As an ESOL teacher, I am always looking for innovating ways to engage my students in the four language domains; listening, reading, speaking and writing. Over the years, my EL students have used technology to accelerate communication skills and we have found that Seesaw is a winner in my classroom.

Seesaw is a student-driven digital portfolio that is easy to use and captures learning throughout the year. There are so many reasons that I feel that Seesaw has helped my students improve their communication skills but these are the top.

Using technology to teach

Simple to Use

The number one reason that we like Seesaw is that it is simple to use and has numerous features that capture learning.  Students in grades 1-5 have found it easy to use the app independently on a device or on the web.

teaching with technology

Diana Delaney

After reading an article on Wonderopolis, student compared and contrasted a hare to a rabbit. Student took picture of their writing to keep in their Seesaw portfolio

The program is very user-friendly and is continuously changing based on feedback from teachers and students. There are multiple ways that students can capture their learning. They can record, take pictures, draw, label or add Google Docs. I suggest having a special place in the classroom where students can record and listen to their responses before submitting. I have been lucky to have a little room that we call the recording studio where students know that they can go and record in private. I have seen students that are usually very shy in the classroom, shine when they use Seesaw.

Used for Assessment/Reflection

Both students and teachers can use Seesaw as a formative assessment tool or to reflect on their own work. When my EL students use the program, they can reflect or self-assess their posts. I always tell my students that they can delete or start over if they do not feel that their posts are examples of their best work. It is hard to capture all the learning that is happening in a classroom, but with Seesaw, I am able to go back and listen to student posts, reflect, or use as a formative assessment.

Example of Recording

teaching with technology

Diana Delaney

Based on the mistakes made by the students, I am able to create lessons that address their individual needs. In addition, I use Seesaw as a reflection of my own lessons.

Students that are new to our country and have limited English skills are able to use Seesaw to show what they can do in class. Beginning ELs use Seesaw all the time to show their learning and receive formative grades.

The following are two examples of how students recordings in math.

Example of Beginning EL student orally creating math word problems

Example of 3rd grade student explaining how he solved a math problem.

Able to App Smash

We have used Seesaw with other programs, especially DoInk, which is an app where students use a green screen to record themselves presenting on a topic. After recording themselves with chosen backgrounds, students can create videos to share on Seesaw. We have a green screen on the wall and students have had fun posting presentation about animals, history, and reports in science.

Teaching with technology

Diana Delaney

This has motivated my students to research for information and revise their writing before presenting on the screen. As they practice presenting, they become more comfortable with the camera and speaking skills.
Easy to Share

The fun part about using Seesaw is that students are able to share their work with their parents. Many times, they have posted a recording or picture during the day and a few minutes later the parent posts a comment. Students begin to smile and are motivated to post quality work to share with parents.

The best experience was when one of my students had a parent that had to go back to Mexico for a medical procedure. The mom had to stay for over a month but my student was able to share his learning through Seesaw. My student recorded themselves reading a book and took many pictures to share with his mom. The mom was able to comment, and I know for a fact that it helped her through her recovery. Seesaw even translates comments into many languages. It all depends on the language that is set on a device.

Easy for Teachers

How many times have you recorded your students or taken a picture their amazing work but cannot find it later on your phone when you have to share with parent or other teachers? Well, Seesaw is your answer to sharing your student’s work.

Every student has a portfolio where their work appears making it easy to find work samples to share in meetings. I have used Seesaw to show growth in the student’s language development. We enjoy listening to the recording at the beginning of the year compared to the end and reflect on the areas that they have shown improvement. We have SST (Student Support Team) meetings at our school where we discuss a student’s progress and ways that we can help. Seesaw is a helpful tool that can be used to show what a student can do, even though they might not have the language to express themselves.

I hope that you will try Seesaw this year in your classroom. There are so many other features that teachers and students use in the classroom. You can find out so much more by visiting their website or following @Seesaw on Twitter. There are numerous chat sessions that give you many more ideas of ways to use Seesaw in the classroom.

Enjoy Seesaw with your students and see their communication skills grow.

Diana’s Bio

My name is Diana Delaney and I have taught over 25 years in the elementary classroom. I have M. Ed in Curriculum and Instruction and a B.A in Linguistics from the University of Arizona. I have been fortunate to have worked as a bilingual teacher in Arizona, Spanish Immersion teacher in Florida, multi-age classroom teacher and now as an ESOL teacher in Georgia. Teaching students to become proficient in other languages has always been my passion. Now I have added sharing my passion with teachers as I am currently teaching the ESOL Methods course in my county. You can connect with me on twitter @DelaneyELDiana.