Practical Amplification Series Post 1: Building Literacy Skills With SeeSaw

This is the first post in a short series about using a familiar digital tool (See Saw) in a new way with a group of second graders in order to help students meet instructional goals.


This morning I spent some time exploring See Saw and thinking about how a group of second graders that I’m working with could do some more writing work with it.  (Thank you Sara for opening your classroom to do this work together!)

But first some background.

What we noticed: After a little digging we noticed a few things.  Students had built a lot of stamina to do this work since the beginning of the year, but weren’t able to sustain reading for as long as we’d like in order to confer and meet with small groups.    We also noticed after giving a small group of students an independent reading assessment by Jennifer Seravallo that we think now would be a good time to push kids to do some more intense work with their writing about reading.

Students can stop and jot, they are ready to capture more thinking and less jotting about the plot of the story.

Students can stop and jot about their thinking, they are ready to look for big ideas and start to write long from a sticky note.

Our Goal: Keep kids engaged with reading, thinking about reading, and writing about reading during the workshop.  Keep it interesting, authentic, and connected! No busywork.

Our Plan: Utilize digital tools to amplify the works students are doing in the following ways.

  • Offer more digital texts.  By giving kids a second reading task during the workshop we hope to inspire them to read more, engage with new topics, spiral back to strategies and skills, and get excited about new topics. (They are already doing partner reading mid-workshop but seem to be losing steam with this strategy, we need to pull some more from our toolbox.)
  • Offer digital texts in a way that kids can interact with.  Since the class is already using See Saw we noticed that it’s easy to share a digital text in PDF format with students in this way.  (We are using supplemental texts from the Primary Comprehension Toolkit.) While we would like kids to annotate digitally, none of the tools they are currently using supports this easily, so our plan is to have them stop and jot on a six sheet sticky note page (Harvey & Goudvis) and then use those stop and jots to write long in a comment.  This way kids have an audience of their peers for their work.
  • Use the digital tools to engage kids creative brains, build community around books, and infuse a little fun into our workshop. Because See Saw has some options to use photos with labels we can also have students add a quick three word book review to “sell” their longer writing to peers.  This also circles back to some lessons previously taught during the year.
  • Differentiate and Practice. One of the classroom teacher’s concerns with digital tools is the amount of time it takes kids to get something written down. This will provide the students with some good practice typing on their device, as well as offer differentiated tools like text to speech, and video recording.


Stay tuned for the next post in the series on planning for instruction and creating custom tools to help kids be independent!  



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