Best Teaching Practice

Best teaching practice has evolved over time. Things that were once in date are now out of date. This category holds all things best teaching practice. Posts here contain small tips and pieces of advice to phase out old practice and focus on the best practice of today. It can be hard to stay on top of best teaching practice so let’s work and learn together!

How to Plan Seesaw Posts

How to Plan Seesaw Posts

Using Seesaw

Seesaw is one of my favorite new tech tools in the classroom. It makes communication between home and school seamless. I started using it a few years ago, and I have improved so much! Let’s talk about how to plan seesaw posts to enhance your parent communication. 

I initially began using Seesaw as a first-grade teacher. Our kindergarten program was Reggio Emilia inspired. A large part of the Reggio approach is using pictures as documentation to show learning. Parents received a file folder filled with photos that documented each week’s learning. I couldn’t compete with that! The grade one classroom was structured differently, and while we took pictures, we no longer took as many photos as they did the year before. Our documentation of learning happens differently. I had to bridge the expectation gap somehow, and that is where Seesaw saved me. 

My assistant teacher took pictures of the students in one class period every day and shared it on Seesaw. As we got into our school year, the kids began posting messages about their learning. Parents loved it! Homework used to be the way that parents kept up to date with their child’s education. Today, as we follow the research, there’s less homework sent home. Parents still desire that connection to school; Seesaw helps fill in that gap. 

How to Plan Seesaw Posts


First, reflect on the learning in your classroom. Each week I start with a simple reflection that I am already doing- this isn’t extra work just for Seesaw. What are my instructional goals in each subject? How could I use a post to teach parents about something? What do parents want to see? What might be some useful posts for the week? When planning seesaw posts, I don’t like to go out of my way to make Seesaw posts. I want them to be natural parts of our learning or meaningful extensions of the work we’re doing. Let’s take next week as an example.

In reading, we’re working to envision our stories. We’re working to make a movie in our minds about what is happening on the page. I know that many parents and students believe that if they read the words and can do a quick retell, they understand and comprehend the book. As a teacher, I know that the level of comprehension required in my grade level is much deeper than that. 

Possible Posts: 
-Students can share a stop and sketch by taking a picture and recording how the stop and sketch helped their understanding of the text. 
-A student could do a digital stop and sketch. They could draw out what is happening in their story and record themselves reading the paragraph that led to this stop and sketch.

In writing, we’re working on publishing personal narratives. I always like to use Seesaw to document the editing and revision process. It is simple and a great reflection tool for students to show what they started with, what changes they made, and why those changes were made. This way, when parents see the final product, they know a bit more about the work that went into making this piece. As a teacher, I also know that parents can sometimes expect perfect finished pieces. Adding the editing and revising process to Seesaw would show just how much the student improved their writing.  

Possible Post: 
-Have students take a picture of their story at the end of a writer’s workshop lesson and explain what changes were made. We write in black pen and edit in green pen so new changes will be visible.

In math, we’re working to understand the distributive property of multiplication. I know that many parents were raised on answer-getting math, just like I was. We memorized definitions of different properties, and that was that. I know that adding a post with a deep understanding and description of the property can help parents see why connected learning is so important in math. 

Possible Post: 
-Perhaps I could create an activity where students could solve a problem using the distributive property on Seesaw and then could record themselves explaining how they solved it.

In science, we’re working to understand forces. Science is always such an easy one for me to share. I feel like science lends itself to sharing so naturally. Kids LOVE to take pictures and videos of experiments as we engage in the scientific method. As a teacher, I know that science has shifted with the NGSS. Using Seesaw could help parents see how science class now intertwines science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas. 

Possible Post:
-Recording of an experiment with an added caption about the experiment

In word study, we are studying long and short e. We’ve worked on sorting out different patterns and are working to incorporate this spelling pattern into our writing. I know that word study is another large shift for teachers and parents. No longer are we memorizing a list of words we’re studying that patterns in words. 

Possible Posts:
-Create an activity where students sort words into different categories.
-Have students find long e and short e words in their writing and double-check that they are spelled correctly or explain which pattern is used. 

From this quick reflection, I have so many possible Seesaw posts that tie into our learning. Now I have to figure out which ones would be most meaningful for students and parents. Remember that Seesaw allows students to share their learning, but it also creates a story and sends a message to parents about what’s happening in your classroom. 

Plan Your Seesaw Post

Types of Posts

Now that we’ve reflected, it is time to plan. The screenshot above shows the different types of posts students can create. 

    1. Photo- A photo uses the device’s camera to take a photo. Once the picture is taken, there are so many great tools that a student can use to demonstrate learning. They can add labels or a caption. Kids can record themselves talking while the image is displayed. They can take another picture and layer that on top of the first image. They also have drawing tools available to demonstrate learning.
    2. Drawing- A drawing presents the student with a blank page and all of the same tools available on the photo. They can use the drawing, labeling, and picture tools while creating a drawing. 
    3. Video- Creating a video uses the device’s camera to record. Just a fair warning that depending on the age of your students, you might want to do a quick lesson on camera stability before letting them record. I’ve been taken on quite a few motion-sickness inducing videos before! 
    4. Upload- Here, students can upload something they already have. Maybe they are working on a google doc that they want to share. Or perhaps the picture or video they want to upload is already on the device. This is the one for them. 
    5. Note- When posting a note, students have access to a sort of word processor. They can type up what they want to share and later can record.
    6. Link- The link is where students can paste in a URL, and it will display the link. Students then have the option to record and discuss the link.

Think about which tool might best slide in with the learning already happening in your classroom. Which one is the best choice for your students? Remember that you don’t want to overwhelm parents with a bunch of things that aren’t meaningful. Which ones are the most meaningful? What is the story you’re creating and sending home to parents? 

Assign an Activity

When you assign an activity, you can choose from already created and shared activities, or you can create your own activity. To be honest, I rarely just assign an activity from the activity library. Usually, I need to make a few tweaks to the activity to make it seamlessly fit into our learning.
I usually create activities for all the posts we share. This is because I have a large number of students in my classroom whose native language isn’t English. Strategies for non-native English speakers are suitable for all students. I think it is helpful for students to see the directions after I have given them, so I try to always create an activity for whatever we are going to post. When I create an activity, it stays in my library. That means I can look back from year to year and reuse activities instead of having to generate new ideas each and every year.


It’s time to take action and plan out your first post. Click on the picture to get a free Seesaw planner!

If you’re not already on Seesaw head over to Seesaw’s youtube channel to learn more about getting started on the platform. You’ll need parent permission before students start posting. You will also want to connect with all of your families. Seesaw just rolled out a new option, which makes connecting families easier than ever!

Please know that Seesaw is extremely responsive. Follow them on Twitter, Instagram, or Youtube for more information. Seesaw is really dedicated to listening to teacher feedback and making sure that using their platform creates the best experience for everyone!

Best of luck!

Are you a Seesaw user? How do you plan out your posts? Do you have any other tips to offer up? Leave a comment below to share some more pro tips with us!

If you’re new to Seesaw comment below about how your first post went!

Weekly Wisdom

It does no good to teach a child to FIX errors if they don't know how to FIND them. Fountas and Pinnell

Weekly Wisdom

The objective of education is not to fill a man's mind with facts; it is to teach him how to use his mind in thinking. Henry Ford

Why We Need to Stop Giving Everything Points

Why We Need to Stop Giving Everything Points

One of my students recently came back from a different class. She ran right in to tell her friends that they had an assessment and she got 20.5 points out of 20. She was so excited about the points that she had earned.

I said, “Oh that’s cool. What did you learn?” She couldn’t answer the question. She could say that she got half a point extra for remembering to put the date at the top of her page. (What is that even assessing?) It got me wondering, how does this assess her learning? How do these points show her progress toward grade-level proficiency? How do these points show her growth over the course of the year?

A Grading Realization

While I was student teaching third grade many years ago I came to a startling though not surprising conclusion. Kids only cared about their work when they knew what it was worth in points. Before beginning anything they asked how many points it was worth. When they were questioned if the work they were turning in was their best work, they asked how many points it was worth. Before any task, during any task, after any task, the question was always the same. How many points is this worth? It drove me absolutely insane. As a person who loves all learning, I couldn’t understand why they were so obsessed with points. Wasn’t it too young for them to be throwing away learning opportunities because they felt it wasn’t worth enough? Are there really moments in the classroom that can be thrown away? Shouldn’t we do something about this?

And so I did. I stopped telling them points and how much things were worth, much to the displeasure of my cooperating teacher. Once they realized I wasn’t going to tell them how many points they had or what “counted” in the gradebook and what didn’t; the learning started taking off. Not taking off too far, don’t get the idea that I was some sort of genius student teacher. But the investment in learning increased and I was happier and they were learning much more. Instead of investing in their grade they invested themselves in the learning. 

Enough With the Points

I’ve luckily never taught in a school that made me track grades with points. When you look in my gradebook there are assessments but instead of measuring knowledge in points, I’ve found it much more beneficial to measure learning in growth and progress towards grade level standards. This doesn’t mean that my grades aren’t accurate or that I don’t know where my students are it means the exact opposite. I know where each of my students are on the continuum of learning for each of the skills that they need to master. I know where each of them has been and the trajectory that they will likely take to get there. I know them as learners and I know that they value learning. 

Standards Based Grading

I use a system called standards-based grading. I grade my students on their progress towards the end of the year standards. This system determines grades based on a student’s progress towards a standard. Often this method uses a 1, 2, 3, 4 method of grading, please see below. 

Instead of giving everything a points value and deciding that a student has a 97%, the progress is determined based on each standard. If you have a 90% what does that mean? What 90% of the content have you mastered? What 10% do you still not know? Here are a few of the differences between traditional grading and standards-based grading. 

Using a standards based grading system makes things easier for me as a teacher. I can more accurately report on student progress to parents and students. I know where my students are in which skills and know what to emphasize with each child. 

I will say that report cards can take a bit longer because you have to enter more grades BUT isn’t it better to give parents more specific feedback? I know in my heart that it is much better.

In the example below you can see the difference in report cards. I just filled in random grades and numbers and this is not based on a student just on whatever number I felt like pressing. 


A teacher I follow on instagram shared an end of the year memory page with her followers. It was so adorable. A teacher asked how she grades to memory page. This blew my mind! Why would you grade a memory page? Unless it ties in with your standards we shouldn’t tell kids they got a 94% on their end of the year memory page. 

Do we stop the learning when a grade is given? I feel that students deserve better than what has always been done. They deserve to know that all learning is valuable. After an assessment, skills learned are still relevant, if they aren’t, then why are we teaching them. Kids deserve knowing that all work they complete is valuable but work while they’re beginning to learn a skill shouldn’t count the same as work completed near mastery. What does assigning points to anything really do? I know it makes it easy to spit out a percentage grade at the end of a quarter but what does that say about learning? Couldn’t we say more? Couldn’t we do better?

Are we filling a bucket or lighting a fire? How does your grading system support or hinder your answer to this question? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below! 

Weekly Wisdom

A predictable lesson structure enables you to teach powerfully, it allows you to focus on the facilitative talk and precise language that will lift students. -Fountas and Pinnell