SOMERSET ACADEMY STEPHANIE CAMPUS
Seesaw for Schools helps Somerset Stephanie increase parent involvement and motivate students to produce higher quality work.
Reggie Farmer is principal at Somerset Academy Stephanie Campus. Somerset Academy is a K-8 public charter school with over 800 students in Henderson, Nevada.
Engaging Students and Encouraging Better Work
From newsletters to homework, behavior updates to assessments, everything happening in Somerset Stephanie classrooms is added into Seesaw. “You name it, we’re doing it! Our teachers post and the students post as well, across all grade levels and content areas. Initially, we set a goal of adding one item once per week for each student, but because of the ease of Seesaw, everyone is adding more.”
Somerset Stephanie’s students are more engaged and motivated now that they’re using Seesaw regularly to document their learning. “The kids are really engaged. They are excited to share their work with Seesaw. It’s very difficult to motivate students, especially our students who struggle with learning, but when you give them the opportunity to share what they think is their best work or see their improvement from the first try to the second try, that’s very motivating for a kid.”
As administrators, Reggie and his team can also use Seesaw to encourage students across the school to do their best work. “We can go in and leave a comment on a piece of student work, which students really gravitate towards. They love that. It helps them to be proud of their work. And because we’re checking in, they’ve increased their effort. I hear our students say they want to make ‘Seesaw-quality’ work. Seesaw motivates them to work harder and to do better because they want to display it, not only for their parents, but also for their teachers and the administration too.”
Not only does Seesaw help increase student engagement in the moment, but it also tracks the evidence of student learning over time. “We can see what a student’s work looked like on the first week of school, and then what their work looked like a month, in a half a year, etc. Before, if we weren’t there in person to see it, that moment was lost. Now we can go back and reference it because it’s in the portfolio.”
Building a Trusting School-Home Community
Somerset Stephanie’s goal is to be very open and transparent with families about what is happening in the classroom, and Seesaw helps them achieve that. “The bond that Seesaw creates between the school and the families is so valuable. It’s building those relationships, it’s opening lines of communication between parents, students and teachers. The conversations are richer and more meaningful too because we’re pointing the dialog towards a specific learning moment for a specific child.”
Reggie believes that “the toughest job we have as administrators is building that relationship between the school and families. If we build that rapport, that trust with those families, that helps to ensure that our school’s values carry over when the kid goes home. We can work more collaboratively with families to help their children succeed. Seesaw was like hitting a fast-forward button on developing that relationship.”
Increasing Student Accountability Through Transparency
Not only does more frequent communication help families feel more connected to the school, but it has also increased student accountability. “The accountability piece, it’s worth it’s weight in gold. Parents are alerted by Seesaw and so they know what’s going on, they know what to expect. We’ve taken the guesswork out of what’s going on in the classroom with Seesaw. It’s there and out in the open, and so the kids are accountable. That is worth every penny.”
Implementing Seesaw in their classrooms has been a positive experience for teachers at Somerset Stephanie. “Initially our teachers were overwhelmed with the idea of adding another thing into their day, but they have found Seesaw to be so easy and not time consuming at all, and so worth the effort. What they’re getting back far outweighs any time and planning required to add Seesaw into the lesson.”
Somerset Stephanie is using Seesaw for teacher portfolios as well. “Our teachers also have their own Seesaw portfolio to collect evidence of their teaching and progress. As administrators, we can’t be in every classroom every day with every teacher, and now our teachers can share those great lessons with us. We can evaluate our teachers fairly when it comes time, and we can really see evidence of the great things they are doing on a regular basis.”