Monday, August 14, 2017

5 Awesome Starting Activities on Seesaw

Hello, internet!

I wanted to post an update about using the Seesaw app with our Junior Primary shared iPad lab. Seesaw has been a fantastic tool in our classrooms here at Bridge House School. It's a brilliantly simple app and it often takes very little time for a teacher to understand how it works. The first snag can come, though, when you want to begin using it with your students but aren't sure where to start. This term I've been guiding my Junior Primary colleagues through Seesaw and many now feel ready to start using it on their own with their students (yay!). The important thing to remember is that Seesaw is a tool to record and reflect on learning. Add Seesaw to enhance learning and it will be hard to go wrong.

To help with getting started, here is a list of the top 5 activities that I have done with students ages 6 - 9 (Grades 1 - 3) on Seesaw using our iPads. It's in countdown format, but all have been equally fun and valuable.

5 Awesome Starting Activities on Seesaw

5. The Note Tool

The Note tool is so easy. Tap on Note and students get a lined piece of  'paper' to type on. Some things we've done with this:
  • Composed questions for other students to answer with a comment
  • Written our weekend news
  • Typed sentences based on that week's spelling list
  • Gathered our questions and thoughts for an upcoming outing
The Note tool allows students to easily capture their thoughts and share them.

The audio/voice-note tool can be attached to a Note, letting the student read and record their own writing!


The commenting feature is fantastic. Each piece of work that is put up on Seesaw has the option for students (and teachers) to comment on it. This allows for students to ask each other questions and offer feedback. This is an area of learning that younger students struggled to access previously. Seesaw makes it easy by also providing an audio recording option, allowing the youngest students to leave feedback on their friends' work.

Commenting also lets students go back and reflect on past work. When a child is finished with their Seesaw task, I often let them take the remaining few minutes to scroll back in the feed and Like or Comment on their classmates' older work. We spend a lot of time talking about and modelling appropriate comments, constructive criticism and other digital literacy skills. Seesaw is a walled garden - it allows the space for children to develop their online etiquette before being unleashed on the hazards of an unmonitored digital arena. As we all spend more of our time online, using the commenting features on Seesaw is teaching crucial real-life skills.

This student just found out that her teacher had commented on her work!

3. Creating a Voiced Animation: Photo + Drawing + Audio

This is a core skill of Seesaw. The students use the Photo tool to snap a picture of a worksheet or other book work and then use the Drawing tool to explain their learning, along with recording audio simultaneously. This creates a voiced animation.

When I taught the Grade 3s to do this, they immediately likened it to "making a Youtube video", which shows how much media has changed since I was their age. Students now watch Youtube the way I used to watch television: they learn new things that way. Seesaw lets students make learning 'videos' in a safe environment and they love it.
  • Here is a Grade 3 using Seesaw to explain about an analogue clock:

  • Here is a Grade 1 using Seesaw to explain their story sum:

2. Take a Photo of something and add a Caption

This one is super simple, but versatile. Take a Photo of existing work, something in the classroom or something nearby. The photo tool has a great Caption option, which places text underneath the picture. This allows for lightning-fast capture of what's going on in the classroom without going to any extra effort.

I made this at home. It is a jellyfish. It was a lot of work

1. Read to Seesaw

Our number 1 favourite activity at the moment is: Reading to Seesaw!

Seesaw is a great tool for reading practice. My Grade 1 and 2 students especially love reading their pages to Seesaw. This is how we do it.

  • Snap a Photo of either the cover of the book or the pages you want to read
  • Use the audio recording tool to record, in your best reading voice, your reading
  • Listen to what you have recorded and decide if it is good enough to share
  • If it needs improving, delete the audio recording and record it again
  • Upload your reading to Seesaw (look for their name and then the green tick)

Even my 6 year olds can do this and love listening to the sound of themselves reading. It can also be used as a literacy station once the students know your procedures and are able to do this independently. This frees up you as a classroom teacher, letting you keep an eye on reading progress without having to work directly with the student at that time.

Students love recording their best reading.

For more ideas, following Seesaw on Twitter is a great way to see how other teachers have been using Seesaw in their classrooms. I am always interested in finding out new ways to help my young students use technology in a meaningful way, so please share your ideas with me on Twitter: @moniquefranzsen.

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