Seesaw is one of my absolute favorite digital platforms for primary students! Last post I gave a very quick overview of some of my favorite features of Seesaw, as well as Google Classroom, and Boom Learning. If you’d like to check out that post you can find it HERE. I have been using Seesaw in my classroom for over 3 years. I have used it with first and second graders and it has worked out perfectly. It is a great tool to enhance student learning and boost engagement by allowing more student choice.
For starters, Seesaw is FREE**! It’s very easy to set up a teacher account with just your email and password. Once your account is active, you’ll create your classroom. Here you will create your class name and grade level. You can also select multiple grade levels if you teach a multi grade. When I taught a multi grade last year, I created two separate classes so that I could push out different things to my first grade group and second grade group. If you use Google Classroom, you can merge it into Seesaw and have all your students set up that way too.
Once you’ve set up your class, you’re ready to go! You’ll be sent to your homepage which looks like this.
Here is where you will access everything you need on Seesaw. There are a lot of different options and tools on this page. Let’s start with your name at the left corner. If you click on your name, you can select your school and you will see all the classes you have access to, such as classes you create and/or share with other teachers.
If you click on the gear icon, you can see a list of other things you can access, including your account settings. Here you choose things like: your classroom display name, your display icon, and you can manage what type of notifications to receive from the app.
In the top right corner, if you click on the wrench icon you will see all of your classroom settings. Here you can see/change your class name, grade, theme and icon. You can also manage teachers. This means adding or removing teachers/collaborators to your classroom. Whoever you add here can push out things to your class and see students if/when they have completed the assignments.
One of the most important tools in this section is the student management tool. You can add students here and pick the sign in mode (whether you have 1 to 1 devices or students share devices). One really cool feature is that you can also give students the option to like and comment on each other’s work. I personally have done both. This is a great tool because there is real power in students giving each other effective feedback to push their thinking forward. If you do choose to enable this feature, I would strongly suggest having in depth conversations and practicing this to get the results you want. If you teach kinders or first graders, you might even wait until the middle of the year to present this as a choice to students.
In this section, you can also choose if you want families to have access. I really enjoy my families having access and being able to like/comment on their child’s work. It also gives your students more accountability if they know their parents can see all their work. A word to the wise, be thorough in listening to videos/recordings to make sure that it is appropriate before approving for families to hear. Now that we have reviewed all the settings and set up your class(es), let’s talk about your homepage/journal.
On the main screen, you will have access to everything you need to utilize this amazing platform. On this page is where you add students to your class. It is super easy for students to be connected to your account in the classroom. You will click on the + at the bottom to add students. There a screen pops up with your personally generated QR Code for your classroom. This is one of my favorite things about Seesaw. This code can also be printed and left around the room if students get logged out. Students will scan the QR Code with their device, click on their name, and BAM! Just like that they are logged back in. No fuss about remembering or locating a username and password to lose instructional time! Students will remain logged in and then their screen will look similar to yours except that their feed is full of their own work. Right next to add students you can add families. This can be done multiple ways, but I like to print the sign up sheets out and give them out to parents at Meet the Teacher Night and again at conferences if they haven’t signed up.
Announcements can be sent out as well on this page. Whether you want to send an announcement to your class or your families, you can do both! If you need a more discreet option, you can send private messages to families but you cannot message privately with specific students. Another awesome feature on this screen is to individually look at a student and all of their work. This is a wonder to look through with parents during conference time. On the right, you can see a list of all the student names in the specific class you are looking at (remember that you can have more than one). You are able to click on each student name and take a look at all their work specifically.
This is also where you will see all students’ completion status on those activities. When a student completes an assignment, you will receive a notification on the top left corner of the screen where your name is located. At the top of the screen itself, will be a bar that says, “Approve student work.” There you will click and go through all the work students have turned into you. While approving work, you will be able to listen to recordings, make comments, like items, and you are even able to send back work to students if you want them to redo something. This is a great tool to specifically tell students how to improve their work before submitting again. I used this tool a lot during distance learning to provide specific feedback when we couldn’t be in the same place together. This main screen will become like a Facebook feed of all the different student assignments completed. You will be able to scroll through all their work and see the comments they leave each other, which also need to be approved or can be deleted.
Post Student Work
Time to get interactive! This is the fun part. There are a few different ways you can push out work to students. One quick and easy way is the green + on the same homepage. With this icon, you can post student work, assign an activity, or send an announcement. Let’s walk through posting student work first.
When you click on “post student work”, a variety of choices come up. You can take a photo of anything you’d like, such as a textbook page, a page out of a book, a tree, etc. Students can interact with the content by labeling, annotating, typing on top of it, creating a video response, or drawing a picture. Teachers also have options to create drawings, videos, upload a file, make a note, or attach a link. Take a look at the screen of the drawing tool. It’s a blank screen that has a ton of different choices for you. When you click on the drawing tool, you will see a pencil, a shape, and a microphone pop up. Some features include being able to type directions, provide choices, record your voice, and include a photo.
On the right you will also see a pages button. You can create multiple pages for a student to complete.
I would highly suggest playing around with ALL the different tools in this section. Really take some time and get to know all the different features and ways you can create interactive assignments with your students. What’s great is that students have the exact same tools that you do in that menu. Students are able to record a video of themselves, take pictures and annotate on them, use their drawing tool like a white board- the possibilities are literally endless. If you would like to see some of the creative ways my former students chose to engage in their work you should definitely check out this post. I am always in awe of how creative students are when given the tools to do so. This is definitely one of my absolute favorite things about Seesaw. Students are SO creative!
Let’s talk activities! You can add a lot more to activities and basically have a whole group mini lesson, activity of skills, and assessment all in one place. One huge perk of assigning an activity is that you can see who has and hasn’t turned it in. You do not have that feature with simply posting student work. This is a huge time saver when it comes to checking for completion or giving friendly reminders to those who might have forgotten about an assignment. You can also schedule activities, unlike posting student work. This works great for planning purposes. My team would plan out our entire week, schedule all of our activities for each subject, and set when we wanted them to be available for students.
We could then go into each specific activity to view and/or send back student responses. Another awesome advantage is that there is also a HUGE community library that you can access for FREE. You can search by grade level, subject, or key words.
I have used this library a lot to find activities that align to what we’re doing in our classroom. While some activities in the free library are amazing, some of them are not the best quality. However, during this distance-learning era, many educators have begun creating some paid activities on Teachers Pay Teachers that are definitely worth checking out. If you subscribe to my email list you will have exclusive access to my Freebie Library, including a FREE Addition within 10 Seesaw Activity!
Of course you may want to create an activity yourself specifically for a skill you are assessing and you have that option too!
In order to access activities, you click on the green + just like when you’re posting student work. This time you’ll click on the light bulb icon to assign an activity. In the Activity Library, you should click on the tab labeled My Library. There you will see a + to create a new activity. Here you can name the activity and add student directions. You have some pretty neat options when adding student’s directions that I love. You can simply type them, record audio to listen to, or even add a video you want them to watch! So perfect for all your different kinds of learners! In customizing your activity, you can add YouTube videos through a link, websites for students to listen to articles, such as Scholastic News, and so much more. For example, if teaching comparing and contrasting, I can have students watch a video I’ve uploaded of myself teaching a mini lesson. I can instruct students to go read a book, I can embed links for students to go learn more, and then I could have a graphic organizer to complete as an assessment. For the culminating part, I could then create a template for students to recreate the same activity for themselves utilizing a book of their choice. What I love about activities is that everything they need is housed in the same place. So this is PERFECT for distance learning! If you would like to watch a video tutorial for creating your own Seesaw Activity click HERE!
If you can’t already tell, I believe Seesaw is amazing. There are SO many possibilities available with this platform that I’m positive I’m not covering them all! Pretty soon I will be creating an entire learning path on Seesaw for a math unit so stay tuned! As I said, Seesaw has an abundance of features and there’s always so much to learn when it comes to digital platforms. The Seesaw website has TONS of training videos you can watch as well. You can find those HERE. You can also check out this video highlight I created for even more details about Seesaw.
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**There is also the option to have a paid account, which gives you more access to other features. If you decide to become a Seesaw Ambassador or if your school purchases Seesaw you will have access to all these extras for free.**