Are you a teacher that uses Seesaw for distance learning? Are you looking for some incredible Seesaw hacks that will make your life easier?
Maybe your district has chosen Seesaw as their distance learning platform, or maybe you struck out on your own and discovered for yourself the pure awesomeness that is Seesaw.
Either way, there are so many fabulous things Seesaw can do – I could seriously go on and on for days. But that would probably be annoying…so I’ve settled on sharing 7 of my favorite Seesaw hacks, and I think they’re going to change your distance learning game.
Please note: many of the features described in this post require Seesaw Plus or Seesaw for Schools. Not all features are available with the free version. For more information, click here.
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Seesaw Hack #7. Add audio instructions to each page of an activity
Anyone who works with early elementary students knows you can’t give students ALL the directions at once. I mean, seriously.
That’s why I love that Seesaw recently made updates to the audio abilities in their activities. It used to be that you could only add voice instructions to the description once…but now, you can easily add an audio recording to each individual page. Here are the step-by-step instructions (or, scroll down to see a video tutorial):
- Open the activity you want to add audio instructions to.
- Tap the 3 dots on the left side of the screen, then select Shapes, then choose the rectangle.
- Resize the rectangle to cover the whole screen. I like to change the color of mine to green so students always know what to look for.
- Tap the microphone button on the left side and record your audio instructions.
- Tap check to stop recording.
- Now the screen you see is actually a video that’s laid over the top of the activity. You can grab it and move it around.
- Resize it by grabbing one of the corners and dragging it towards the middle.
- Place it where you want it, then lock it in place (tap the 3 little dots under the recording, then tap Lock). Voila!
Even if you only have a 1-page activity, it’s super helpful to have the audio right there *on the page* instead of stuck out there in the instructions. So helpful!
Here’s a video tutorial so you can see it in action:
#6: Schedule your activities in advance
Last spring when school shut down and we started distance learning, I was getting up early EVERY morning to post all the Seesaw activities I wanted my students to complete for that day. It wasn’t until a couple weeks in that I realized you can actually schedule them in advance!
Talk about a great Seesaw hack! You can sit down and plan out a few days or a week at a time and get all your activities scheduled at once. Then you don’t even have to think about them again until it’s time to look at your students’ responses.
This is how you can schedule activities for the future:
- Open the activity you want to schedule.
- Tap the green Assign button.
- A pop-up box will appear and there will be a green check mark next to your class – that means you’re assigning it to your whole class (you can go in and select certain students, but more on that later…)
- Tap the gray Schedule button in the bottom left of the pop-up box.
- Change the date and time to whenever you want students to receive it.
- Tap the green check, then tap the green Assign button in the lower right of the pop-up box.
Seesaw Hack #5. View and respond to all your students’ work in one place
Admittedly, this one seems kind of obvious, but I had no clue it existed at first! So I’m hoping I’m not the only one and this might actually be helpful for you.
I used to go to the journal feed and click through one by one to review student work and give feedback. But then, one of my dear coworkers showed me how to view all of the student responses to a single activity in one place. And that made giving feedback so much easier!
Plus, you can easily see who has and has not completed the activity. Here’s how you do it:
- In your class view, click on the activities tab.
- Find the activity you want to review.
- Click on the gray bar that says something like “3 Responses, 3 Waiting for Approval, 0 Drafts, 10 Not Responded.”
- A box will pop up with the activity details. At the bottom, you’ll see a grid with all your students in it. From there, you can review their work!
Here’s a video to walk you through it:
Hack #4: Use a weekly learning plan template
Not long ago, you could only add links to an activity description in Seesaw for students to watch before they started the activity. But again, Seesaw made some incredible updates and changed things up – and now you can add links anywhere in a Seesaw activity!
You can add a link that takes students to an external site, like a quick YouTube video. Want to add a link to another page in the same activity? You can do that! You can even link to another Seesaw activity.
What got me most excited when this change was announced? The idea that you could put all of your students’ assignments on one document and share it all in one place! The first thing I did after I heard about it was create a Weekly Learning Plan Template. You can read more about how it works and how to edit it (plus grab it for free!) here:
Seesaw Hack #3. Pin activities to the top of the activity feed or journal
THIS is the hack I just learned about that actually prompted me to write this post! This summer I created the Weekly Learning Plan Template and shared it in a Facebook group and on YouTube. People were really excited it about it, but the same question kept popping up: how do you make it so the Learning Plan doesn’t get lost in all the other activities, so students can find it every day?
I came up with several different ways to make it easier, but nothing seemed like a really easy fix…until this. In Seesaw’s newest update, they made an option for you to pin an activity to the top of the activity feed or journal!
So if you have a weekly learning plan (or other activity you want students to easily be able to access), you can just:
- Assign the activity from your library.
- Go to your class view, then go to the activities tab.
- In the lower left corner of the activity you want to pin, tap the 3 little dots.
- Tap “Pin to top.”
And that’s it! It’ll stay there – at least until they submit their response (see Tip #2 for a workaround to submitting a response).
Here’s a video Seesaw released that walks you through it:
#2. Make use of the Draft button
Now here’s a Seesaw hack that’s been sitting right in front of me for a long time, but I never really recognized its potential until recently. The orange draft button can be a huge help, especially for an activity you want students to access more than once.
Here’s how it works:
- You assign an activity to students.
- The student goes into the activity and does the work.
- Instead of tapping the green check, they tap the orange check right next to it.
- It’s now saved as a draft!
Watch this snippet of a training video from Seesaw to see it in action!
Think of the possibilities: a weekly (or daily) assignment list. A project that you want students to go back and improve upon. An activity that involves several steps over multiple days. There are so many uses for this Seesaw hack!
I might even go so far as to say you could teach students to always use the draft button. It shows up in a student’s journal feed with a big orange line across the top and the image darkened.
As a teacher, you can review it and tap the green check to submit it for them if everything is correct. Or you can edit it – add notes, digital stickers, record a video with corrections, etc. – and tap the orange draft button so they still have it in their feed. I guess that’s a matter of personal preference.
But what a great little tool!
Seesaw Hack #1. Use icons to differentiate your instruction
One of the awesome things about using Seesaw for distance learning is that it’s so easy to assign different activities to groups of students. You just select the students you want to send it to, and bam! Differentiation complete. Plus, depending on your settings, students can’t see each other’s work, so they don’t know they’re not all getting the same thing.
But trying to keep track of who should get what assignment can be difficult, which is where this handy trick comes in!
Typically, each student would get assigned their own animal icon, but did you know you can change them? So, for example, if you want to make guided reading groups, you can give all the students in one group the frog icon. Give all the students in another group the elephant, and so on.
When it’s time to assign an activity that you only want one of the groups to do, just select all the students with that icon. Easy peasy!
Here’s how you change the icons:
- Go to your class view.
- Tap the wrench in the upper right corner.
- Select “Manage Students.”
- Tap on a student’s name.
- Tap “Icon.”
- Tap the icon you want for that student.
- Tap the arrow in the upper left corner of the pop-up window (it will automatically save it).
- Repeat for the rest of your students.
Watch this video tutorial for more information:
What are your top Seesaw Hacks?
I know I’ve barely skimmed the surface of all the cool tips and tricks that are out there, so if you have some great ideas you’d like to share, leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you!