ES Principal's Blog

Documenting Progress: Using Seesaw to Communicate about Student Learning in the PYP
  • PYPisms

At ASW, we teach students concepts, skills and attributes within a transdisciplinary framework. These learning goals are shared with parents in the Unit Letter provided at the beginning of each Unit of Inquiry.


The work students do and the progress they make on these Units, Grade Level and Individual goals, is monitored and documented by teachers everyday. Teachers monitor learning and progress as students demonstrate understanding of the concepts, skills and attributes explored. The progress which occurs (or does not occur) is the foundation for teacher planning of learning engagements, small group work and direct or targeted instruction each day. As a grade level team, teachers meet multiple times each week to plan using data from
these learning interactions

 (The 4 Dimensions of Assessment from the PYP Enhancements, October 2018)


Therefore, the work we do with our students is based on what we see they need next, and not on a pre-planned or pre-set curriculum or program of study, such as a workbook which contains set pages a child will complete in a year. This approach allows us to adapt our instruction to meet each child where he or she is. Our teachers know what students can do, and know how to plan to support them with learning what needs to come next.


Most importantly, we work to ensure students know their own strengths and areas for growth as a primary part of the learning journey in the PYP at ASW.


This year, our goal is to ensure parents too have a better sense of how their children are progressing. One tool we have adopted to help provide a “window” into the day, is Seesaw. This digital portfolio program allows teachers and students the opportunity to post photos or videos for parents to view. This real-time ability to show the learner and the learning community what progress looks like is powerful.


As our use of Seesaw over the past 6 months has grown, we have also surveyed and interviewed the learning community about the tool and how it might be best used to keep them involved and informed. Namely, we recognize that parents play a primary role in the collaborative partnership identified in the PYP.


For the rest of the year, teachers and students will be working on documenting (explaining and elaborating) what they post or share on Seesaw to ensure parents have a clear context for what they are seeing. We believe that this step of documenting progress is key to linking the learning and teaching goals in the Unit Letters to the final summary of learning parents receive on a report card or other end-of-unit statement.


At this time, teachers are developing processes for collecting, monitoring, documenting and sharing evidence of student progress. It is the consensus of everyone on our staff that this is the work to be focused on now. Not only does documentation provide parents with the information they need and want, it also allows teachers to monitor and assess learning at predictable and frequent points within a Unit of Inquiry and across the year. The outcome for everyone will be a clearer sense of what a learner can do and needs to do next.


Next Issue: Assessment in the PYP: Student-Led Conferences


PYP Terms for Reference for Parents:



A concept is a “big idea”—a principle or notion that is enduring and is not constrained by a particular origin, subject matter or place in time (Erickson 2008). Concepts represent ideas that are broad, abstract, timeless and universal. Concepts add depth and rigour in student thinking to the traditional “two-dimensional” curriculum consisting of facts and skills. Concepts place no limits on breadth of knowledge or on depth of understanding, and therefore are accessible to every student.

Grade level standards and benchmarks: Grade level standards and benchmarks are a written description of what students are expected to know and be able to do at a particular grade level. Each subject has a set of standards that outline how a student might typically develop skills and understanding within a subject area. At ASW we use American standards and benchmarks to inform our planning and assessment.

ATL/skills:Students are assessed on the following Approaches to Learning; Thinking Skills, Social Skills, Communication Skills, Self- Management Skills and Research Skills.

Learner Profile: The Learner Profile is a set of attributes that define an internationally-minded person. The attributes of the Learner Profile include: Balanced, Risk-Taker, Caring, Thinker Principled, Knowledgeable, Inquirer, Communicator, Open-minded and Reflective. These attributes are developed over time in the PYP, MYP and DP and form the center of all the IB curriculum frameworks.

Unit Letter: At ASW Unit Letters are sent home at the beginning of each Unit of Inquiry. These resources detail what will be learned and taught in the upcoming Unit.

PYP Enhancements: The International Baccalaureate has revised and updated the Primary Years Program Curriculum. These “enhancements” were released in October 2018. Concept based inquiry remains the leading pedagogical approach of the enhanced PYP and is the basis for all learning and teaching in the programme. An explicit focus on agency–voice, choice and ownership–will encourage active, inquiring students to take responsibility for their own learning.

Monitoring Learning: Monitoring of learning aims to check the progress of learning in relation to personal learning goals and success criteria. It occurs daily through a variety of strategies: observation, questioning, reflection, discussing learning with peers and teachers, and well-considered feedback to guide next steps in learning. Tools used for monitoring include open-ended tasks, written or oral assessment, and a learning portfolio.

Documenting Learning:The documentation of learning is the compilation of the evidence of learning. Documentation can be physical or digital, and can be displayed or recorded in a variety of media forms. Documentation of learning is shared with others to make learning visible and apparent. It reveals insights into learning and provides opportunities to reconnect with learning goals and success criteria.

Learning Artifacts: Students and teachers can document learning goals, questions, reflections and evidence of learning using a variety of formats.


  • Learning logs or journals: These are used to record feedback and reflections of ongoing learning.

  • Learning stories: Narratives that document an instance when the learner shows knowledge, conceptual understandings or skills.

  • Portfolios: A collection of artifacts that can also contribute to reporting.

  • Documentation tools could include exemplars, checklists, rubrics, anecdotal records, portfolios.


Seesaw: ASW adopted the Seesaw online digital learning tool as a method for communicating student progress with parents. (

Family Build Day
Family Build Day

As the culmination of the Grade 2 science unit of inquiry on forces and motion under the theme, "How the World Works," students joined together with their parents to make a Rube Goldberg machine on Family Build Day! They used recycled materials and combined simple machines with forces such as gravity, friction, and magnetism, to create their finished products. It was a wonderful day of invention and ingenuity! 


By Melody Phipps, Grade 2 Teacher

Math Inquiry
Math Inquiry

We had a great turn out last week for our Grade 1 Math Inquiry Showcase.  Parents were able to experience how ASW is using a hands-on, play-based approach to address academic standards.  Parents began by reflecting on their experiences with math and their feelings toward it. Children then took the lead by sharing some of the ways they use math to be problem solvers. The activities the first graders chose were hands-on, encouraged sharing and communicating their thinking, involved making connections, and included identifying different strategies to solve problems. Students did an excellent job showcasing how they learn math in grade 1 at ASW. As we continue this partnership, we encourage parents to share their thoughts and questions about this new way of learning. We are excited to continue this open dialogue as our learners delve deeper into critical thinking.



By Ms. Aubri Barnes, Grade 1 PYP Teacher

Students investigate pumpkins
Students investigate pumpkins

What do pumpkins have to do with the PYP theme, Where We Are in Time and Place? In Grade 2, they are making the connection! 

Learners are celebrating the fact that they are living in Poland at this time in their lives, and that their host country is awash in the beautiful colors of fall, and yielding a bountiful harvest of crops, like pumpkins!

Through the three-day Pumpkin Investigation Unit, Grade 2 had the perfect springboard for learning and applying skills in descriptive writing, counting beyond 100, planning, collaborating, and problem-solving. On the first day, students in mixed groups looked at the features of many different kinds of pumpkins and shared their observations with group mates. They came up with adjectives describing the outside of their pumpkins---their shape, size, color, texture, smell and sound. They were amazed at how different each pumpkin was from another! 

On the second day, students observed the inside of the pumpkin. Most of them dug their hands with gusto into the interior of the pumpkins and scooped out fiber, mush, and seeds. Squeals of delight could be heard alongside words and sounds expressing dislike and discomfort, but there was no doubt as to every student practicing being risk-takers and being open-minded as they used their senses of sight, smell, touch, and taste.

Day 3 focused on finding ways to count items in large quantities (in this case, seeds), and representing numbers in different forms. First, students exchanged ideas on how to organize the pumpkin seeds so they could keep track of their counting. Soon enough, they filled their paper mats with piled seeds, which they boxed or circled, and labeled with numbers in multiples. Finally, they showed the total number of seeds in standard, word, expanded, place value, and picture forms.

The now-hollow pumpkins have just been composted, and their seeds cleaned and stored away to be planted in the spring!


Ocaya Gamon-Sharon

By Sharon Ocaya Gamon, Grade 2 PYP Teacher

Open Doors
Open Doors

Every August, at the start of the school year, our students are assigned to a homeroom (with the emphasis on home). In homeroom, our students connect as a community with their classroom teacher and teaching assistant. But they are also given the opportunity to learn and grow with students from other classrooms.

In Early Years, this is achieved through 'Open Doors'. This is a time each week when all of the classroom doors in Pre-K and Kindergarten open, allowing students to learn from and with each other in new and engaging spaces, while also encouraging collaboration. 

'Open Doors' strengthens the learning experience as students develop new friendships with peers and  relationships with adults.

Learning at ASW is a collaborative, community event!


ES Principal Jen Munnerlyn

 By Jen Munnerlyn, ES Principal