SeeSaw – The Making Thinking Visible Machine!

As we get more and more devices in our classrooms, it is important that we realize how we can use them to do amazing things – like making student thinking visible and allowing us to amplify student voice by hearing from all of our students. This way we can know where they are in the learning process!

One of the amazing things we can do is use SeeSaw to better understand what our students know and what they don’t – and then adjust our instruction to better meet their needs. AND its available on ANY device (Even student phones)!

Many people use SeeSaw, and rightfully so,  as a learning journal – and it is a great tool for this! However, I want it to become the making thinking visible journal. Used in a way that students explain their learning  and give us insights into what they understand, and where they are in the growth process.

Here are ten ways teachers can do that pretty easily in the K-12 classroom.

First start with these seven ways SeeSaw lets your get at student thinking:


1. Record Math Thinking: Use the drawing feature along with the record feature to have student narrate themselves solving a math problem.


2. Tell Me About… Angles:  Use the camera, pen and record tool FTW! Use the camera and pen tool to have students show you their learning, and make their thinking visible by having them find a photo that represents something in this case a right, acute and obtuse angle.

Have students take a picture, use the pen tool to identify and label the right angle and then the record button to explain, in their own words, what a right angle is, and why its important to understand.

1985 Warning: I was recently in a classroom that had a worksheet that did this exact same thing – so not cool when we have such a better way of  assesment. Remember that having students pick from multiple choice answers does not give us rich information about student learning and growth – but SeeSaw can and does!

How cool are these examples!?! What you can’t hear is the recording where they explain these angles in their own words.

3. Sketchnote a Story: Have students use the drawing feature to sketchnote as you read a story. Then have them use the record feature to explain their ideas and how it relates to the story. Make sure you share this in the class feed so they can all learn from each other.

4. SnapChat Meet SeeSaw: Do your  kids have phones? Have them download SeeSaw app and use snapchat to answer a question, then save to camera roll and upload into SeeSaw – anytime you can add SnapChat to your class assignment  – kids freak out! Make sure this is an age appropriate task. As a point of reference, we have done it in 5th grade.


5. Practice Foreign Language Fluency: Have students take pictures of a city like Paris, and use their new French language skills to describe the photos by using the record button. Of course Buenos Aires and Spanish are always good too! (This was done with an app smash using Pic Collage)

Example: Bonjour. Voici paris. C’est la ville des lumières… La première photo est…

6. PE Skills Journal: You teach PE? Lucky you. Now you can keep a journal of their skills in a sport from the time they start and finish. Take a photo of their bat swing – use the draw feature to show where there elbow may be incorrectly placed  – or better yet let them watch and find their own mistakes – and explain using the record feature where they went wrong. Keep a healthy eating journal using notes and pictures

7. Pre-Writing Activity: Have students brainstorm ideas for a narrative by taking a picture and recording their prompt orally first. .

8.  Speaking Historical Figures or Book Characters: Have students use the app – Chatter pix – to import a photo of an important person. Use the talk feature to have the photo talk – this is where students explain an important event or idea in history. Add the finished product to the class feed as a gallery of great presidents – or the ideas of our founding forefathers. If you are using Chromebooks you don’t have access to ChatterPix, but students phones do..what a great way to use the multiple devices in your classroom.

9. Thinking Routines: Use a thinking routine photo prompt. Have students use the record feature to comment or reflect on their learning. Get more from Making Thinking Visible book by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church and Karin Morrison.

10. Reading Fluency: Have English students show you they can read Shakespeare in perfect Iambic Pentameter. By having them take a photo of the soliloquy, add it to SeeSaw and then use the record feature to capture students reading it within the perfect beat structure. Do this for any reading fluency you would like to capture.

BONUS: . PreWriting Activity: Have students brainstorm ideas for a narrative by taking a picture and recording their prompt orally first.  Share these in the class feed so students can get ideas from each other before writing.

In  the end, we spend a lot of time in classrooms focusing on reading and writing –  which is great – but once we remember that it is from good oral language skills that kids become good readers and writers  -then letting them explain their thinking becomes a powerful tool in the classroom. Allowing students the opportunity to articulate their ideas – will amplify their learning –  and give the teachers the chance to know where each child is in the learning process. Voila! Making Thinking Visible Machine!

Like these ideas? You might really enjoy The Google Infused Classroom now on Amazon.




Author: HollyClark

Holly is the co-author of Google Infused Classroom. She lives and works in San Diego, California. She delivers professional development to schools internationally and speaks at conferences about empowering teachers and students with iPads and Google Apps for Education. Contact her at to have her present or work with your school.

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