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Seesaw in the Classroom – the “Magical Unicorn” App?

by Erin Luckhardt and Kelli Hixon
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Seesaw App - web.seesaw.me

Unicorn IllustrationSometimes in education, it feels like we are searching for the “next best thing”, the app that can do it all. Whether it’s trying to grade all 120 high school students’ essays in one night, listen to each of our 28 elementary students reading to assess their fluency, or give voice to every one of our students in a class discussion, we know that teachers’ plates are full. While one application won’t ever be able to promise everything, many of the teachers we have been working with lately have welcomed Seesaw as an exciting addition to their classrooms.

Why We Love Seesaw

Sharing Content
Ever have a student say they lost their paper? Seesaw provides a ‘home base’ for students to access digital resources, websites and other learning materials a teacher wants to provide. It’s an easy way to keep all students on the same ‘page’ and ensure that they can quickly access the materials they need to support their learning. When students have demonstrated their learning and are ready to share with the teacher, they can quickly add it to the class stream or folder of the appropriate teacher, thereby reducing the ‘I know I turned that in!’ effect.

Bottom Line…
If you’re craving a single place where you and your students can share and access materials, Seesaw can make it happen.  

Parental Involvement
One amazing thing about Seesaw is how simple it is to share the great things happening in the classroom with your students’ families. The best part is that it literally takes about five seconds to do, and the parents receive an instant notification on their phones! Let’s think about some of the possibilities this enables within a typical day.

You can:

  1. Send a photo that captures a priceless moment you know would make any parent’s heart melt.
  2. Share a video that brings a child’s learning to life in a way a piece of paper never could.
  3. Show off students’ thinking as they transform a blank canvas into a drawing with audio that authentically demonstrates their learning.
  4. Share learning artifacts that highlight students’ growth.

Providing access to their own child’s content and learning will allow parents to avoid that all too familiar answer to “what did you do at school today?”. And for parents of older learners, they actually have a chance to see their child’s work before it hits the recycle bin, locker, or the digital trash can. The other thing? As teachers, we MUST tell the story of what is really happening in our classroom: the ‘a-ha’ moments, students collaborating, problem-solving, authentic learning. Seesaw provides an outlet to do this, too.

Bottom Line…
Prior to Seesaw, we relied on email, notes home, and progress reports to keep parents in the loop. Now you’re able to provide real-time updates on their students’ progress.

Demonstration of Student Learning
As teachers, we want students to be demonstrating their learning in authentic ways. Seesaw provides multiple opportunities for this to happen. Students can utilize photos, videos, drawings, images from their camera rolls, notes, links, or even files from their Google Drive. Providing students with choice is an important piece for allowing students to demonstrate learning and achieve mastery. Additionally, by organizing their content into folders, Seesaw gives students and teachers a way to create a ‘portfolio’ of authentic learning that they can share with their parents — or in the paid upgrade feature, digitally carry with them from year to year.

Bottom Line…
Seesaw is a great resource for capturing students’ learning in multiple authentic ways.

Google Drive Integration
One of our favorite recent upgrades is the integration of Google Drive. Before this, Seesaw’s composition features were limited to the ‘note’ component. While this worked for lower elementary students or quick responses from any student, it didn’t have the sleekest compositional aspects. Integrating Google Drive gives students a more prolific writing environment with all the sharing, commenting, and editing functionality that we’ve come to know and love from Google Docs.

Bottom Line…
The additional integration of Google Drive makes Seesaw ever-closer to magical unicorn status.

Great Seesaw-Created PD
As classroom teachers, we observed how Seesaw was valuable for elementary school learners, but couldn’t always envision how it would work for older students. Seesaw has a rich content of Professional Development all hosted on their YouTube channel called “PD in your PJ’s”. These videos are fantastic as they can provide simple guides to walk teachers through setting up their class and students, to the specifics of teacher interviews from multiple levels and content areas so that teachers can hear the practical and inspiring ways other educators are utilizing Seesaw in their classrooms.

Bottom Line…
“PD in your PJ’s” is a great resource if you are struggling with how Seesaw might work for you.

So we encourage you to go try Seesaw out for yourself and see if you love it as much as we do!

Authors

Kelli Hixon (@kellihixon): Kelli is a blended learning coach for Michigan Virtual. As a blended learning coach, she works with K-12 educators to personalize learning for students through blended learning initiatives. Prior to joining the MyBlend team, Kelli’s background includes face-to-face teaching and coaching at the elementary level. She holds a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Oakland University and a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Early Childhood Education from Gannon University. Kelli also enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters, traveling, playing volleyball and running.

Erin Luckhardt (@ELucky9): Erin is an 8th grade social studies teacher turned blended learning coach for Michigan Virtual. As a teacher, Erin was passionate about intentional use of technology to benefit student learning. To help this cause, she completed her master’s in Educational Technology with the focus of helping teachers become more confident and comfortable utilizing technology in the classroom. Before being an 8th grade teacher, she taught high school social studies, middle school technology and was a technology integration coach as well as a volleyball coach. When she’s not working, she loves listening to podcasts, hanging out with her daughters and husband, running/working out, and cooking/clean eating from her backyard garden.

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