Using Somos and Seesaw – Part 1 – Establishing Meaning

I love Somos! I love Seesaw!

Put them together, and you have MAGIC!

Here is how I use Seesaw to “Establish Meaning”, the first step in any Somos Unit. 

I have 2 major activities that I use in Seesaw to do this with my 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. 

Let me show you. I’m using Somos Flex plans. Somos Flex is based on the Somos from the Comprehensible Classroom. The difference is the Flex has specific materials and support for hybrid, virtual, and paper teaching. I highly suggest this blog post that she posted about her Flex plans. It’s incredibly informative, especially if you’ve not used her stuff before. 

She’s got traditional, hybrid, virtual, and print. Right now, I’m in traditional instruction with face-to-face teaching, but that could change at any time. But even though I am face-to-face, I plan my classes more like a hybrid where I have everything online if I have a student, teacher, or entire class who suddenly has to move to digital learning. 

They are really churning out these units and have lots of resources already available. This is what I did. 

I did the Spanish Digital Curriculum bundle. I got it during the sale, so I got a pretty good price, but I highly, highly, highly, highly, highly recommend this. I’m using Somos Flex with my 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders using Seesaw as a learning platform. I am also using Somos Flex with my 6th, 7th, and 8th graders using Google classroom as my learning platform. (Yeah, it’s that flexible!) And I think the Flex units are even more adaptable to younger students than Somos. 

In this post, I want to show you a little bit of what I’m doing. And I’m gonna focus on my 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders, who are using Seesaw and Somos Flex. 

So let’s get started. 

So here’s the breakdown of every Flex unit you get. All these images are a part of the Flex blog post I mentioned at the beginning of the post.

Now I don’t really pay attention to the days (length of the unit) at the top because for 3rd, 4th, and 5th, I only have them twice a week 45 minutes. Also, they are yonder, which means you go slower. I can’t do a traditional “seven-day unit. My units with 3rd-5th grade go a lot longer (6-8 weeks/ 12-16 classes), but this gives you a basic idea of the sequencing. 

The first thing you’re going to do is “Establish Meaning” (Day 1). In the unit resources, you have two specific activities to “Establish Meaning.” 

First, students complete a dictionary page. Each unit has 3-4 target structures. Students complete a dictionary page entry for each structure. Students have the structure in Spanish already on their page. Then they write/type the translation in English under the direction of their teacher. On the page provided for the unit, students can write an expression or sentence using the structure. They also have a place for a drawing. This would all be teacher-led as these are new structures. You can see what the target structures are for each unit on the Somos curriculum page

For example, for the first unit, “Dice,” the three target structures are: 

“Este es” 

“un muchacho/una muchacha” (I use niño/niña)

“sice”

The second activity for “Establishing Meaning” is practice sentences. These sentences are very simple. They include the target structures supplemented by cognates with pictures that support comprehension. I call this activity, ¿Comprendes?

I do both of these activities, Mi Diccionario and ¿Comprendes? on Seesaw with my 3rd-5th graders. See the video for a visual and walk-through of how I set those up.

Some tips/ideas: 

  • Instead of writing/typing a sentence of expression, I include 3 pictures on each structure’s dictionary page. Then I lead students (in Spanish) to circle the picture that best represents the word we use on that dictionary page. It is like a mini-Picture Talk comparing 3 photos with 1 picture representing the new structure. I get these pictures on Pixabay or Google images.
  • If you do not have Seesaw Plus, you can’t do the multiple pages, and I show you what that looks like when creating the activities in the video. I highly recommend Seesaw Plus. Seesaw Plus allows the multi-page. The multi-page is the big one because I’m going to show you what that looks like. Also, with Seesaw Plus, you can schedule activities, which is really nice. So the activity doesn’t post until class time. You can get ahead and upload your week’s activities, and you do not have to wait to add activities until the day of class because, with the free version of Seesaw, you can’t schedule activities. 
  • All activities are saved to use in the future. You can also “Copy and Edit” activities for future lessons. For example, you can set up your “Mi Diccionario” page and just copy and edit it to create a new one for the next unit. It will save your original as wells as your new one. I have lots of activities that I have created on Seesaw and hope to continue to reuse these. 
  • A big part of all my Seesaw activity uses the “ADD TEMPLATE” feature for student responses. This creates a copy of a template for each student that they will use to respond. 
  • I like to “Lock” anything down on my templates my kids are not going to actually interact with because then we don’t have the problem of them moving things around, deleting things accidentally. I know that never happens in your classroom. 😉 
  • If you are doing this asynchronously, I would go into the template and create videos for each dictionary page. Make a recording, which really is a video. Then the next page is for student response. You will end up with 6 pages instead of 3 pages. The first page is your recording/video giving the lesson walking your students through filling out that one dictionary page, with the same page without your video/recording on page 2 for student response. 
  • Basically, you need to use the PDF document with the practice sentences and change those pages into an image file (JPEG or PNG). This is not that hard. 
    • If the document is in Google Slides, Powerpoint, or Keynote, it’s even easier because you can EXPORT your slides as images. 
    • You can use a website like Smallpdf to convert a PDF document to images. 
    • You could also take a screenshot of each slide. 

That is what I do for the first step of “Established Meaning.” I hope this helped. Please leave questions below if you didn’t know how I did something, or if you need help with Seesaw or anything else. 

¡Adiós!

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