Seesaw vs. Fresh Grade

Hello fellow bloggers,

This week I decided to look into assessment and communication to parents/guardians through technology. In my investigation I discovered something I had never heard of before, which is exciting for me. I think most of us have heard about Fresh Grade in our classrooms but I had never heard of Seesaw.

Fresh Grade and Seesaw are both FREE. They are forms of assessment and communication online. They are both informative and make it easy for students to share their work and make a personalized e-portfolio.

Seesaw is another form of communication and sharing students work through the internet. It has more features than Fresh Grade and it is easier to use for younger students. It is also easy for teachers to control who is seeing what and what is shared. It can be used through Chromebook, iOS, Android, and though the web.

Fresh Grades bonus is that it has an online grade tool. It can be used to formatively assess students and share with parents online. It is a little more complicated, but still has some features, just not as much as Seesaw. It can also only be used through iOS and through the web.

I am very excited to have learned more about these two applications and I look forward to implementing them in the classroom. I am very happy with the way communication and the sharing of students work is going. I think it is very important to be in touch with parents/guardians and to be able to share the students work with them. I think that adults have a huge influence on the children and if they are kept in the loop with the students schooling the better it will be.

Here is a link of a little youtube clip comparing and contrasting Seesaw and Fresh Grade.


Here is a link of a tutorial on how to use Fresh Grade.




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Documentation in Reggio Emilia/Wrap up of inquiry

Within Reggio Emilia, there is a high focus on the environment of the classroom and allowing students to speak in their “100 languages”. While allowing students to document learning in different ways is wonderful for their learning it can be difficult if you are looking from a traditional grading perspective.  So what can be done?

One of the very important aspects of Reggio Emilia that I have found that gets passed over very often. People use many different ways to document, to me technology makes it the easiest.

The addition of iPads into the classroom has made it very easy to communicate and document learning. With students using art and the spoken word and even acting to show their learning how are we supposed to show parents the learning. With technology, we can take photos, videos, audio recordings and many other ways to document learning. You do not need to be using a Reggio approach to implement technology into documentation, but it helps a lot with a Reggio approach.

I have learned a lot about Reggio Emilia throughout this inquiry. Specifically what I want to include in my teaching pedagogy and how I can add different aspects of different approaches.

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Multi-Modal Strategies

The final post for this inquiry project will demonstrate different methods that I have seen and researched as part of the Multi-Modal inquiry project.


Peirce (1893-1910) claimed that all disciplinary meaning-making practices, including mathematics and science, can be represented by a triadic account of how signs have meaning.


Representation of sign or signifier- Verbal, visual, mathematical, embodied, word text, image, gesture, action, graph, table, symbol, diagram, use of discourse conventions

Referent in world – Physical object, experience, artefact, situation/context, process

Meaning- Sense made of sign, concept, idea, theory, explanation


This theory shows different combinations of materials that are usually effective in a science-based lesson or classroom. Many of these combinations can also be applied to other school subjects.


Russell and McGuigan

Russell and McGuigan (2001) noted that the developmental processes of student understanding involve the “re-coding of representations”, implying that conceptual change entails a process of re-representation, where learners generate and transform “representations which are stored in different modalities, with meta-cognitive ‘explication’ mediated by linguistic processes” (p. 600)

Essentially what these researchers are describing, is that multi-modal teaching is important so that students can begin to make cross-curricular connections, as well as making connections to the real world. It is also noted in their research, that both student and teachers generated various representations of the target concepts, and knowledge constructions was viewed as the process of making and transforming these different modes of representation. These constructions of knowledge scaffolded their understandings in relation to their perceptions of the real world and it’s current/historic events.

Florax and Ploetzner

These two researchers have focused on students’ construction of self-explanation diagrams of understanding concepts across multiple topics. Rather than emphasise a particular representation or one classroom strategy, thye focused on researcing the general understandings as a key to effective learning. Instead of seeking to identify or produce an exemplary representation as providing the key to effective learning and teaching, they looked at the processes the teachers and students went through in order to produce those pieces of work. Maintaining a positive attitude towards the learning was a huge part of their research, which they maintained through activities and the opportunity for inquiry.



Representations of successful learning in the past have included being able to read a text and answer some questions, or getting 100% on a quiz. The representations of learning now that carry value for teachers and students include acting out learning, PowerPoints, presentations, art and discussion.

I hope that you were able to make some connections to different theories that you may already be implementing in your class without even realizing it, or you may have discovered a new idea that would work well for your current classroom.



Stress towards Teachers


Of course I am going to talk about us. Teachers stress too and actually more than many other occupations. “Teachers are actually tied with nurses, with 46 percent of both groups reporting high daily stress. Such reports are comparable with other notoriously demanding occupations, such as physicians and business managers.” 46% of teachers say they have high daily stress. DAILY!? That is absolutely insane. In this post I am going to give some examples of what causes teachers to stress.

  1. “Teachers are expected to perform these tasks effectively”. We are assumed to be the most fantastic of teachers all the time and that our lessons should be time after time amazing.
  2. “If teachers already face high levels of occupational stress, it’s not hard to see how the recent spate of deadly school shootings”. This is terrible because it implies that teachers should maybe arm themselves or be ready for the worst.

I also like that they separate it into two groups:

  1. Threats to Teacher’s Wellness
  • Weakens immune system
  • Reduces stamina
  • Heart disease
  • Chronic fatigue
  1. Threats to Teachers Performance
  • Calling in sick
  • “High Teacher Turnover”

Finally, it talks about what can help reduce stress in teachers. The one that is most impactful is teachers taking care of themselves first, “Teachers also need to make sure they take care of themselves so that they can take care of others. Without actively caring for themselves, teachers lose the capacity to care for others.”. We need to take care of ourselves because if we are not in the right place mentally or physically the students will see that and act accordingly.


Next post I will be sharing about how to help students when they are stressed.

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Bringing Regio Emilia into older classes

Finding resources that talk about bringing Regio Emilia concepts into an older class are few and far between. I found a teacher in Victoria had done her masters degree in just that topic! What was so amazing was that I found that she found what worked best for her was to include “Genius Hour” as a way to create a space for open-ended questioning and wonder.  She also included makers space

By bringing in these techniques it allows for the creative and open-ended learning that Regio Emilia stands for. It does not look the same as what a Regio Emilia class would look like in lower primary classes, but it still uses the same techniques.  What is important is viewing the classroom as the third teacher.

If you are aware of the importance of the environment as part of what teaches the students then that is what really matters with Regio Emilia. Thinking of how your lessons and provocations will work in the classroom will lead to a strong feeling of calm to your students.


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Multi-Modal Communication

In the previous blog posts, I have discussed the environment that occurs in the classroom and how learning can occur in a productive way, but how does a teacher extend their multi-modal way of thinking beyond the physical classroom?

Imagine a student in a classroom, you may envision them behind a traditional desk, maybe there are other desks and students around them. Now add windows, natural colours, desk or table groups, vibrant personalities and inspirational examples of work up on the walls. Include a teacher. This teacher circulates the classroom, engages in meaningful conversation, uses teachable moments and manipulatives, maybe writes some instructions or notes on the board accompanied with doodles. This is an example of a multi-modal learning environment. Now what happens when they go home?

Student: Hi I’m home!

Tall Person: Hi! What did you learn today?

Student: Nothing.


This is probably a very familiar conversation that we have said to our Tall People, and heard students participate in. As educators, we should be trying to extend the learning beyond the classroom and the best way to do that is through communication.

Ongoing communication to Parents/Guardians is now required by the Provincial Government and the new BC Curriculum in every “subject” taught in school. Multi-modal education can be extended to this area as well. Below you will find some examples.


Parent/teacher, student/teacher, parent/student/teacher conferences are amazing opportunities to share the learning that occurs in the classroom. There are multiple ways to set them up as well. Parent/teacher conferences usually orient themselves around the logistics of the classroom and composition of it’s students. Many of these meetings end up focusing on what parents can do to assist both student and teacher, during the student’s time at home. These meetings can be helpful to establish what home might be like, as well as learn the parent’s expectations of the teacher and student. Student/teacher interviews can be filmed/recorded and passed along to the people at home. When a student/teacher interview occurs there is usually an element of assessment, either formative or summative. These interviews are usually used as a method of communicating what has already occured in the classroom, according to what the teacher wants the parent to be aware of.  Parent/student/teacher interviews are probably the most effective to communicate to parents, as well as permit the student to show what is relevant to their learning and what they are proud of. It is more time consuming to put together examples and get the room set up and prepare the students, but it is so worth it, when students can demonstrate their learnings and accomplishments.


Many school districts now use a system called FreshGrade, which is a reporting program used as a method of ongoing communication. There are a lot of other programs used as well, this is just the one that I am familiar with. Many parents do not have the time to come into the classroom to have an interview, but they do have time to go through a couple clicks and see what their student is up to. One of the challenges with this system is that sometimes it doesn’t work and a lot of the organization, set-up and reporting has to be completed by the teacher anyways. It is useful for some self-reporting, as long as the students are at the age where they are more self-aware and technologically savvy.


The purpose of sharing these types of communication is to demonstrate that multi-modal learning occurs with parents as well. It is important, as a teacher, to have various methods of communication available to Big People so that it can be accessible. Many of these methods can be prepared ahead of time and planned in coordination, and with the support of, the rest of the school. If teachers use multi-modal teaching and learning strategies in their classroom, they should demonstrate these ideologies to Big People involved in their student’s lives.


Multi-Modal Learning

Hi there,

This section of my blog posts is focusing on Multi-Modal learning; what a teacher might want to focus on while delivering a lesson. When I was in school, everyone was labelled as a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner, which may have encouraged teachers to differentiate a little bit, but it was still focused on only one way of learning. Below I have outlined the VAK theory.


The visual, auditory, kinesthetic learning styles model was developed by psychologists in the 1920s to help classify how most people learn. According to this model, most of us prefer to learn in one of three ways (visual, auditory or kinesthetic), although we usually mix and match the styles depending on what we are learning.

Visual  – A visual learner retains the majority of the information learned when it is presented visually; using pictures, diagrams and charts for example.

Auditory – An auditory learner prefers to listen to what information is being presented. They respond best to voices they might hear in a lecture or group discussion. The learner repeating information back or delivering presentations themselves is also helpful.

Kinesthetic – A kinesthetic learning uses physical (or hands-on) experiences to learn. They respond well to being able to touch, manipulate and feel an object or learning prop.

An extension of the VAK theory was developed by Neil D. Fleming, who added reading/writing to make the new acronym VARK.

Reading/Writing – A reading or writing learner uses repetition of words and writing. There is clearly overlap with visual and auditory learning, but a learner who prefers to learn this way retains information best by going through the process of writing it down in order to read it later.

So What To Do?

While many learners can connect most of their learning to one of these methods of learning and retaining information, most learners are a combination of two or more. In education today, teachers are required to consider differentiation in their classrooms in order to reach the whole population rather than just the “end pins” (Shelley Moore on Differentiation).

Learners today are so stimulated by their environments, technology, emotions and events, that there is no clear distinction of different kinds of learners. Every student needs to have experienced each “type” of learning in order to realize how they learn best. Often it will be a combination of various skills.

If teachers get rid of the VA(R)K theory, then they are just teaching the student. Isn’t that we are supposed to be doing anyways? Shouldn’t teachers be catering and developing their own learning and teaching to fit the need of the classroom and it’s students?

Multi-Modal Learning answers these questions. By incorporating different methods of learning into the classroom and the teaching, every student has the opportunity to develop their learning skills and achieve a deeper understanding of the subject being taught. The point of this blog post was to show how many teachers still teach according to the VA(R)K theory. They stick students in a box where they tend to stay until the rare opportunity for self-discovery comes along. Students who get stuck in their box end up adapting the way their brains really work (in a variety of complex processes) to sticking with one method that “works” according to what their teacher, and the teachers before that, have decided “works best.

Multi-modal learning is so effective because it provides a basis for real-world situations, but where should this type of learning stop? That will be answered in the next post, based around Multi-modal communication.


When looking at Regio Emilia, what is a provocation?

What I feel is one of the major aspects of Regio Emilia would have to be provocations. That begs the question though, what is a provocation. In the most simple descriptions, a provocation is just something that provokes. That could mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. To me and what I have seen a provocation is something that draws the students in and makes them want to engage in the learning you have set out.

When I first started looking into Regio Emilia I was overwhelmed with this idea. How was I going to engage with what it is that I want them to learn set up in an aesthetically pleasing way? I can barely get my own decor to be aesthetically pleasing and now I have to make my lessons aesthetically pleasing? It seemed to truly impossible. What I didn’t think about was the fact that I just had to think small.

With Regio Emilia, it is important for there not to be too much going on with the provocation. The table shouldn’t be crowded and should only have what is needed for the activity. Instead of using regular plastic bins, use wooden or metal bowls from a thrift shop that are interesting or look like a part of nature.  Doing this automatically makes it look better and it makes students want to see what is going on with it.

Provocation does not have to complicated, it does not have to be super beautiful. provocation is just a simple way to help to engage students in their own learning.


Setting up the first one so students who need help to start have an idea.

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Other possibilities that I would love to explore in an intermediate setting are:

  • An interesting photo, picture or book,
  • Nature (e.g. specimens)
  • Conceptual (e.g. changing seasons, light)
  • Old materials displayed in a new way,
  • An interest that a child or children have,
  • An object (e.g. magnets, maps)
  • New creative mediums,
  • Questions (from any source – i.e. What is gravity?)
  • An event (e.g. a presentation, a holiday)


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Final Lit Circle Project Ideas

After the students have all finished reading their lit circle books, it is now time for the final assignment.  I have a few good ideas for students to choose from for their final assignment.  When it comes to presenting the assignment, students will get together with their group and present the final assignment they chose.  Once again, they will use peer assessment with a different format.  Below is the format used for assessing their final assignments.

Here are a few different final assignment ideas:

Story Board

Create a storyboard of three main events/scenes from the novel/book.  Each scene should reflect either the beginning/middle/end or problem/climax/resolution of the entire story.

Your storyboard must include the following:

  • Three illustrated scenes with one paragraph for each scene
  • Be handed in on 8 ½” x 14” legal sized paper, the legal sized paper must be divided into 6 sections – 2 for each scene (illustration/paragraph) and space at the top for the title and author of the book

Each scene must include the following:

  • The illustration must be realistic and either colored or shaded
  • Each scene paragraph must include a detailed description of the setting, characters, and plot
  • Each scene paragraph must also include a text connection of justification for the selection of the scene

Your presentation must be rehearsed and not read off of the storyboard itself.

Your comprehension activity must be assessed by a peer and by yourself according to the project rubric and presentation assessment.  The two assessments and your project must be handed in together for teacher evaluation.

Shoebox Diorama

Re-create a scene from the novel/book in a shoebox sized display, using plasticine, clay, Play-Doh, Lego, or other such materials

Your Diorama must include the following:

  • Contain at least the main character, however, other characters will add to the overall presentation
  • The setting should be connected to the main plot or conflict
  • Two to three paragraphs written ahead of time on index cards describing the scene, setting, characters, actions, place in the overall story
  • One paragraph written on why the scene was chosen to represent the novel/book
  • Diorama has title and author included on shoebox
  • Evidence of having rehearsed the presentation

Your comprehension activity must be assessed by a peer and by yourself according to the project rubric and presentation assessment.  The two assessments and your project must be handed in together for teacher evaluation.

Grab Bag Book Talk

Select some objects which are vehicles for retelling the story.  Put them in a bog, and pull out each object one by one, explaining how the object related to the story.

You are required to include the following elements:

  • At least six objects, and for the following purposes – one of which represents the setting, two for the main character, two for the plot, and one for the conflict of the story
  • One paragraph written ahead of time about each object put on an index card
  • The bag has title and author and has at least one illustration, you are encouraged to pick an appropriate bag, such as a duffle bad for an athlete, or a suitcase for the main character who has just moved etc. (if possible)
  • Evidence of having rehearsed the book talk

Your comprehension activity must be assessed by a peer and by yourself according to the project rubric and presentation assessment.  The two assessments and your project must be handed in together for teacher evaluation.

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Causes of Student Stress

Hello All!

Last time I spoke about what types of stress there is and how it can affect students. This post is going to be about things that students stress about. I was reading this link and it was crazy to see some of these reasons students are stressing. Here are some of the factors that surprised me or shocked me the most:

Changes to routine: A routine including dedicated homework time and a consistent sleep schedule helps guide students through their day. When changes to the usual routine start to happen, your child may find it more difficult to manage his or her time, leading to more stress.” I know that some students do not like change to routine, and I see that in the classroom setting; but I had no idea that they could stress due to home routine changes.

Participating in class: For many children, the thought of getting called on in class and speaking in front of their classmates can be terrifying. This can be particularly true if your child struggles to keep up in a subject or area (common examples are math and reading).” Looking at my class this semester (grade 1), I can not see any of them not wanting to share in the discussion or wanting to try and read in front of the class. Even though I don’t hear them say they don’t want to, that does not mean that they want to. This really turned my head a new way.


To conclude, there is a lot of things I did not know that cause students to stress. My goal is to take this information into the classroom to help the students feel safe and happy in this environment. I hope that this helps you as well and maybe there is something you read here that you may not know.

Next post I will be sharing a different perspective of stress.



Common Causes of School Stress For Students


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