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When it comes to a tech tool with assisting an elementary teacher in preparation for an upcoming concert, Seesaw is one that I use often. Seesaw is a digital learning journal that showcases students’ works through video, audio, drawings, links, and so much more. Their work can be shared with their parents on the parents’ mobile devices all in a way that puts teachers and parents in control of how student information is shared. Seesaw has many different versions ranging from free (which can do a lot) to a paid individual teacher version called Seesaw Plus, and to a paid school version titled Seesaw for Schools. It is cross platform so that it can be used on iOS Devices, Android Devices, Kindle Fire, Chromebooks, and Computers with Chrome or Firefox.
Communicating with Parents
Seesaw assists me with easily communicating with my parents. Since our school has us using Seesaw daily, it has proven to be quite successful in communicating about concert dress code, concert dates and times, and where their children will be standing on the risers. Most of our parents have signed up and have the Seesaw app to easily access their child’s work. Therefore, when I send out a notification about where their child is standing on the risers, they can bring it up on their mobile devices. This helps them to find the perfect spot to sit in the auditorium to see their child. It is no surprise that Seesaw reports on their website that, “92% of teachers report an increase in parent involvement and engagement since using Seesaw.”
Learning their Parts
Many of my students like to search Youtube for videos of the songs that they are learning for the concert. This always concerns me as I am not sure what advertisements or comments might pop up. Even though they are searching for this in their own homes, I would rather promote the videos in a safer environment. Therefore, I use Safeshare.tv and insert the youtube video url there (create a free account first so that you can save the safe link in your playlists in Safeshare). Safeshare.tv will take the youtube url and create a new url that has no advertisements nor comments. I will then use Seesaw to share the newly created url on the students’ journals. Therefore, whenever they access their Seesaw journals, they will find a link to a video url of the concert song that is free from advertisements and comments.
Seesaw will reappear later in this countdown with a description of Seesaw Activities and how it improves the students’ learning of the concert music. This has been a game changer in my elementary music classroom and I feel that it needs a separate number.
Since my school uses Seesaw, this is the best tech tool for me to assist with communicating with parents. It successfully gives the parents information about the concert and it also assists the students in learning the music. However, there are other apps that elementary music educators have had great success with like the Remind app and Class Dojo. When it comes to choosing a good tech tool to enhance the concert preparation, it comes down to the following: what your school supports, what platform is being used, and how comfortable you feel with the tech tool.
As I continue the countdown each day, the end result will be a webinar showcasing all ten tech tools. Please remember that this list is a buffet. If you decide to dive in, please take only one or two items from the buffet. As my six-year-old daughter would tell you, “If I eat too many sweets all at once, I get really sick!” Choose one or two tech tools from this countdown to further research in the future.
Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas, Indiana, St. Maarten, and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award, the 2016 NJ Master Music Teacher Award, the 2016 NJ Governor’s Leader in Arts Education Award, and the 2017 Non-Public School Teacher of the Year Award. You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com