Enhancing Student Engagement With the Seesaw App

Keeping students engaged during learning activities can be a challenge. In some cases, students have not developed the stamina to stick with a paper-and-pencil activity, and sometimes they simply do not have the skills to complete a task in the same way as their peers. Introducing technology can turn a classroom around - from improving student engagement to making tasks accessible to ALL learners, the benefits are clear.

The free Seesaw app is an easy solution for student portfolios and sharing classroom work with parents! If you are a classroom teacher, you will want to read this post, full of ideas for how your students can use this great digital resource on an iPad or other device!



As I mentioned in my recent post, Keeping Kids Accountable During Centers, I've found a wonderful app that has changed the way I manage student work in my classroom. That app is Seesaw - The Learning Journal. The response I received from this post was so positive that I thought I'd follow it up with one a little more detailed to help you get started and explore the amazing features that are available within a free account.

Before I begin, let me again state that I am in no way affiliated with Seesaw. I simply LOVE this resource and how it has changed my classroom!
The free Seesaw app is an easy solution for student portfolios and sharing classroom work with parents! If you are a classroom teacher, you will want to read this post, full of ideas for how your students can use this great digital resource on an iPad or other device!
Quite simply, Seesaw is a learning journal perfect for all students from kindergarten through high school. For me, it is an organized digital record of my students' learning. I use it as a tool for collecting evidence of the learning that occurs in my classroom, and to reduce the need for piles of paper to document this evidence. Others use the app in a more social way, allowing students to interact with each other's work in a format very similar to Facebook - allowing likes and comments on posts. Even parents can be given access to their child's account, receiving notifications every time their child posts a new item, or your class can create a public blog for sharing what they do in class with the world!

All of these options are controlled by you, the teacher. 
The free Seesaw app is an easy solution for student portfolios and sharing classroom work with parents! If you are a classroom teacher, you will want to read this post, full of ideas for how your students can use this great digital resource on an iPad or other device!
According to the Seesaw website this app is the perfect way to:
  • "document learning as it happens
  • empower students to think deeper and reflect
  • teach digital citizenship and 21st century skills
  • build an organized record of student work
  • create a community around learning
  • involve families in real time"
The free Seesaw app is an easy solution for student portfolios and sharing classroom work with parents! If you are a classroom teacher, you will want to read this post, full of ideas for how your students can use this great digital resource on an iPad or other device!
Once you set up a classroom you will be able to explore firsthand some of the awesome features available to your students.

After downloading the app on your device, select the "I'm a Teacher" option and follow the prompts to create your class. Create a sample student that you can use to play around with - you can always to back to add the rest of your students later.
The free Seesaw app is an easy solution for student portfolios and sharing classroom work with parents! If you are a classroom teacher, you will want to read this post, full of ideas for how your students can use this great digital resource on an iPad or other device!
Now that you have a classroom account you can explore some of the ways your students can use this app. Tap your name in the upper left-hand corner again and select + Add Item. Begin with the "Photo" option. This is likely to be the most-used option for your students. (Note that you can also take a photo of something yourself and have students access it using the "Camera Roll" choice.)

The free Seesaw app is an easy solution for student portfolios and sharing classroom work with parents! If you are a classroom teacher, you will want to read this post, full of ideas for how your students can use this great digital resource on an iPad or other device!

Begin by taking a photo of something and selecting the microphone icon at the bottom of the screen.

The free Seesaw app is an easy solution for student portfolios and sharing classroom work with parents! If you are a classroom teacher, you will want to read this post, full of ideas for how your students can use this great digital resource on an iPad or other device!

This option allows you to record up to 5 minutes of voice time to accompany your image.

Next, try clicking the pencil icon at the bottom of your photo.

The free Seesaw app is an easy solution for student portfolios and sharing classroom work with parents! If you are a classroom teacher, you will want to read this post, full of ideas for how your students can use this great digital resource on an iPad or other device!

Using this tool you can write directly onto the photo AND record your voice! If you're using an iOS device you can do both simultaneously! My students absolutely love this option!

The free Seesaw app is an easy solution for student portfolios and sharing classroom work with parents! If you are a classroom teacher, you will want to read this post, full of ideas for how your students can use this great digital resource on an iPad or other device!

Using the final choice in the "Photo" option allows your students to type in a caption for the image. The space will expand along with the text added.

To recap, the photo option lends itself to a wide variety of purposes, including:
  • explaining
  • describing
  • reading fluency
  • decoding
  • labeling
  • defending a personal opinion or position
  • The sky's the limit!!

The free Seesaw app is an easy solution for student portfolios and sharing classroom work with parents! If you are a classroom teacher, you will want to read this post, full of ideas for how your students can use this great digital resource on an iPad or other device!


The "Video" option of the main menu is another that students are really drawn to. Depending on the nature of the activity being recorded, this may work best with students working in pairs.

Click on this option and try it out for yourself!

Using "Video" your students can:
  • record themselves (or each other!) reading
  • record an investigation or experiment AS it happens
  • demonstrate
  • perform
  • The sky's the limit!!
The third choice that you'll most likely get the most use out of is "Drawing".

The free Seesaw app is an easy solution for student portfolios and sharing classroom work with parents! If you are a classroom teacher, you will want to read this post, full of ideas for how your students can use this great digital resource on an iPad or other device!

This basically takes the place of regular paper-and-pencil work, but your students will love it! They are even able to record their voice while they draw, or once their drawing is complete. Try it out for yourself!

The free Seesaw app is an easy solution for student portfolios and sharing classroom work with parents! If you are a classroom teacher, you will want to read this post, full of ideas for how your students can use this great digital resource on an iPad or other device!

Students could use the "Drawing" choice to:
  • sketch out a story idea
  • show their mathematical thinking
  • label something
  • use "think marks" while reading
  • The sky's the limit!!
Be sure to try out the final two options once you're comfortable with what Seesaw can do. I haven't used these with my own students, but I'm sure that they are valuable at other grade levels.
The free Seesaw app is an easy solution for student portfolios and sharing classroom work with parents! If you are a classroom teacher, you will want to read this post, full of ideas for how your students can use this great digital resource on an iPad or other device!
The free Seesaw app is an easy solution for student portfolios and sharing classroom work with parents! If you are a classroom teacher, you will want to read this post, full of ideas for how your students can use this great digital resource on an iPad or other device!

By tapping your name in the upper left-hand corner, you'll gain access to your settings menu. When you click "Manage Class" you'll find all the most important options available to you. I typically have my class's account set up in this way:

  • students are unable to see each other's work (and therefore can't comment or like)
  • new items require approval - this way I see every item before it becomes part of my student's portfolio
  • show add to folder step to both students & teachers - I like to give my students the responsibility of filing their work into the appropriate subject folder. In the rare event that someone does this incorrectly I am always able to change it.
The free Seesaw app is an easy solution for student portfolios and sharing classroom work with parents! If you are a classroom teacher, you will want to read this post, full of ideas for how your students can use this great digital resource on an iPad or other device!
The free Seesaw app is an easy solution for student portfolios and sharing classroom work with parents! If you are a classroom teacher, you will want to read this post, full of ideas for how your students can use this great digital resource on an iPad or other device!
One of the features of Seesaw that I am MOST excited about is the ability to share from other iOS apps directly into a student's portfolio. I tested out Google Docs, iMovie, PicCollage and other classroom-friendly apps and they ALL worked, once the share extension was enabled. This opens up nearly limitless possibilities for students to document their learning and I find it extremely exciting!

The free Seesaw app is an easy solution for student portfolios and sharing classroom work with parents! If you are a classroom teacher, you will want to read this post, full of ideas for how your students can use this great digital resource on an iPad or other device!

There are dozens of support documents and ideas for use at the Seesaw homepage. Be sure to check it out!

Have you used the Seesaw app? What tips, tricks or ideas for use do you have to share? Leave me a comment below!

Check out more great apps and technology resources on this Pinterest board:


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The free Seesaw app is an easy solution for student portfolios and sharing classroom work with parents! If you are a classroom teacher, you will want to read this post, full of ideas for how your students can use this great digital resource on an iPad or other device!

8 comments

  1. What a great post. I have been using Seesaw for a while but there was definitely some new things here for me. I didn't realize that you could share from other apps. That is a very cool feature. I also didn't realize that you could create subject folders. Thanks for sharing!

    Christina
    Hanging Around In Primary

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  2. Well organized post- I have tried to explain and show this app to colleagues and I feel I leave them confused rather than in awe - now I can just send them to your post- thanks!!!!!

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    Replies
    1. Wonderful! I'm so glad this is helpful! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, Jamee!

      ~Erin

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  3. I too am a Seesaw LOVER! I only disagree with you on one point. I always recommend that teachers allow students to see each other's work. It fosters excitement and promotes a sense of classroom community. Try this - add a student but name it ".Fluency Passages" and change the icon to a folder image (must be done on a computer). You must put a period at the beginning of the name so the fluency "folder" will sit at the top, above the students' folders. Using the "+" tool, add auto-cropped pictures of fluency passages. Change the date of entry to an old date to move the items to bottom of Class Feed. When you want a student to record themselves reading a fluency passage, direct them to the folder. They use "Copy and Edit" to open a new copy which will have the microphone option. After reading the passage, they add the item to their folder.

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    Replies
    1. Ooohh, this is a fun tip! Thanks for sharing, Barbara. I'm glad you stopped by! :)

      ~Erin

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  4. Thank you for sharing. I'm excited to try this with my students. ��

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    Replies
    1. You're very welcome, Cindy! I hope you enjoy it as much as I have! :)

      Erin

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  5. I loved using Seesaw in my classroom this past year. I didn't discover it until January, so I was just learning this year. The parents of my students LOVED it. They felt more connected to the classroom. I appreciated being able to see who was checking in, something that was missing from my classroom blog. I liked that I was able to have control over what went in the folders, so if someone was goofing off and took 10 pictures of their friends (yes, that happened) I could delete them. Also, if someone had some great work, I could put it in everyone's folder.
    I also liked that I could put in notes explaining to parents what they were seeing in the folders. By the end of the year, my students were using "seesaw" as a verb. "Can I Seesaw this when I'm done?"

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Connect with me!! I love reading your comments and will respond as soon as I can!

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