Social Media for Elementary Students? Well… Sort of, but not really.

Authored by Rachel Scott

I am sure you are thinking, “No way! No how!” but just hear me out.

I am not talking about real social media such as instagram, facebook, snapchat, etc. (I truly am not that crazy.), but a safe, secure environment for students to share ideas and work, collaborate with their peers, get valuable feedback from classmates and teachers as well as create their own learning portfolio or timeline.

If you were to google “Seesaw app” or look it up in your devices app store, you would immediately wonder, “What? Which one am I supposed to use?” Seesaw has two apps that, although operate similarly, have two very different applications. Seesaw Family and Seesaw Class. Think of it like two sides of the same coin.

Our Foundations and ECC families are already familiar with Seesaw Family. Seesaw Family, very simply put, is a secure way to share snippets of the day with parents. Our teachers do a wonderful job of posting pictures to Seesaw Family, which functions similar to a classroom instagram or facebook. The only difference is that the posts, pictures, and videos are only accessible by the teachers and the parents that are linked to their child’s Seesaw class.

I love that our Foundations and ECC teachers go the extra step to post moments from the school day. I really think it helps parents feel more connected to what is happening during their child’s time at school. (Can you imagine anything better than getting an alert that a new post was made to your cutie patootie’s Seesaw class, and opening it to discover a picture of your child and their classmates hard at work? Or maybe a video of them singing in music? Or maybe it’s just a huge grin that can turn a gloomy day around?) Seesaw Family does that!

Now the other side of the Seesaw coin is Seesaw Class. (Excuse me while I take a deep breath to avoid rambling on in all of my excitement and love for Seesaw Class!)

Seesaw Class is a secure, teacher monitored, and CONTROLLED environment for students to post, share, collaborate, and participate in both giving and receiving critical feedback.

Let me tell you a story. It will be quick, I promise.

Several years ago, while teaching 6th grade reading, I desperately wanted to find a way for my students to blog, comment, and discuss take-aways from their reading. I spent hours of the very limited time I had looking for a website or way to make this happen. I thought I had found the perfect site! It met my criteria for allowing me, the teacher, to view and approve the student’s work before it was viewable to the rest of the class, let all approved members post, reply, and comment, and it did NOT have a private messaging option for student-to-student communication.

I set up the classes, showed the kids how to use the site, set clear expectations, and thought we were ready to hit the ground running. The kids would be able to post a blurb each morning, reply to some of their peers, and smooth sailing, right?!?! WRONG. We got one error after the other. It started blocking the kids from posting or replying because only so many participants were allowed to post within some arbitrary timeframe, etc. Needless to say this was one of those times when technology is NOT your BFF and quickly becomes your worst enemy. (Technology is a tool to HELP, not make life more difficult, right?) Abandon ship! Abandon ship!

Available options for activities such as this have come a very long way since then, and believe it or not, Seesaw is one of those tools that can easily be used in many different classrooms and in a variety of ways. (Seesaw would have been PERFECT for that 6th grade reading activity… Snap a picture of a text, annotate with the drawing tool, explain the relevance with the recording tool, and post away!)

Seesaw Class is such an engaging way for students to share their work, develop accountability, and all while documenting the process of learning. Let’s face it, a school year is a REALLY LONG TIME for a student. It is easy for them to forget how far they have come and how much they have grown when they are in the day-to-day of school and the challenges of new skills. Creating accountability through the process of documenting and posting in Seesaw easily allows students to look back at what they have accomplished, see their growth, and easily create a portfolio of what they have learned.

There are so many ways to use Seesaw by teachers and students, that the tool can really become whatever the teacher wants it to be, and all within a safe, controlled environment.

Students can document the steps of a lab experiment in science class, document the progress of their creativity coming to life in art, record and post clips from music, practice reading fluency and post the recording with a picture of the page, ask for ideas from their peers when they are working on a engineering challenge, share their accomplishments and celebrate success with their friends, make book recommendations from the library. This little hidden gem of technology has too many cool ways to be applied in the classroom, I could not even begin to try to count.

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