‘Seesaw’ Between School and Home The app Seesaw allows you to build digital portfolios of treatment materials and student progress. App-titude
App-titude  |   May 01, 2017
‘Seesaw’ Between School and Home
Author Notes
  • Anna Ray, MS, CCC-SLP, is a preschool speech-language pathologist for the Cobb County School District in Marietta, Georgia. Follow Anna and her puppet SLPA JoJo on Instagram @missannaslp. annakathrynray@gmail.com
    Anna Ray, MS, CCC-SLP, is a preschool speech-language pathologist for the Cobb County School District in Marietta, Georgia. Follow Anna and her puppet SLPA JoJo on Instagram @missannaslp. annakathrynray@gmail.com×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / App-titude
App-titude   |   May 01, 2017
‘Seesaw’ Between School and Home
The ASHA Leader, May 2017, Vol. 22, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.APP.22052017.np
The ASHA Leader, May 2017, Vol. 22, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.APP.22052017.np
For school-based speech-language pathologists, it can be challenging to explain to parents exactly what goes on in the classroom or speech room. What does “speech” look like? Progress reports, IEPs, newsletters and speech notes can only explain so much, and sometimes information is lost in translation.
That’s where the free app Seesaw comes in: It can help an SLP or educator bridge the gap between home and school. It provides parents a window into their child’s treatment, and it has completely enhanced my practice.
Seesaw (for iOS and Android) is an app that allows me to compile a list of students to form a “class” and post items digitally. The many features of Seesaw allow me to build digital portfolios for each student. Among these features are voice recording, video, photo, two-way feedback, text capabilities, drawing tools and the ability to communicate with various other apps (known as appsmashing).
Seesaw in the speech room
There are endless possibilities for what you can create and share with Seesaw. It can be overwhelming—so when I first started, I just took pictures. Whenever a student met a goal or did something cheer-worthy, I would snap a picture, write a caption and post to his or her Seesaw journal. As I became more comfortable, I discovered new ways to share items individualized to my students:
  • Articulation: You can video students using tactile cues for sounds, take photos of speech targets, and use drawing tools to make colored marks or emojis to indicate levels of cueing needed.

  • Language: You can video students miming or describing vocabulary words or make an Expanding Expression Tool (EET) graphic organizer through a collage app like PiCollage ($.99 for iOS) or Photo Grid (free for iOS and Android). You can also model use of visuals and augmentative and alternative communication through videos.

  • Fluency: You can video a student demonstrating bumpy versus smooth speech, connected speech at the beginning and end of the year (to show progress), and modeling of fluency strategies. You can also post captioned photos of a fluency interactive notebook.

  • Social skills: You can show the student social-scenario videos and audio-record them problem-solving the situations. You can also have students write constructive comments on classmates’ Seesaw portfolios.

Collaboration and communication
I have three active Seesaw classes: my speech primary students for whom I am case manager and two special-needs preschool classes. Grouping all speech primary students into one Seesaw class is easy to navigate, even though the students are in different treatment groups throughout the week. Seesaw allows up to 100 students per class, which would fit a typical school-based SLP’s caseload. A single class can have two teachers, so it also works well for self-contained classrooms. I love that Seesaw allows me to work collaboratively with teachers!
The self-contained teachers and I post pictures and videos throughout the day of what, and, most importantly, how the students are learning. As soon as a student’s item is posted, their parent gets a notification on their phone. Parents can post feedback immediately.
Getting started is simple. Once each of your students has something in their Seesaw journal, you’re ready to invite parents. After clicking on “invite parents,” you’ll receive an email with a PDF link to individual handouts for each of your students. The handouts give parents explicit instructions on how to access their child’s journal, either by downloading the app or visiting the website.
Once the parent links to Seesaw, they will receive push notifications every time something is posted for their student. Parents also have the ability to “like” and comment on items. Seesaw also has a translation feature and can translate text in more than 50 languages. The translation feature is invaluable when communicating with families for whom English is not their first language.
This is only my sixth year working as a SLP in the schools, but I’ve tried just about every kind of school-to-home communication technique. I’ve done weekly notes, monthly newsletters, blogging and progress reports, with little or no feedback from parents. If they were reading what I was sending home, I didn’t know it.
After only four months of using Seesaw, more than half of my parents are actively participating. They are checking in weekly, liking posts, making comments and asking questions. Too often in our schools, the communication piece with parents is diminished or missing. Seesaw completes the puzzle.
May 21, 2017
Nikia Dower
Is the app HIPAA Compliant?
Sounds like a great tool but wondering about HIPAA.
May 23, 2017
Anna Ray
Seesaw is COPPA and FERPA compliant. To comply with HIPAA, I use only first names of students and never post pictures of students together. I regulate and approve each parent connected to the students' journal. I also use only my personal device which is passcode protected. Here's a link to Seesaw's privacy principles https://web.seesaw.me/privacy.
July 22, 2018
Lori Dolan Gilbert
Great article!
Thanks for the terrific ideas! I just got my Seesaw account and will try it out this coming school year.
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May 2017
Volume 22, Issue 5