Seesaw: Student-Driven Digital Portfolios

I realize that since the bulk of my current teaching is done at the university level, I need to make an effort to explore what is available for teachers and students in other contexts. Having said that, I think Seesaw, the topic of today’s post, might actually work for any age group despite being self-described as a K–12 resource.

Seesaw was brought to my attention by an attendee of last year’s Dakota TESL conference and promotes itself as a platform for student-driven digital portfolios. I think we can all agree that portfolios are a great way for students to demonstrate learning and an excellent alternative (or addition) to high-stakes assessment methods. Unfortunately, it can also be intimidating to break from tradition and take on the task of integrating portfolio development into your curriculum or revolutionize how portfolios are organized and used at your institution or in your classroom. The good news is Seesaw can help with all of that.

From the main page, click “SIGN UP FREE.” On the next page, select “I’m a Teacher.” Then you have the option to complete a short registration form or sign in using Google+. Once you have an account, you can flip through some of the highlights of Seesaw, for example, the fact that uploaded materials are available to teachers from any device. Additionally, parents can be invited to join Seesaw for the purpose of viewing their child’s work (but not the work of other students in the class), which would be just perfect for those lower grade levels. If you have always wanted to start a class blog, Seesaw makes that a breeze, too.

The site really guides you through the whole setup process and, besides being fairly intuitive, the design is just absolutely beautiful. I did not experience any glitches or run into any frustrating issues during my experimentation phase. To get started, create a class. There are two options for signing students up. For younger students, a QR code is strongly advised and for others, an email address can be used. Once students are in, the fun can really begin!

Since classes are out for the summer in the United States, this is as far as I have managed to get at this point; however, it is worth noting the following perks of this platform:

  • Seesaw works on all devices including computers,
  • students can submit a wide variety of materials (videos, text, pictures, etc.),
  • parents can be engaged more fully in the learning process,
  • teachers can access submissions from anywhere, and
  • communication and collaboration between students outside the classroom can be increased.

If you get started and have any issues, there is a help center with tutorials, ideas by grade level, teacher stories, and frequently asked questions.

Teachers use tons of resources throughout the course of the academic year, and if Seesaw is the one that sticks out and gets a recommendation, I definitely take notice. Have a look for yourself and see what Seesaw can do for you. Share what you think by leaving a comment below.

About Tara Arntsen

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen recently completed her Master's degree in Teaching-TESOL at the University of Southern California. She currently teaches in the Intensive English Program at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. She has taught ESOL in China, Japan, and Cambodia as well as online. Her primary interests are communicative teaching methods and the use of technology in education.
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