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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!


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Five Creative Ways to Reflect with Tech

One of the most beneficial things we can do to grow is reflect. Reflection is important in all aspects of our lives. As educators, students, mothers, fathers, employees, managers, and friends, we can all become better through reflection. Yet, reflection is one of the hardest things for people to do. Along with revisiting things that went well, sometimes it’s hard to reflect because it means looking at things that didn’t go well and that can be a difficult task. But, that is where reflection can help us grow. Mentally we all reflect, to some extent, before, during and after a lesson, presentation or meeting. Putting some of these thoughts down in a more concrete place will help your reflection become more powerful.

It is important to remember that there isn’t one method of reflection that will work for everyone. Many times we feel that reflections need to be lengthy one to two page documents, yet some of the most powerful reflections are short and to the point. Sometimes the struggle is where to reflect and how to reflect. Here are a few questions and suggestions to help guide you and your students as you begin reflecting.

  1. What went well?
  2. What surprised you?
  3. What made you most proud?
  4. What would you do differently?
  5. What new goals do you have or what new things do you want to try?

How do you do this? What does it look like? Here are five suggestions:

  1. Blog (Edublogs, Blogger, WordPress, Weebly)

Blogs are your more typical way of reflecting. Today there are multiple options out there for you to choose from. The great thing about blogs is that you can make them private or share them out.

  1. Video/Voice Reflection (QuickTime, Phone Camera, Notability)

Many times it is easier to say what you are thinking instead of trying to write it down. Try using Quicktime or even your camera or voice recorder on your smartphone. Another idea is to use Notability or Explain Everything where you can record your voice and jot a few things down.

  1. Survey students (Google form, Socrative, Survey Monkey)

What about reflecting by finding out what your student think or thought about a lesson or unit. Use some of the tools above to gauge how things went. Then, take the results and set some action goals on what you might do differently next time.

  1. Quick response system (Padlet, TodaysMeet, Lino, Popplet)

Using an online bulletin board or sticky note system might work well for you. These can be used to quickly throw down an idea or thought and then arranged at a later date. Think of these as “in the moment” types of reflection where you quickly jot down what is working and what might need to be changed.

  1. Reflecting with Images (Notability, Explain Everything, Doceri)

Use a drawing app sketch your reflection. These can be used to summarize a topic or take a pulse on how learners are feeling about the day. Turn on some quiet music and watch the drawings take shape.

As you being reflecting, remember not to place too much pressure on yourself about what or how you are reflecting. Try and focus on a few of the questions above to see how they benefit you. Don’t forget to revisit your reflections from time to time to help you set your action goals and if you are feeling adventurous….share them out.

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How to Utilize Technology in All Four Domains of the Danielson Model for Teacher Evaluation

Last year, I was asked to be a part of the new teacher evaluation pilot using the Danielson Framework for Teaching. Along with being a part of the pilot, I read the book Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching 2nd Edition by Charlotte Danielson. Technology has always been a big part of my classroom and as I read the book, I started to envision how technology could be used to assist with my growth and development as a teacher. I created the document below to share some of my ideas with fellow educators, especially those using the Danielson model. Please feel free to share with colleagues.

The Danielson Framework for Teaching and Technology

As we embark on the implementation of the Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching as part of classroom observations, we have a great opportunity to look at how technology can be used together, with this model, to assist and encourage the growth of teachers. Charlotte Danielson states that using technology tools to enhance learning is an important responsibility of teachers today. She points out that an important part of professional development is staying current with technology. Something that never stops evolving. The evolving area of technology has also provided a way to find and participate in extensive professional development online.

Listed below are each of the four domains and suggestions/examples of how teachers can use the technology at their disposal to help them become more efficient and effective, while meeting the requirements of the framework. This may help generate some ideas of your own, using knowledge or tools you already have, or prompt you to try some of the ones listed. Do not try to implement everything on this list, it is a place to start. This is not a complete list, many more ideas could be developed and added along the way.

***Information on the Danielson Framework for Teaching was taken from the book Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching 2nd Edition by Charlotte Danielson

Domain 1: Planning and Preparation Domain 2: The Classroom Environment
  • Use professional social networking sites to stay current on effective pedagogical approaches (Twitter chats, Google+ communities, Google Hangouts)
  • Connect with other teachers in the district to answer/ask questions, compare data and plan, when time doesn’t allow face to face, through Skype or Google Hangouts
  • Use quick response systems (Socrative, Clickers, Google forms, Plickers) to have formative data available immediately for adjustments to teaching and learning
  • Collect data on students (using Google forms, or something similar) for quick access and sorting to demonstrate understanding of how students learn and their interests.
  • Recognize the role technology plays in the lives of current students and the way they learn
  • Plan differentiated activities using available technology to be sure to accommodate all types of learners (use professional social networking sites listed above for assistance and support)
  • Use various forms of technology to share student work therefore providing a wider audience and opportunity to expand their knowledge and receive feedback
    • Suggestions include electronic portfolios, blogs, websites, YouTube videos, etc. (Guidelines for posting student work online must be followed) This helps students take pride in their work because of the wider audience
  • Give all students a voice by using tools such as backchannels and blogs with comments
  • Use tools, such as Class Dojo-online of app, to subtly monitor student behavior and provide quick feedback
  • Using quick response systems (stated in Domain 1) to create an environment of immediate feedback
  • Prepare quick surveys to gather information on student demeanor each day to help understand behavior and create a safe and welcoming environment
Domain 3: Instruction Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities
  • Use Google docs to provide immediate assistance and feedback while students work
  • Introduce blogs or video recordings to assist students with self assessment for growth and reflection
  • Start using electronic portfolios to allow students to archive their work
  • Use alternative forms of discussion to encourage all students to have a voice including blogs, wikis, backchannels and online professional social networks
  • Record lessons and post on a website to give students the opportunity to go back and relearn on their own
  • Continue to use quick response systems to provide individualized and quick feedback
  • Use Google forms, Socrative or other tools to elicit feedback from individual students to measure understanding
  • Use creative visual tools (infographics, videos, images) to engage students and help them understand a topic
  • Record reflection using Quicktime or iMovie for a more detailed understanding of how a lesson or unit went and how it might be changed
  • Use a blog to record reflections
  • Create a maintain a website that communicates with parents and students-could include a vlog of current activities
  • Use Twitter, Remind, or Facebook for more ways to communicate with parents and students
  • Share your expertise and growth with others, collaborate by participating in Twitter chats, Google communities, Google Hangouts and Skype chats that are unique to your content area. Share with others in your profession
  • Use shared Google docs to receive feedback from colleagues and administrators