Friday, October 21, 2016


Today's guest post comes from Ashley Read. Ashley is a first-grade teacher at O.C. Taylor Elementary. You can follow Ashley at @OCTAshley, her class at @OCTRead and on her blog at

"We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience." John Dewey

For more information on Seesaw and other blogging platforms, visit our GCISD 1:1 siteContact an Instructional Technology Coach for support to get started.

App Smashing Made Simple with Seesaw

I've always been the kind of teacher that likes to try everything at least once and take risks. I keep what works and I throw out the things that don't work. Last year, one of my favorite teacher friends, Meredith Burns, shared theSeesaw app with me. I have to admit, I was skeptical. Could this be an app I fall in love with and later have to pay hundreds of dollars for? Will it work with Google Drive? Is it really worth the time investment? It took me a while to be brave and try it out. And come to find out, really was worth my time. So if you're looking for that ONE special app that will transform your digital classroom, THIS IS THE APP! In fact, I think EVERY primary digital classroom should be using it. Here's why...

1. Kid-Friendly 
Students simply scan a QR code to sign in for the first time. They select their username and that's it!

Below is the screen that students see when they first login. This makes it so easy for kids to begin creating digital projects. 

2. Allows students to share work with an authentic audience
When students post their work, they can see their peers' work, as well. This allows them to learn from each other. Students can comment on peers' work and press the like button. Students are now motivated to put forth more effort in their work because they are creating it for an authentic audience. 

3. Has a built-in blog
Now there is no need to have a Google Classroom AND Blogger. Seesaw does BOTH! You even have the option to turn the blog off until you are ready to use it. Here is our class blog:

4. Includes drawing and recording tools
App smashing used to be so complicated. Create a picture with this app, take a screenshot, use Doceri or Shadow Puppet to record voice and then upload to Google Classroom. So many steps...

Now all you need is a quiet place for students to record. Seesaw allows students to upload photos from the camera roll and record voice to explain. Students can also record voice AND draw with the pen tool at the same time.  

Here is a video that one of my students made. She explained the three states of matter by app smashing the Seesaw app with the Draw & Tell HD app:

Remember to always have a procedure in place for app smashing. I always like to reference the image below for digital workflow. This is from Irene Boynton. You can see her blog post about digital workflow here. Students should be gathering information, processing information and then sharing information. Through this process students are truly making learning visible.

5. Access to free & fabulous webinars
Seesaw has experienced master teachers that present free webinars practically every day. The best part is that they offer these webinars both live and on-demand totally and completely free. I love the sprint webinars because they are short, sweet and to the point! Here is the link to the Google Doc with dates of upcoming webinars.
Remember you don't have to do IT ALL. Just pick one strategy or app each week that you want to use in your classroom. If it enhances learning, keep it! If it doesn't, let it go. But I promise you that Seesaw will blow your mind! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. I'm always here to help you in any way I can! 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Add a File to Multiple Folders in Google Drive without Copying

Google Drive is a powerful tool for collaboration.  If you have been a Google user for long, you most likely have folders shared with you from your campus, your department, committees, and more. If you move items from shared folders, it can remove the document from other individuals who need access.  If you make a copy of the document for your own drive, then you no longer have a "live" copy to reflect the changes that others make to the document.

Shift Z comes to the rescue!  Navigate to the document that you would like to "move" to another folder.  Highlight the document and select "Shift Z".  A window will pop up that will allow you to select a new location for a linked version of the same file to reside.  This does not remove the file from its original location but places a linked version in a new location.  You can have the same file linked in multiple folders.  If someone makes a change to the file, your file will change as well since it is not a copy of the original file, but a linked to the original file.

Happy organization!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Don’t forget about Google Drawing!

Google Drawing (or Google Draw) is a tool that allows students to create diagrams, mind maps, cartoon avatars, logos, info-graphics, timelines, hot spots on image (then inserted into Google SItes) and more!  And, as with most Google Tools, they can collaborate!
TCEA Tech Blog (You may want to join their mailing list!) offers a few ways Google Drawing can be used in classrooms.
Mind Maps There are many easy to use mind-mapping tools available, but students might find it more interesting to create their own.  (A template could also be created and sent to students through Google Classroom.)
Screen Shot 2016-09-21 at 8.58.23 AM.png Cartoon Avatar!
Definitely one of my favorites!  Have students take a selfie and then transform themselves into a cartoon character! (It does take some time and patience!) They could place the image on their e-portfolio or blog!  There are tutorials available on YouTube.  The one I viewed was

Timelines can be created in Google Drawings.  Remember to select the Research tool to help students find articles and images quickly.
The PDF - Cited by link will take students directly to articles.
Clicking insert will place the information on their timeline/document.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Easyblog

In this week's Throwback Thursday, I wanted to remind you about EasyBlog as an option for elementary students to blog and reflect in your classroom. We have K-5 students across the district using this tool!

Here are step by step instructions to get everything set up: The EasyBlog site also has a great collection of tutorial videos and help information

Watch this video about a simple way for students to blog about a creative process they might be going through. 

Please let us know if you would like help getting started with student blogs in elementary or secondary and stay tuned for some future posts on other blogging options such as Blogger for secondary and SeeSaw for elementary. 
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