Friday, July 14, 2017

Seesaw: The app that changed everything

Maybe that's an overly-dramatic title for this post: the app that changed everything! Seesaw came along and did completely change how I think about using iPads in Junior Primary, though.

Seesaw has been on my radar as a portfolio-type app for years, so their icon was familiar. The first time I opened it I saw a login screen and immediately ruled it out as not useful for my situation. Here is my situation:
  • A class-sized set of iPads
  • Shared in a mobile lab
  • No guarentee you would get the same iPad each time
  • Users are 9 years old or younger
I saw the login screen on Seesaw and thought that it would be too complex for my little users. There are already enough logins that they/I have to remember: Windows login, Reading Eggs, Mathletics, Cami Maths, our typing program - I thought adding another login would be a waste of my time.

My colleague, @mrkirkbhs, pointed me back to Seesaw earlier this year as he had heard good things about it being used for younger grades. I have been given more earmarked time for iPad use this year and, in an effort to make that time more meaningful, I went back and had another look at Seesaw. Just past the dreaded login screen is the fantastic trick that makes Seesaw fit my situation:

Seesaw offers a class-level login based on QR code! This makes it ideal for shared iPads with young students!

This is amazing for two reasons:

QR code: No alpha-numeric login for my students to remember or type in on the tricky iPad keyboard. They just tap "I'm a student" then hold the iPad up like they are taking a photo of the code and voila! They are logged in to the main hub of Seesaw, ready to create content.

Class-level login: This is fantastic for my young students. From the main menu they create content then, when they are finished with it, they 'tag' their work by selecting their name from a list (or multiple names if it is group-work). Again, this removes any problems with spelling login names incorrectly and puts the student's work at the heart of Seesaw.

What have my students been able to do with Seesaw?

Seesaw has opened the door for my young students. Whereas before, the iPads were really only being used for drill work and games, Seesaw allows a child to record their learning. This is huge. Imagine Seesaw being a digital journal, where the student can add drawings, text, voicenotes and video - even on top of imported images. This allows the student to annotate and explain, and share their learning with their classmates.

Seesaw has a family app where families of the students can be invited to participate in the shared learning: next term I will be introducing that to my classes. I will also be making more of an effort to show the brilliant features of Seesaw to my Junior Primary colleagues, so that they can also gain the benefit of having a digital journal ready and waiting in their classroom space.

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