Seesaw is an app for the development of student digital portfolios. It allows the teacher to set up “journals” for each of the pupils in the class. The pupil can then upload their work to their journal in the form of photos, videos, drawings, text, PDFs and links. In the case of photos, for example, a student could upload a photo of work they have completed and annotate the photo with text, drawing or audio to explain what the work was about.
In our SEN setting (an ASD Unit), we began using the Seesaw app at the beginning of the current school year. We had a home/school communication book which had been working only haphazardly. It began to be a hassle trying to get notes written into the book or photos printed out before home time. Many times, with the busyness of the end of the school day period, a home/school communication book was left behind in school. Or else it went home without us writing in an important note.
I had heard the Seesaw app mentioned at a couple of conferences during the past year and decided to investigate it. It seemed to be the perfect solution to our home/school communication problem. We set it up in September and soon got all of our parents signed up almost immediately – in some cases both parents of a pupil signed up. We set up a journal for each pupil in the class and began on our Seesaw journey.
Because many of our SEN pupils will not go home and tell their parents what they had been doing during the school day, Seesaw turned out to be a perfect home-school link. Throughout the day, and even at night when we’re at home, we began to post photos of the pupils at work, at play, in the school yard, included in their mainstream class as well as examples of their school work.
The parents immediately loved the app. We received hugely positive feedback from the parents about the new means of communication. They said that they now felt part of their child’s school day. It also gave us as teachers the opportunity to show parents the vast range of activities and work that the children engaged in during the school day. Imagine, as a parent, wondering what your child is doing at school, receiving a notification during the school day while at your office desk showing your child content and learning!
The app is available for iOS devices, Android devices and it is also a web app which means that you can have access to your pupils journals from almost anywhere. As teachers we are able to post a photo, note, web link or video to the parents of our pupils. We can decide to send the item to an individual pupil’s journal, to a group of pupils or to the whole group. Like lots of social media, parents can “Like” or comment on the item that the teacher has posted. The teachers can also reply back to the parents.
Since September we have made more than 700 contacts with the parents of our pupils through this app. While this must seem like a huge amount of work, it has actually saved us a lot of time and effort. Regular communication with our parents is a hugely integral part of our job working with ASD pupils and anything that makes that communication easier is a huge bonus for us.
I’m not sure how this app will work in the regular mainstream classroom, but from our experience in our SEN setting, we highly recommend it. There is a paid version of the app which allows for some extras, but for the moment we are happy using the free version.
You can find links to the app stores and information on setting up a Seesaw account on their website HERE
View more videos of the Seesaw app in action on the Seesaw YouTube Channel.