Today’s Contributor: Ryann Dvorak
Ryann is a third-grade math/science teacher at Pease Elementary and has been teaching for six years. This is her first year as a CIC, but is becoming more comfortable in the role- loving SeeSaw and BLEND!
It’s no secret, teachers work hard. You know that. Your spouse and friends know that. So, why not make it a little easier for ourselves? You know the motto: work smarter, not harder. Truly, technology is the teacher’s best friend.
No paper, no copy machine, no stress. In my own experience, I’ve still been loyal to pencil and paper (math…’nuff said) but over time, I’ve found other ways for students to show their work, assess, organize information, and receive assignments. How? BLEND and SeeSaw. I use our classroom BLEND page almost every day. For each topic that I teach, there’s a module that covers that topic. There’ll be definitions, anchor charts, website links, videos, games, IXL shortcuts, SeeSaw challenges, and usually a discussion board. No need to print out pages of information or worksheets- it’s ALL right there. With SeeSaw, students love playing “teacher.” I’ll post a few options for them to answer and they’ll choose if they want to be filmed or if they’d prefer to teach solo with the ‘Draw’ using the touchscreen whiteboard.
Saves precious time. We could pull our hair out with how much we have to do in a day and then we still bring work home. Other than the obvious, I love SeeSaw for this reason. I’ve been guilty of viewing SeeSaw uploads (for approval) while brushing my teeth, cooking- you name it. I don’t have to sit down, grade and mark corrections. Rather, I can easily make notes if needed, or even better- post responses to the students right on the app. Another perk is having enough time set aside for my GT students. These students have their own projects that they complete which needs checking. It would usually require a lot of attention and time….which I sadly don’t always have! I’ll ask them to upload it on the SeeSaw and they’ll jump for joy to the recording area. I feel like I can listen uninterrupted, distraction-free, and give better feedback when I’m ready! Also, parents have access to this as well. Check, check! With BLEND, my modules and page is simply re-uploaded year after year. No need to recreate or start over. Now THAT is a time-sav
Less “I’m done, now What?” It’s been said we make roughly 1,500 decisions in a day. Can’t promise that number will drop too dramatically, but with my BLEND modules organized the way they are, students don’t need to ask. There are always SEVERAL extension examples. They can watch videos, upload SeeSaw challenges, click links to other websites of relevant information, read other classmates posts and reply on discussion boards, etc. There’s also a section of my BLEND modules that are labeled Challenges. They have various science topics and math concepts. They can never cry boredom and they are never left wondering.
Easy Parent Communication. When I taught 1st grade, I used to print weekly newsletters. I would cry a little when I saw them crinkled up at the bottom of backpacks. Now, I send E-NEWSLETTERS. It saves a ton of time and I know for a fact that 100% of parents receive the information. I also have a class Instagram account. I send home permission slips at the beginning of the year explaining that it’s private and I won’t accept anyone I don’t know or recognize. I’m not blue-check verified, but the parents always tell me they love knowing what’s going on in the class. Also, I use it to send quick reminders, much like the Remind app would do.
Technology= Money! Third graders are enrolled in StoryWranglers this year, which has a hefty price tag. I created a page on Donor’s Choose and it was shared around on social media. Thanks to a supportive community and kind donors, we are close to our goal! Shameless plug: www.donorschoose.com/thirdgradepease In addition, there are opportunities for fundraising using tech! Students participated in an Internet Safety course, and we were awarded $100! We are just about to submit a coding opportunity, which would result in another $100! #fingerscrossed
They’ll Teach Themselves! During our Genius Hour, students guide their own learning. It can be chaos, but also very rewarding and fun. I witnessed one child problem-solve. It was almost a set-up, that’s how great it was. She was walking up to me, already asking me “I WANT TO WORK ON THIS AT HOME..Oh, I’ll just save it on Google Drive. NEVERMIND.” Awesome. Students also help each other out with the keyboard, how to spell words using google and google trouble-shooting problems. I partnered with our Librarian, where we created a Library FlipGrid. Students upload videos of themselves giving book recommendations. It’s peer-approved!
Virtual Hugs. We have a Shout-Out discussion board on the class BLEND page. Students go home and often write shout-outs to each other, but it’s always a sweet surprise to see little thank you’s and kind words to me, too!
I could go on and on, and I bet the realm of possibility only grows with older students and more experience. I enjoy reading these blog posts and getting even more ideas! I’m grateful and blessed with the technology, as well as open-minded and patient students.