Seesaw: A Revolution for Digital Classrooms

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Hollie Anderton

Hollie is currently an English teacher and Head of Year in North Wales with a degree in Theatre. She trained in Bath Spa University to gain her PGCE and is currently a Network Leader for WomenEd Wales Hollie is the author of the Teacher Toolkit...
Read more about Hollie Anderton

Are you missing out on one of the best apps around?

Seesaw is a website and an app that allows teachers to build a digital portfolio for each of their pupils.

It’s relatively new and originated in the USA. As it’s popularity has grown, it is now a staple in many classrooms across the globe. Seesaw provides teachers with a platform to upload good work, record vlogs and feedback digitally – with interest peaking in learners and often saving time for teachers!

It gives an easy-to-see, even-easier-to-use way to have a whole bellyful of pupil work in one place. It can be accessed through a QR code that can be printed and stuck into homework diaries so that the children can enter the app from home.

I began using Seesaw this year in my Year 6 classroom. I was instantly struck by it user-friendly layout and variety of options for displaying work. There are a number of avenues that can be explored when looking to record something to go on to  the website.

In my classroom, we dedicate Friday afternoons to blogging. The children choose something that they have learnt in the week to record and teach others.

Students can do this just using their voice by selecting ‘Photo’ and recording audio over the top, or include their faces too. They can use the ‘Draw’ tool to write on a digital whiteboard whilst they explain something over the top. Or, to get some writing skills in, students can upload a ‘Note’

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Top 5 Tips for using Seesaw

There is a way for everyone to achieve using Seesaw. Some children may not like looking at themselves on video, some may not feel confident speaking, and then some children love the limelight and can’t wait to show off their acting skills! Seesaw allows us to capture our children’s talents in a way they’re comfortable with. With children accessing from home, there are videos on almost everything that we have learnt this year so it’s almost like a homework help centre by their peers!

Children in our modern-day society live and breathe social media and the internet. From memes, to the YouTube vloggers, to videos of seahorses giving birth (my class’ personal favourite), they are enthralled by all things digital. Schools now see Computing and  Digital Competency is on a par with Literacy and Numeracy so it’s important that teachers try to stay a few steps ahead of the children.

1. Allow Freedom

Try not to tell children what they can or can’t blog about. This is all about getting the children to show you how they’ve learnt something. If it’s doctored and planned to the hilt then it loses the essence of it being child-led. Let them plan, script and record independently – they’ll soon realise what is needed for a successful blog.

2. Encourage Peer-Feedback

Seesaw is almost like a social media designed for schools. It gives users the option to ‘like’ or ‘comment’ on an upload. This is a great way to get some formative assessment in without them even realising. Allow them to give constructive criticism and respond – the children might even pick up on something that you haven’t noticed.

3. Accept Redrafts

Given Tip 2, if the children have received feedback then it’s really important that you then allow them the chance to redraft and upload. Just as many schools now use Purple Polishing Pens, we can upload a second draft and label it as that to see the progression from 1st  to 2nd.

4. Publish the best to the Class Blog

Seesaw has the option for some posts to be made public on a specific blog URL. I use this to publish what I think are very creative and helpful uploads, the children get Dojo points for being ‘Published’. This engages the children to want to create more innovative blogs – everyone loves a reward!

5. Connect Blogs to other schools

Seesaw gives us the option to connect with other schools on a blog. From my school in North Wales, I have connected to a school in Swindon where I taught during teacher training – this way, skills from different areas and curriculum can share knowledge through the power of the internet.

Seesaw is an amazing tool to use in any classroom, with any age. I have seen first hand how revolutionary this app is and I would encourage any teacher to give it a go.

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