In first grade, students build the foundation for reading. In in Lindsey von Dohren's class at Papillion La Vista Community schools, it's not just books and worksheets, an app called Seesaw is helping with sight words and lessons.
Gavin Frey, a first-grader, explains his project: "We're doing something that we like to do with our family, and it says what sticks with you.
The SeeSaw app is really sticking with kids like 7-year-old Frey. His mom Candy likes it too and thinks of it like a Facebook for learning.
"It's not a virtual classroom, but you kind of feel like part of what he's doing when you are not there," she said.
PLVCS says since being implemented 179,872 pieces of work has been added to SeeSaw by students, including 1,147 hours of video and voice recordings that document learning and student progress. It also has 515 teachers using SeeSaw with 4,497 families in the loop about their child’s learning, 127,772 visits by family to student SeeSaw portfolios and 60,975 comments on student work.
Anyone can download the app, but to use it, there's some important security steps. The teacher has to invite parents to a family account, and the kids have a class account. The teacher must also approve everything so both groups can communicate through emails and posts. Von Dohren says it has also opened the door for conversations about digital citizenship
"We don't use the iPad all day long, so it's definitely a tool we use. We talk about it like we do pencil or paper, it's a privilege, those kinds of things," she said.
It's also helping bring in community partners to classes. This fall during an outdoor ed class, sixth grade students from a different school caught frogs, took DNA swab samples and then used seesaw to document their work and share with the Omaha Zoo.
Back in the first grade, kids are using a corner to record messages to send their work home, bringing home into home-room, more frequently.
"I am able to see them interact with their kids, because they can only see their child's post," Von Dohren said. "So I can see ow they talk to their child at home, and their kid gets to see mom and dad loving their work."