Practical Amplification Series Post 2: Planning for Instruction and Customized Tools

This is the second post in a short series about using SeeSaw as a tool to amplify classroom practice in order to help students meet instructional goals.  You can read the first post here.


Over the years we’ve learned that there are times for play and exploration and there are times when students need careful guidance.  The “right” way is usually a blend depending on your students, your tools, and what you’re trying to get accomplished.  But one thing is for sure, you’ve got to put your student hat on when trying out new things.

Those of you that have been using technology for awhile will probably find this process similar to one that you use before launching something with students.  Essentially, I dig in and play around looking for the most efficient, simplest route to get the job done.  Since this class already has SeeSaw up and running it was a natural choice for them.

Challenge #1: Get a digital article to the whole class.

I first played around with ways to share the digital articles.  The easiest route seems to be to post a shareable link to an article that I’ve put in a Google Drive folder.    For an online article this would work the same way.  I was able to do this very easily in See Saw.  I could also post a QR code, or Airdrop it to the kids.  However, since we will be using the comment function on my posted article- posting the link is the best way.  Challenge solved.

Challenge #2: Find a way for kids to capture their thinking while they work.

I explored a variety of options.  My best was to export the article to Notability, but it wouldn’t work for some reason and it seemed like a lot of steps.  I asked myself at this point;

How will kids annotating the article digitally be better than using paper and pencil?

I didn’t really have a good answer.  So I decided to just have students use a six box sticky sheet (a piece of paper with six sticky note sized boxes on it) to gather their thinking.  Truth be told. I think this will actually work better for students as they work to balance their thinking and writing.  Challenge sort of solved.

Challenge #3: Encourage students to develop their writing about reading skills by commenting on the digital article.

This challenge connects back to our overall goals of wanting to get kids writing more and writing longer, but in a meaningful way.  This is also where I’m going to need to come up with a strategy or custom tool to help.  The idea of custom tools and micro-progressions for learning has been on my mind a lot lately after reading Kate and Maggie’s DIY Literacy book.  So what do I know about these kiddos?

I know that students can write about their thinking when given support, encouragement, and accountability.

I know that the support they respond to best is visual and personalized.

Support: Their teacher has been using custom book marks with goals as a tool to help students remember what they are working on as readers.  I decided to stay within this framework and offer something similar in addition to an anchor chart.

This is my first attempt at a tool to use with students during our lessons next week. I’d like to say I had a fancy process for determining what to include but in reality I skulked around their classroom taking photos of anchor charts so that I could build on lessons they had already had this year.   I should say that I’ll be hoping for some additions from the kids and I’d like to update/replace these tools with their ideas and words going forward.  I also haven’t run this past their teacher yet so she will probably have some great insights as to how we could improve it.  And even as I’m posting it, I don’t love it.  It doesn’t feel personalized and it seems not so user friendly.  If you have suggestions for something better please leave a comment!  Help the children!



Encouragement & Accountability: The hope is that having an authentic audience will be a huge boost to both encouraging kids to up their game as well as hold them accountable.  But I’m also planning a mini-debrief with their reading partner to have some face to face feedback on what they did well and some reflection.

I guess I won’t know if we’ve met this challenge until we look at student work and reflect on the lesson.  Come on back on Friday to see how the lesson went, where we’re going next, and what we’ve learned.


4 thoughts on “Practical Amplification Series Post 2: Planning for Instruction and Customized Tools”

  1. Might it work to share article as JPG and have students annotate using Markup tool in Photo editor – part of new iPad update? I agree about Notability. Though I always LOVE sticky notes! 🙂


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