Calwell Primary - Connecting Families with Learning Journals

Finding ways to connect parents and families to children's learning is tricky. We've talked about how teachers at Macquarie Primary School did this; Calwell Primary School is also finding successful engagement with the community comes through the clever use of technology.

As featured in a recent ABC news story, Calwell Primary School has seen some great results from a trial of the SeeSaw app.

Seesaw allows students to easily add content to an electronic journal. Parents and others that have access to that student's journal can then view the content and add comments.

Why use an electronic journal?

Like many schools, Calwell Primary School has a very busy parent community that can find it difficult to check in with the school regularly and keep in touch with day-to-day learning. The school holds learning journeys, parent conferences and information sessions. However some families find it difficult to attend events after school and in the evening, and of course during work hours. After trialling the Seesaw app with parents, they have seen the engagement jump considerably, with well over 380 people connecting with the work of their 297 students.

How do students use Seesaw?

When a student produces a piece of work they're particularly proud of, or something that the teacher thinks might be nice to share, they can upload their work to their journal very easily. They simply take a photo of their work, then add a comment if it's relevant. Students can also draw pictures or include video. The teacher approves the content using a very simple process, then the parents are notified of the new post. They can then comment on the post, or discuss it with their child in the evening, strengthening the connection between the classroom and home. Students post a minimum of one item per week.
SeeSaw Yr 6 maths 1.PNG
Parents can easily comment on their child's work.

What has been the impact at Calwell?

The ability to share content very easily has been a major factor in the success of the Seesaw trial. While many parents don't have ready access to a computer, or can't visit the school regularly, all of them have a smartphone, so using a simple app to share student learning has made it much easier for the community to engage.

Language barriers can also be overcome through the use of the Seesaw app. Using picture-based content means that parents from different language backgrounds are still able to engage with the classwork and talk to their children about it without having to process some of educational terms that are difficult to process in a new language.

As mentioned in the news article, sharing everyday learning experiences with parents changes the types of conversations that they can have with their children at the end of the day. Instead of 'what did you do today?', parents can say 'I saw that ___, tell me about how you did it'. This in itself is a powerful way to connect parents with classroom work.

The article also gives a lovely example of a kindergarten student who was able to share his school experiences with his father, who was deployed overseas with the defence forces. This simple technology gives him the opportunity to stay connected with his family in a deeper way. This is so important in the early years of a child's schooling.

The trial has been successful and this year the school is using the app from K-6. Feedback from parents is overwhelmingly positive and has shown it is one of the highest rating programs that parents feel positive about. The next step in the process is to move towards Class Blogs. SeeSaw provides a platform for class blogs in a simple and easy way. This is currently in the trial process. It will be great to see how this progresses.