Seesaw – “Learning is a partnership.”

Kia ora whanau,

Below is part of an  email from Suze which I thought was fantastic (HB Tuatara parents you will have seen this). It’s all about the app Seesaw which we use on the Discovery Campus to enable parents to feel more connected to their child’s learning.

“One of the advantages with Seesaw is the ability for parents and whanau to engage with their child’s learning. My studies have reminded me just how much of a positive impact parental involvement can have for learners. Research shows that learners whose parents are engaged in their learning have improved academic achievement as well as improvements in attitude, behaviour, attendance and mental health. There are also benefits for parents/whanau and teachers/schools. The Ministry of Education has some relevant information here or page 3 here and I have some academic articles I can share with you if you’re interested (let me know). Google also has lots of information about the benefits of parental involvement in education.
One of the issues that we have with Seesaw in the homebase is a lack of time in our timetable (and too few iPads) to go back through the learners’ Seesaw feeds with them to see their posts and the comments that are made by the LAs and whanau. In order to solve this problem, and to continue to increase the posts made by the learners, we are really hoping that families will find time to go through Seesaw with their child as often as possible to check the posts, read and listen to the comments and discuss with the learners what they’ve been doing at school. Ideally, this would be a daily activity but we know this is not always a realistic goal given everyone’s busy schedules.
However, given the research indicating benefits for learners, coupled with our school’s special character and guiding principles outlining that “learning is a partnership”, we encourage you to get involved with your child’s learning using the avenue of Seesaw. If you can’t be at school during the day this is one way you can take an active role.
Here are some thoughts from a couple of HB Tuatara families who use Seesaw a lot:
Whanau 1
When we started Ao Tawhiti Discovery, I really liked the idea of Seesaw because I know how hard it can be sometimes to get even a single sentence out of your child about his/her day at school. With Seesaw, it is easier to start the conversation about school…it’s not just “how was your day?” but I can tell her, “I’ve seen this and that post of yours and I really liked it…” etc. And second, because we are bilingual and the grandparents live far away, they can still follow what our child is doing at school. They can see all the activities she’s engaged in and all her peers, friends and teachers. She can add comments in her first language as well, which she does pretty often, and so the grandparents can understand her. This way we all feel a little bit that the family is here as well.
The other thing is, that we can also reflect to her posts, which we really like. Sometimes if there’s something that is unclear, or she makes a mistake, she can still add some comments to it. Whenever we receive a message saying her LA added a comment, we can just check it out and easily answer immediately. This is good, because I’m pretty sure otherwise we would forget to get the answer and would slip through that matter. And we do feel that it’s important to find out if we made a mistake, and have the opportunity to find it ourselves and make it right. This way she has the opportunity, she is not told what was that, just gets a question, either from her LA or from us at home if we spot something out, and she thinks about it, and when she finds the answer, she comments her own post and she’ll remember to that. We believe it works better, than just telling her what was the mistake and correct it for her.
Also it is a great opportunity for her to see her own work from an outside perspective. Hear her own voice etc. And even daddy who cannot be involved that much at school life, can see what is happening and who is who. Even my mother-in-law can use the app, and trust me, she is really not into these technical things!

Whanau 2

The reason we like See Saw is that it eliminates the parent question “What did you do today?” and the child’s answer of “Nothing,” (simply because they have done so much in the day that they can’t summarise it all).  We get to engage in her learning even when we are not present.  It’s also a record of what she has achieved throughout the day.
When we see that she has posted something, we “like” and comment (either written or oral).  Our comments can be something like “I like how you…” “I look forward to seeing that completed”, “Have you thought about…” “That’s great…”
When the comments have been approved, then we show her and discuss the activity further, asking things like “What were you doing here?”  or “Tell me about this.”  She gets a buzz out of seeing and hearing the different comments.  If no one has commented, she often wants to add her own comment!
Both parents and four grandparents have separate accounts on See Saw.  Everyone likes and comments separately and differently.  It gives the grandparents something to talk to her about, and they too can engage in her learning and in her world on a daily basis.  This is great because all grandparents live far away but can still have regular and relevant input in her life. This brings her into their daily lives and brings them into her daily life.
We enjoy this avenue of engagement in our child’s learning, plus it’s often very entertaining 😊.
Thanks to those whanau for sharing their thoughts.
I hope that if we can all work together to utilise Seesaw then we can all enjoy the benefits.”