Wednesday, August 19, 2015

KEEPING TRACK OF PROGRESS in the Special Education Classroom

Hi! I'm Mary Ann from SPECIAL ED SPOT.
I am so excited about guest blogging here at Special Sparkle. Today, I wanted to share an awesome app for documenting and monitoring progress.


One important thing in teaching and especially in the Special Education classroom is keeping track of student progress. Monitoring progress not only shows you, as the teacher, the growth students have made in skills; it also provides documentation as to what you have taught for your records and for your supervisors.


Keeping parents informed as to the levels their child is functioning on, how they are progressing on goals and objectives on the Individual Education Plan (IEP) is a vital part of our jobs as teachers and of great concern to parents of the kids we work with. Working with children in special education classes makes it even more important to  communicate with parents and share what their child is doing in the classroom.

These days, documentation of monitoring progress is a vital portion of a teacher's evaluation portfolio and used in to determine their "grade" or effectiveness when being evaluation by administration. What if we could streamline all of that and teach the kids technology, responsibility and independence all at the same time?

One little tool I recently came across that can do all of this is SEESAW, a digital portfolio app. In the description of the app in the iTunes store, it calls itself a student-driven portfolio. Anytime I can foster independence in my kids in my self-contained special education classroom, I say, "Let's go!"


Come, let's take a quick peek at this app for its use in a special education classroom. This powerful little program is designed to allow students to sign in and upload their work to their digital portfolio. The teacher has overall power of approval of what is part of the portfolio. Each piece added by the students sits and waits for approval from you before its actually added to the portfolio.

The first thing you do once you have downloaded and opened the app is to set up your class.
 I have added only first names for this example but of course you would add all of your student first and last names.
Now here comes a cool part. Seesaw lets the students sign in. Now in a special education classroom like I used to work in, the students' disabilities might make it difficult. Remembering names and passwords for sites they use can also be challenging.
Seesaw lets the kids sign in using a classroom QR CODE poster. The students can use an iPad or other device that will read QR codes to sign in. Easy, right?

Seesaw even provides direction posters unique to your classroom that have limited words making it easier for students to log in. I created a simplified version that would make it easier for the students in my special education classroom.
Once that is done, the students will see this screen.

They can now select what type of entry they would like to add to their portfolio. If they select PHOTO, they can take a picture of a paper document, drawing or computer screen. Click on the green check and then it shows you what has uploaded and will also show that it is waiting for approval.

You can add video, drawing, photos, etc to this snappy app and the kids can even draw on the screen and then save it to their portfolio. 


Seesaw lets parents login using the Seesaw Parent app  and see only their child's work with separate logins. The only thing I can see with this app is possibilities.
This could also be a useful tool at parent conferences to go over accomplishments, goals and objectives in IEPs.
It has the potential to make kids in Specials Education classes more independent by allowing them to record their work and increase the pride they have in their work.
If the students are not able to interact with the app independently, perhaps they can do it with supportive or participatory prompts. It has the potential of being able to fit many students of different ability levels.
This app would be a valuable tool in any teacher's back pocket to record and document activities, and even take pictures of behavior data tallies and sheets in quick and easy manner.
Now, here is the best part of this.....SEESAW IS FREE!  YES- FREE! You can use it in the classroom or it can be used school-wide with administrative viewers available.
Here is a free copy of the directions I made.

 Mary Ann from Special Ed SpotTake a look. Someone at my school shared this app's availability with me a few months back, but once I got into it, I never want to go back.

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