Today I wanted to share some ways I’ve used the SeeSaw app to help support students in writers' workshop. SeeSaw is a digital portfolio that allows students to take pictures and make videos and then annotate, narrate, and add captions. Once a student has posted their work, parents and families can log onto the SeeSaw app at home and see the students’ work. There are a lot of great uses for SeeSaw, but I've found it particularly useful for student self-assessment in writing.
Developing Voice and Phrasing in Writing: Often when students are writing a narrative story they reach a point where they are “done” and you as a teacher are looking for ways to encourage them to continue the revision process. We frequently tell them to read their stories out loud to themselves or a partner as part of this revision process, but I’ve found that students rarely do this and consequently a lot of their writing sounds stiff or stiltled. This is where SeeSaw can help! I tried having students record themselves reading a portion of their writing out loud. When they listened back to this recording while looking at the written text they quickly were able to identify where punctuation needed to go, they found often repeated words that could be replaced with synonyms, and they got a feel for how their writing flowed overall. I also found that this activity really engaged students in the revision process and reinvigorated their enthusiasm for their writing piece.
Reading Like a Writer: Throughout the writing Units of Study, students are often tasked with “reading like a writer”. This entails reading a powerful piece of text and mining it for writing techniques or moves they can try in their own story. Once they have used a few of these writing techniques in their own pieces you can have them use SeeSaw to explain how they learned the strategy and applied it to their own writing. In order to do this I had students take a picture of their writing and then highlight or annotate the portion where they used a mentor text writing strategy. Next they recorded narration where they read a short piece of the mentor text that they learned the writing technique from and explained why it was powerful. Finally, they read the piece of their own writing that used that strategy and explained how this technique helped improve their writing. I encouraged students to reference the Narrative Writing Checklist while recording their explanations so that their thinking was grounded in the standards and language of the rubric.
For both of these SeeSaw ideas I would highly recommend modeling it in front of the kids before asking them to do it themselves. I used my own writing to do a sample and I purposely chose writing that I could revise after I had listened back to my recordings.
Overall, I’ve found SeeSaw is a great tool to help students assess their own writing, and share their learning process with families and friends.