Review by Caryn Lix, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2015
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Portfolio tool keeps report cards from being a surprise

Subjects & skills

  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)

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Pros: Individualized learning fosters open communication among students, parents, and teachers.

Cons: Most of the onus is on teachers to keep up with reporting.

Bottom Line: A great way for teachers, students, and parents to keep tabs on student progress and to better assess students holistically.

In addition to creating lessons and assessments, teachers can use the site for preparing report cards and conducting parent-teacher conferences. They also can give students scannable codes that link to their user accounts, allowing them to quickly and easily upload on-the-spot snaps as exit tickets or quick assessments. Additionally, students can provide reflections on their own learning and engage in communication with their teacher. 

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Sesame is a portfolio, assessment, and parent-communication tool with both app and Web versions. Teachers create portfolios for each student and then give students and parents access to that portfolio. Using the Sesame Snap app, teachers and students then can add "snaps" (photos or videos) or mini-snapshots of how a student is doing in school. Teachers also can comment on student snaps. For example, a student could upload a picture of her math assignment, and the teacher could leave a comment with suggestions for progress the next day. Teachers also can create assignments and rubrics and assess them directly from the site. There also are links to both Canadian and American educational standards, allowing teachers to directly import learning objectives to your rubric. This consolidates assessment to one website instead of a thousand spreadsheets and allows teachers to provide ongoing feedback on student learning to families.

Sesame offers a flexible platform for greater communication among students, teachers, and parents, which is an important component of learning. The site attempts to minimize the time teachers spend on assessment, allowing for more focus on learning activities and fostering communication. Many teachers have found that this system takes less time than traditional assessment, although if they share assessments with parents (by exporting them one by one), there may be an expectation that they consistently update these assessments throughout the year. Some teachers might find that process unwieldy. Generally, though, this is a great way to increase communication, address students' needs, and de-escalate conflicts.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Usefully allows students, parents, and teachers to easily view student progress.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Facilitates individualized learning, portfolio-based assessment, and increased involvement of parents and students in the learning and assessment process.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

A wide range of tutorials lets kids explore in detail.

Common Sense Reviewer
Caryn Lix Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Jaclyn C. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Empower students to own assessment!
A great tool to help meet the needs of the realities of the busy classroom and triangulation of assessment.
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