Seesaw: Superstar EdTech tool

November 17, 2020

Karen Caswell provides a description of how Seesaw can be used to transform teaching and learning and build better home-school links.  

Seesaw EdTech

What is Seesaw? For many, due to its extensive functions and features, Seesaw is simply a sensational, superstar EdTech tool! For me, if I had to pick only one app to use for the rest of my career, Seesaw would be it.

– Seesaw is a digital portfolio that collects students’ digital and physical work in one place, offering the ability to document, share and celebrate student learning. Everything is organised, making monitoring learning and assessment easier!

– Seesaw provides a space that each student can call their own. Built-in tools make it easy for students to capture their learning, reflect, and develop new skills. App-smashing with Seesaw is easy as well.

– Seesaw is also a parent communication tool that seamlessly shares what’s going on in the classroom, and builds strong home-school partnerships. It provides every family with immediate, 24/7 access to their child’s learning.

Seesaw - a powerful tool for learning

There are a multitude of other reasons as to why Seesaw is so effective as an EdTech tool, however in this article I’m going to focus on the Top 5 Reasons Why I Love Seesaw!

1.  Powerful Creative Tools

Students can post to the journal in multiple ways:

  • Photo: use the device built-in camera to take a picture of themselves or their work.
  • Drawing: the drawing canvas offers several tools for expression, including pencil, marker, highlighter, magic pen, eraser, label tool, shapes and a caption tool.
  • Video: use the camera to record a video.
  • Upload: upload from the device camera roll, a computer, or Google Drive.
  • Note: type a message.
  • Link: provide a link to a website or file.
  • Screencasting: students can discuss their work while typing, writing, and drawing. This is my favourite feature, as I am able to see and hear student thinking, strategies, justifications, etc – it is so beneficial to be able to ‘get into their head’.
students post to journal

2.  Family Connections

One of the biggest attractions is that Seesaw opens the door to engage and interact with families. There is a meaningful partnership between home and school, as family members are able to follow their child’ learning journey. They are able to view the content that has been uploaded, as well as like and comment on work samples. Students know their learning matters when there is a genuine home-school connection. Teachers can also send announcements to all families, and use the inbox to private message individual family members if they choose.  The stats below show the number of parent comments, likes and visits that we experienced in our first week of school!

Parent responses Seesaw EdTech

3.  Learning Portfolio

Student work is collected and collated over a period of time, providing visible evidence of learning. This allows teachers to compose a complete picture of student learning and growth, rather than a single snapshot at a point in time. Not only can work be collected over one school year, but for every year of a child’s schooling, creating a powerful visual journey of a child’s entire school career. Students, and families, are able to access samples of work from the journal, set goals, share achievements and reflect on challenges – offering a powerful platform for Parent-Teacher-Student conferences. It’s also incredibly convenient for marking student work and providing feedback.

4.  Feedback

We know the benefit of relevant and timely feedback, and with Seesaw, the tools for this are literally at your fingertips! Students are able to give and receive peer feedback, and teachers are able to type or record feedback comments for work samples. Even more impactful, is the ability to annotate student work and record audio feedback simultaneously, enabling students to hear and see teacher feedback.  Peer feedback using success criteria, benefits the student receiving the feedback as well as consolidating understanding for the student giving feedback.  This can be seen in the following image:

Peer feedback Seesaw

5.  It’s for Everyone

Seesaw is simple enough for users of all ages to use, with icon-based navigation that helps young students learn where to click even if they can’t read, as well as having the benefits of the many built-in audio and video features.

  • Audio Comments: record comments on student work via the microphone.
  • Voice Caption: the drawing canvas has many options, including adding a caption. With Voice caption, students can create their caption by recording their voice.
  • Add Voice Instructions: teachers can record their voice reading the instructions for activities.
  • Add Multimedia Instructions: teachers can attach visual and/or auditory scaffolding for students.
  • Insert a video into the drawing canvas: record or upload videos in a drawing canvas post, including videos of the teacher or student talking to the camera, screencasts, or other learning videos.
  • Make whiteboard videos on the drawing canvas: teachers can record themselves using the creative tools on the drawing canvas, and both what is added and the teacher’s voice is recorded.

There are MANY more features that make Seesaw easy and user-friendly for learners at every stage, and Seesaw frequently adds new accessibility and creativity features – sometimes it’s hard to keep up-to-date with them all!

I could easily make this a Top 10 list, and talk about the Activity Library, Assigning Activities, Sample Student, the Blog, Skills Checklist, Folders and the Setting features (whoops, that’s more than ten!), but I’ll leave it at five for now.

I highly recommend you take some time to explore the Seesaw website (https://web.seesaw.me/) and see for yourself how Seesaw can become the heart of the learning process for you and your students, especially during the frequently changing educational landscape, and the challenges of remote and hybrid learning. Even better, sign up for free and give it a test run – I promise, you won’t look back!  Seesaw really is a superstar EdTech tool. 

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