This year, I am maintaining a digital homeschool portfolio for the first time and I absolutely love it. It’s amazingly simple and it’s absolutely free. Today, I’d like to share how to make a homeschool portfolio with Instagram and the Seesaw app.
I don’t know about you guys, but I love homeschool portfolios but hate creating them. Come June, all I want to do is to spend every minute of my day outdoors. I hate rifling through piles of papers and organizing all the things.
Not to mention the fact that much of homeschool cannot be captured in a three-ring binder!
Last year, during my portfolio review, I expressed my portfolio woes to my evaluator and she suggested using the Seesaw app.
Despite having a blog and a podcast, I am not tech-savvy.
So, at first, I was intimidated. I had already tried to maintain a digital portfolio using Evernote but had abandoned it after a few frustrating weeks.
But I value my evaluator’s opinion and she assured me Seesaw would be easy-to-use. And she was right. Seesaw was super easy to navigate. It felt like a mini-Facebook, but for teachers and students.
Today, I’d like to share how you can create and maintain a simple digital homeschool portfolio using Instagram and Seesaw. The best part? It’s absolutely free!
How to Make a Homeschool Portfolio with Instagram and the Seesaw App
First, before trying any of this, be sure to check requirements and homeschool law in your state.
I live in NH and we are required to complete a homeschool portfolio or a standardized test. In years past, I have tried both and I find that the portfolio option works best for our family right now.
I have been using the Seesaw app in conjunction with Instagram since August of 2017 and I love it.
But before we get to that, let’s back up a moment…
Love homeschool resources? We do, too!
What to include in your homeschool portfolio
Here are some ideas for what to include in your homeschool portfolio:
- Legal and other important documents (letter of intent, test results, immunization records, etc.)
- Curriculum used
- Learning objectives
- Work samples for all academic subjects
- Book logs
- Read aloud book log
- Individual student book logs
- Gameschooling log (yes, games count!)
- Extracurricular activities
- Monthly schedule/activity log
- Field trips
- Films and documentaries watched
- Live music and theater performances
- Awards and certificates
- Community service hours
- Tickets, brochures, and other memorabilia from field trips, vacations, and other adventures
- Photos of large projects
- Video of students reading aloud (this is SO easy with Seesaw!)
- Videos of student presentations(this is SO easy with Seesaw!)
- Fitness logs
- Video clips of academic skills (such as oral reading), sports performance, music performances, etc. (Again, this is SO easy with Seesaw!)
- Photos, photos, and more photos– because so much of homeschooling cannot be captured on paper!
If you would like more information about how to create a homeschool portfolio, here is an article for you:
How to maintain a free digital homeschool portfolio using Seesaw
For many years, I kept traditional portfolios for my children, but I longed to make the process easier and simpler. I knew that a digital portfolio could be the answer, but I struggled with how to accomplish that.
Last year, I tried using Evernote but – while many love it – it just didn’t work for me.
During my year-end portfolio evaluation, I told my evaluator my struggle. She is a fantastic resource, especially when it comes to all things tech, and she suggested trying the free Seesaw app.
I value her opinion and so I tried it. And it was love at first sight.
To me, Seesaw was far more intuitive than other options I had tried. In fact, it was designed for children to use and so it’s super user-friendly.
If you can navigate Facebook, you can use Seesaw.
What is Seesaw?
Seesaw is a free app that helps you to create digital portfolios. It is super easy to use, so easy that kids can use it immediately.
In fact, Seesaw encourages children to participate in the development of their digital portfolios. My kids love to add videos, artwork, experiments, piano performances, and more.
You know all that stuff you can’t put in a traditional portfolio?
The science experiments, the cardboard creations, the fantastic poetry teatime, the kitchen skills, the soccer performance?
With Seesaw, you can capture all of that day-to-day homeschool magic with the click of a button.
(This is an example of something that cannot be captured in a traditional portfolio!)
Want to add more joy to your homeschool routine?
Here are a few more reasons why I love Seesaw:
- It is free.
- It is designed for students to use, too.
- Seesaw is a wonderful way to keep your extended family involved in the homeschool process.
- Seesaw allows students to showcase their work, too.
- The app is simple to use. You can upload a day’s work in seconds.
- Customer support is awesome.
- Seesaw shares ideas for using the app all the time. I have more ideas than I have time!
- Students can “show what they know” in the way that best works for them, whether that is audio, video, drawing, a link to the web, or PDF.
- Seesaw is compatible with many popular apps including Google apps.
- It can be used with any device.
- Seesaw makes organization a breeze!
- By involving students, Seesaw leads to deeper student reflection.
- Students can create and maintain their own blogs through Seesaw.
How to use the Seesaw app
Simply download the free app and set it up for your family (please read these instructions for downloading the app if you run into trouble).
Then, set up your “classroom”. You can see how to do so here:
You can learn more about adding to student journals here:
Here’s how I use it daily:
In our home, I am the main operator of the Seesaw app. I spend time each evening adding photos, videos, and brief summaries to the app for each of my “students” (it’s easy to tag each kiddo).
When it comes to gameschooling, I will take a photo of my kids playing a certain game (or a video!), and then I will tag the photo by subjects covered. Easy-peasy!
If you have questions about setting up Seesaw, please contact Seesaw…
If you run into any difficulties with Seesaw, contact their support here. You don’t want to contact me, you guys. I stink at tech. Plus, I set it up in 2017 and it has been updated many times since that time. Seesaw has excellent customer support!
How Instagram can help with your digital homeschool portfolio
This is the easiest thing ever, you guys. I am not technically savvy, but I am in love with this year’s digital portfolio.
Instagram makes it simple to chronicle a homeschool day. I absolutely love the IG stories feature and use it daily.
If you follow us on Instagram, you’ve probably already noticed our stories.I capture “highlights” of our homeschool day using Instagram stories.
These stories often include:
- Coffee and Books
- Piano practice
- Extra-curricular activities
- Sporting events
- Read alouds
- Documentaries watched
- Science experiments
- Cooking and baking
- Poetry teatime
- Field trips
As things happen, I simply snap a photo and add to our IG story for the day.
Then, at the end of the day, I have a reminder set on my phone. When the alert goes off, I download my IG story and upload it to Seesaw, tagging the story with the various subjects and activities covered that day.
I will also upload any additional photos from that day. These photos may include work samples (which are pretty dull to include in an IG story), or maps showing where/how much we hiked that day (and this includes too much personal info for the world wide web).
I tag each video and photo to indicate students and subjects involved. Easy-peasy!
The entire process takes less than five minutes.
How to upload an IG story to Seesaw:
- First, make an IG story (IG stories show up in profile photo).
- Add to the story throughout the day.
- When the homeschool day is over, simply click the three dots in the bottom right corner of your story.
- Select “download story” and this will save your IG story to the camera roll.
- Finally, open the Seesaw app and upload your story from the camera roll.
- This will add the whole story video to your Seesaw app and then you can “tag” the video with various subjects and add a brief description.
Digital portfolios can make homeschool record keeping easy!
I am a convert. I never thought I could love a digital homeschool portfolio, but this method has been fun for all of us. And, more than that, it’s super-simple.
When June rolls around, I’m going to spend every second outside in the sunshine and I’m not going to waste my time organizing papers and hole-punching… because my portfolio will already be complete!
Looking for other ways to maintain a homeschool portfolio for free?
Be sure to check out these resources:
- How to Make a Homeschool Portfolio… Without Losing Your Marbles!
- How to Create an Amazing FREE Homeschool Portfolio
Do you want to see what our homeschool looks like?
Check out these helpful resources:
- First, be sure to follow me on Instagram. I share daily stories chronicling our day!
- Homeschool Curriculum 2017-2018
- Cait’s homeschool day in the life (with a 5-, 7-, and 8-year-old)
- Homeschool Curriculum 2016-2017
- Cait’s homeschool day in the life (with a 4-, 6-, and 7-year-old)
- Homeschooling Curriculum 2015-2016
- Cait’s homeschool day in the life (with a 3-, 5-, and 6-year-old)
Now, it’s your turn. Tell me: What does your state require? Do you use Instagram as part of your homeschool portfolio? Share here!
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