Monday, August 14, 2017

Seesaw: A Teacher’s Best Friend

You’re probably thinking, “She’s exaggerating! How can an app by my best friend?” I got your attention, right? But trust me on this one, you are going to want to read about this AMAZING app called Seesaw.

What is Seesaw?
Seesaw is a FREE app (yes, I did say FREE) that you can use with your students. The Seesaw app works on all devices; ipads, Kindles, Chromebooks, desktops and tablets. Seesaw is a digital portfolio app that collects all your students’ digital work in one place. It can also be thought of as a learning journal for your students. If you are a visual  learners, think “whiteboard app” + “Facebook”. And when I say “Facebook” I do not mean your students are on Facebook and interacting with the public. It reminds me of Facebook because of the set up; the use of a feed and the ability for students to interact with each other. Another bonus- it has a way to connect with parents!   

So, how do my students use it?
Once your students sign in to your class, they can post an item. They have a choice of six items to choose from. They can add a drawing, take a picture, select a picture from their camera roll, post a note, select an item from their google drive or add a link.

This is the menu for posting items in Seesaw for both students and teachers.
This is the menu for posting items in Seesaw for both students and teachers.  Photo Credit:
Once they choose one, they can interact with it different ways; they can record over it, add labels or a caption. One example of the powerful use of Seesaw is using it as a tool to capture communicating reasoning. At my school, teachers love using the drawing tool with their students during math number talks. A teacher will post a number talk or a problem of the day. The students will then use the drawing tool to work out their math problem. Once completed, the students can label their math work and record their thinking and how they came to their answer.   When the student is finished with their work, their item will wait approval by you and will post to the class feed once it’s approved. But wait, it gets better...the students can then respond to each other’s work on the feed (think Facebook). Students learning and responding to each other about their thinking.  

How do I use it as a teacher?
Once you sign up, there are three ways to get your students to populate your class; one is to type each student’s name in or you can do a copy and paste from a class list. I make this suggestion for my primary teachers (kinder and first) because typing in a code can be a challenge with the littles. Another way is to have your student type in a code when they sign up for Seesaw. They do not have to keep putting in the code to join your class when they sign in, it’s a one time thing. Or, your students scan a QR code.  Seesaw has a built in QR code reader in their app and will generate a QR code for you when you select “QR code”. Once your students add items, you will need to approve these items just in case there is something not appropriate.  You will get notifications when students add items. It will be a red bubble at the top of your app or by your name on the desktop.

Alerts when students add items.
Alerts when students add items.
Seesaw will alert you when your students add items. 124! Whoa! I have this many because I’m added in two colleagues classes, which leads me to our next discussion.

What else does Seesaw do?
I’m so glad you asked! Through Seesaw, you can create a class blog. This is a great way to connect with other classrooms around the world; talk about your high level SAMR skills! According to Angela Gadtke, community lead at Seesaw, Seesaw is being used in 100 countries! This is a great and safe way to have your students and you connect with other classrooms in other countries. You can also join other classes as a teacher. You can also post announcements and as mentioned above, you can connect with parents. Parents will only see their student’s work and will get notifications when their students add items (only after you approve them of course!). Teachers also have the ability to send out private messages to parents.

One more thing - Seesaw Plus
Seesaw Plus is an assessment tool that is an added feature that is not free.  You do not need buy Seesaw Plus to use Seesaw.  With Seesaw Plus, teachers are able to identify student journal items by tagging them with a skill, very similar to report card grading. This allows you to see progress made in standards and goals. Other features include making private notes and posts. The good news is that when you sign up, you can try Seesaw Plus for a month! When you go to your account settings, scroll until you see Manage Seesaw Plus. Click on activate and you will have Seesaw Plus for a month.  

Seesaw is being used in 200,000 classrooms at 25,000 schools (; some districts have purchased Seesaw for Schools for their teachers. When a district purchases this for their teachers, all teachers have access to Seesaw Plus.  

See! I told you this was your new best friend! There are so many other cool things to learn about Seesaw but I had a word limit for this blog. It is very user-friendly and Seesaw has great tech support; you can do webinars if you’d like to learn more about Seesaw.  They have great ideas that teachers have used with Seesaw on Twitter @Seesaw and Facebook Seesaw Teachers.  So what are you waiting for?  Go check out Seesaw!

Melissa Monroe

Melissa Monroe is a Seesaw Ambassador and teaches second grade in Oceanside, California.  She was previously an Educational Technology TOSA for two years providing support for teachers with implementing technology.  Melissa has taught 11 years, working with all grades K-8th.  Her passion for helping teachers with technology has extended to district-level professional learning opportunities as well as the National CUE and SDCUE.  You can follow Melissa on Twitter @MelissaMonroeNT.  

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