One of the biggest challenges I have faced in teaching during this pandemic is being able to hear my students’ justifications of their thinking and give them feedback in real time. Our district is hybrid, so luckily I get to see most of my students a few days a week. However, on their virtual days, it was suggested by our administration to provide asynchronous learning in order to meet the needs of all our students. Since face-to-face time is limited, I needed to find a way to get a better understanding of my students learning on these asynchronous virtual days.
I first began using the online tool, Seesaw (https://web.seesaw.me/seesaw-for-schools), as a way to gauge my students’ understanding of homework. Each week, since school has started, students complete what I call a “show and tell” on Seesaw. Students choose a Review/Preview problem from the assignment for the week. I post the following directions on Seesaw, along with a sample video of me completing a “show and tell” so they know what I am looking for:
Step 1: Choose a Review/Preview Problem from this week’s assignment.
Step 2: Click “Add Response” on the activity.
Step 3: Take a picture of the problem of your choice, make a screen shot from the homework help, or type the problem in, whichever works best for you.
Step 4: Use the pencil tool and the microphone to solve and EXPLAIN your thinking of the homework problem.
Step 5: Submit to Mrs. Bell by clicking the green “Done” check mark in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
This quick, easy tool has been a game changer for this struggling teacher in our current situation! In a matter of a minute or two, I am able to listen to my students at home and the strategies they are using to solve challenging problems. I am able to see/hear their struggles and the things they understand well. I plan to continue using this weekly “show and tell” assignment even after COVID. Here are several samples of student work from a weekly “show and tell”:
In October, our school went from hybrid to all virtual for a few weeks. Like so many other teachers, I had to quickly change my game plan for the remainder of the week. I was expecting to see my students in person and give them a self-assessment (ungraded) quiz, however, this would no longer be possible. I used Seesaw to have students complete their quiz. I felt comfortable doing this in a virtual format, as I knew if they had to explain their thinking, it would be difficult for them to cheat. If my students understood the material enough to explain their strategies in Seesaw, then I knew they had a solid understanding of that particular skill at that point in time.
In another scenario, I had two students who had a family emergency come up and would be all virtual for a few weeks. Over this time, we were having a test and it was requested by a parent that we allow them to do as much from home as possible (including assessments). Many teachers in the building were hesitant about this, however, I resorted to Seesaw again. I had the students demonstrate their thinking on each learning target in a Seesaw journal entry. I was so impressed with the quality of their work and the in depth explanation from these students. Below are two examples of the Seesaw posts for the assessment:
When they returned, they mentioned how much they liked doing the test this way and felt it allowed them a better opportunity to really show what they knew. After further consideration, I plan to have each student submit one or more learning targets from the next individual test via Seesaw.
Allowing my students the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding in this way may alleviate test anxiety for some students who struggle to give written justifications of their strategies.