Seesaw for EAL and young learners

Someone contacted me last week in a panic. ‘Aaargh, we’re going to start using Seesaw – any tips? Is it easy? Can you do a lot on it?’ etc.

I find Seesaw really easy to use as a classroom learning app for EAL. The functionality for slides and templates is like a Jamboard +1 (you pay for the privilege). You can do quite a lot with it – here are some random (very random) screenshots from my Year 4/5 lessons just to give you a general idea. These aren’t all-singing-all-dancing, I just want to reassure the person who contacted me that things will be more familiar than you imagine.

In no particular order…

It’s really easy to model activities/tasks when not doing a live lesson. In this example, I wanted learners to predict the captions for a load of images. I can record myself doing the task and add a voiceover with instructions too (students just click play button to view).

This is what the editing screen looks like. So, this is the template I wanted learners to edit. They can select a range of tools like texts, shapes, etc to add their own responses very easily. Oh, I should add that when you make the templates you can lock certain items (like that image in this case). Multiple slides per template too (see scrollbar on right).

You can easily snip parts of a text or images so students can move these around. You can all add both spoken and written instructions. And you can get learners to respond using the different tools, highlighting being a good one.

The usual visible thinking tasks are totally doable on Seesaw. In fact, what’s good is that when you respond to learner ideas you can actually send voice responses, and they can respond verbally too. This is a cool way to get EAL learners speaking a bit more – asynchronous and editable so they can rehearse.

Ummm, why did I add this screenshot? Oh yeah, easy to add image prompts too. Good for EAL and for YLs. Oh yeah, and you can easily get them to add their own ideas – they can just copy and paste into the template. I’m aware these are standard activities, just trying to show they are certainly doable on Seesaw!

So, because a template can have multiple slides means you can duplicate easily and change the task. Like these…



Reduces planning time.

Seesaw lends itself to graphic organisers for vocab building too. It’s easy both on computer and iPad to complete a Frayer Model for example…

Please it’s easy to model them and talk through what to do…

Checking prior and post-knowledge also very easy. In this example, just moving keywords to relevant space. This was a tip from Ms Jackie EAL.

The template or instruction slides can be imported from Google Slides, which saves lots of times. Links included…

Slides that would normally be pair discussion can involve recording answers instead.

Visual responses! Note just pasting images but also drawing. You can highlight target words and get drawing responses – YLs enjoy this type of stuff in my opinion…

Easy to upload not only from Slides but PDFs too. And you can type/write over them! Easy responses from learners, nice.

You can find ways to do grammar input just as you would in other ways. Not complicated, not the most riveting either.

Ummm. Just another drawing response task. I liked my sink. What do you think?

Another notes organiser. The thing that does annoy me about this stuff is that not all learners can see each other’s. Not a problem if this is flipped and you’re gonna have a Live Lesson too, but otherwise it’s limiting.

Ummm… simple responses again, plus PDF from Twinkl – so easy to upload these into templates. Repeating myself now.

Adapting games into written responses, not difficult…

Upload your own images, label them. This type of thing works well for me. Actually, it’s tended to result in more voiceovers to explain the images…

Another one like that – easy to provide choice too (writing or images)

It is possible to do prediction tasks and make it harder for learners to cheat. Like this prediction…

(pics of my parents there). Then on the slide that explains the answers you can blank things out to avoid spoiler alert…

Easy to make a rudimentary template for response too.

Speaking of rudimentary, simple templates for response are fine. I pasted the activities into the instructions for this one, and provided a basic response template – not difficult at all.

Providing images, moving into place and then voiceover. Nice tasks, quite easy to create. Although at first it might take a while (things like the moving boxes to front/back) can just be a bit faffy at times.

Simple matching tasks. I think this was one of mine, can’t remember though. Snip text from elsewhere, add matching options, easy to move text around etc.

So, there’s a bit of an insight into what you can do on the platform. If you need any specific tips just get in touch, although I’m not a ‘Seesaw Pioneer’, just your average user!

Cheers, good luck!

Categories: General, Lesson Ideas, other, reflections

Tags: , , , , , , ,

4 replies

  1. Such a thorough review of Seesaw. I have never used this application with my online teaching but I would like to learn a little more and perhaps have some experience using this to create online/hybrid lessons. One question: does it take a while to plan and prepare lessons using Seesaw?


    • Cheers Sketch. Answer: yes and no. A basic activity doesn’t take too long to make and they are stored in your library so you can reuse them. A more thorough self-access lesson for learners can take a while – you know how it can be with making sure the instructions are done in multiple ways, adding stretch tasks, the usual. And there are some fiddle bits – like I want the instructions from teacher and the template to be identical but there isn’t a simple ‘duplicate’ function, so you end up copy/pasting across two tabs. Takes time. So, it’s not perfect, but deffo functional, useful, easy to at least replicate lots of classroom tasks and have some level of asynchronous interaction – best accompanied with live lessons obvs.

      FYI My average planning time works out about the same as other lessons – 30 mins for an hour in class. That’s what we were paid for at the BC, I tend to stick to that.

      Liked by 1 person


  1. 64 online resources I’ve used for teaching English this year (plus 7 others) | ELT Planning
  2. Useful resource: Comics Uniting Nations – ELT Planning

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: