Looking to cut down on the amount of Seesaw activities you are assigning, collecting, and responding to? Consider creating Seesaw practice boards to streamline your class work and create meaningful independent practice activities for students in a predictable structure. In this teacher feature, we highlight two Issaquah School District elementary teachers who are using Seesaw practice boards to promote student independence, improve teacher workflow, and provide targeted feedback.
What are Seesaw Practice Boards, and Why Use Them?
Seesaw Practice Boards is a term that we have coined for these types of activities. They are similar to Seesaw choice boards, where students might select from various resources to explore a topic, or to demonstrate their learning. (You can read more about choice boards here).
Practice boards, rather, offer an organized and streamlined way for students to access and complete classroom projects and tasks. A practice board can help consolidate Seesaw activities, give students ownership over their assignments, and provide a predictable structure for digital activities – benefiting both the workflow for you and your students! This is important, as we want to ensure that even in remote learning we are asking students to complete assignments that are authentic and that further their learning.
Organizing digital work in this way supports our ISTE Standard of Empowered Learner. Part of the Empowered Learner standard involves students setting their own goals, using technology to meet these goals, and receiving feedback that helps them grow. A daily or weekly activity can link to other pages in a Seesaw activity to allow students to demonstrate the skills that they need to practice.
As a teacher, creating a practice board will also help cut down on the amount of Seesaw activities that you are assigning, and responding to. In consolidating student responses (versus spread out across many different activities), you are also able to provide more targeted feedback.
Setting Up Seesaw Practice Boards
First, you’ll want to consider how you will set up your practice board. Will you assign one daily activity that students will work through? Will it be a weekly activity?
Then, you’ll want to think though your formatting. Some teachers pull in templates for their practice boards, but it is also quite simple to use the Seesaw drawing canvas to organize a board with different links (this can link to an external resource or platform, or it can link to various pages within the activity to help guide students).
Once your practice board is set up, consider chunking instruction and directions by recording video or audio right onto the Seesaw canvas. This is especially helpful for primary students, who can watch/listen to directions before clicking on a linked image of their choice.
Pro-Tip: Spend time teaching students how to save as a draft. This will allow students to work through their practice boards at their own pace and save for later if needed. Saving as a draft will also allow you to use a practice board throughout the entire week.
Practice Board Example: The example below demonstrates how you can use page links within one activity to help organize independent practice. This is particularly useful for teachers who are hybrid and want to assign independent practice for students to complete in the afternoons.
Therefore, students can take what they have done in synchronous teaching periods and independently practice, while taking ownership over their learning and holding themselves accountable. Students are not expected to engage with new content at this time, but to strengthen the skills that they are developing in their synchronous sessions.
Want a refresher on adding links to Seesaw activities? Click here to read about the “link” creative tool.
Feature: Reyna Yamamoto (1st grade)
Reyna Yamamoto, a first-grade teacher at Discovery, first began experimenting with Seesaw practice boards after attending ed tech summer camp sessions. Like many teachers, she found herself needing to approve many activities, and commenting on each of these activities was a daunting task.
Additionally, Reyna wanted to use her Seesaw activities to promote independence for her students. She found that inadvertently, students were missing activities in the shuffle, as there were typically five or six each day for them to complete. Rather that create and assign multiple activities at different times (one for reading, one for math, etc.), Reyna opted to consolidate these activities into one in efforts to provide a predictable structure for her students and their families. Families have appreciated this structure, as it is easier to keep track of assignments that students need to complete.
Teacher workflow is another consideration for creating practice boards, especially for remote teachers! In Reyna’s case, her grade level teammates share the workload. Because the practice boards are organized in a predictable structure, both teachers and students know what to expect, and making modifications to the board is simple. In other words, they are not reinventing the wheel each day or week when it is time to schedule assignments.
Reyna sees another huge benefit in the ability to provide meaningful feedback with the practice board format. It’s important to her that students know that she is looking at their work! With fewer activities, she doesn’t feel pressed to respond to each one; rather, she can select one significant student response to comment on. With one daily activity, she can offer more extensive and meaningful feedback to that specific response rather than needing to view 100 activities.
Another workflow consideration is that a practice board format makes scheduling Seesaw activities easy – it’s just one activity per day, versus one per subject area being assigned at various times. Reyna has chosen to organize some of her practice boards with a video message on the first page. If it’s a student’s birthday, or there are reminders (such as supply pick-up), she will include those in her video message to students. Sometimes, she will include an entry task, such as a “find this” task in the supply bag, to help ensure students are ready for their live lessons with the necessary materials. In this way, it functions almost as a mini morning message. In other examples, like the one below, she includes video on the content practice pages, as a reminder of the teaching point and to provide clear verbal/visual directions. These audio and visual supports are important for all students, especially our youngest learners as they build their independence.
Feature: Maureen Bacon (3rd grade)
We chatted with Maureen Bacon, a 3rd grade teacher at Grand Ridge, about how she creates and how she uses theses practice boards with her students. After several ed tech trainings and time spent reading blogs, Maureen set out to create Seesaw practice board templates and share them with her team. She describes these activities as a way to encompass all parts of a content lesson in one container. She wanted to provide consistency to her students and find a way to see a student as a whole in reading, writing, and math. With all these ideas swirling, the practice board was born.
Within these templates, each box is linked to a page in the activity. Those pages in the activity contain resources such as anchor charts, template used in the lesson, or even a recording of the lesson for students to reference. As students continue through the board, the pages become a space for students to document their practice. Resources and student practice all in one location much like a physical classroom setting. One valuable benefit Maureen shared is that having this set up allowed her to take all the parts she would normally “see” in a physical classroom and place it in a space she could “see” the students working on within one activity (container).
Reading Practice Example: On the Reading Lesson #1 Mini Lesson Review- students can either review the recorded lesson or an anchor chart from the lesson. On #2, IDR, students post a picture of their independent reading- quick way for Maureen to know what students are reading. Linked page #3, students are given their reading response to practice skills taught in the lesson. Students continue working down the list for either small group work or F&P. When they finish the required work, they then get a choice to finish out the reading block giving student choice. This setup allows students to work at their own pace while giving early finishers an option to extend their practice.
Maureen shared that this type of board provides options for students not only in their Must do and Can-do choices but also the options in how they demonstrate their learning. Students can use paper and pencil or a digital format (Seesaw pen tools), voice recording, video recording or pictures, whatever works best for them to demonstrate their understanding and practice.
Math Practice Example: The math example follows that similar outline in which students can work through each math component all in one activity. However, there is one slight change up in how Maureen uses this template with students. Maureen teaches the math lesson live through her Teams/Zoom sessions, but after the lesson Maureen works with her students (whole group and live) to complete the beginning of this Seesaw activity such as the fluency piece, application problem. After the live session, students continue working at their own pace with the Seesaw activity while Maureen pulls small groups. By having this all-in-one activity, Maureen can get a pulse for student understand in all the math components while also using it as a classroom management piece that guides students through their lesson and practice.
After the creation and training with students, these boards have saved Maureen time. With these templates the team can divide and conquer to create these activities then come together to share the work. Also, having an activity that captures a student’s understanding of a topic all in one activity keeps a teacher from approving multiple math, reading, and writing activities for each student. Such a time saver for a teacher as it is all in one spot.
Consistency is key for students. Students are benefiting from these types of templates too! Seesaw practice boards create an assignment/activity where students know what to expect. It is a guide in completing work as well as piece that is used again and again, so students are familiar with the set up. They can complete the work to the best of their ability without worrying about how to use the technology, because they are already know what to expect.
On the topic of consistency, Maureen also mentioned using these types of templates when they switch to hybrid/in-person. As for her and her team, they plan on continuing to use these types of templates to continue to work together as a 3rd grade team whether the teacher is hybrid or in person. Because the team is using templates, the kiddos are familiar with the expectation and could make for an easy transition. By using the same templates, the team can continue their divide and conquer. Teachers can then take the templates and adjust them to fit the needs of a hybrid or remote setting.
Practice Boards: Benefitting Everyone
Reyna and Maureen have seen the positive impact by using Seesaw practice boards with students and you can too!
- Saving time and energy
- Providing guidance and consistency to students
- Empowering student choice
- Promoting independence
- SO much more!
Give practice boards a try in your classroom and see the impact today. Thank you, Reyna and Maureen!