio for every classroom

What it is: Seesaw is the first truly student centered/driven digital portfolio tool that I’ve seen. What makes Seesaw such an awesome option as a digital portfolio is the way that it empowers kids to build and keep a digital portfolio totally independently with features like QR code login for young students. Students can log their learning using photos, videos, drawings, text, PDFs, and links. Seesaw also has direct import features from lots of popular apps. From the teacher perspective, Seesaw makes it simple to access student work immediately from their own device. Content is easily searchable by student and makes it simple to review student progress over time and keep track of growth. In addition to browsing by student, teachers can use folders to organize work by subject area or project. There is also an awesome flag feature that makes it easy to highlight work that you want to go back to for conferences or follow-up with the student. The built in audio recording and drawing tools mean that students can reflect on what they’ve learned or explain how they reached an answer. Parents are also able to login to see work and give feedback on it (you as the teacher can control who sees what and what feedback can be given. Teachers can approve peer feedback before it is seen by students or parents.

Seesaw: the ultimate eportfolio for every classroom

How to integrate Seesaw into the classroom: We’ve long used Evernote as our eportfolio of choice, because it was a simple (enough) entry point and gave students enough flexibility to show what they were working on. With each new release of features, Seesaw is quickly winning me over. This is an app that was clearly created with students and teachers in mind. It has incredible flexibility while equipping with just the right tools and features to make it extra valuable in a school setting. I love the options for feedback that teachers can give, and that all stakeholders are able to login and see what kids are working on. The way that Seesaw enables teachers to give quick feedback to students is incredible. I am also impressed with the integrated audio and drawing features that allow students (even young students) to comment and reflect on their own learning and thinking process. The metacognition implications of Seesaw are awesome!

At Anastasis, even non-digital native assignments get captured in our eportfolio through the camera or video. This means that work “travels” with students from year to year. Future teachers can go back through their progress, but students also have this incredible “bread crumb trail” of learning that they can go back through. It is always fun for us to hear students exclaim over the difference in their writing from day one to day 100. Often the learning process is so infinitesimal that students (and sometimes parents) have a hard time seeing the growth. An eportfolio is a great way to capture all learning so that those baby steps can be seen over time. This has been encouraging for our struggling students especially.

Seesaw supports a variety of platforms making it super simple to use in any classroom environment and particularly in a BYOD setting. Supported platforms include iOS devices, Android devices, Chromebooks, and any computer with a Chrome web browser.

Best of all: Seesaw is FREE!!! If you want to store and organize a child’s portfolio beyond the current year, a Plus account can be purchased by parents for $9.99/year OR a school account.

Tips: Seesaw also has Google App integration, if your school uses Google in Education, they can login with the same Google login they use for everything else!

Pixel Press Floors: draw a video game on paper, snap a picture and play it!

 

What it is: Pixel Press Floors is a seriously magical (currently free) app that brings a child’s imagination to life. With the Pixel Press Floors creation platform, students can literally dream up and draw their own video game without any coding. Students draw their ideas out on paper, and the Floors app turns the drawing into an actual video game that can be played. Print out the special paper so that the app can recognize the shapes “glyphs” that are drawn, or use the in app drawing tools. The drawing is instantly turned into a game that can be tested, designed, played, and even published to the “Arcade” where others can play it.

How to integrate Pixel Press Floors into learning: The first step of creation is to download the Pixel Press Floors app on the iPad. Next, go to projectpixelpress.com to download and print the free sketch guide. Students draw up the game of their dreams and then take a picture of what they drew from the Pixel Press Floors app.

The glyphs (shapes) that students draw are magically transformed into game play objects. After glyphs have been created, students can apply a design to the element, test it, and play it. Within the app, students can create games with:

  • Run and jump game play (Mario-style)
  • Create with 14 creator glyphs: terrain, moving blocks, ladders, portals, monkey bars, power-ups, coins, super coins, falling blocks, spikes, exploding blocks, start and end positions, pits and fireballs, keys.
  • Two original themes to get the creativity jump-started: “Save the Parents” and “Fiddleheads: Stones of Eden”
  • Publishing and sharing in the Arcade

Pixel Press Floors is a fantastic “maker space” element to add to your classroom. This app is perfect for prototyping ideas, design thinking (ideation and prototyping), teamwork and collaboration, and to build creativity. In designing games, students learn systems thinking, creative problem solving, art and aesthetics, writing and storytelling, and creates a motivation for further STEM exploration.

There is so much to learn from digital games.  As a player, students learn to think strategically, persist through failure and experience epic wins that can translate to what they do and are willing to try out in real life. As a designer students learn systems thinking, creative problem solving, digital art and aesthetics, and storytelling and writing. Students love being able to bring their creations and ideas to life in the form of a game. Video game creation could be the key to unlocking the storytelling genius in your reluctant writers. It has been my experience that a student faced with a blank paper and a writing assignment can be daunting. Introduce the idea of designing their own game and suddenly a storyline pours forth. It is pretty neat to watch!

Draw your own video games- no coding necessary! Draw your own video games- no coding necessary! Draw your own video games- no coding necessary! Draw your own video games- no coding necessary!

Students can create games that help them build skills. Instead of simply playing those drill/skill games on other websites/apps, they can create their own! This is visual notes 3.0. Instead of simply practicing math facts, students can create a customized game to help them learn and remember those facts! This type of game is perfect for creating games to practice: math facts, spelling, vocabulary, foreign languages, letter recognition, geography, history facts, etc.

Instead of passively playing games in their free time, students can create their own! The blend of the hand-drawn and technology is seamless and brilliant. Kids will have such fun creating their own games and bringing their imagination to life.

Tips: Game Star Mechanic would be an outstanding place to start, here kids can learn the thinking process behind designing their own video games.

Are you using Pixel Press Floors in your classroom? Leave a comment below and share the ways that you use it with students!

Rodan + Fields Consultant

Fraboom Online Children’s Museum: Online classes, videos, interactive book, games, oh my!

What it is: Oh. My. Word. I have just stumbled on gold my friends, gold!  Fraboom is an online children’s museum packed full of games, interactive books, creativity, learning and-are you ready for this-LIVE online teachers!  On Fraboom students can learn about US presidents while they play games, watch Fraboom TV cartoons to learn vocabulary, read interactive books that encourage creativity and join live online classes with real flesh and blood teachers!  Fraboom TV has a variety of cartoons that will teach students content area vocabulary words. Each cartoon on Fabroom TV lists all associated vocabulary words so teachers can quickly find a video that will support learning.  Cartoons can be searched by keyword or category.  The very best part of Fraboom (in my humble opinion) is the live online teachers.  Drawing classes start every hour on the hour.  Students can drop into a class and learn how to draw cartoons.  There is a new challenge every day so content is always fresh!  Students can interact with teachers through the chat feature; students type a message and the teacher responds to them by name.  Fraboom cartoon characters introduce the activity for the day and the teachers interact with the cartoon on the screen- very fun!  Students learn how to draw step by step guided by the teacher and follow along on their own whiteboard space.  When students are finished, they can share their pictures with the class.  After drawing, the class completes a mad lib together.  The teacher explains a part of speech and requests words for that part of speech from the class.  Students can contribute words to the story by typing them into the chat area. Throughout the class, the teacher shares submitted pictures with the whole class.  I attended two live classes and was really impressed with the teachers in both sessions. They are upbeat, engaging and fun.  Fraboom was created for students six to twelve years old.  Content is being added regularly and fresh challenges in the live classes every day.  Plenty to keep kids creating and learning!

How to integrate Fraboom Online Children’s Museum into the classroom: With widespread budget cuts and art programs being cut regularly, Fraboom is a welcome new addition to the education landscape.  Being able to connect every student in your class with another teacher is amazing.  Fraboom could be used on classroom computers as a creativity/art/grammar center that kids can visit throughout the week.  Students can get one-on-one attention from a virtual teacher freeing you up to work in small reading or writing groups knowing that all of your students are engaged in learning.  Connect to a Fraboom online session as a class using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  Students can follow along with the drawing instructions and take turns engaging in the chat as a whole class.  Students can take turns creating the class picture on the projector or interactive whiteboard while students at their seats create their own masterpiece.  This would be a great activity for students to do while you hold one-on-one student conferences in your classroom.

Fraboom TV is full of fun cartoon videos that help students learn a variety of content area vocabulary.  Use these videos to introduce a new unit so that students are familiar with vocabulary before engaging in new learning.

The interactive stories on Fraboom can be shared with your class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  Read through the story as a class and practice comprehension strategies together.

Tips: Be sure to share Fraboom with parents, this would be a great opportunity for learning at home too!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  Fraboom in your classroom!

Mo Willem’s Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus Lesson

What it is: Isn’t it great when author’s have websites as enchanting as their books?  Mo Willem’s has a collection of wonderful websites starring his characters including my favorite, the Pigeon.  On the Pigeon Presents website, your students will find fun games starring their favorite characters.  They can learn more about Mo Willem’s books, meet the characters he has created, and even watch video interviews where he talks about his love of writing and illustrating.  In the teacher’s section of the site, you will find printable posters for your classroom.  On the Go Mo! site students will find Cat and her friends.  Here students can play games, learn animal sounds, color online, and see Cat the cat’s gallery.  Here students can see pictures that other students have drawn of cat and even submit their own.  My favorite discovery of all: Mo Willem’s Pigeon has a Twitter account!

How to integrate Mo Willem’s Websites into your curriculum: If you are a Mo Willem’s fan like I am, you will be thrilled to introduce your students to his site starring his characters.  Mo Willem’s has been a Caldecott Award honor for several of his books.  His first, in 2004, was Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.  I used this book to teach my younger students about the Caldecott award, and to help them identify shapes.  Since I was in the computer lab, I taught my students to draw the pigeon using computer drawing applications.  This was a great way for my students to learn how to use digital drawing tools, while creating Caldecott worthy results.  The students pigeon’s always turned out fantastic and looked so much like the original that the kids felt like they too could be Caldecott honorees.  If you are interested in my lesson, you can purchase it here.   Mo Willem’s collection of websites would be a great tie-in to the drawing lesson and help students connect to their favorite characters.

Tips: The videos on the Pigeon Presents Get to Know Mo page are really well done and will give students and inside look at how author’s develop characters.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Mo Willem’s Websites in your classroom!

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Canvastic dot NET

 

What it is:   Canvastic dot NET is the online beta version of a drawing software program I have written a post about in the pastCanvastic is basically a Kid Pix type program without all the “toys” it lets students draw and write without being distracted by the ability to “blow things up” or “flush” their picture.  Canvastic dot NET is the FREE online version of the program.  The online version doesn’t have all the bells and whistle that the software version does but it is an excellent online drawing program that lets students save their work to a flash drive or computer and print out their work.  It also has a great replay button that lets them replay and watch the picture they just drew.  

 

How to integrate Canvastic dot NET into the classroom:   The online version of Canvastic is wonderful for those students who use software at school and wish they had it for home projects.  Canvastic can be used for all kinds of amazing classroom projects, some of the ideas included on the Canvastic website are:

abstract art
animations
bitmap art
books
brochures
cards
cartoons
characters
charts
conversations
covers
decorations
designs
diagrams
doodles
drawings
explanations
flow charts
flyers
graphs
illustrations
interviews
landscapes
letters
lists
logos
maps
math art
notes
pages
paragraphs
pictures
plans
plays
poems
portraits
posters
presentations
questions
quotes
reports
scenes
science reports
sentences
slide shows
stories
vector art
write-ups

The Canvastic replay button allows students to watch the process of a drawing.  Students could use the replay feature for a plant cycle unit.  Have students start out by drawing the plant cycle in order, when they replay their mini movie, it shows the plant cycle in action….very cool!

 

Tips:   Check out Canvastic.com to get great lesson ideas and resources for using Canvastic in your classroom!

 

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Canvastic in your classroom.

Shidonni

What it is:  Shidonni is a really intriguing new web application for kids.  Shidonni is an imaginary world that kids create.  It provides a virtual universe where kids can create their own imaginary world, play, and share games and interact with each other in a safe environment online.  Kids can create their own animals or characters online and make them interactive.  Their characters actually move and interact with the kids (no programming required!).  They can create a world for their character, feed their character, and play games using their character.  Watch the video on the Shidonni website for a good idea of how the program works.  

 

How to integrate Shidonni into the classroom:  Shidonni is an amazing way for kids to express themselves creatively.  They will LOVE the interaction that this site provides.  I am really in awe of this site and its capabilities.  The site is simple enough for kindergarten students to use but will keep even 5th grade students intrigued.  For classroom use the site is a great way to let younger students practice interaction with the computer and mouse manipulation.  It is also a great introduction to drawing programs.  Students can use Shidonni as a place to start digital storytelling.  They can use the site to illustrate stories that they are creating in writing class.  Shidonni can also be used to create “living” dioramas for the classroom.  This is a great place for students to learn by trial and error.  I like to introduce programs like this and then let students teach themselves how to use new technology through exploration.  

 

Tips:  Shidonni requires that you download a plugin for your Internet browser.  Be sure to do this on all computers before you roll it out for the first time in class. 🙂

 

 

Leave a comment and share how you are using Shidonni in your classroom.

Tux Paint

 

What it is: Tux Paint (http://www.tuxpaint.org) offers open source software aka FREE. Tux Paint is a painting and creativity program similar to Kid Pix. tuxpaint.org offers the free download for both Macintosh and Windows computers. Tux Paint is easy to use, includes fun sound effects, and a cartoon mascot who guides students as they use the program. Students use a variety of drawing tools to create masterpieces.

How to integrate Tux Paint into your curriculum: Use Tux Paint as part of your publishing center. Students can illustrate their writing pieces using Tux Paint. Tux Paint can be used to enhance your literacy program. For example, I use Tux Paint when I am introducing kids to the Caldecott award. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems is a Caldecott Award winning book. The Pigeon is created with very simple shapes and can be easily recreated with the tools in Tux Paint. As part of this unit, I let kids create their own Pigeons. They look so close to Mo Willems Pigeon that the students feel like successful, award winning artists. This program is flexible enough to use in math (think patterns, money units, etc.), science, and history.

Tips: Make sure you have printing abilities. The students will be proud of their work and want to print it out! Be sure to download the stamp set. This is a free download but offers hundreds of stamps (including money) that enhance this already great program. Visit the school page to find out how other schools have used Tux Paint to enhance their curriculum.

Allow students to save their masterpieces and upload them to Artsonia (see archive).