Why I Became a Seesaw Ambassador

What is Seesaw

Seesaw      is a safe student-driven digital portfolio. You can download the app or use Seesaw on the Web.  Here is how Seesaw is being used at Wallace Elementary in Johnson, Iowa: 

As a K-5 Interventionist, I use Seesaw to document student work.  Students post their work in Seesaw then I can “like” it and comment on it.  They can comment back if they choose.   I’ve created digital portfolios for all of my Intervention students (Gr 2-5).  Creating submissions, editing submissions, sharing video, audio, photos and links, has been easy for me and for my students (even the 2nd graders).  

A Seesaw Entry 

Here’s an exit ticket one of my 3rd graders posted to her Seesaw digital portfolio:  

After my student posted this, I viewed it, "liked" it, then commented on it.   While I chose this activity, Seesaw has an Activity Library teachers can choose from and share with students.  The graphic describes how activities can be used: 

You can choose an activity from Seesaw's Activity Library or create your own.

Family Access

By turning on Family Access, I can invite parents to view by either sending paper or email invites which give instructions on how to set up an account to view their child's journal.  Before they can do so, the teacher (me) must approve.  Then, throughout the year, whenever they desire, they can view their child's journal.  

Becoming a Seesaw Ambassador

Completing the training course to become a Seesaw Ambassador and sharing the information in a professional development at your school entitles you to:
  •  Join a dedicated Ambassador community group for connecting and sharing with other Ambassadors from around the world.
  • Receive Seesaw Plus, our premium features for teachers, FOR FREE for as long as you are an Ambassador ($120/yr value)
  • Sneak peeks of upcoming Seesaw features.
  • Use the Seesaw Ambassador badge for your website or Twitter profile.
  • Enjoy A meal on Seesaw, if you visit San Francisco!
  • Join Seesaw Social Media accounts such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
I can’t say too many positive things about SeeSaw.  That’s why I had to become a
Have you tried Seesaw?
If not, I hope you’ll take a look at this FREE resource – rich app and see how you can use it in your classroom!

If you’re a Seesaw User, I would love to know how you use Seesaw in your classroom!

3 Really Awesome Things I Discovered this Week (You will love these!)

I found some really awesome information this week that was so exciting I just have to share them with you!:


As I was reading the blogs I subscribe to, I came across a brand new review game called “Tic Tac Booyah” where students compete as teams to answer questions. When they answer a question correctly, they claim a square. Teams try to get as many three-in-a-row groupings as possible.  To access this awesome game, click on Fifth in the Middle Blog.  

Click on fifthinthemiddle.com to access Tic Tac Booyah!


I plead with my students to give as much attention to the end of an assignment or test as they do at the very beginning.  

“Finish Strong!” is my battle cry!  

I’ll be honest, I’m tired.  I’m “end of the year, teacher-tired”.  But school is not over.  I want to "Finish Strong!"  so I'm taking this challenge:

If you need inspiration to Finish Strong, Click on pictures below:


Eleanor Roosevelt, our 32nd First Lady, persuaded Congress in 1953 to set aside a day to recognize educators.  In 1984, the National Parent Teacher Association designated the first full week of May as Teacher Appreciation Week.   

Where can a Teacher feel the love during Teacher Appreciation Week?

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, May 4-8, 2018, here are some links for freebies, discounts, deals, etc….

Note: Some of the deals listed may not be available at all locations. Check with local retailers. Also, deals may require that you verify you are an educator.

Click the pic:  34 Teachers Appreciation Week Freebies

Click on pic for 50 deals & discounts by Teacher Pop

Click on Pic:  AJC News Deal and Freebies for the Nation's Educators

50 Awesome freebies and deals during Teacher Appreciation Week

I hope all educators and support staff receive lots and lots of appreciation this week!!!  What have you discovered?

15 Ways to Use FlipGrid in Your Classroom (Includes Freebies!)

Flipgrid is a website where teachers create "grids" of short discussion-style questions
that students respond to through recorded videos. Each grid is a message board where teachers can pose a question and their students can post 90-second video responses (in free version; longer in paid version) that appear in a tiled "grid" display.

How to Create a Flipgrid Assignment 

(Click on picture to see "IT WORKED:  Flipgrid in the Classroom"

Use the promo code ItWorked to try Flipgrid classroom for 45 days FREE!

Flipgrid Isn't Just For Exit Tickets

Assign students to:

1.  Read their favorite book and record their fluency.  Or, summarize a reading selection.  Classmates watch each other's summarizations and offer feedback or rank using a rubric.  

2.  Respond to a critical thinking question such as “Would you Rather...”  (i.e. Would you rather live near a volcano or on a fault line?  Or “How was reconstruction of the South after the Civil War successful?  Where did it fail?).

3.  Predict the impact on an ecosystem in the case of an overabundance of a species.  (i.e. There’s drought on the prairie.  What happens to the rabbits? Coyotes?  Other species?)

4.  Record a “Reading Selfie” - Read and record a passage from your library book.  Continue recording making connections "Text to Text", "Text to Self", "Text to World".

5.  Explain why we CAN'T excuse Dear Aunt Sally or Give My Dad A Sandwich!  What is the REAL order of Operations?!

6.  Poll classmates, create a graph then share data analysis via Flipgrid.

7.  Reflect on upcoming state testing by venting their feelings, concerns, where they feel confident and what they would like to review

8.  Practice presentations for a Biographical Wax museum or Science Fair.  Classmates offer a “glow” (what they enjoyed) and a “grow” (“Have you thought about...?")  to offer constructive feedback.  Or, record a message to parents for an Open House or Student Showcase.

9.  Record book review or commercial  to recommend interesting reads for peers
10.  Forecast the weather as a meteorologist.  What’s the difference between climate and weather?  What do the symbols on a weather map mean?  After studying local weather conditions, assign students to give today’s forecast as a meteorologist on Flipgrid.

11.  Be the Teacher!  Record a "HOW TO" on how to change a decimal into a fraction or how to edit a sentence or solve the problem of the day.

12.  Welcome incoming students at the beginning of the school year.  At the end of the year, current students record a Flipgrid to advise incoming students on what they loved about their grade and how to be successful in the upcoming year.

13.  Report on a research Project.

14.  Practice speaking English.  For dual-language students, Flipgrid can be used to provide opportunities for students learning English to practice their speaking.

15.  Record their SMART goal and/or record reflections on their achievement

Interested in AppSmashing with Flipgrid?

How will you use Flipgrid?  I would love to know.  Please share in the comments below.  Thank you for letting me share with you! 

FREE Technology Tools and Lesson Plans

Whether you’re teaching one grade or several grades, it’s always a challenge to find FREE, ready-to-use  technology tools.  So I was thrilled to find 
Dreambox Teacher ToolsReady-To-Use interactive whiteboard lessons for 
grades K-8.
  • Don’t have a Dreambox subscription?  Don’t need one!
  • Don’t have an interactive whiteboard?  Don’t need one!

The list of Teacher Tools are in order by (1) grade then (2) skill. 

An example of a Kindergarten lesson uses an interactive, 2- wire Rekenrek and patterns of five and ten to help students count and subitize numbers to 20.

Along with each lesson is a sample lesson plan.  This one encourages collaboration between students and sharing different ways of solving problems.  

In a 4th grade lesson, students learn to use a bar model and equation to add fractions.    

The accompanying Sample Lesson Plan also encourages collaboration between students and sharing different ways of solving problems.  There are also tips on common misconceptions and tips for struggling students.

Go to Dreambox Teacher Tools and see if some of these ready-to-use tools and lessons would be useful to your students!  

Top 5 Best Elementary Math Blogs (Freebie Alert!)

My Top 5 Best Elementary Math Blog list, in no particular order, includes:  

Click on image or text to go to Mr Elementary Math

Greg Coleman’s goal:  Make math fun while maximizing student achievement.  You can find ideas, resources, and videos on his webpage  and his blog.   

Freebie Alert #1     Subscribe to Mr. Elementary Math to receive Building Number Sense through 1,000 Flip & Go Math Cards.

Freebie Alert #2    Mr. Elementary Math offers many, many resources you may purchase on TpT and  over 50  FREE resources.  For Freebies, go to TpT, type in Keyword, Mr. Elementary Math and choose the “Free” Filter

Click on image or text to go to Math Coach's Corner

Donna Boucher shares over 20 years of experience (classroom teacher, math instructional coach, math interventionist, K-5 Math Coordinator) throughout her blog posts. 

Her approach:  Guide students in making sense of math for the deepest richest conceptual experience.  Resources are hands-on, student-centered games and activities. 

Freebie Alert #3    64  FREE resources, on Teachers Pay Teachers.  For Freebies, type in Keyword, Math Coach’s Corner and choose the “Free” Filter

Click on image or text to go to the Elementary Math Maniac

“I spend my days helping kids in grades K-6 construct their mathematical knowledge and make connections between things they have learned,” says the Elementary Math Maniac on her blog.   
Freebie Alert #4  Click on the Math Literature link to access a listing of over 100 K-8 math literature books, compiled from her Monday Math Literature blog posts then categorized by strand.  Click on a book title to retrieve personal notes about the book and how it was used in a classroom setting.  

Click on image or text to go to the Marilyn Burns Math Blog

Marilyn Burns has been offering expert resources for teaching math for over 50 years.  Through her blog she continues to offer thoughts about teaching math, suggestions from classroom experiences, useful links to resources, and problems to solve.

Click on image or text to go to Teaching to Inspire with Jennifer Findley

Jennifer Findley has been blogging about math since 2012,  She offers, “practical, research-based, teacher and student approved resources and ideas right at your fingertips". 

Freebie Alert #5    Subscribe to access a library full of freebies!
 These "5" are absolutely the best!  What's your favorite Elementary Math Blog?

Best Blog Post of 2018

Recently I read that the best advice for growing your blog is to


What have I been reading?

The most awesome blog entries I have been reading lately are written by Vicki Davis who writes the Cool Cat Teacher Blog

Home Page of Cool Cat Teacher Blog

Ms. Davis has been teaching high school for 15 years, teaching teachers how to use technology in the classroom for 20 years, blogging since 2005 and recording podcasts since 2013.  She’s earned numerous awards which you can read about on the bio written on her home page.

I take away rich, valuable, resources that I can apply from almost every share.

80 Days of Excellence

Ms. Davis is now writing a series of blogposts called, “80 Days of Excellence” which began January 1, 2018.  She has committed to learning and sharing about excellence each day, in some way.  Even though it’s now January 7th, these entries are timeless and can be easily accessed on Cool Cat Teacher Blog

What I am enjoying most about these posts is that Ms. Davis shares herself.  Her posts are rich and universal, in their truth and easily applied.  I find myself reflecting on her shares and trying different ways to increase excellence in my own life.

I could go on and on…

I hope you’ll visit Cool Cat Teacher Blog

No matter what you teach, or even if you don’t teach, I hope you check out this excellent blog!

Thank you for letting me share.

Which Operation Should I Use to Solve a Word Problem? -- Interactive Anchor Chart

Wanted:  Anchor Chart for choosing the correct operation for problem-solving

As my students and I discuss problem-solving, I have been looking for the “exact right” anchor chart as a visible reference for choosing the correct operation.  I’ve seen anchor charts that address addition vs. subtraction or multiplication vs division but not one that includes all four operations.


     I was viewing a video on YouTube called, Introduction to The Bar Model (Strip Diagram) - Math Problem Solving Method”.   The anchor chart I’ve been looking for was on the last screen! 

Last screen of video, "Introduction to the Bar Model"

 My rendition

I redrew this to make it larger (and add some color).  Here's what I came up with:

Make it Interactive?     

If you want to make this chart interactive, ask students to write words that helped them choose the correct operation on small sticky notes.  Tack under the appropriate strip diagram.  Words may include:

Total:  whole, biggest, everything, final amount

Addition:  in all, altogether, total, combine, sum, more

Multiplication:  each, equally, times, per, every, share, rate, product

Subtraction:  left, difference, change, how many (much) more, how many (much) less

Division:  each (also used for multiplication), one, divided, part, how many groups? Per (also used in multiplication), quotient

Share your Ideas

Do you have an idea for an anchor chart that illustrates which operation to use?  I’d love it if you would like to share it. 

Thank you for letting me share!

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