If you don’t know about Seesaw, back up quickly to read what I love about it here. If you are ready to see how specialist teachers can utilize this tool—because let’s face it, very few teaching tools are made with single subjects in mind—let’s begin.
Seesaw is a multitasker for me. It’s a great learning tool because the students use it to reflect on their own work as well as collaborate with their peers. It’s also great for me because I can use it for assessment and parent communication. Even in classes where students don’t have their own devices, they can use our shared iPads to scan a QR code that gets them into their class portfolios.
First and foremost, I use Seesaw for formative and summative assessments. It offers several user-friendly modes of documenting a learning experience. Students who are not yet able to write can record their thinking. If they have a composition to share, they can show the notation and record the sounds. They can even write and draw on top of a photo and record themselves explaining it! For music, where I often struggled to show learning in a meaningful way on paper—even with photos—this has brought both depth and excitement to the way my students share their thinking and learning.
I can post activities or homework and have students respond, and they can choose the best way for them to record their response. This is great for students who are held back by spelling, students who like to talk with their hands, and students who may need more time to process.
With everything in one place, I can easily go back into a student’s portfolio and see everything from the year in one place. If I only want to look at one strand of things, I can organize posts into folders so I can quickly look at their posts related to rhythm, singing, or notation (for example). And the best part is that I can go over them when I have time, rather than having to spend my limited contact time recording them, or hoping I don’t miss something in the moment.
And the best part is, I can tag posts with the skills from my scope and sequence, and note where each student is with that skill. Then Seesaw puts them into a neat little chart that gives me a quick overview of where the class is, informing my plans for the next lesson.
I use Seesaw for parent communication because it quickly sends a notification to parents when a student has posted something. It engages parents and even extended family in conversation, extending the learning both through comments on the posts themselves and by providing a prompt for conversation when the child gets home. It’s a nice alternative to parents asking, “What did you do in Music today?” and the typical answer of, “Nothing” or “I don’t remember.”
For those parents who might think that my class is just a place to sing and play games, it also showcases the deep, relevant learning that takes place every day in my classroom. I’ve had many parents comment on how surprised or impressed they were by what they saw on Seesaw, and how different it is from what they remember doing in school.
And finally, I can go right through Seesaw to send parents important announcements (about performances or things to prepare) without having to bother with email addresses and class lists.
Sometimes things get messy with a documentation format if it’s not all groups, or all individuals, or even groups of different sizes. With Seesaw, I can select one student with a post, or select any number if it is a group effort.
Also, the students can comment on each other’s work, which gives them a chance to encourage each other, ask prompting questions, even add more information. Yes, there is a level of digital citizenship involved, but it’s a great learning opportunity in that sense as well. Sometimes I ask students to look at three other’s posts and evaluate/comment/encourage. If it’s to evaluate, I may not ask them to comment on the post, but rather to share together in class as a collaborative reflection.
Many schools have a strong focus on reflection, and mine is no exception. Reflection is a vital skill, but students quickly tire of it when it always seems the same. Seesaw has re-energized my students’ reflections because I’m able to offer them a bigger variety of modes for their reflections, which are still easy for me to assess.
Students can self-assess, evaluating their performance and identifying their learning through text, video, annotated photo, or even an eBook or Google Doc. They can set goals and monitor their progress toward their goals because they have access to their portfolios at any time. They can post with evidence of how they’ve reached their goals and set new ones.
I can imagine I’ll be posting more about Seesaw as I find more innovative ways of using it. For those of you who have tried it, what other ways do you use Seesaw?