Student taking photographs in the garden

Even if “nothing” is the default answer to, “what did you do in school today?” elementary families now have snapshots from their students’ day thanks to Seesaw, a digital student portfolio available to all elementary schools. Families who sign up can see their student’s work and the communication between their student and teacher, both online and through the mobile app.

“Seesaw gives teachers a remarkable way to open their classrooms and the learning inside it to families,” says educational technology coach Brian Pahl. “My two children who don’t love talking to me about school have flipped. I no longer ask ‘what did you learn in school today?’ I can say ‘tell me what you learned about growth mindset! I saw your Seesaw post today.’ It totally shifts the conversation.”

The Seesaw program helps students take an active part of their work and encourages interactive discussions about the posts. The draft Healthy Tech Promise states that we use technology in schools for “creation, collaboration and communication,” and all Seesaw projects are created with those values in mind. Because students can use video and other tech tools within Seesaw, it also serves as a comprehensive learning portfolio and reduces the need for other apps or programs.

More teachers are delving into having students use Seesaw as a platform to share and reflect on their learning. Fourth grade teacher Jennifer Hanley said, “I love that students can communicate directly with families about their learning. They are taking photos and videos of their work, plus they add the next layer of thinking behind the post. It’s not just for families – it’s for them.”

“Seesaw helps students become agents of their own learning,” said Meredith Attar, educational technology coach. “It’s fun for students to see and hear their own growth. For example, they might record themselves reading and can look back at previous posts to see how their reading has improved.”

All elementary families receive an email invitation with a code that allows them to see their students’ information when their student first enrolls in elementary school. Families can click on the link in the email to download the app, and they do not need to re-enroll each year. The app is available from the Apple App Store and Google Play. Seesaw translates to the set language on your phone and enrollment forms are available in many languages.

“When students can talk about what they learned, why it challenged them and how they are working to overcome a barrier, there is power in that,” said Pahl.

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